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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Of God


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2 Corinthians 13:11-14

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession, Article I: Of God.

Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term "person" they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.

They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who assumed two principles, one Good and the other Evil: also the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all such. They condemn also the Samosatenes, old and new, who, contending that there is but one Person, sophistically and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct Persons, but that "Word" signifies a spoken word, and "Spirit" signifies motion created in things.

Pulling It Together

Because it is central to the Christian faith, the doctrine of God will continually be treated. It is covered in the creeds so that we know who God truly is and are therefore not led astray after false gods. The Confession offered at the Diet of Augsburg was designed to show that the Lutheran churches were doctrinally sound, orthodox, of the Church catholic. Orthodoxy begins with a right understanding of God. Having provided straightforward examples about the nature of God in the first paragraph, the Lutherans then showed their understanding by providing heretical models of what God is not.

The Lutherans, like the Roman Catholics, did not follow the teachings of Mani, a gnostic who claimed special knowledge outside of Scripture about what he considered the two eternals of light and dark, therefore dismissing what the Bible teaches about a creator, as well as the incarnate God. Neither did they espouse the teachings of Valentinus, who taught that unbelievers perished but that basic believers would have a lower level of salvation, while those believers who had received his special knowledge would receive a higher level of salvation. The Lutherans also dismissed outright any group who did not hold the three, distinguishable Persons of the Godhead as true. Therefore, the Lutherans regarded as heretical the Arians, since they taught that Christ was a created being, the Eunomians who could make no sense of the Trinity, the monotheistic Mohammedans, and any other group who did not profess the Trinity. The Lutherans were confessing at Augsburg that they believed about God what the Scriptures say, regardless of whether they could reason their way to the doctrine.

Prayer: Most gracious God, who raised your Church through the pure witness of your word, continue to enlighten her in that same word of truth through Jesus Christ her Lord. Amen. 

I Am Who I Am is a six-week study that explores what it means to “not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Exod 20:7), while at the same time trusting the promise in Christ that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

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