In January 1530, Emperor Charles V issued a summons for a special meeting of the leaders of his kingdom for the purpose of bringing a resolution to the various disputes and tensions that had resulted from the work of Martin Luther and other reformers. This meeting, called a “diet,”was convened in the German city of Augsburg. Philip Melanchthon prepared a text to be presented at the Diet ofAugsburg, based on an earlier set doctrinal articles prepared by Martin Luther and his colleagues in the city of Torgau. Melanchthon’s draft was sent to Luther for his consideration and possible revision. After Luther’s approval was obtained, Melanchthon prepared the final text. The German version of what became known as the Augsburg Confession was read on Saturday afternoon, June 25, 1530.
The Augsburg Confession is the most succinct presentation of Lutheranism. Articles 1–21 have to do with basic Christian doctrines,with the most important of these articles being Articles 3, 4, 5. Articles 22–28 concerns the abuses the Lutherans had worked to correct. The Augsburg Confession focuses especially on the objective and universal message of salvation by God’s grace alone, received through faith alone, all as a result of the work of Christ, alone.
With the Augsburg Confession, the Lutherans were intent on making clear that what they stood for was nothing more, nor certainly anything less, than the ancient faith of the church, a faith that had been corrupted and obscured by Medieval Roman Catholicism. It is the “magna carta” of Lutheranism, setting forth for the first time her beliefs and convictions and rejection of various abuses in the church. This commitment to what the church has always taught, believed and confessed, on the basis of God’s Holy Word, remains to this day a hallmark of genuine, orthodox and confessing Lutheranism. With hope and courage the Lutheran confessors declared, “I will speak of thy testimonies before kings,and will not be put to shame”(Psalm 119:46)
Article XXI: Of the Worship of the Saints.
1] Of the Worship of Saints they teach that the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, according to our calling, as the Emperor may follow the example of David in making war to drive away the Turk from his country.
2] For both are kings. But the Scripture teaches not the invocation of saints or to ask help of saints, since it sets before us the one Christ as the Mediator, Propitiation, High Priest, and Intercessor.
3] He is to be prayed to, and has promised that He will hear our prayer; and this worship He approves above all, to wit, that in all afflictions He be called upon, 1 John 2:1:
4] If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, etc.
5] This is about the Sum of our Doctrine, in which, as can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known from its writers. This being the case, they judge harshly who insist that our teachers be regarded as heretics.
6] There is, however, disagreement on certain abuses, which have crept into the Church without rightful authority. And even in these, if there were some difference, there should be proper lenity on the part of bishops to bear with us by reason of the Confession which we have now reviewed; because even the Canons are not so severe as to demand the same rites everywhere, neither, at any time, have the rites of all churches been the same;
7] although, among us, in large part, the ancient rites are diligently observed.
8] For it is a false and malicious charge that all the ceremonies, all the things instituted of old, are abolished in our churches.
9] But it has been a common complaint that some abuses were connected with the ordinary rites. These, inasmuch as they could not be approved with a good conscience, have been to some extent corrected.
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching.
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