Hope Lutheran Church of Klamath Falls, Oregon

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8:30am Heritage Service
9:45am Fellowship Hour
10:00am Adult Forum
11:00am Contemporary Service & Sunday School

Hope Lutheran Church
2314 Homedale Road
Klamath Falls OR 97603

Hope Community Center
2408 Homedale Road
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

Celebrating 500 Years of the Reformation
Lutherans and The Augsburg Confession
This article is continuing series of Pastoral Articles during this 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. This month’s focus is the Augsburg Confession.
The Augsburg Confession, written during the Reformation, is the core statement of what Lutherans believe. It was produced in 1530, thirteen years after Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses in Wittenberg. A lot had happened in those thirteen years. Thanks to Luther’s creative exploration of the gospel and its implications, his colorful personality, and the availability of the printing press; his views on religious matters as well as the politics of the day had been widely distributed. In many parts of Europe, people were responding favorably, to the consternation of the Church of Rome, which once had been the single expression of the Christian church in that region.
In the sixteenth century there was no nation called Germany. Rather, the various duchies and princedoms made up a key part of the Holy Roman Empire, a remnant of the European territory once governed by ancient Rome. For much of Reformation era, Charles V governed as Holy Roman Emperor. He had watched his empire become increasingly fractured by divisions among princes favorable to Luther and other reformers, and those who kept their loyalty to Rome and the pope. The emperor needed the princes to be unified, not least because a Turkish invasion of Europe had reached the gates of Vienna. And so, in January 1530, the emperor called for a general assembly, in the German city of Augsburg. He asked the German princes and imperial cities to explain their religious convictions.
And so, reforming theologians and the rulers who supported them headed for Augsburg— among them, Luther’s colleague Philipp Melanchthon and his pastor, Johannes Bugenhagen. Luther himself could not accompany them because he had been named an outlaw. He had also been excommunicated by the pope. He was, however, consulted by mail curriers.
Upon their arrival in Augsburg, Melanchthon, consulting with previous preliminary documents, composed the final text of the confession. The German princes who favored the Reformation viewpoint agreed to it and signed it. On June 25, 1530, the Augsburg Confession was read aloud in German before the emperor and presented in written form in both German and Latin.
The Augsburg Confession is now found in a larger collection of Lutheran confessional writings called The Book of Concord. It contains twenty-eight parts, or articles. The first twenty-one of these stress points of agreement with the Roman Church of the time, though sometimes with crucial differences. In the last seven articles, the writers lay out what they see as abuses committed by the church.
The Augsburg Confession continues to guide the teachings of Lutheran churches to this day. Though a product of troubled times, it is filled with witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So where is Pastor Lou in all this? Well, my experience is that today Protestant Christianity in the United States has sometimes been divided into “Conservative” and “Liberal” camps. When asked what camp I fall into, I usually respond “Confessional.” This is because I don’t find the spirit of Lutheran Christianity fitting well into either of these camps. When I was a student, I remember Dr. Victor Gold once said something to the effect: “I am a conservative because those Biblical values are very old, I am a liberal because these same values have not been fully applied.” It was his way to say that there was a greater authority than these human-made camps. For me, as a pastor my values, preaching and teaching “confess” the gospel of Jesus Christ, as proclaimed in Scripture and taught in the Augsburg Confession. In this, may God help and guide me.
Pastor Lou
This article is based on “About Lutherans: The Augsburg Confession”. Copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress. Permission is granted for congregations to reproduce these pages provided copies are for local use only and this copyright notice appears.