This post is for Anne, who, in a thread over at Sentire Cum Ecclesia, asked what I meant when I said that Lutherans would permit the Pope to be head of the college of bishops (of a united Western church) if only he would allow the Gospel to have free course in the Church.
Anne, this is the basic Lutheran confession of what the Gospel or Good News is:
It is also taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and rightousness before God by our own merits, works, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righetous before God by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness. Romans 3:21-26 and 4:5.
From the Augsburg Confession of 1530, which can be found in the on-line version of the Book of Concord, the collection of Lutheran confessions of faith,
here: http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php (or click on the post title).
Lutherans prayerfully hope that the Pope will one day fully accept this Gospel and reform the Roman church in accordance with it, removing from her life all that is inconsistent with this Good News, which God himself has given to us through Christ for the sake of our salvation. If and when the Pope does this, Lutherans will consider their separation from Rome no longer justifiable, and will gladly enter into communion with the Pope, his bishops, and the Roman faithful. But until such time, we must persist in our separate existence, for the sake of the Gospel.