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Augsburg Confession: Article VII Discussion

Discussion in 'LCMS / WELS / ELS / LCC' started by BelindaP, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. BelindaP

    BelindaP Senior Contributor

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    As I mentioned in another thread, I'm going through the Augsburg Confession, and I'm struggling with a few of the articles. This is one of them. For reference, it reads:

    I've bolded the part I'm having a problem with. What this seems to say to me is that churches in which the sacraments are administered incorrectly aren't part of the one holy Church. Does that mean to say that denominations that don't believe in the True Presence aren't Christian? What about those where the gospel is taught incorrectly, such as in the Reformed tradition?
     
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  2. Studeclunker

    Studeclunker Senior Member

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    May I be so bold as to recommend that you google the 'colloqy of Marburg'? Or, to be more clear, the conferrence of Marburg. It was here that the decision to remain separate from the reformed and Protestant churches was made. Luther didn't recognize these organizations as even Christian. Leaves one to wonder what he'd be saying about the ELCA presently...:scratch:

    So, I suppose the answer to your question would be, no, Luther didn't recognize the AnaBaptists, Reformed, Calvanists, etc, etc, etc... as entirely Christian. Some of them, the AnaBaptists for example, he declared flatly non-christian.
     
  3. BelindaP

    BelindaP Senior Contributor

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    I'm not trying to get anybody an infraction here, but is that you believe? If so, then only Lutherans would be the one true church. That isn't what is taught in my church.
     
  4. filosofer

    filosofer Senior Veteran

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    It might be better to provide quotes from Luther (and others) to that effect since those are wide ranging accusations.

    Luther did say that Zwingli and his fellow attendees were of a "different spirit," and refused the right hand of fellowship. In other words, he did not claim they were not Christian, only that they did not agree in significant areas of doctrine. Luther said to Zwingli: "I am astonished that you wish to consider me as your brother. It shows clearly that you do not attach much importance to your doctrine."

     
  5. filosofer

    filosofer Senior Veteran

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    BTW, the 15th article at Marburg read like this:

    All the participants signed the confession--including Luther and Zwingli.

     
  6. BigNorsk

    BigNorsk Contributor

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    If you are asking if Lutherans think only Lutherans are Christians that is completely not correct.

    The term church is used in different senses. The invisible church is made up of all believers. They occur in many places.

    The question here is where is the visible church. Where does one go to receive God's grace? What marks does one look for to recognize a Christian church.

    The emphasis is actually more on the positive, this is how you recognize the church rather than on the negative they aren't and they aren't and they aren't.

    I don't think it would be historically correct to say that Lutherans claim any error means a church is not Christian. The question would be how many forms of the gospel may a church despise before it is not longer the Christian church? I would guess there is some disagreement in that, but you don't see Lutherans running around and claim everything is not a Christian church. We probably should be actually a bit more active in that because it's pretty clear that some who use the name Christian have nothing in the way of the gospel. They preach a different gospel, they have no sacraments. Clearly not Christian churches even if they chant the mantra, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

    Marv
     
  7. DaRev

    DaRev Well-Known Member

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    No, it doesn't mean that they aren't "Christian". Only God Himself knows who the true faithful are, and we believe that they exists everywhere. The passage refers to the "Church" which is the assembly of Christians. There may well be true Christians in those heterodox organizations, but the Church is not present apart from the pure Gospel and the proper administration of the Sacraments.
     
  8. TheCosmicGospel

    TheCosmicGospel Regular Member

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    Perhaps to carry the conversation, what does your church teach? The Lutheran Church teaches that there is only One True Church. It is recognized by certain signs. How does your church recognize what the true Church is? What signs are important to you? Do you believe everyone who calls thelmselves a christian is really one? That would sure make it easier.

    Not even being just a member of a Lutheran Church guarantees anything.

    Peace,

    Cos
     
  9. Tangible

    Tangible Decision Theology = Ex Opere Operato

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  10. synger

    synger Confessional Liturgical Lutheran Supporter

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    You also may want to look at the Defense of the Augsburg Confession for that section, which clarifies what they meant (sometimes in very long, dense, head-scratching detail). It explains that it is indeed talking about the invisible Church, hidden among the visible church.

    Paragraph 17 is typically dense reading, but here is one of the main points (emphasis mine):

     
  11. BelindaP

    BelindaP Senior Contributor

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    It still seems rather clear to me that Luther and his compatriots believed that the one, true Church consisted only of those people who had the gospel and the sacraments correct. There isn't much room there to say otherwise. It's clear that they didn't consider the Anabaptists to be Christians.

