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 of Augsburg, 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 XXIV: Of the Mass.
1] Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among
2] us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added
3] to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned
4] be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language understood by the people 1 Cor. 14:2-9, but it has also been so ordained by man's law.
5] The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public
6] worship. For none are admitted
7] except they be first examined. The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament, how great consolation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is good.
8] [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion
9] toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us.
10] But it is evident that for a long time this also has been the public and most grievous complaint of all good men that Masses have been basely profaned and applied to purposes of lucre.
11] For it is not unknown how far this abuse obtains in all the churches by what manner of men Masses are said only for fees or stipends, and how many celebrate them contrary to the Canons.
12] But Paul severely threatens those who deal unworthily with the Eucharist when he says, 1 Cor. 11:27: Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
13] When, therefore our priests were admonished concerning this sin, Private Masses were discontinued among us, as scarcely any Private Masses were celebrated except for lucre's sake.
14] Neither were the bishops ignorant of these abuses, and if they had corrected them in time, there would now be less dissension. Heretofore,
15] by their own connivance, they suffered many corruptions to creep into the Church. Now, when it is too late, they begin to complain
16] of the troubles of the Church, while this disturbance has been occasioned simply by those abuses which were so manifest that they could be borne no longer. There have been great
17] dissensions concerning the Mass, concerning the Sacrament.
18] Perhaps the world is being punished for such long-continued profanations of the Mass as have been tolerated in the churches for so many centuries by the very men who
19] were both able and in duty bound to correct them. For in the Ten Commandments it is written, Ex. 20:7: The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. But since
20] the world began, nothing that God ever ordained seems to have been so abused for filthy lucre as the Mass.
21] There was also added the opinion which infinitely increased Private Masses, namely that Christ, by His passion, had made satisfaction for original sin, and instituted the Mass wherein an offering should be made for daily sins,
22] venial and mortal. From this has arisen the common opinion that the Mass
23] takes away the sins of the living and the dead by the outward act. Then they began to dispute whether one Mass said for many were worth as much as special Masses for individuals, and this brought forth that infinite multitude of Masses. [With this work men wished to obtain from God all that they needed, and in the mean time faith in Christ and the true worship were forgotten.]
24] Concerning these opinions our teachers have given warning that they depart from the Holy Scriptures and diminish the glory of the passion of Christ. For Christ's passion
25] was an oblation and satisfaction, not for original guilt only, but also for all other sins, as it is written to the Hebrews 10:10:
26] We are sanctified through the offering of Jesus Christ once for all. Also, Hebrews 10:14:
27]By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. [It is an unheard-of innovation in the Church to teach that Christ by His death made satisfaction only for original sin and not likewise for all other sin. Accordingly it is hoped that everybody will understand that this error has not been reproved without due reason.]
28] Scripture also teaches that we are justified before God through faith in Christ, when we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ's sake.
29] Now if the Mass take away the sins of the living and the dead by the outward act justification comes of the work of Masses, and not of faith, which Scripture does not allow.
30] But Christ commands us, Luke 22:19: This do in remembrance of Me; therefore the Mass was instituted that the faith of those who use the Sacrament should remember what benefits it receives through Christ, and cheer and comfort the anxious conscience. For to remember Christ is to remember His benefits,
31] and to realize that they are truly offered unto us.
32] Nor is it enough only to remember the history; for this also the Jews and the ungodly can remember.
33] Wherefore the Mass is to be used to this end, that there the Sacrament [Communion] may be administered to them that have need of consolation; as Ambrose says: Because I always sin, I am always bound to take the medicine. [Therefore this Sacrament requires faith, and is used in vain without faith.]
34] Now, forasmuch as the Mass is such a giving of the Sacrament, we hold one communion every holy-day, and, if any desire the Sacrament, also on other days, when it is given to such as ask for it.
35] And this custom is not new in the Church; for the Fathers before Gregory make no mention of any private Mass, but of the common Mass [the Communion] they speak very much. Chrysostom says
36] that the priest stands daily at the altar, inviting some
37] to the Communion and keeping back others. And it appears from the ancient Canons that some one celebrated the Mass from whom all the other presbyters and deacons received the body of he Lord; for thus
38] the words of the Nicene Canon say: Let the deacons, according to their order, receive the Holy Communion after the presbyters, from the bishop or from a presbyter.
39] And Paul, 1 Cor. 11:33, commands concerning the Communion: Tarry one for another, so that there may be a common participation.
40] For as much, therefore, as the Mass with us has the example of the Church, taken from the Scripture and the Fathers, we are confident that it cannot be disapproved, especially since public ceremonies, for the most part like those hither to in use, are retained; only the number of Masses differs, which, because of very great and manifest abuses doubtless might be profitably reduced.
41] For in olden times, even in churches most frequented, the Mass was not celebrated every day, as the Tripartite History (Book 9, chap. 33) testifies: Again in Alexandria, every Wednesday and Friday the Scriptures are read, and the doctors expound them, and all things are done, except the solemn rite of Communion.
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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