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Monday’s Confessions: Augsburg Confession I

by PastorWilliams on November 3rd, 2014

Introduction:

The Lutheran Reformers began their declaration of their doctrinal differences with Rome by first declaring what they have in common. In this way, they laid the groundwork for understanding why they changed the rites and practices that they had.

In the first article of the Augsburg Confession, the primary topic of all the Bible is discussed: the person of God. In this article, they explain how they are in keeping with the catholic (universal) Church of all history in the doctrine of the Trinity.

Text:

Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term “person” they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.

They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who assumed two principles, one Good and the other Evil- also the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all such. They condemn also the Samosatenes, old and new, who, contending that there is but one Person, sophistically and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct Persons, but that “Word” signifies a spoken word, and “Spirit” signifies motion created in things.

Commentary:

The Reformers list off God’s attributes as a testimony of what we believe about God. These positive comments suggest their closeness to Rome in this doctrine.

After the positive comments, the anathemas come. The first group of heretics the Reformers condemn are the dualists who believe in two equal and opposite gods. This was a view of Mani, who followed the ideas of Greek philosophy. Marcion also believed that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament were two different gods.

The second group are the subordinationists who believe that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to the Father. The chief among these heretics are the Arians, whose theology is continued through the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These groups, as well as the Valentinians and Muslims, believe that Jesus is a subordinate super-being–the first and greatest of all God’s creations.

The third group are the Adoptionists who believe that there is only one person in the Godhead. Paul of Samosata believed that Jesus became God at His Baptism when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, infusing Him with the divine Logos. Also condemned among the Adoptionists are the Modal Monarchians. These believe that there is only one Person but expresses Himself in three different ways at different times in history.

From → Confessions

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