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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The modern church

An exploration of right relationship

By the beginning of the 16th century, Christianity in Europe seemed to have lost its focus on most things that had to do with justice and right relationship. The church was living its life as an institution run by various nationalist and financial interests, with Jesus’ words and intentions no longer central. One of the most glaring examples of this was the selling by the church of “indulgences,” pieces of paper supposed to guarantee the forgiveness of sins of those who were dead or alive—if the right price were paid.

It was during this time that Martin Luther and others began to call for a reformation. They courageously challenged the established church leadership to regain a focus on God’s word, God’s people and God’s intentions for Christian community. This call for reformation wasn’t accepted by those in charge of the direction the church would take.

In addition, many of those calling for change weren’t in agreement about what form and content the reformation should take. The result was a further fracturing of the witness of the church in the European world through the establishment of what would become many different Protestant denominations, each with its own particular slant on what the church of Jesus Christ should believe. Generally speaking, the emphasis of these different slants was much more on doctrine than it was on justice.


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August issue

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