From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
If we defined the Church in this way, perhaps we would have fairer judges. Many extravagant and wicked writings exist concerning the power of the Pope of Rome, for which no one has ever been incriminated. We alone are blamed because we proclaim the goodness of Christ, that we obtain forgiveness of sins by faith in Christ instead of through ceremonies devised by the pope. Christ, the prophets, and the apostles define the Church much differently than a papal kingdom. Neither should we transfer to the popes what rightly belongs to the true Church, namely, that they are pillars of the truth, that they do not err. How many of them care for the gospel, or consider it worth reading? Many publicly ridicule all religions, or if they approve anything, they endorse only such things as are in harmony with human reason, regarding the rest as mythological, like the tragedies of the poets.
Pulling It Together
It is the duty of pastors to preach the gospel. It is each church’s obligation to make sure that they do. Yet, it is more than a duty; it is a joyful compulsion. What greater delight is there than to proclaim the mercy of God in Christ? Behold how culture has overtaken some pulpits. Civic and religious politics are the theme of many sermons. Now the law of the land is proclaimed as “truth,” instead of the law of God. Let us teach God’s law, and preach Christ crucified, that people are saved from sin and death through faith in Christ. Churches change, as do human hearts, when pastors delight in the pure proclamation of Christ. Yet, you may be certain of ridicule if you do so preach and teach. Paradoxically, your largest body of detractors may be others who call themselves a church.
Prayer: Strengthen and embolden your Church, Lord. Amen.
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