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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 1

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Acts 4:12

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

First, the bishop of Rome claims that he is, by divine right, over all bishops and pastors. He adds secondly, that by divine right he has both swords, that is, the authority of bestowing kingdoms. Thirdly, he declares that believing this is necessary for salvation. For these reasons, the Roman bishop calls himself the vicar of Christ on earth. We hold these three articles to be false, godless, tyrannical, and destructive to the Church.

Pulling It Together

Theologians gathered at Smalcald in 1537, to construct their response to the pope’s convening of a council. This paper, “The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,” is the result of their gathering. If you looked carefully at the names of those who subscribed to The Smalcald Articles, you may have noticed that Melanchthon was vacillating on the first point of this treatise. These theologians did not waver. The pope was afforded no such authority over the pastors and preachers of the Reformation, let alone conceded rule over both Church and State. Still, it was the third point that would have made their theological skin truly crawl.

 There is only one name under heaven by which people are saved to eternal life: Christ alone. It is no wonder solus Christus was a primary doctrine of the Reformation. Christ alone died for our sins and raised us from the dead. We are forgiven and saved from death and the devil by Christ alone (solo Christo). He alone is the way to the Father (John 14:6). Believe in him and no other. Any other belief, any other teaching, is heresy of the worst kind.

Prayer: I believe in your Son, Father, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, forever one God. Amen.

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