Augsburg Confession – Article 3 – The Son of God

Articles 3, 4 & 5 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 2, click here.)

We likewise teach that God the Son has become human,1 born from the pure virgin Mary,2 and that the two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably united in one person in this way, are one Christ, who is true God and true human. He truly was born, suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried, so as to be be a sacrifice not just for inherited sin but also for all other sins, and thus to appease God’s wrath. We likewise teach that this same Christ descended into hell, truly rose from the dead on the third day,3 ascended into heaven, and is sitting at the right hand of God, that he might rule eternally over all creatures. He also sits at God’s right hand to govern in such a way as to sanctify, purify, strengthen, and comfort through the Holy Spirit all who believe in him, and to give them life and impart all sorts of gifts and blessings to them, and to defend and protect them against the devil and sin. We likewise teach that this same Lord Christ will publicly appear in the end to judge the living and the dead, etc., in accordance with the Apostles’ Creed.

(To continue to Article 4, click here.)

Notes

1 Sometimes Christians are unnecessarily disturbed by the translation “to become human” instead of “to become man” for Mensch werden, because they think it constitutes a covert denial of the gender God’s Son assumed. First, no such denial is intended with this translation. Jesus was a male human being in keeping with the prophecies made about him (e.g. Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). Second, “to become man” is an unfaithful translation (except in the rare case, such as in a poetic context, where a person immediately understands man in its broader sense), because that is simply not what the German phrase means. Mensch is the generic word for a human, like ἄνθρωπος in Greek. (This fact is not helped by such idiomatic sayings in English as, “Now you’re a real Mensch,” when the person means to say, “Now you’re a real man.”) Third, theologically, Jesus was the atoning substitute and sacrifice for all humanity, both men and women, and thus it is entirely appropriate to emphasize his humanity more than his maleness, though there are certainly occasions when talking about his maleness is in order.

2 Mary is called “pure” in reference to both her virginity and the spiritual purity she enjoyed in the sight of God through faith in the coming Messiah (the same purity all enjoy who believe in Jesus as their Savior). In the Latin version she is called “the blessed virgin Mary,” a concept that is taken straight from the Scriptures (Luke 1:48).

3 Melanchthon almost seems to have anticipated the spiritualizing of Christ’s resurrection that takes place especially within mainline Protestant church bodies today. For instance, in Easter of 2016, Gerhard Ulrich, the chief bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, a fellowship of a number of German state churches in fellowship with the ELCA, published an Easter message in a church newspaper. In the article he said that Jesus decomposed like any other person, declaring point-blank: “Jesus is dead.” But, Ulrich asserted, that which was “divine” in Jesus, namely his ideas and his zeal and his commitment to life, continues to live because his disciples wanted it to. And they then experienced a “resurrection,” because they no longer hid themselves away from the Jews in fear and despair, but saw to it that the cause of Jesus continued. See also the 2009 survey of pastors in Wisconsin from the ELCA, LC-MS, WELS, ELS, and CLC in which the participants were asked to state whether they agreed with this statement, among others: “The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a bodily, physical resurrection.”

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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.

Source
Weimarer Ausgabe, Tischreden 1:48-49