This is my first post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession. A full copy of which you can find HERE. What is the Augsburg Confession?
“The Augsburg Confession, also known as the “Augustana” from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran Reformation.” Wikipedia
For the purposes of not starting a bar fight most will point to October 31st 1517 as the kick off of the reformation. But historically speaking it would be more accurate to date it to June 25, 1530 when the 28 articles were presented to the Emperor in Augsburg.
This is because the 95 theses themselves were simply a call for debate, which was a common thing to do back then. It was really only the combination of the political context at the time and the printing press that set events leading to the Augsburg Confession in motion.
In my opinion other traditions that came later are just other traditions that came later. I wouldn’t even classify them as part of the reformation. Too harsh? Maybe, but I’m just calling it like I see it.
For each post on the Augsburg Confession I am going to present one article at a time. I attempt to back each one up with scripture. If I have a post on it already I’ll provide a link and some key proof-texts. If I don’t have a post on it already I will take a more comprehensive approach or link to someone more knowledgeable that already has. All analysis will be my own.
Article I: About God
“Our churches are united in teaching what the Council of Nicaea decreed: it is true that there is only one divine being, but there are three persons; and that this should be believed without a doubt. In other words, there is one divine being, which is called God and which truly is God. He is eternal, has no body, has no parts, has all power, wisdom, and goodness. He is the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible.
Yet there are also three persons-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are of the same being and power and are equally eternal. We use the word person in the same way the early Christians used it. It does not mean a part or quality of another being but something that exists in and of itself.
Our churches condemn all heresies that have sprung up against this teaching, such as the Manicheans, who taught there were two divine beings, one good and the other evil. We also condemn the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Muslims, and all others like them. We also condemn the ancient and modem followers of Paul of Samosata. They claim that there is only one divine person.Through clever and ungodly reasoning, they argue that the Word [Christ] and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons, but that “Word” means only a spoken word, and that “Spirit” refers to a movement within created beings.” – The Unaltered Augsburg Confession
Essentially what I see above is a brief confession of the Trinity. The writers of the Augsburg Confession are letting everyone know that they are Trinitarian. This is actually a big deal, generally cults that break off of Christianity have always been antitrinitarian on some level.
I have demonstrated the doctrine of the Holy Trinity from scripture in an older post which you can find HERE. The idea is that the Bible teaches three clear theses about God.
- One Being
- Three Divine Persons
- Same Substance
No matter what language you use to confess this all three must be confessed to be Biblical. This paradox gives us a key for understanding the Bible too, because we know that we should approach it in such a manner that all teachings are true rather than pick one over the other.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” Deut 6:4 KJV
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matt 28:19 KJV
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Col 2:8-9 KJV
Cults and offshoots will typically deny one of the three teachings above in favor of one of the others they prefer. This isn’t the case though at Augsburg. Say what you like about these men but they were clearly Trinitarian, and anyone claiming to be Lutheran today is only being honest if they are too.