by Rev. Michael Schuermann

1. Open up to Luther’s treatment of the papacy in the Smalcald Articles. Read paragraphs 1-3. Take note of the attributes the papacy claims for itself.

2. Now read Colossians 1:15-20. What attributes are herein assigned to Christ?

3. Now read again the first two sentences of Article IV. What does Luther identify as the fundamental error of the papacy?

4. Luther states that the papacy demands obedience to itself (to the pope) and to whatever is said from that office of pope, even to the point of tying salvation to that obedience. Read paragraphs 4-6.

5. What is the true Gospel? Read Ephesians 2:12-10.

6. Read Galatians 1:6-10. Where does Paul locate the source of the preaching of the true Gospel? Who does he exclude from being worthy to listen to, if the message is anything other than the true Gospel? (Hint: It gets very personal!)

7. What is the difference between the true Gospel and the gospel being preached by the papacy (which is no gospel at all)?

8. Read Galatians 5:1-9. Does Paul allow for even a little deviation from the true teaching of Christ? What phrase does he use to illustrate this?

9. Read from paragraph 7 to the end of the Article. Luther associates the pope with the antichrist referred to in 1 John chapter 2. Read 1 John 2:18-22. This seems like a harsh judgment, but recall what Luther points out in paragraphs 4-6 about what is being taught by the papacy. Now read Luke 10:16; John 13:20.

For further reading on this topic, I suggest that you also read The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, also found in the Book of Concord (immediately following the Smalcald Articles). Also helpful is the Editorial Excursus: Temporal and Spiritual Leadership in the Holy Roman Empire in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, pp. 286-287.

The Rev. Michael Schuermann is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sherman, Ill.