A Laymen’s Commentary on the Augsburg Confession: The Church

This is part 8 of 30 in the series A Layman's Commentary on the Augsburg Confession

Article VII: Of the Church.

1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.

There is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as the Nicene Creed says:

The Church is timeless and has existed since the beginning.  The Church is where true doctrine and practice are found (Psalm 149).

The unity of the Church is not found in unity of human practice but rather unity of doctrine and faith.  While we do wish to have uniform practice for the sake of instruction and confession, it is not required of the church.  Beyond that, it is perfectly natural for each church to have variations in practice, such as language. These variations though should not cause offense and the church in overall praxis should strive for unity.  We are one body, the Church, and Christ is our head thus we should represent that in how we act. As the old axiom says “lex orendi, lex credendi”, the rule of faith is the rule of prayer (Ephesians 4:1-16).

Or, to put it an even better way, the Church is the bride and Christ is the groom.  For marriage is the image of the reality of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).  We will look at what the Apology says after reading Article VIII which also has to do with the Church, specifically the difference between the visible and invisible Church.

1 I love Your kingdom, Lord,
The house of Your abode,
The Church our blest Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.

2 Beyond my highest joy
I prize its heav’nly ways,
Its sweet communion, solemn vows,
Its hymns of love and praise.

3 I love Your church, O God,
Your saints in ev’ry land,
Dear as the apple of Your eye,
And graven on Your hand.

4 For them my tears shall fall;
For them my prayers ascend;
For them my cares and toils be giv’n,
Till toils and cares shall end.

5 Sure as Your truth shall last,
To Zion shall be giv’n
The brightest glories earth can yield
And brighter bliss of heav’n.

(LSB 651)

About Dr. Paul Edmon

Dr. Paul Edmon is from Seattle, Washington and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He is professional staff at Harvard University and acts as liaison between Center for Astrophysics and Research Computing. A life long Lutheran, he is formerly a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle and University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis. He now attends First Lutheran Church (FLC) of Boston where he teaches Lutheran Essentials. He sings bass in the FLC choir and Canto Armonico. He was elected to the Concordia Seminary St. Louis Board of Regents in 2016. He is single and among his manifold interests are scotch, football, anime, board games, mythology, history, philosophy, and general nerdiness. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent Harvard University or Concordia Seminary. Twitter: @pauledmon


A Laymen’s Commentary on the Augsburg Confession: The Church — 1 Comment

  1. “The interior of the Town [of Wittenberg] Church of St. Mary is striking for its pure, uncluttered feel. […] For most of his life, this was Luther’s home church […] This is where what many consider to be the first-ever Protestant service took place, on Christmas Day in 1521 […] The readings were in German (not in Latin), communion was taken by everyone (not just priests), and hymns were sung by the congregation – actually quite radical for that time. […] The focal point of the Church is the colorful, engaging, almost whimsical altar painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, the Younger and their school (completed in 1547, the year after Luther died). […] The bottom panel shows Martin Luther preaching from a pulpit, one hand on the Bible and the other pointing to Christ, as he engages an enthralled group of worshipers. The fluttering loincloth of Jesus helps to convey the message from preacher to parishioner. But notice that, true to life, some of those people aren’t paying attention – they’re chatting and looking around. The women watching Luther most intensely is his wife, Katharina. She’s surrounded by their many children. Cranach (with the big white beard) is in the back.” (Germany, Rick Steves, 2017, p.647-649)

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