Augsburg Confession – Article 6 – New Obedience

Articles 6, 7 & 8 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 5, click here.)

We also teach that such faith ought to produce good fruits and good works, and that a person must do good works, of every kind that God has commanded, for the sake of God. People should not put their confidence in such works, however, as if they merited grace before God by doing them. For we receive forgiveness of sins and righteousness through faith in Christ, as Christ himself says, “When you have done all this, you should say, ‘We are incapable servants.’”1 The Fathers also teach this. For Ambrose says, “This is what God has resolved: Whoever believes in Christ is saved, and he has forgiveness of sins not by works but through faith alone, apart from merit.”2

(To continue to Article 7, click here.)

Notes

1 Luke 17:10

2 Ambrose (c. 340-397) is best known for some of his hymns and for being the spiritual father of Augustine of Hippo. However, Melanchthon’s citation is not actually from Ambrose, but from Ambrosiaster, a name that basically means “wannabe Ambrose.” This name was given many years after the fact to a contemporary of Ambrose who wrote a commentary on St. Paul’s epistles between 366 and 384. For many years this commentary was falsely attributed to Ambrose. So Melanchthon’s quote does prove his point that the Church Fathers also taught this doctrine (the original Latin quote Melanchthon is citing can be found in col. 185 [at 1 Corinthians 1:4] here), but the fact that he is wrong in attributing it to Ambrose also helps us to understand what confessional Lutherans mean and what they do not mean when they say that they subscribe unconditionally to the Augsburg Confession. We are subscribing to all of the points that it makes pertaining to the Bible’s doctrine. We are not saying that the document is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, or that all its citations are accurate, or that it always cites the correct scriptural proof passages, or that all its illustrations contain factual information. (For example, in the Formula of Concord, another of the Lutheran Confessions, the writer says that smearing a magnet with garlic juice hinders its magnetic power, in order to illustrate a biblical point. We are subscribing to the biblical point he is making there, but we are not subscribing to his assertion about garlic juice and magnets.) In short, we subscribe to all of the points of doctrine (because all of them agree with the clear teaching of Scripture), but not to the accessory details used to support it.

About redbrickparsonage
Red Brick Parsonage is operated by a confessional Lutheran pastor serving in the South of the U.S.A.

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