QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
THE PRESENTATION OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION
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What is the Augsburg Confession?
Why was the Augsburg Confession written?
Who wrote the Augsburg Confession?
What does the Augsburg Confession teach?
Why do we commemorate the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession?
WHAT IS THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION?
The Augsburg Confession is the principle confessional document of the Lutheran Church. Lutherans all over the world, from the Reformation era to the present day, accept it as a true and correct exposition of the universal Christian faith as taught in the Holy Bible.
WHY WAS THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION WRITTEN?
Throughout the decade of the 1520s, Emperor Charles V, elected ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, was being urged by the pope to suppress the teachings of Martin Luther and his fellow reformers. In addition, Charles was preparing to meet the threat of the Ottoman Turks who had been at war with the Christian states of southeastern Europe. These dual pressures made him eager to resolve the religious differences that had fractured his empire. To this end, the Emperor summoned the electors, princes, bishops, and other officials of the empire to meet in the city of Augsburg. Elector John the Steadfast of Saxony, duke of the part of Germany in which the Reformation began, instructed his theologians to prepare a clear and concise statement of Lutheran beliefs and practices to present to the Emperor. This document was presented to Charles at the Diet (general assembly) of Augsburg on June 25, 1530 and has been known ever since as the Augsburg Confession.
WHO WROTE THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION?
Philip Melanchthon (pictured above), Martin Luther's close friend and fellow reformer, wrote the Augsburg Confession using documents previously drawn up by Luther and others. Melanchthon was a professor at the University of Wittenberg, a brilliant humanist scholar, and an exceptional theologian. Since Luther could not appear before the Diet -- he had been declared an outlaw and would be arrested if he left Saxon territory -- it was logical for Melanchthon to take the lead at Augsburg. Luther remained in regular touch with Melanchthon and Elector John by letter, providing them with advice and encouragement. When Luther read the final draft of the confession, he was extremely pleased with it.
WHAT DOES THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION TEACH?
The Augsburg Confession consists of 28 doctrinal statements called articles. The first 21 articles present the core of the Christian faith as taught by the Lutherans. The remaining 7 articles deal with medieval Roman Catholic practices and beliefs that the reformers believed were abuses. The confession stresses that Holy Scripture is the only source of Christian doctrine and that salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is the central doctrine around which all other teachings revolve. We at St. Paul's encourage you to read the Augsburg Confession and see for yourself what the document teaches.
WHY DO WE COMMEMORATE THE PRESENTATION OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION?
The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession is a uniquely Lutheran festival that draws our attention to one of the turning points in Christian history. On June 25, 1530 in the city of Augsburg, the rulers and mayors of Saxon Germany boldly and confidently confessed their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The men who signed the Augsburg Confession were not bishops or pastors, but laymen who put their lives in danger by their public confession. The motivation behind the drafting of the Augsburg Confession was a layman -- John the Steadfast of Saxony -- and the author of the document was a lay theologian -- Philip Melanchthon. By God's grace, John the Steadfast and the other courageous laymen who stood with him before the emperor at Augsburg were one in spirit and confession with the apostles and martyrs of old who joyfully declared the gospel of the risen Christ in the face of threats, persecution, and even death. On this day then, we thank and praise our Father in heaven for the example of the unswerving and fearless confessors of Augsburg. But more than that, we ask God the Holy Spirit to preserve each one of us in the same true faith unto everlasting life.