The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 12 – The Augsburg Confession

In 1530, Philip Melanchthon presented to Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg a confession built on conclusions that were forming among the Lutheran Protestants. I draw attention here to the order and substance of this confession, which need to be seen over against the classical order and substance of the Nicene Creed. Nicea framed things through God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and the God the Son articles were derived from 1 Corinthians 15.

The Augsburg Confession converted the order of the “articles” into sections on salvation and justification by faith. It is precisely here that a “gospel culture” was reshaped into a “salvation culture” or, better yet, “justification culture.” Here are the central categories of the Lutheran confession: God as Triune [as at Nicea] Original sin [major reshaping idea] The Son of God [as with Nicea and Chalcedon, with a clear understanding of a satisfaction and propitiation of God’s wrath] Justification by faith.

Then the Augsburg Confession covers the office of ministry, the new obedience, the church, baptism, the Holy Supper, confession, repentance, sacraments, order in the church, church usages, civil government, the return of Christ to judge, freedom of the will, the cause of sin, and a lengthy discussion of faith and good works, and it concludes with the cult of the saints before it discusses matters about which the Reformers were in serious dispute.

I wish to make only one point: this Lutheran confession framed the gospel in terms of salvation. It would not be inaccurate to say that the gospel “story became soteriology,” or the Story of Israel/Bible/Jesus became the System of Salvation.

The Reformation did not deny the gospel story and it did not deny the creeds. Instead, it put everything into a new order and into a new place. Time and developments have somehow eroded the much more balanced combination of gospel culture and salvation culture in the Reformation to where today a salvation culture has eclipsed the gospel culture.

Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited (Zondervan, 2011), p.71.

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I am very curious to see how my Lutheran friend RomGabe will respond to this. I hope he will not become apologetic, but you never know.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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