Augsburg Confession – Article 12 – Repentance

Articles 9, 10, 11 & 12 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 11, click here.)

Regarding repentance, we teach that those who have sinned after baptism, at whatever time they come to repentance, obtain forgiveness of sins, and absolution should not be denied them by the church. Now true and genuine repentance, properly speaking, is nothing other than having contrition and sorrow or dread over sin, and yet at the same time believing in the gospel and absolution, namely that the sin has been forgiven and that grace has been secured through Christ, and this faith comforts the heart and puts it back at ease.1 After that, changing one’s life for the better and desisting from sin should also follow, for these are supposed to be the fruits of repentance, as John says in Matthew 3, “Produce the genuine fruit of repentance.”

Here we reject those who teach that once a person becomes pious, he is unable to fall away again.2

On the other side, we also condemn the Novatians, who denied absolution to those who had sinned after baptism.3

We also reject those who teach that people obtain forgiveness of sins through their own satisfaction, instead of through faith.4

(To continue to Article 13, click here.)

Notes

1 Compare this simple, biblical definition (Mark 1:14,15; Acts 5:31; 11:18; 20:21; 26:20; 2 Timothy 2:25) to the supposed 4 (or 8) “Rs of Repentance” in Mormonism and popular Evangelical theology – recognition, remorse, resolution, (recitation, reformation,) restitution(, release, and reception) – where the fruits of repentance get mixed up with repentance itself, and the essence of repentance, namely trust in forgiveness through Christ, gets lost entirely.

2 Included among those who taught that you could not fall away if you had actually already become a believer (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11,12) were the Anabaptists like Hans Denck. (The Latin version actually condemns the Anabaptists by name, and it also condemns those who teach that it is possible for a person to attain to such a state of perfection in this life that he or she no longer sins.) Caspar Schwenckfeld also spoke of the regenerate as “essentially righteous.”

3 The Novatians were a heretical group of rigorists in Rome in the middle of the 3rd century AD, named after Novatian (c. 200–258), who refused to take back into the church those who had denied the faith during persecution. Eventually they also refused readmission to those who committed adultery or fornication or who were guilty of murder.

4 This last condemned group really consisted of prominent Roman Catholic theologians, including Johann Eck, who was the Lutherans’ primary opponent at the Diet of Augsburg. Still today, official Roman Catholic doctrine includes satisfaction as an essential part of repentance or penance (see e.g. par. 1431, 1434ff, & 1450 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

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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