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Nov 2013 (Vol. 58, No. 10)

Dear Saints of Grace,

One of the most important documents during the Reformation of the Church is the Augsburg Confession.  It is one of the books contained within the Book of Concord (B of C); following just after the creeds.  Prior to delving fully into the exact writings of the Augsburg Confession there is a brief summary of the events that lead up to the conception of such a document. 

The crucial events leading to this ever important Confession at Augsburg include: Martin Luther’s refusal to recant his teachings of Scripture nine years earlier, in 1521. This led to his excommunication. The events continue with the spread of the Reformation through Northern Germany in which territories became Lutheran through the hard resolutions fought for by the Lutheran Princes against the Emperor from 1526 to 1529. The Emperor Charles V would eventually call for a Diet (or meeting) to be held.  He was hoping for unity so as to better fend off the insurgent Turks (or Muslims) that were threatening a German invasion.  Things would not go as he had hoped.

The drawing up of the Schwabach, Marburg, and Torgau Articles is next to be mentioned in the introduction to the Augsburg Confession.  Each of these played a role in the events leading up to the conception of the Augsburg Confession. Schwabach confronted the issues of political unity coming before doctrinal unity. Marburg dealt with Luther’s disagreement with Ulrich Zwingli (a Swiss theologian) regarding the true presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper.

The final Article (Torgau) was a combination of the Schwabach and the Marburg Articles. It was sent to Emperor Charles V to reveal the Lutheran’s doctrinal stance without having to go to Augsburg (where the next Diet was to take place). It was, however, discovered that a lengthy presentation was going to be given at the Augsburg Diet by a Roman Catholic theologian named John Eck. He was going to falsely combine the Lutheran’s doctrinal confession with many heretical (errant) theologians. The Lutherans were forced to prepare a new statement of faith distancing themselves from those with heretical theologies.

The document was presented to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V on June 25th, 1530 in the city of Augsburg (this explains its title). Twenty-eight Articles of faith would make up the doctrinal clarifications.  They are:

Article I: God
Article II: Original Sin
Article III: Christ
Article IV: Justification
Article V: The Ministry
Article VI: New Obedience
Article VII: The Church
Article VIII: What the Church Is
Article IX: Baptism
Article X: The Lord’s Supper
Article XI: Confession
Article XII: Repentance
Article XIII: The Use of the Sacraments
Article XIV: Order in the Church
Article XV: Church Ceremonies
Article XVI: Civil Government
Article XVII: Christ’s Return for Judgment
Article XVIII: Free Will
Article XIX: The Cause of Sin
Article XX: Good Works
Article XXI: Worship of the Saints
Article XXII: Both Kinds in the Sacrament
Article XXIII: The Marriage of Priests
Article XXIV: The Mass
Article XXV: Confession
Article XXVI: The Distinction of Meats
Article XXVII: Monastic Vows
Article XXVIII: Church Authority.

            Reading & re-reading these Articles leads us to know what we believe, teach, and confess.  Holding to these confessions is what define us as “confessional” Lutheran Christians. And, further, we have the confidence of everything being grounded firmly from God’s Holy Scripture.

With you IN Christ!