“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.
“We at least leave with you a clear testimony, that we here in no wise are holding back from anything that could bring about Christian concord—such as could be effected with God and a good conscience” (Preface to the Augsburg Confession, paragraph 13).
The first distinctively Lutheran document of the Book of Concord is the Augsburg Confession (also known as the Augustana). It follows and is built upon the three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian). This confession of faith expands on the basic doctrines taught in the creeds, and addresses some controversies that had arisen in the Church.
The Augsburg Confession was written by theologians—Philip Melanchthon, with input from his colleague and friend, Martin Luther, among others. But the thing that makes the Augsburg Confession stand out is that it was presented and signed by princes and electors. It is the confession of the Lutheran layman.
It is called the Augsburg Confession because it was presented at a conference in the city of Augsburg in the year 1530. At that time, there was still anticipation that an open and honest conversation would bring about reformation and unity in the Church. The preface is written humbly and kindly and is full of hope, and the entire document seeks a peaceful harmony of teaching and faith.
The content of the Augsburg Confession is clear and concise. The first 21 articles deal with various points of doctrine, while the final seven deal with various abuses in the medieval Roman Church. In the coming weeks, we’ll take up the topics of the Augsburg Confession in order to deepen our knowledge and appreciation for this foundational confession of the Lutheran Church.
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.