Augsburg Confession – Article 13 – Use of the Sacraments

Articles 13, 14, 15 & 16 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 12, click here.)

Regarding the use of the sacraments, we teach that the sacraments have been instituted not just to serve as signs whereby Christians might be outwardly recognized as such,1 but to serve as signs and testimonies of God’s disposition toward us for awakening and strengthening our faith. For this reason they also require faith and are rightly used when people receive them in faith2 and when their faith is strengthened thereby.3

(To continue to Article 14, click here.)

Notes

1 This was the teaching of Ulrich Zwingli (see e.g. pp. 535ff here [page numbers in the right margin]; pp. 243ff here; and pp. 392ff here).

2 An additional sentence in Melanchthon’s so-called editio princeps (first edition) of the Augsburg Confession, published in 1531, shows that here the Lutherans were seeking to distance themselves from scholastic teaching within the Roman Church: “We therefore reject those who teach that the sacraments make a person righteous ex opere operato [by the mere performance of the work] apart from faith, and who do not teach that there also needs to be faith that forgiveness of sins is being offered there, which is obtained through faith, not through the work.” The concept of the sacraments benefitting a person ex opere operato had been promoted since the thirteenth century.

3 The final sentence in the Latin version reads: “And so the sacraments should be used in such a way that faith is also there to believe the promises that are held out and showcased through the sacraments.” In the case of infant baptism, the requisite faith, through which baptism’s promises and blessings are received, is also given through those same promises and blessings. (While we cannot dogmatically assert that such faith is given in every single case, we proceed under the assumption that it is due to the power of the gospel [Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 3:21], God’s general desire to save [1 Timothy 2:3,4], his express desire to save the children of believers through baptism [Acts 2:38,39], and his own statement about the faith of babies and little children [Luke 18:15–17].)

Augsburg Confession – Article 9 – Baptism

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

(To read Article 8, click here.)

Regarding baptism, we teach that it is necessary1 and that grace is offered through it, and that children should also be baptized, since they are entrusted to God and become pleasing to him through such baptism.2

For this reason we reject the Anabaptists, who teach that infant baptism is not right.3

(To continue to Article 10, click here.)

Notes

1 See John 3:3–7; Mark 16:15,16. On the basis of especially the latter passage (and others, like John 3:16), confessional Lutheran teachers will say more precisely that baptism is necessary, but not absolutely necessary. The only thing absolutely necessary for eternal salvation is faith in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior from sin, death, the devil, and hell (see also Luke 23:39–43), (However, ordinarily God gives such faith precisely through baptism; see next note.)

2 In order to see whether this article teaches the truth of God’s word and to wade through all the clutter surrounding this teaching, we can ask three simple questions of God’s word, making sure to answer the questions in his own words, not our own:

  1. What does the Bible say baptism is? (Answer: Mark 7:1–14 [for baptism as a more generic concept; note also the footnote on vs. 4]; Matthew 28:19 [for Christian baptism].)
  2. What does the Bible say baptism does? (Answer: 1 Peter 3:20,21; Titus 3:4–8; John 3:3–7; Galatians 3:26,27; Acts 2:38,39; 22:16; Romans 6:1–14; Colossians 2:11,12.)
  3. What does the Bible say about our need for baptism? (Answer: Psalm 51:5; John 3:3–7; Ephesians 2:1–3.)