    Yet, I was baptized in a Church of Christ and my baptism was considered valid because it was done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If it wasn't Christian, then how could that be so?
     
  12. DaRev

    DaRev Well-Known Member

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    Could you direct me to the writing where Luther makes this point?

    A baptism with water in the name of the Triune God certainly is valid regardless of where it's done because it contains the pure word combined with water as Christ instituted it.
     
  13. BelindaP

    BelindaP Senior Contributor

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    That's what the article seems to say to me.
    1. If a person isn't a member of the one, true Church, then they certainly wouldn't be Christian.
    2. The article says that only people who have the gospel and the sacraments right are members of the one, true Church.
    3. The Anabaptists are outright condemned in the article.

    Therefore, they wouldn't be considered Christians.
     
  14. synger

    synger Confessional Liturgical Lutheran Supporter

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    Keep in mind that that Anabaptists of that time had more heterodox doctrines than just credobaptism and a repudiation of infant baptism... though that one was the main one they are identified with, and the one main doctrine that reformers and Catholics alike condemned them for. Not only did they teach that baptism was just a symbol (and thus, something WE do...which then makes credobaptism make more sense to them), but they also taught that communion was just a symbol or memorial. Some went so far as to deny the Incarnation, but that was an outlier even among Anabaptists.

    See paragraph 258. Book of Concord

    As to the paragraph of the Augsburg Confession that we're looking at, I can see where you could read a condemnation of Anabaptist doctrine in it. However, I don't think it's clearly there. The focus is much more on the difference between the visible and invisible churches.

    If you want to see what the reformers thought of the Anabaptists, go rather to the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord. There's a section that specifically deals with "Other Factions, Heresies, and Sects" and the first one is, you guessed it, the Anabaptists. Yet, baptism isn't the first issue Lutherans have against them... it is their focus on works for salvation (the same problem we have with Catholics and Evangelicals today!). Then baptism, then issues with the separation of Christians from government/magistrate life. Etc. Here they are:

     
  15. wildboar

    wildboar Newbie

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    There is a blog devoted to the Book of Concord that you might find helpful. Here is the roundtable discussion about the article: Concordia | The Lutheran Confessions: Roundtable 8: The Church

    In it, Rev. McCain quotes Sasse as saying:

    "This character of the congregation [that is, being "Church"] called by the Word and Sacrament is not lost because it is weak in faith, because some in it are beginners, or even "false Christians and hypocrites", so long as it yet possesses the pure Word and the pure Sacraments....And this Church is present wherever in Christendom, in all congregations and all denominations, where the Gospel is not so obscured and the Sacraments are not so disfigured that Christ the Lord is no longer present in them." (*same paragraph* p.83-84)
     
  16. filosofer

    filosofer Senior Veteran

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    And as much as Luther (and others) railed against the RCC, he still admitted that there was the church.

     
  17. BelindaP

    BelindaP Senior Contributor

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    That's exactly the doctrine I grew up with. We didn't believe in any sacraments, only ordinances. We completely rejected infant baptism and the Real Presence. That's fairly standard doctrine among evangelicals.

    Article XVII actually uses these words: "They condemn the Anabaptists..."

    Again, that's what I grew up with, so I'm very familiar with it.
     
  18. BelindaP

    BelindaP Senior Contributor

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    This is interesting, and it raises a point. What does it take to disfigure the sacraments to where Christ the Lord is no longer present in it?
    Omitting the words of institution?
    Considering it to be an ordinance rather than a sacrament?
    Not discerning the Real Presence?
    Having it blessed/administered by women or by those not called to do so?

    I know it seems I am picking gnats, but I'm going to have an incredibly hard time accepting an article that says that people have to have their doctrine all in order to be considered Christians.
     
  19. wildboar

    wildboar Newbie

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    I think that confessional Lutheran churches generally believe that if the real presence is denied then you do not have the Sacrament of the Altar and Christ's body and blood are not present. So Lutherans would believe that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox although they attach false teachings to the Sacrament of the Altar still have it. Baptists and Reformed would not.

    Lutherans generally also regard baptism as valid as long as it is done using the Trinitarian formula. I believe most would also consider baptism "in the name of Jesus" as valid as long as it was done by a church that confesses the Trinity.

    The Gospel is present wherever the Scriptures are read but it can get severely obscured. Official Roman Catholic teaching distorts the Gospel.

    I don't know if you can even make such a scale from "true" to "false" or how you would go about that but on an institutional level (local churches may vary) I think that by these standards the Roman Catholic Church may be a truer church than ELCA.
     
  20. DaRev

    DaRev Well-Known Member

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    No. That's not how we are told by Christ to baptize.
     
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