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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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ConfessionalLutheran

The Augsburg Confession

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Johann Eck and Martin Luther were not exactly the best of friends, although they were friends once, before Luther posted his Ninety- Five Theses http://bookofconcord.org/95theses.php. Subsequent debates that saw Eck emerge as a champion of Catholicism also saw deep animosity between Luther and Eck. In fact, when Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther in his Bull, Exsurge Domine, Luther blamed Eck for being behind the contents of it http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/project...rablebull.html. Eck had slandered Luther by accusing him of every possible heresy and the Emperor convened a Diet at Augsburg, where Luther and his companions were required to present an account of their faith and practices http://bookofconcord.org/historical-3.php.'>http://bookofconcord.org/historical-3.php.

 

The Augsburg Confession, authored by Luther's colleague Philip Melanchthon, was the explanation and defense of the doctrine and practice of Martin Luther and those affiliated with him http://bookofconcord.org/historical-3.php. Luther himself approved the contents of the Augsburg Confession http://bookofconcord.org/exhortation.php before it was delivered to the Emperor, Charles V, on June 15, 1530.

 

What the Augsburg Confession does is to present sound, Evangelical doctrine that uses Scripture as its plumb- line,while emphasizing the continuity of Lutheran belief with that of the early Christian Church. This introduces the ideas that man is justified by grace through faith alone and that there is absolutely nothing anybody can do on his or her own to merit this grace. This is a free gift of the Holy Spirit. This grace gets communicated through the preaching of the Law and Gospel and through the correct administration of the Sacraments of Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php.

 

Of course, the Emperor and the Roman Catholics loyal to Pope Leo X were not satisfied with this document and authored a Confutation http://bookofconcord.org/confutatio.php in August of that year. By that time, it had become quite clear to Luther that the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans had irrevocably parted ways and that there was going to be trouble http://bookofconcord.org/historical-5.php . As it was, the Reformers prepared a Defense of the Augsburg Confession for the Emperor ( which he did not read on that occasion) that clarified their position and rebutted the Confutation http://bookofconcord.org/defense_greeting.php. The Augsburg Confession and the Defense of the Augsburg Confession are truly masterful documents who deserve their hallowed place among our Confessions. they are true expositions of both tradition and Scripture and use the word of God as their guide in the controversies they confronted.

Edited by ConfessionalLutheran
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Just a minor bump. I would like to add that the Augsburg Confession led to a Roman Catholic Confutation http://bookofconcord.org/confutatio.php#article1, which led to a Defense of the Augsburg Confession that goes over the points listed in the Augsburg Confession in greater detail http://bookofconcord.org/defense_greeting.php. This was ( like the Thirty Years War) a situation that was not only contingent on a few groups' differing interpretations on the Word of God and tradition, but also on the political landscape and the social tensions between clergy and laity that existed in the mid- sixteenth century http://www.preservearticles.com/2011090713147/what-are-the-causes-of-reformation-in-europe.html, http://www.historyteacher.net/EuroProjects/ExamReviewSheets/ReformationReview.htm, http://www.christianchronicler.com/history1/backgrounds_of_the_reformation.htm.

 

The rapid technological advances in Europe in that day and age, the increase in literacy and the insistence that people should be able to read God's word on their own led to social and political upheaval and the Church in Rome reacted none too gently to the nascent Protestant Churches, while those territories with a Protestant majority were none too kind to their Catholic residents. In fairness, the Lutheran, Reformed ( Calvinist) and Anabaptist Churches were hardly the best of friends and that can be traced to Luther's denunciation of Zwingli in regard to their differing views on the Real Presence in the Lord's Supper, while the Lutherans and Calvinists both regarded the Anabaptists with hostile eyes.

 

This internecine warfare was not confined to the continent of Europe, as the British Isles had their own religious and political upheavals beginning with King Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy and the later groups of Dissenters who broke away from the Anglican Church. Creedal statements like the Augsburg Confession were very practical ways for different religious bodies to state their positions on the issues of the day and to distinguish themselves from other members of the Body of Christ who held other positions. in addition to the Lutheran Confessions, we see the various Calvinist http://reformed.org/documents/index.html and Anabaptist http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/abc.htm Confessions of faith. We also have the Anglican Thirty- Nine Articles http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html, the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith http://www.pcaac.org/resources/wcf/ and later confessions of faith from those groups who arose after the Protestant Reformation ended ( after the end of the Thirty Years War, around 1645).

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To be more precise, the Thirty Years War ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. And Lord knows the mess in the British Isles was a much political as it was religious.

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