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Luther vs. Pope Leo: A Conversation in Purgatory

Hinlicky, Paul R.
Abingdon Press
PB ?| 0 x 0 x 0 Inch| 1 kg| 176 pages| ISBN 9781501804205
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Martin Luther and Pope Leo X awake in the afterlife. It is 2017, and they have been asleep since the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 and the imagined execution of Luther and the death of Leo in a strange accident. Naturally, they are disoriented upon waking. To their mutual chagrin not only does each discover the other face to face in “heaven” but they learn that by divine decree they are roomed together indefinitely. The pope’s first reaction to the news is to gather that this is his purgatory for the sins of the Medicis. Luther despairs that he is in hell: “It was works after all,” he surmises.

Discussing the key issues that divided Catholics and Protestants and birthed a Reformation 500 years ago, this book tells a story: the author’s imaginary reconciliation in heaven between Martin Luther and Pope Leo X, who work through the issues that divided them in their historical encounter. Luther and Leo become the creative instruments of a renewed commitment to Protestant-Catholic ecumenical reconciliation (as signaled by the Joint Declaration on Justification by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999 and subsequently subscribed to by The United Methodist Church). They even get a little help from John Wesley.

This fantasy?a genre chosen for its teaching potential and popular appeal?is a well-grounded one, rooted in the author’s deep understanding of the salient historical and theological issues. Exploring and “ransacking” the memories of both Luther and Pope Leo, Hinlicky calls both to the “griefwork” that leads to a meeting of the minds?surfacing the deep ideas that pressed both figures into conflict and mining these convictions as a fertile source for this-worldly reconciliation.
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