November 13, 2009
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the "Augustana" from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran Reformation. The Augsburg Confession was written in both German and Latin, and was presented by a number of German rulers and free-cities at the Diet of Augsburg on June 25, 1530. The Diet of Augsburg were the meetings of the Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire in the German city of Augsburg. There were many such sessions, but the three meetings during the Reformation and the ensuing religious wars between the Catholic Emperor Charles V and the Protestant Schmalkaldic League in the early 16th century are especially noteworthy.
The Roman Emperor Charles V had called on the Princes and Free Territories in Germany to explain their religious convictions in an attempt to restore religious and political unity in the Holy Roman Empire, and rally support against the Turkish invasion.
On January 21, 1530, the Emperor Charles V issued letters from Bologna, inviting the German diet to meet in Augsburg April 08, for the purpose of discussing and deciding various important questions. Although the writ of invitation was couched in very peaceful language, it was received with suspicion by some of the Evangelicals. The far-seeing Landgrave of Hesse hesitated to attend the diet, but the Elector John of Saxony, who received the writ March 11, directed Martin Luther, Justus Jonas, Johannes Bugenhagen, and Philipp Melanchthon to meet in Torgau, where he was, and present a summary of the Lutheran faith, to be laid before the Emperor at the diet.
There are 21 articles in the Augsburg Confession:
God—A Belief in the Triune God and the rejection of other interpretations regarding the nature of God.
Original Sin—A belief that the nature of man is sinful, described as being without fear of God, without trust of God and with concupiscence. The only 'cure' for sin is to be reborn through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.
The Son of God—A belief in the incarnation, that is, the union of the fully human with the fully divine in the person of Jesus. Jesus Christ alone brings about the reconciliation of humanity with God.
Justification by Faith—Man cannot be justified before God through our own abilities; we are wholly reliant on Jesus Christ for reconciliation with God.
The Office of Preaching—A belief to see to it that the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed throughout the world, Christ has established his office of the holy ministry.
Of the New Obedience—A belief that good deeds of Christians are the fruits of faith and salvation, not a price paid for them.
Of the Church—A belief that there is one holy Christian Church, and it is found wherever the gospel is preached in its truth and purity and the sacraments are administered according to the gospel.
What is the Church-- Despite what hypocrisy may exist in the church and among men, the Word and the Sacraments are always valid because they were instituted by Christ, no matter what the sins may be of the man who administers them.
(To be continued)