From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Distinction of Meats
So, the Lutherans have taught that we cannot merit grace or be justified by the observance of human traditions, and that we must not think of such observances as necessary acts of worship. They supply these evidences from Scripture. Christ defended the Apostles who had not observed the usual tradition (Matt 15:3) that pertained to a matter not unlawful, but indifferent, yet had a certain affinity with the purifications of the Law. He added, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt. 15:9). Therefore, he does not consider them obligatory. Then he adds that it is “not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matt. 15:10). Paul teaches, “The kingdom of God is not food and drink” (Rom. 14:17). “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath” (Col. 2:16). If you are dead with Christ from the principles of the world, why are you subject to regulations like, “Touch not, taste not, handle not!” as though you are living in the world? Peter says, “Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:10). Here Peter forbids the burdening of consciences with many rituals, either of Moses or of others. Paul calls the prohibition of meats a doctrine of devils (1 Tim. 4:1, 3), for it is against the Gospel to establish or to do such works for the purpose of earning grace, or to suppose that without such acts Christianity could not exist.
Pulling It Together: The position of the Lutherans is based on Scripture. Our Lord guarded the right of his disciples to disregard religious traditions. Paul vigorously taught against the notion that the kingdom of God was based on food and drink, or certain holy days or ceremonies. How we interact with the physical has nothing to do with the spiritual life. We have died with Christ in God (Col 3:3); how dare we now seek to be alive through performing human traditions? Peter says that we try God's patience when we demand the keeping of traditions. These practices worry and bind the conscience that Christ would reassure and liberate. Paul calls these obligations the devil's doctrines. God's grace cannot be earned or increased by keeping Church customs. So, Lutherans confess that we are saved by the grace of Christ alone, as the Scriptures teach. We add nothing to this: belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, console my heart with the plain good news: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Amen.
By What Authority is a book that confronts churches who no longer believe their own message. The book shows how Christians have departed from the biblical faith, and what can be done about it.