Augsburg Confession

In 1529 – 30 The Emperor, Charles V, finally made his way to Germany  having
reconciled himself with Francis I of France, the Pope and seen the Turks
turn back from the eastern borders. He now envisaged the completion of his
work – the extirpation of Luther and Lutheranism decreed in the Edict of
Worms. But even here he had a nagging doubt because the focal point for
Protestantism was in Saxony. Anywhere else in his Empire it would have
been much easier, even instant obedience. But  in Germany he had to consult the
will of others and this caused him to call another Diet at Augsburg.

At Piacenza on 12 September 1529 Charles
received three  burgesses from Germany – John Ehinger, Burgormaster
of Memmingen; Michael Caden, Syndic of Nuremberg; and Alexis Frauentrat,
Secretary to the margrave of Brandenburg. Their task was to inform the
Emperor of developments in Germany since he left in 1521, and bring him up
to date for the coming Diet at Augsburg. They were warned prior not to
preach Protestantism to the Emperor, so it was with trepidation they
related the events at the Diet of Speyers, the Edict of Toleration in
1526,and the Protestation against its virtual repeal by the Protestant Lords
in 1529. Charles dismissed the ambassadors and said that he would intimate
the Imperial will in writing. On 13 October he wrote of his determination
to enforce the decision of the Diet of Worms and had written to the Duke
of Saxony  commanding his obedience or he would be punished. The
ambassadors were ordered to be arrested but before they were, Caden
managed to write a note of what had happened and despatched it by trusted
messenger to the Senate at Nuremberg. They were taken as prisoners by
Charles V as he made his way to see the Pope in Bologna.


In Germany the news sent by Caden caused
great consternation, amounting as it did  to a declaration of war.
The Elector of Saxony and Philip of Hesse called a meeting of the
Protestant princes at Schmalkald on 29 November 1529. The meeting was
enlivened when the three ambassadors appeared, two had been released –
Cader having escaped, and gave a full account of what had happened to

The need for unity was recognised right
away but the meeting chose to debate the  religious issues first then
the matter of defence. A change in the Lutheran stance to the eucharist
had been made that affirmed that the  very body and blood  of
Christ are present in the sacrament. This was an unacceptable change to
some supporters of Zwingli. This meant that signature  would produce a league that was not
only Protestant, but Lutheran. Division was inevitable and the Lutheran
supporters were called to a further meeting in Nuremberg. The change in Luther`s stance was largely due to his abhorrence of war and the decay
that inevitably followed. Philip of Hesse ( a Zwingli supporter) made the point that the
difference in opinion over consubstantiation did not touch the foundations
of Christianity or endanger  the salvation of the soul, and ought not
to divide the Church of God.

In Italy Charles mulled over the options
of the sword or a Council to resolve issues. In the event he favoured
Council (Pope Clement not so) as it gave the opportunity to negotiate a
compromise with the Protestants. That would, he thought, enable him to
have the ongoing threat of Lutheranism on a leash to use when and if
necessary against an ambitious Papacy. Charles issued a summons for the
Diet of Augsburg to meet on 8 April  1530 for a decisive trial of
strength. A vast crowd descended on Augsburg for the Diet and with it the
opportunity for churches to be opened to spread the Reformed Word. A
favourite hymn at this time was Luther`s  “A strong Tower is our God”
while the Papists were astounded at the Lutherans and the extent of the
support that was on display.

The Elector of Saxony discerned the need for some
systematised, accurate  and authoritative statement of the Protestant
doctrines to present to the Diet. Accordingly in March 1530 he ordered it
drawn up and Luther, Melanchthon, Jonas and Pomeranus  jointly
undertook the task. They produced seventeen articles which were delivered
to the Elector at Torgau – hence the “Torgau Articles”. They were
subsequently remodelled by Melanchthon so that they might be read to the
Diet. Notably he sought compromise and tried hard to narrow the
differences as much as possible. Approving of the final draft, Luther 

“it pleases me right
well, and I know not how to better  or alter anything in it, and will
not hazard the attempt.; for I cannot tread so softly  and gently.”

It was on 15 June 1530 at
about nine in the evening that Charles finally entered Augsburg in all his
pomp and majesty. Luther meanwhile, stayed in Coburg Castle, calmly
working on a translation of Aesops Fables and the works of the minor
prophets. Many attempts were made to humble the Lutheran princes and the
ministers, including an invitation to march in the Corpus Christi
celebrations. But they declined, observing that the body of Christ was in
the Sacrament, not to be worshipped but fed on faith. This upset the Papal
legate and bruised the Emperor`s feelings but there was no alternative but
to accept the slight since marching in such ceremonies was not a duty owed
to him. They next sought to ban the Protestant preaching and sermons but
agreed only to suspend them while the senate was in session. Finally the
Diet met on 20 June preceded by a solemn mass – another attempt to humble
the Lutheran princes. The Elector took counsel and fulfilled his duty
carrying the sword of the Emperor before him, as if a civil ceremony, and
stood upright  before the altar  when the host was elevated.
This was followed by an over the top, harangue by the papal Nuncio 
in which he urged

” Sharpen thy sword O
magnanimous prince and smite these opposers [ of mother Church ] . Peace
there will never be in Germnay  till this heresy  shall have
been utterly extirpated.”

The work load in the Diet
fell on Melanchthon who was bowed down under the unending pressure of
meetings, discussions, devising rebuttals , schemes and maintaining the
momentum of the Protestant cause. In this Luther counselled him to have
alone would see him through.

“If we fall, Christ
falls with us – that is to say the Master of the world. I would rather
fall with Christ than remain standing with Caesar.”

On the morning of 23 June
1530 the Protestants princes met, and led by the Elector of Saxony signed
the statement of Doctrine – their Confession of Faith. They further
resolved to insist on its reading in the Diet since they anticipated
hurdles would be strewn in their way by the papists. This began the next
day with an attempt to filibuster – `to talk it out`, by the ramblings of
the Papal Legate. But the Lords Insisted on reading the Confession, and a venue was
appointed for the 25 June in the small Palatinate Chapel that could only
hold about two hundred persons – an attempt to control publicity. Finally,
and notably in the absence of Campeggio, the Papal Legate, (who was off
preparing  a decree for Rome disapproving of the Diet hearing the
religious question) the Protestants had their say.

Notably the final Declaration or
Confession was again crafted by Melanchthon to avoid, so far as possible,
confrontation with the papists and other sects. Criticisms were largely
omitted so that the focus was clearly about the Protestant beliefs founded
solely on the Word of God. It took two hours to present to a large
assembly of the princes, nobles, and  representatives, so it seems,
of the whole of Europe. It was a dramatic staging and a pivotal moment in
the Reformation, yet was the forerunner for further refutation by the
Papists, another response by the Protestants and the Emperor reaching for
the sword. Luther died in 1546 before the Schmalkald War broke out in the
following year.

The heads of the document

Chief Articles of Faith


Original Sin

The Son of God


The Ministry

New Obedience

The Church

What the Church Is


The Lord’s Supper



The Use of the Sacraments

Ecclesiastical Order

Ecclesiastical Usages

Civil Affairs

Christ’s Return to Judgment

Free Will

The Cause of Sin

Good Works

The Worship of the Saints


Both Kinds in the Sacrament

The Marriage of Priests

The Mass


Distinction of Foods

Monastic Vows

Ecclesiastical Power


Text of the Augsburg Confession: pdf file

of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod

 on their web site