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Reading of the Augsburg Confession on 25 June 1530 in the Augsburger Reichstag (detail). Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany © DHM/The Bridgeman Art Library.

CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH

In 1517, Luther nailed 95 theses to a church door in Wittenburg, Germany, for public discussion. Discussion followed, along with arguments about what was written.
Shortly after Luther’s death in 1546, wars broke out, lasting, on and off, for about one century—until the Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648.


Were these wars all about religion? No! Many of these wars were primarily about nationalism and territory; yet one thing dare never be forgotten: Even though often a minority factor, the religious element played a significant role in most of the conflicts.

THE ROOTS OF THE RELIGIOUS COMPONENT OF THE CONFLICT

Thirteen years after Luther nailed his theses for discussion on the church door, the leader of all of Europe, Charles V, called a meeting in Augsburg, Germany, in June of 1530. The purpose of the meeting was to resolve the conflict between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutherans. Charles V asked the Lutherans to put their confession in writing. This confession was read before Charles V, as shown above.
Based on Scripture alone, the Lutherans itemized a 28-point confession, which even most critics found to be essentially very ecumenical. But there were sticking points that proved irresolvable, such as the second of the 28 important articles listed by the Lutherans: the Scriptural doctrine of “Sin.” 


Although the disagreement over the definition of Sin and seve­ral other doctrines began as serious differences, these soon expanded to include disagreements about nationalism, personal ambitions, among other things. Eventually, the followers of John Calvin (the Reformed) became part of the conflict as they sought to impose Calvin’s teachings on larger and larger areas of Europe.

THE CENTURY OF CONFLICT CULMINATES IN THE THIRTY YEARS’ WAR

These ongoing conflicts culminated in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), often called the most devastating war in the history of all of Europe. These conflicts were settled when the Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648. The map on the upper right shows the incredible devastation caused by the war—including the destruction of over 50% of the population in some areas (red) of central Europe, primarily in Germany. After war, disease, and famine ran their course in these territories, they looked very much like the deserted areas of postnuclear Chernobyl do today: a vast wasteland, devoid of all human life.

WHY MENTION THIS IN THIS ISSUE OF GOOD NEWS?

Just as the Scriptural doctrine of Sin was a focus in 1530, so today this issue of Good News focuses also on this doctrine and God’s divine Medicine to control the power of Sin. The emphasis on the Scriptural doctrine of Sin might be difficult to find in some churches that today still call themselves “Lutheran.” Nevertheless, this basic doctrine of Sin continues to be taught, guarded, and defended, as it was by thousands of Lutheran martyrs in the past. The struggle to continue to teach everything that Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:20) is never easy. Genuine Lutherans, dedicated followers of Jesus Christ, seek no alternative!


Dear Lord Jesus, never let our faith and Your teachings be mere traditions. Rather, let Your Word and Your teachings—especially Your doctrine of Sin and Your divine Medicine—be our precious, non-negotiable, life-blood for this life, and for the life to come. Amen.

For further study, turn to the Bible Study on page 38, questions 77–­82.

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