3 We can note the following in addition to what has already been said about the Anabaptists: The leaders of the Anabaptists in Luther’s day were Hans Denck, Ludwig Hetzer, Balthasar Hubmaier, and others. For Denck, Christ was not the Redeemer whose life and death were substitutionary for humanity; Christ was rather the embodiment of the perfect person and our role model. In addition to rejecting the traditional, biblical Christian teaching regarding the sacraments, Denck also rejected the verbal inspiration of Scripture, and some scholars even claim he was anti-Trinitarian. (Some Anabaptists did explicitly reject the doctrine of the Trinity.) Hetzer was an otherwise brilliant man who adopted Denck’s views; however, he yielded to carnal lust and was executed for gross adultery in 1529. Hubmaier was more moderate in his views than Hetzer or Denck, but he too rejected original sin and baptism as a means of grace. He was executed by the Roman Catholics in 1528. It is important to note that modern-day Baptists are not directly descended from the Anabaptists of Reformation days. Today’s Amish and Mennonites have a more direct historical connection to the Anabaptists. What Baptists and Anabaptists (and their descendants) do have in common is a rejection of infant baptism, who therefore fall under the same sentence of condemnation in this article (“For this reason we reject…”). However, keep in mind what was said in note 2 under Article 7, and that the phrases “we condemn” and “we reject” are not, in and of themselves, definitive assertions that those who fit that description are in or going to eternal punishment in hell (unless they have been excommunicated on biblical grounds and following biblical due process and subsequently join a fellowship that holds to these false teachings without repentance; Matthew 18:15–18; John 20:23; 1 Corinthians 5:4,5). These phrases are rather identifying those with whom we cannot in good conscience practice religious fellowship or treat as brothers and sisters in the faith this side of eternity. In some cases, the condemnation may be stronger, when essential Christian truth is under discussion and God’s own clear condemnations therefore come into play (see e.g. John 3:16–18,36; 14:6; 1 John 5:11,12). (Some will suggest a distinction between our confessions’ condemnations [werden verdammt or damnant] and rejections [werden verworfen or rejiciuntur], but this is artificial, as evidenced by this article, where the German version concludes with werden verworfen, while the Latin version concludes with damnant. The two are used synonymously.)

The Latin version of this article reads:

Regarding baptism, they [our teachers] teach that it is necessary for salvation, and that the grace of God is offered through baptism, and that children should be baptized, since they are presented to God through baptism and are thereby received into the grace of God.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children and maintain that children are saved without baptism.

Augsburg Confession – Article 2 – Original Sin

Articles 1 & 2 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 1, click here.)

We further teach that after Adam’s fall, all humans born in the natural way1 are conceived and born in sin, that is, that all of them, starting from the time they are in their mother’s womb, are full of evil desire and inclination and by nature are unable to have any true fear of God or any true faith in God. We also teach that this inborn disease and inherited sin is truly sin2 and condemns all those not reborn through baptism and the Holy Spirit to God’s eternal wrath.

In addition, we condemn the Pelagians3 and others who do not regard inherited sin as sin, so that they make human nature pious through its own natural powers, which is an insult to the suffering and merit of Christ.

(To continue to Article 3, click here.)

Notes

1 This qualification is meant to exempt Jesus (Luke 1:26–38; John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15).

2 Cp. the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997): “Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called ‘concupiscence.’ Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God” (par. 405).

3 The Pelagians were followers of Pelagius (c. 360–c. 418 AD), a British or Irish monk who wrote commentaries on thirteen Epistles of Paul; a book on faith; treatises on Christian life, virginity, and the divine Law; and letters. Pelagius and his followers held that a person’s nature is not corrupt since the fall but is still in its original state of moral indifference and depends on the individual will to develop the moral germ of his nature and be saved. According to Pelagius, grace and salvation from Christ were not necessary. One of the most outspoken opponents of Pelagianism was Augustine.

Strieter Autobiography: Youth in Affalterbach

[If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Youth

I was born in Affalterbach, Marbach Jurisdiction [Oberamt], Kingdom of Württemberg. Regarding my birth and baptism, here are my sainted father’s own words:

On the 9th of September, 1829, I, Jacob Strieter, became the father of a baby boy. He was born into the world between one and two in the morning. On the 11th of September he was brought to Holy Baptism and received the name Johannes, and his name was entered in the Book of Life with the precious blood of Christ.

Johannes Strieter's baptismal record (1) - entry 29

Johannes Strieter’s baptismal record (1) – entry 29

Johannes Strieter's baptismal record (2)

Johannes Strieter’s baptismal record (2)

Affalterbach, a small market town with a population of 500 back then, is located on the country road between Marbach and Winnenden, two hours from either city. In the middle of the town was a crossroads. On the left-hand corner, as you stand facing Winnenden, was an inn, the Lammwirt [Lamb Inn], and on the right-hand was an inn, the Ochsenwirt [Oxen Inn]. Everything above there was called the Upper Village [Oberdorf]. From the Ochsenwirt it went somewhat downhill, and down there was called the Lower Village [Unterdorf]. In the Lower Village, off to the side, was the well. It was a good well; everybody fetched their water from it for men and livestock.

In the Lower Village my father had a house of his own. We lived upstairs, and the livestock were stalled beneath us. Facing the street, which ran past below, were two windows. One evening fireworks were set off in the distance. We had the window open, were leaning out and were eagerly watching them. My sister shoved me to the side, I shoved her back and shoved my sister right out the window. She fell headfirst, one story down onto a stone slab. Father brought her up seemingly dead. But she soon came to again.

