Archive for June 25th, 2020

Let us pray…

Lord God, heavenly Father, You preserved the teaching of the apostolic Church through the confession of the true faith at Augsburg. Continue to cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed by the doctrine of the blessed apostles, may walk in the light of Your truth and finally attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Intro: The Augsburg Confession, the principal doctrinal statement of…Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers, was written largely by Phillip Melanchthon. At its heart it confesses the justification of sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone. Signed by leaders of many German cities and regions, the confession was formally presented to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530. A few weeks later Roman Catholic authorities rejected the Confession, which Melanchthon defended in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531). In 1580 the Unaltered Augsburg Confession was included in the Book of Concord. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH; read more about this holy day here)

“It is surely amazing that our opponents are unmoved by the many passages in the Scriptures that clearly attribute justification to faith and specifically deny it to woks.  Do they suppose that this is repeated so often for no reason?  Do they suppose that these words fell from the Holy Spirit unawares?”  (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Art. IV, Justification, para. 107, Tappert Edition)

In the General Index of the Tappert translation, the quote above is under the topic, “Scriptures, Holy: the Spirit knows what he says”. I love that:  The Spirit knows what He says!  The response to that commonsense statement is both Amen and Duh!  Philip Melanchthon and the blessed Reformers read the Scriptures as for the first time when they knew from the Scriptures the interpretative key of justification by grace through faith on account of Christ Jesus alone. They found out what the Holy Spirit says in “…the many passages in Scripture” regarding salvation in and through the Savior of mankind by His work alone, not our works. Too many theologians and speculators think they know more than God, more than the Holy Spirit by denying the passages they don’t like and then based upon their self ‘enlightened’ new understandings twist and pervert more of the Holy Scriptures.  The Augsburg Confession is short and to the point…but the papal Church wanted to miss the point.  They wanted to point to themselves instead of pointing to Jesus Christ alone  (as John the Baptist did) who did for all the world atone, He is our mediator.

This date is actually the birthday of the Evangelical and catholic Lutheran Church not October 31, 1517, but when the Reformers presented their Confession of Faith, they were not declaring a new independent Church but the continuation of the holy, apostolic, Christian and catholic Church reformed according to the Gospel.  They did not declare freedom from the Church but freedom for the Church and the world in Jesus Christ alone.

Galatians 5: 1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

The Lutheran Church has not the slightest theological interest in this antithesis between Catholicism and Protestantism. It does not know to which side it belongs. If only there were a clear-cut contradiction between true and false doctrine in the antithesis! But this does not happen to be the case. For there are heresies in Protestantism which are just as dangerous as those of Catholicism. Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in that it lays great emphasis on the fact that the evangelical church is none other than the medieval Catholic Church purged of certain heresies and abuses. The Lutheran theologian acknowledges that he belongs to the same visible church to which Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux, Augustine and Tertullian, Anthanasius and Irenaeus once belonged. The orthodox evangelical church is the legitimate continuation of the medieval Catholic Church, not the church of the Council of Trent and the Vatican Council which renounced evangelical truth when it rejected the Reformation.For the orthodox evangelical church is really identical with the orthodox Catholic Church of all times. (Here We Stand (1932) by Rev. Hermann Sasse, Lutheran theologian and professor, at the time publication at the University of Erlangen)

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