From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church
In this very assembly we have sufficiently demonstrated that, for love’s sake, we do not refuse to observe adiaphora with others, even when this would have been disadvantageous. We thought that public harmony which could be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages. We will speak more of this entire subject when we consider vows and ecclesiastical power.
Pulling It Together: I was once declined in a congregation’s consideration as a new pastor, in part, because the church I was serving at the time did not use the Nicene Creed as much as the church in deliberation. How much we use each creed—indeed, whether we use the creeds at all—is adiaphora. That is, these things are not mandated in Scripture; there is no reason that we must do them. However, I do like the Nicene Creed very much and would have been happy to employ it often, had I been called to that congregation.
There are other things that I do not care much for, but again, they are adiaphora, and frankly, matters of taste. For the sake of unity, I do not make a stink about these matters. Though, I admit, there are times that I want to, but only because some things grate against my sensibilities about how I would like things to be—not because Scripture says they should be another way.
Then, there are those subjects that are matters of conscience, that we dare not compromise. For example, if a church taught that saying a creed is an act that deserves God’s favor, then we should decline, as a matter of conscience and principle, not because we disagree with the creed or even about saying creeds in general. It is not adiaphora when a church teaches that human traditions merit God’s grace. Nor does it promote harmony to do anything against conscience. While we ought to look for ways to produce unity among God’s people, they should not be done at the expense of conscience.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of your Church. Amen.
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