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What Luther Says

What Is The Augsburg Confession And Apology Of The Augsburg Confession?

One of the things that caught me off guard when I first learned about Confessional Lutheranism is that there were supposedly all these important "Confessions" of sorts.

I had no idea what a formal, written "Confession" really was at the time let alone why one of them was tied to a place called "Augsburg" only to discover that another one of them was an "Apology" to that first one.

What was that all about? Does that mean the writers of the first Confession felt bad about what they wrote? Did they then decide to write an "Apology" in response (a sort of "We're sorry we wrote that!") sort of thing?

As you can see, I had a lot of questions and not many answers, especially since I was attending an LCMS church at the time and there was never any talk about any kind of Lutheran Confession whatsoever!

That made me wonder if "Confessional Lutherans" were part of some sort of "cult" within the Lutheran Church perhaps; the "black sheep" of the whole bunch. I mean, why all the secrecy? Why all the unfamiliarity whenever I would bring it up and ask other lifelong Lutherans about it?

I remember one time when I asked the Pastor's adult daughter about this thing called the "Book of Concord" and she had no idea what I was talking about except for the fact that her dad (the Pastor) never had one the entire 30+ years he was in ministry until a fellow local Pastor was leaving the area just a few years ago to answer another call, and he gave a copy as a gift to his friend before he left.

How "important" could all these Confessions really be if lifelong Lutherans and Lutheran Pastors themselves didn't seem to care about them all that much? Why should I waste my time with them then?

All of this is to simply say that I completely understand if you're new to Lutheran theology and you're sitting there thinking that having all these Confessions is absolutely absurd.

For me, I remember thinking, "Why do we even need a formal Confession of any kind when we have the Bible?" Well, because it's just like we mentioned in the previous post about the Ecumenical Creeds.

As one Lutheran resource succinctly summarized, "In the early centuries of the Christian church, confessions -- or creeds -- were written to summarize the truth of Scripture in opposition to those who were distorting or misunderstanding Biblical truth. The Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds were developed for this purpose."

Tough to argue with that, isn't it? It makes perfect sense from that perspective.

So, Martin Luther did not intend to begin a new church; he wanted to reform the church by returning its teachings to the teachings of the Bible. When that proved to be impossible, Lutherans saw the need to state clearly what they believed.

During Luther’s life and in the decades after his death, he and others wrote what have come to be known as the "Lutheran Confessions," and "The Augsburg Confession" and the "Apology of The Augsburg Confession" both make up a key part of those Confessions.

Ok, but what exactly is the Augsburg Confession anyway? What is the Apology of the Augsburg Confession too?

What Is The Augsburg Confession And Apology of The Augsburg Confession? 
In the year 1530, the Lutherans were required to present their confession of faith before the emperor in Augsburg, Germany. Philip Melanchthon wrote the Augsburg Confession and it was read before the imperial court on June 30, 1530. One year later, the Lutherans presented their defense of the Augsburg Confession, which is what “apology” here means. It too was written by Philip Melanchthon. The largest document in the Book of Concord, its longest chapter, is devoted to the most important truth of the Christian faith: the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. 

That's about as easy an explanation as I could find online to explain what these two important documents are. Personally, I haven't read either of them yet, but I can't wait to get started! I'm just trying to build the proper foundation by going through both the Small Catechism and Large Catechism first.

"Wait! What the heck are the 'Small Catechism' and 'Large Catechism'?" right? Don't worry. That will be answered in our next entry I'm sure. For now, all you need to know is that "Confessions" are good things for a Christian to have, especially if they're written down for any and all to read and compare to the Word of God at any time.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's the Lutheran Confessions that beautifully summarize the truth of Scripture in opposition to those who would distort or misunderstand Biblical truth whether intentionally or not.

NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

1 comment

  1. Thank you for your candid remarks. I came across your blog in search of ways for my congregation and others in the community to study the Augsburg Confessions, the Apologies and the Smallcald. I encourage you to read these fully and contemplatively. It might at times seem tedious but it is amazing how detailed the writings are to make it very clear where we stand as Lutherans in this 500th year of continuous reformation of the real truths of Christianity. You will be blessed in this affirmation of faith.

    Richard Benjamin - Peace In Christ Lutheran Church, Walkersville, MD


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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