Concord #11: Baptism, Supper, Confession

"Concord" is a weekly study of the Lutheran Confessions, where we will take up a topic from the Book of Concord and reflect on what we believe, teach, and confess in the Lutheran Church. The purpose of this series is to deepen readers' knowledge and appreciation for the confessions of the Lutheran Church, and to unite them "with one heart" to confess the teachings of Holy Scripture.

Baptism – Supper – Confession

The ninth, tenth, and eleventh articles of the Augsburg Confession take up Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Confession, respectively. Each of these articles is surprisingly short—the longest of them is only two sentences. But the brevity of this confession should not make you think that these are unimportant matters, or that there was relatively little difference with the Roman Church on these instruments of the Holy Spirit.

“Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism” (Augsburg Confession, Article IX). The basic understanding of Baptism is that it is a vehicle of salvation, in agreement with Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” and 1 Peter 3:21, “Baptism…now saves you.” Because children need salvation, they also need Baptism.

“Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise” (Augsburg confession, Article X). Even more simply stated that Baptism. The Supper distributes the body and blood of Christ, which are truly present, to all who partake of it. This is what the words of Christ declare.

“Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12” (Augusburg Confession, Article XI). Confession is kept with one caveat—you don’t have to list your sins.

Even though the means of grace are confessed clearly and simply in these three articles of the Augsburg Confession, there are some significant disagreements that are revealed when you go beyond the surface. The theology that underlies the sacraments in the Roman Church leads to a sharp divergence, especially in the practice of the sacraments. These are addressed in the final section of the Augsburg Confession (articles 22-28), as well as in subsequent confessional documents. Stay tuned for more!

You can read the Book of Concord at http://www.bookofconcord.org

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard serves as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven, MO.

Created: March 28th, 2017