My father was born on July 17, 1789, my mother on November 28, 1791.

The family record for Jacob Strieter.

The family record for Jacob Strieter.

My parents were Jacob Strieter and Maria Katharina Wiesenauer. They had eight children:

  1. Rosina,
  2. Dorothea,
  3. Katharina,
  4. Christiana,
  5. Jacob Friedrich,
  6. Margaretha, the one I threw out the window,
  7. Johannes, and
  8. a girl who died young,1 so I ended up being the youngest.

My father was a shepherd at first. He sent his shepherd-servant with his flock to graze in the Bavarian countryside, while he guarded other people’s flocks at home. The servant came home and the flock was mangy, five hundred sheep, and Father had to have them cheaply slaughtered. With the proceeds he bought himself some more acreage, in addition to the acres he already had, and then took up farming.

A old, restored fresco on the north wall of the sanctuary in the Evangelical church in Affalterbach. It appears that this fresco once encircled the sanctuary, depicting important stories from the Bible. Whether it was visible when Johannes attended church there is unknown.

A old, restored fresco on the north wall of the sanctuary in the Evangelical church in Affalterbach. It appears that this fresco once encircled the sanctuary, depicting important stories from the Bible. Whether it was visible when Johannes attended church there is unknown.

My parents were pious; my father especially was a devout Christian. He held family devotions three times each day. In the morning he read a chapter from the New Testament; those of us children who could read also had to have the book in front of us and each one also had to read several verses. At midday he read from the Old Testament and in the evening from a devotional book, mostly from Arndt’s Wahrem Christentum [True Christianity].2 My father was kind to his children, but still stern in his discipline. He did not permit his children to keep any frivolous, worldly company and did not let any of them on the dance floor. He had an old hymnal, the Württemberg hymnal [das Württemberger Gesangbuch] of 1740, which was bound together with the New Testament. This testament contained brief annotations on the verses, by Brenz,3 I believe. This little book was a wedding present from his father-in-law, Johann Martin Wiesenauer, who was also a pious man. My niece, Lizzie Leiken in Sebewaing, Michigan, still has this little book. From this hymnal, whose songs still had doctrinally sound lyrics, the parents would sing. My parents liked to sing in general. When my mother sat at the spinning wheel, she would sing spiritual songs almost continously. My father, too, would sing almost constantly, when his work permitted it. How often I would hear: “Christ, the Life of All the Living.” My father also had many fine sayings, such as:

“No fire, axe, or knifepoint | shall sever me from you.”4

“I still have a Savior surely | from my sins, who’s mine securely, | all my lifetime never forsakes me, | till before his throne he takes me.”5

He also had the custom that, when the prayer bell tolled, he would remove his cap, fold his hands, and pray with his family loud and in chorus: “Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide, | for round us falls the eventide.”

Another custom he had, when he would set out to go somewhere or would begin a task, was to say, “In God’s name.”

Vineyard outside of Affalterbach. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

Vineyard outside of Affalterbach. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

One time my father was in his vineyard and I took his pruning knife, went off to the side a ways, and cut something off, then went to Father and said, “Father, look what a nice twig I have!”

He said, “Yeah, you have cut off my young little tree.” But he did not punish me any further.

One time there was gunfire in the direction of Wolfselten,6 a tiny little village on the Murr River where the mill was located.7 I followed the sound of the shooting, but I did not stay on the path; instead I went in at an angle. I came to the clay pit, where there was a bed of clay. It was nice and smooth and had a yellow tint to it. I tried to get across there, but I sank in up to my waist and got stuck. I was scared and cried out. Then someone came over from the road and got me out. But now I didn’t look for the shooting any more, but made my way home. The whole way I was gazing down at my yellow legs. My sister Margaretha, who was three years older, took off my little britches and washed them in the ditch opposite our house.

Evangelical church in Affalterbach. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

Evangelical church in Affalterbach. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

We had a pastor whose name was Götz.8 He was a very strict, moral man, but a rationalist. When he visited a sick person, he would tell him that he should overcome all pain with manly strength. When he began his instruction, which my brother attended, he began with this: “The earth turns on its axis.” My brother related this at home. Then Father said to him, “Child, you must not believe that. Our dear God says, ‘The sun rises at the end of the sky and goes around until it’s back at the same end’ [cf. Ecclesiastes 1:5], and he knows better.”

