Augsburg Confession – Article 19 – The Cause of Sin

Articles 19 & 20 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 18, click here.)

Regarding the cause of sin, we teach that, although God the Almighty has created and still preserves all of the natural world, sin is brought about by the perverted will in all those who are wicked and despise God, such as the will of the devil and all the godless.1 As soon as God withdraws his hand, their will inclines away from God toward evil, as Christ says in John 8, “The devil speaks lies on his own.”2

(To continue to Article 20, click here.)


1 For proof passages, see Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Psalm 33:6-19; 25:7,8; 34:8; 53:1-3; 65:9-13; 100:1-5; 136:1; 145:9; Isaiah 45:7 (perhaps more shocking in the Hebrew, where it says that the LORD is the בורא רע (one who creates [same word used of God’s activity in bringing about the universe during the first week of its history!] evil or disaster; nevertheless we must keep in mind the poetic context and the broader context of Scripture as a whole, which leads us to understand Isaiah as describing the LORD’S preservation of the universe, active role in human history, and ultimate control over and directing of all things good and evil for his own good purposes); Jeremiah 7:24; Ezekiel 8:25,29; John 8:42-47; Romans 8:28.

2 John 8:44. The German aus seinem Eigen could also be translated, “by his own doing,” or the entire sentence could be translated more paraphrastically, “When the devil lies, he is doing what comes natural to him.” Melanchthon’s point in the context is that the devil’s lies and their accompanying evils originate with himself, not with God.

Quote of the Week – Nurturing Hope

This week’s quote is excerpted from one of the table talks of Martin Luther recorded by his personal friend and secretary Veit Dietrich. The entire table talk, which treats of how a Christian deals with melancholy, is one of the more well known and worth a read (rf. no. 122, LW [AE] 54:16ff). At the time Luther spoke it, Johannes Bugenhagen was on a leave of absence and Luther himself was quite overwhelmed with all his additional duties.

Well then, that venomous spirit, he finds many ways to hurt us. I know I will see him one day, on the Last Day, along with his fiery darts. While we have pure doctrine, he cannot harm us, but if the doctrine gets ruined, then we are done for. But praise be to God, who has given us the Word, and on top of that has had his own Son die for us. He certainly did not do it for nothing. Let us therefore nurture the hope that we are saints, that we are saved, and that this will be clear when he is revealed. If he accepted the robber on the cross like he did, as well as Paul after so many blasphemies and persecutions, then we have no reason to doubt it, and in fact we all must then attain to salvation, like the robber and Paul did.

Weimarer Ausgabe, Tischreden 1:48-49

Quote of the Week – The Saving Paradox

Little is known about the author of this quote, Peter Chrysologus (c. 406-c. 450 AD). He was appointed archbishop of Ravenna, Italy, around 433. He was a contemporary of Augustine, Jerome, and the heretic Pelagius. He cultivated a close friendship with Leo the Great and corresponded prudently with the heretic Eutyches. In a biography composed about 830, Abbot Andrew Agnellus used Peter’s cognomen Chrysologus, “the golden orator,” which was probably invented after Peter’s death so that the Western Church would have a counterpart to the eastern John Chrysostom, “the golden mouthed.” However, the quote below, taken from Sermon 40 on the Good Shepherd, is perhaps one of the best proofs that Peter’s cognomen is no embellishment whatsoever. Confessional Lutheran readers will be interested to learn that those most familiar with Chrysologus acknowledge him to have especially excelled in teaching the doctrines of the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, and grace, and that some of his sermons on the Lord’s Prayer are extremely and eerily similar to Luther’s explanations of the petitions in the Small Catechism, right down to the Latin wording.

For the sheep the Shepherd goes to meet the death that was threatening the sheep, so that, by a new arrangement, he would take captive the author of death, the devil, by being taken captive himself; he would conquer him by being conquered himself; he would punish him by being slain himself; and by dying for the sheep, he would open the way for them to conquer death. For the devil, too, while pursuing a man, has run smack into God; while raging against the defendant, has run up against the Judge; has himself met with torture while inflicting punishment; he himself receives a sentence while giving one. And death, which lives by feeding on mortals, dies itself while devouring Life; death, which swallows the guilty, is itself swallowed up while gulping down the Author of innocence; and death, which was destroying all, perishes itself while trying to eliminate the Salvation of all.

Patrologia Latina 52:313,314