Augsburg Confession – Article 14 – Church Authority

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

(To read Article 13, click here.)

Regarding authority in the church, we teach that no one should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a call issued in a regular and orderly way.

(To continue to Article 15, click here.)


Many Roman theologians accused the Lutherans of rejecting the public ministry and all order and authority in the church because of works such as Luther’s Concerning the Ministry (1523; Luther’s Works [AE] 40:3ff), in which Luther taught the priesthood of all believers. Melanchthon could not have answered that false accusation more clearly or concisely than he does here. For proof passages, see Jeremiah 23:21; Ephesians 4:10-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 14:29,36-40; Titus 1:5.

The modern practice that could probably use the most guidance from this article is the practice of so-called lay-led Bible studies (that are officially sanctioned and promoted by Christians congregations) – a concept which, taken at face value, this article, on the basis of Scripture, explicitly rejects. The only lay-led Bible studies should be those led by fathers in their homes (or mothers, in cases where the father is an unbeliever or grossly derelict in his duty) and those that Christians may find the opportunity to lead with non-Christians or false-believing Christians. In many cases, such church-sanctioned Bible studies do in fact meet the criteria of this article in substance; that is, the people leading the Bible studies have in fact been called by the congregation in a regular and orderly way. But in those cases the Bible studies should not be called “lay-led,” because that label is both false and misleading. Those leading the Bible studies in those cases are in fact doing so as public ministers of the gospel, albeit with a much narrower scope of ministry than the parish pastor. However, even before such a call is issued, it must be established that calling a layperson without any formal theological training to such a position is approved by both the congregation in question and the church body at large to which the congregation belongs – which is a significant part of “in a regular and orderly way.”


Quote of the Week – Different Dishes, Same Food

Martin Luther preached the following in his sermon on the Saturday after the Festival of the Nativity of Mary, September 11, 1540, his fourth sermon on John 4 and his final sermon in a series on John 3 & 4. He was preaching on 4:10 when he said:

But since we don’t apply any respect to the divine Word and don’t seek out anything of our own proper glory either, we therefore don’t listen to the Word, and no one is listened to with any interest unless he has a good, clear voice. When you get to that point, you have already become half a Jacob, when you pay more attention to the pastor than you do to God, and when you do not see God’s person but merely gape to see if the person is learned and skilled and has an interesting style or good diction. For the man who speaks poorly is speaking God’s Word just as much as the man who can speak well. When a father speaks God’s Word, God is speaking just as much as he is, and when your neighbor speaks God’s Word, it is no less the Word than the angel Gabriel spoke. Whether a schoolboy speaks it or the angel Gabriel pronounces it, the Word is no different; it’s just that the one can present it better than the other. The dishes may be dissimilar; some are silver, others are tin or earthen vessels enameled with clay. But one and the same food is served in silver and tin, etc., and wild game that is well seasoned and prepared tastes just as good from a wooden bowl as it does from a silver one.

Weimarer Ausgabe 47:229-230