Our Big Day

Yesterday was an important date in our history.  Did you celebrate? Probably not, it even slipped by me!  Indeed, when it comes to celebrating the Reformation, June 25 is perhaps a more important day than the traditional day of October 31, 1517 which we use to mark the beginning of the Reformation (The day Luther posted the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church’s door).  In all honesty, June 25 probably should displace October 31 as the big day for Lutheran Christians.  Ok, enough with the suspense! What happened on June 25?

Augsburg Confession PresentationIt is the year 1532, the fire of the Reformation was burning for 15 years and the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V, scheduled in June a big gathering in Augsburg to discuss all the pressing issues confronting the Empire.  They called these big meetings or conventions “Diets.”  One of the pressing issues on Charles’ mind was the continuing disunity caused by a conflict over doctrine in the church, for which Martin Luther was largely responsible.  Without delving into the details, once it was known that Charles wanted to deal with these key disagreements at the Diet in Augsburg, Philip Melanchthon, in close consultation with Luther and other Wittenberg theologians, composed a written defense of the Reformation positions.  This defense made the point that the Reformers were not introducing anything new into the church’s beliefs but rather recovering the “catholic” faith anIMG_2047d correcting grave errors that had come into the church’s life.  The Wittenberg Theologians and political leaders supportive of the Reformation presented this document to Charles on June 25, 1532.  It is known as the Augsburg Confession and to this day is the core definition of the Lutheran movement.  So let us make a special note in our calendars for June 25!  On a side note, two summers ago when I was serving as the Wittenberg English Ministries pastor, I had the opportunity to preach in the Castle Church … yes you guessed it, on 6/25! Of course, I talked about the Augsburg Confession!

 

Here are a couple of crucial articles from the Confession:

[IV. Concerning Justification]

Likewise, they teach that human beings cannot be justified before God by their own powers, merits, or works. But they are justified as a gift on account of Christ through faith when they believe that they are received into grace and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for our sins.53 God reckons this faith as righteousness (Rom. 3[:21–26*] and 4[:5*]).

[VII. Concerning the Church]

Likewise, they teach that one holy church will remain forever. The church is the assembly of saints in which the gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly. And it is enough for the true unity of the church to agree concerning the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions, rites, or ceremonies instituted by human beings be alike everywhere. As Paul says [Eph. 4:5*, 6*]: “One faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all …”[1]

 

 

[1] Kolb, R., Wengert, T. J., & Arand, C. P. (2000). The Book of Concord: the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (p. 43). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

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