Saturday, September 24, 2011

Confessional Saturday #3: Preface to The Augsburg Confession

Title page from 1580 Book of ConcordBook of Concord:
The Augsburg Confession


To Emperor Charles V

1 Most invincible Emperor, Caesar Augustus, most clement Lord: Your Imperial Majesty has summoned a meeting of the Empire here at Augsburg to consider taking action against the Turk, discussing how best to stand effectively against his fury and attacks by means of military force. The Turk is the most atrocious and ancient hereditary enemy of the Christian name and religion. 2 This meeting is also to consider disagreements in our holy religion, the Christian faith, by hearing everyone’s opinions and judgments in each other’s presence. They are to be considered and evaluated among ourselves in mutual charity, mercy, and kindness. 3 After the removal and correction of things that either side has understood differently, these matters may be settled and brought back to one simple truth and Christian concord. 4 Then we may embrace and maintain the future of one pure and true religion under one Christ, doing battle under Him [Psalm 24:8], living in unity and concord in the one Christian Church.

5 We, the undersigned elector and princes, have been called to this gathering along with other electors, princes, and estates in obedient compliance with the Imperial mandate. Therefore, we have promptly come to Augsburg. We do not mean to boast when we say this, but we were among the first to be here.

6 At the very beginning of the meeting in Augsburg, Your Imperial Majesty made a proposal to the electors, princes, and other estates of the Empire. Among other things, you asked that the several estates of the Empire—on the strength of the Imperial edictsubmit their explanations, opinions, and judgments in German and Latin. 7 On the following Wednesday, we informed Your Imperial Majesty that after due deliberation we would present the articles of our Confession in one week. 8 Therefore, concerning this religious matter, we offer this Confession. It is ours and our preachers’. It shows, from the Holy Scriptures and God’s pure Word, what has been up to this time presented in our lands, dukedoms, dominions, and cities, and taught in our churches.

9 In keeping with your edict, the other electors, princes, and estates of the Empire may present similar writings, in Latin and German, giving their opinions in this religious matter. 10 We, and those princes previously mentioned, are prepared to discuss, in a friendly manner, all possible ways and means by which we may come together. We will do this in the presence of your Imperial Majesty, our most clement Lord. In this way, dissensions may be put away without offensive conflict. This can be done honorably, with God’s help, so that we may be brought back to agreement and concord. 11 As your edict shows, we are all under one Christ and do battle under Him [Exodus 15:3]. We ought to confess the one Christ and do everything according to God’s truth. With the most fervent prayers, this is what we ask of God.

12 However, regarding the rest of the electors, princes, and estates, who form the other side: no progress may be made, nor any result achieved by this treatment of religious matters, as Your Imperial Majesty has wisely determined that it should be dealt with and treated, by mutual presentation of writings and calm conferring together among ourselves. 13 We will at least leave with you a clear testimony. We are not holding back from anything that could bring about Christian concord, such as could be effected with God and a good conscience. 14 Your Imperial Majesty—and the other electors and estates of the Empire, and all moved by sincere love and zeal for religion, who will give an impartial hearing to this matter—please graciously offer to take notice of this and to understand this from our Confession.

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15 Your Imperial Majesty, has—not once but often—graciously pointed something out to the electors, princes, and estates of the Empire. At the meeting of Speyer (1526), according to the form of Your Imperial instruction and commission, this point was given and prescribed. Your Imperial Majesty caused it to be stated and publicly proclaimed that Your Majesty—16 in dealing with this religious matter, for certain reasons that were alleged in Your Majesty’s name—was not willing to decide and could not determine anything. But that Your Majesty would diligently use Your Majesty’s office with the Roman Pontiff for the convening of a General Council. 17 The same matter was publicly set forth at greater length a year ago at the last meeting of the Empire, at Speyer. 18 There Your Imperial Majesty (through His Highness Ferdinand, King of Bohemia and Hungary, our friend and clement Lord, as well as through the Orator and Imperial Commissioners) caused the following to be submitted among other things: concerning the calling of a council, Your Imperial Majesty had taken notice of and has pondered, the resolution of (a) Your Majesty’s Representative in the Empire, and of (b) the President and Imperial Counselors, and (c) the Legates from other Estates convened at Ratisbon. 19 Your Imperial Majesty also judged that it was helpful to convene a Council. Your Imperial Majesty did not doubt that the Roman pontiff could be persuaded to hold a General Council. For the matters between Your Imperial Majesty and the Roman pontiff were nearing agreement and Christian reconciliation. 20 Your Imperial Majesty himself pointed out that he would work to secure the said chief pontiff’s consent for convening a General Council, together with your Imperial Majesty, to be announced as soon as possible by letters that were to be sent out.

21 Therefore, if the outcome should be that the differences between us and the other parties in this religious matter should not be settled with friendliness and charity, then here, before Your Imperial Majesty, we obediently offer, in addition to what we have already done, to appear and defend our cause in such a general, free Christian Council. There has always been harmonious action and agreement among the electors, princes, and other estates to hold a Council, in all the Imperial Meetings held during Your Majesty’s reign. 22 Even before this time, we have appealed this great and grave matter, to the assembly of this General Council, and to your Imperial Majesty, in an appropriate manner. 23 We still stand by this appeal, both to your Imperial Majesty and to a Council. We have no intention to abandon our appeal, with this or any other document. This would not be possible, unless the matter between us and the other side is settled with friendliness and charity, resolved and brought to Christian harmony, according to the latest Imperial Citation. 24 In regard to this appeal we solemnly and publicly testify here.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 27
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

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