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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Why Paul matters now

Ecumenical dimensions are focus of celebration

We’re beginning the Pauline Year—an observance called for by Pope Benedict XVI from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, from the one feast day of the apostles Peter and Paul to the next. Lutherans shouldn’t be surprised that the pope initiated this celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of Paul’s birth.

A depiction of Paul in stauary at the Vatican.
A Vatican statute depicting Paul.
The pope is deeply rooted in Paul’s letters, theologically shaped by Augustine and thoroughly conversant with Martin Luther. And he played a strategic role in the process that led to the signing of The Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999.

Ecumenical dimensions are the focus of this celebration. “The apostle to the Gentiles, who was especially committed to taking the good news to all peoples, left no stones unturned for unity and harmony among all Christians,” the pope said when he announced the year.

Paul matters greatly for Lutherans, we know, because he declares with dynamic vitality the gospel of Jesus Christ, specifically that “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

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