From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Power of Bishops – Conclusion
These are the chief articles that are considered controversial. Although we might have spoken of more abuses, we have set forth the chief points in order to avoid undue length. The rest may be readily judged in relation to these. There have been many complaints about indulgences, pilgrimages, and the abuse of excommunications. The parishes have been troubled in many ways by the dealers in indulgences. Pastors and monks have disputed continuously about parish authority, the hearing of confessions, funerals, sermons on special occasions, and countless other matters. We have passed over issues of this sort so that the chief points, having been briefly set forth, might be readily understood. Nothing has been said or cited to the reproach of any one. Only those things that we thought were necessary to mention have been enumerated, so that it might be understood that we have received no doctrine or ceremonies that are against Scripture or the Church. For it is clear that we have been diligent to prevent new and ungodly doctrines from creeping into our churches.
We desire to present the above articles in accordance with the edict of Your Imperial Majesty, in order to present our Confession and allow people to see a summary of the doctrines of our teachers. If there is something that any one might desire in this Confession, we are ready, if God is willing, to present fuller information according to the Scriptures.
Your Imperial Majesty’s most humble, obedient servants,
John, Duke of Saxony, elector
George, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Ernest, Duke of Lüneburg
Philip, Landgrave of Hesse
John Frederick, Duke of Saxony
Francis, Duke of Lüneburg
Wolfgang, Prince of Anhalt
The Mayor and Council of Nuremberg
The Mayor and Council of Reutlingen
Pulling It Together: There can be endless debate on religious and political topics. 500 years ago, the Lutherans were embroiled in both. It was the Emperor who ordered the Lutherans to set forth their differences with the Church in Rome. He did so to promote order in the empire, since their protest had gathered support and shaken society. In order to stay on-task, the Lutherans answered the summon with compact clarity of purpose. In all these articles, the Lutherans kept to the principal point that people are saved by the grace of God through faith alone (Eph 2:8). All of these articles have reflected on that chief point. Though they could have listed more of their concerns, they kept them contained to these seven articles on abuses. They gave ready answer for the hope within them (1Pet 3:15) with gracious restraint (Col 4:6), always giving God the glory for his grace through Christ our Lord.
Prayer: Lord, create in me a sincere heart, a respectful tongue, and a ready answer for the hope within me. Amen.
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