The heart of the Scriptures, the heart of Luther’s preaching and teaching, and the heart of Lutheran theology, is the Gospel. This time we read Part III, Article 4 of the Smalcald Articles, which brings us back to this heart.
While we often think of repentance being poorly understood because of Papist emphasis on man’s efforts, the Reformers (and we still to this day) also recognized that many are burdened in conscience by the notion that Christians shouldn’t need to repent.
The Large and Small Catechisms of Dr. Luther were born of pastoral necessity. In 1528, Luther and his colleagues visited the congregations in Saxony to assess their spiritual health. Luther was horrified.
Luther, in the Smalcald Articles, isn't so much confronting an error directly (that comes in the next Article on Repentance), but is instead making a positive confession about what the Law is and what role it plays in the world.
The Formula of Concord has two parts, the Epitome and the Solid Declaration. Together, these comprise the final document of the Book of Concord (1580), or the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
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. What is the true Gospel?
The culture increasingly maintains that marriage is man’s institution. Thus marriage can be defined according to the shifting winds of popular opinion, and ultimately government mandate. This is to rob marriage of any real objective meaning.
Philipp Melanchthon composed the Augsburg Confession in preparation for the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. The emperor Charles V called the diet in order to resolve the religious issues that were divided the empire.
In this life, we need the church, where our sins are daily and richly forgiven for the sake of Christ. The Holy Spirit crucifies the Old Adam and the body of sin every day of our lives by daily contrition and repentance.
Ask yourself: If you were writing your final testimony about the Christian faith, what would you identify as the first and chief article? The answer to the question reveals what lies at the heart of anyone’s understanding of God and Christianity. Luther’s answer is...