CHIEF ARTICLES OF THE FAITH
1 Confession in the churches is not abolished among us. The body of the Lord is not usually given to those who have not been examined [1 Corinthians 11:27–28] and absolved. 2 The people are very carefully taught about faith in the Absolution. Before, there was profound silence about faith. 3 Our people are taught that they should highly prize the Absolution as being God’s voice and pronounced by God’s command. 4 The Power of the Keys [Matthew 16:19] is set forth in its beauty. They are reminded what great consolation it brings to anxious consciences and that God requires faith to believe such Absolution as a voice sounding from heaven [e.g., John 12:28–30]. They are taught that such faith in Christ truly obtains and receives the forgiveness of sins. 5 Before, satisfactions were praised without restraint, but little was said about faith, Christ’s merit, and the righteousness of faith. Therefore, on this point, our churches are by no means to be blamed. 6 Even our adversaries have to concede the point that our teachers have diligently taught the doctrine of repentance and laid it open.
7 Our churches teach that naming every sin is not necessary and that consciences should not be burdened with worry about naming every sin. It is impossible to recount all sins, as Psalm 19:12 testifies: “Who can discern his errors?” 8 Also Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” 9 If only sins that can be named are forgiven, consciences could never find peace. For many sins cannot be seen or remembered. 10 The ancient writers also testify that a listing of sins is not necessary. 11 For in the Decrees, Chrysostom is quoted. He says,
I do not say that you should make your sins known in public, nor that you should accuse yourself before others, but I would have you obey the prophet who says, ‘Make known your ways before God’ [Psalm 37:5]. Therefore, confess your sins before God, the true Judge, with prayer. Tell your errors, not with the tongue, but with the memory of your conscience, and so forth.
12 And the Gloss (Of Repentance, Distinct. V, Cap. Consideret) admits that Confession is of human right only. 13 Nevertheless, because of the great benefit of Absolution, and because it is otherwise useful to the conscience, Confession is retained among us.