The pastor’s wife, however, was pious. If anyone was seriously ill, then she would come after the pastor, even to the poorest people, and she would bring something good along and read to the sick person from the New Testament.

My father was a shepherd at first, as I already mentioned, and during that time people would often send for him now and then when something was on their livestock, especially on their sheep. He had a beautiful sharp knife, with a white handle made of bone, maybe eight inches long. When he was called out somewhere, he would stick the knife in the inner side pocket of his coat. One day he had been out, came home and forgot to take out his knife. He went to chop some wood. The knife was situated in the pocket with the point facing Father’s waist, and when he swung down he stabbed himself in the side with the knife. He swelled up badly and was in a lot of pain and almost suffocated to death. Then came the pastor’s wife and brought some olive oil and told Mother to give some of it to Father and to apply it to the swelling in a hot press using a rag. Mother did this, and Father got better again.

A model of the church in Affalterbach as it used to look, possibly including the schoolhouse.

A model of the church in Affalterbach as it used to look, possibly including the schoolhouse.

I also attended the school in Affalterbach for one year. This school was a little ways off the country road, toward Marbach. That’s where the church was too. There were two classrooms. In the lower level the schoolmaster held class with the smaller children, and in the upper level his son, who was called Provisor, taught the bigger children. Both were enormous wardens. In the lower classroom I was in the first row. He sat behind his desk, on which he had a long blackthorn the width of a finger. If someone misbehaved, then he would laugh, “Ha ha!”, take his stick, usually come striding out, up over our heads, until he reached the culprit, and then down it came in all its force. Oh, what dread I had for that old teacher; but I never received any beatings.

Affalterbach today. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

Affalterbach today. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

One time I was heading home from school; it was already late. There was music coming from the Ochsen.9 Before the Ochsen we had to veer right to go home. I was trotting along slowly behind my siblings. But when I heard the music, I followed the music. They were dancing in there. On one side there was an elevation, on which the musicians were sitting. An old codger was playing the bass viol; my Injunlanders called it the Brumm.10 I clambered up and sat down next to the Brumm player and kept peering in at the gaps in order to find out where the sound was coming from. How long I was sitting I do not know, but suddenly my sister grabbed me by the arm, pulled me down and marched on home with me.

My father had been across the field in Winnenden and had just come home. He was sitting in the middle of the living room and had his small leather cap on. He pulled me between his knees. “Where have you been?”

“In the Ochsen.”

He laid me over his knees, took his small leather cap off and taught me my numbers with it. “There, next time you’ll stay with your brother and sisters!”

Endnotes

1 Barbara was born on December 28, 1831, and died on January 8, 1832.

2 The fuller title is Vier Bücher vom Wahren [or von Wahrem] Christentum (Four Books about True Christianity). Johann Arndt (1555-1621) is best known for this book and for being the pastor of the young Johann Gerhard, who would become one of Lutheranism’s greatest theologians.

3 Johannes Brenz (1499-1570), a fellow reformer and correspondent of Martin Luther, who participated with him in the Sacramentarian Controversy and the Marburg Colloquy of 1529.

4 From st. 13 of “If God Himself Be for Me.” The you refers to Jesus.

5 The final lines of st. 13 of “Komm, mein Herz, in Jesu Leiden,” a German Communion hymn sung to the tune of “Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness.” Based on the context of these hymn verse excerpts, Jacob Strieter appears to have used these sayings when things were going badly.

6 That is, Wolfsölden. Wolfselten is basically a phonetic spelling. See also next endnote.

7 Wolfsölden, just east of Affalterbach, is actually located on the Buchenbach (Beech Tree Creek), connected to the Murr River. Still today on a map you can see a Mühlkanal (mill canal) off of the Buchenbach. Both the creek and the canal run along Mühlenweg (Mill Lane).

8 According to Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Affalterbach’s website, M. Carl Gottlieb Goez (or Götz, as Strieter has it) was pastor from 1818-1837 (accessed 26 July 2015).

9 Rf. 3rd paragraph.

10 Strieter will talk more about “his Injunlanders” later in the Wisconsin chapter. Brummen means to growl or rumble, and in telecommunications a Brumm is a hum.

[Read the next part here.]