Sunday, June 25 marks the anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. This occasion is just as important as Reformation Day (October 31, 1517) and is worthy of celebration. Here is some of the background.
In 1530, the princes of Lutheran territories in
Philip Melanchthon, a colleague of Luther’s at the
, was the theologian who was to be the guide for these princes. However, it was the princes, not the theologians, who were to make their stand and confess the Christian faith before the Emperor. University of Wittenberg
The Emperor was in no mood to have a divided Christendom in his realm. His goal at
Augsburg was to force the Lutheran princes submit to the Roman church. Arrest, confiscation of lands, loss of power, and loss of life were real threats that faced the Lutheran princes if they did not renounce their faith.
The Lutherans were hopeful that the issues which separated them from the Roman church might be debated or discussed. But such hopes were quickly dashed when they arrived at
Augsburg. It was clear that the Emperor had no interest in such a debate. He did not want to give time or credence to the Lutheran confession.
In order to be heard, the Lutherans prepared a statement. They knew they would have one chance to be heard before the Diet of Augsburg, so they prepared a confession. Philip Melanchthon wrote it, and Martin Luther reviewed and approved it. One of Luther’s comments about the confession: “I have read Master Philip’s Apology*. I am well pleased with it, and know nothing to improve or to change in it; neither would this be proper, since I cannot step so gently and softly. Christ, our Lord, grant that it may produce much and great fruit, which, indeed, we hope and pray for. Amen.” (Historic Introduction to the Symbolical Books, Frederick Bente. Printed in Concordia Triglotta © 1921, p 18) [*Note: An “Apology” is a defense.]
The Augsburg Confession was publicly read before the Diet of Augsburg on June 25, 1530.
The Augsburg Confession can be divided into two parts.
1) Articles I-XXI confess that the
is catholic, that is, it is part of the holy, Christian, and apostolic Church. Lutherans did not invent new teachings or abandon the historic Christian faith. It is not in rebellion against the Church. Luther began a reformation, not a revolution. We believe, teach, and confess what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed. Evangelical Lutheran Church
2) Articles XXII-XXVIII confess that the
has found abuses in Roman teaching and practice. These abuses are highlighted and reasons are given for their correction or omission from the Lutheran churches. Lutheran Church
All Lutherans do well to be familiar with the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of 1530 (Melanchthon later edited it without the authority or consent of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church), as it is the most basic confession of the . To date, it has not been refuted or shown to be false. It is a faithful confession of Scripture, and it describes what Lutherans believe and practice. Evangelical Lutheran Church
Lutherans also do well to uphold this confession and to follow its descriptions so that we remain faithful in our teachings and practice. In doing so, we assure ourselves that we do not fall into the errors of the Roman church or swerve too far the other way and fall into the errors of Protestant churches.
For a reading of the Augsburg Confession (and please do read it!), you can consult our church library or go to this link: http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php .