The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Key to the Scriptures

The Augsburg Confession holds that the doctrine of justification opens the Bible

The Bible is “hot” these days. Best-selling books offer to give our lives biblical purpose so Jesus won’t leave us behind when he returns—if we can decipher a secret code that will allow access to the mysteries of the Bible. News reports tell of newly discovered “gospels” left out of the Bible.

In and around the ELCA , some groups say they adhere to the “Word Alone,” others that they stand on the “Solid Rock” of Scripture, and still others that they have planted themselves in the “Good Soil” of Holy Writ.

BibleYes, the Bible is hot. And the heat of current arguments stokes debate and controversy as many on both the left and on the right seem terribly sure they alone possess the truth: Who is correct? What is biblical truth? Why even study the Scriptures at all when it leads to so much conflict? In short, how do we read the Bible—and does it really matter anyway?

The intensity of questions like these deserves a response that can take the heat. That is why the Augsburg Confession is so important to the church today. This document, forged in the heat of battle, has stood the test of time.

A little over 475 years ago, our forbears in the faith confessed their faith before the gathered estates of Christendom at Augsburg, Germany. The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, had ordered them to give an account of their teaching. Therefore, these first “Lutherans” drew upon previous documents and discussions to pen the Augsburg Confession in spring and early summer 1530.

With Martin Luther banned from attendance and the document’s editor, Philipp Melanchthon, revising up to the last minute, the confessors read the German version to the Diet of Augsburg on June 25 that year.

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