The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, June 25, 1530

“Sire,” said Margrave George the Confessor, one of the signers of the Augsburg Confession, when Emperor Charles V demanded that the Protestant princes participate in the Corpus Christi procession at the Diet of Augsburg, “I would rather kneel down on this spot and have my head chopped off than give up the Word of God.” (quoted by Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, 18 )

Of those times in which the life of the church was not very much disturbed by concern for pure teaching and by alarm concerning false teaching, it may be said that they do not belong to the great ages of the church. On the contrary, the church is always in danger of dying when it ceases to wrestle for truth and to pray that the Lord may guard it against the devil’s wiles and false teaching.

If this is true of all ages in the history of the church, how much more must it be true of an age like the Reformation! …
Doctrinal and confessional formulation began anew. And out of the struggle over doctrine, which had become unavoidable, a new kind of church developed: the confessional church. …

The first of these new confessional churches was the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Making its first appearance in 1530 as the church of the Augsburg Confession, it was the confessional church par excellence. It came into existence suddenly, not as an organization, and yet as a church. It was still without a form of government. It had no episcopal or synodical organs to represent it. The imperial estates had to represent it before the political world, and a few theologians, like Melanchthon, before the ecclesiastical world. It possessed no legal existence, and a superficial observer travelling through the Electorate of Saxony and the other evangelical territories would perhaps have said that it actually had no existence at all. What did exist, however, was the teaching, the Confession. And this did not begin with the words Lutherus docet [“Luther teaches”], but with the words, Ecclesiae magno consensu apud nos docent “Our churches, with common consent, do teach”–or, “The churches among us teach with complete unanimity,” Latin (Kolb/Wengert transl.), AC I:1].

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