From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
Our reasons for presenting this article were not trivial, for it is obvious that many foolish opinions concerning traditions had crept into the Church. Some thought that human traditions were necessary services for earning justification. Subsequently, they disputed how it came to pass that God was worshiped with such variety, as though these observances were actually acts of worship, rather than outward and political ordinances, pertaining in no respect to righteousness of the heart or the worship of God. These vary in one way or another, according to the circumstances, for certain probable reasons. Likewise some churches have excommunicated others because of traditions, such as the observance of Easter, icons, and the like. Therefore the unlearned have supposed that faith, or the righteousness of the heart before God, cannot exist without these observances. There are many foolish writings by the summists and others concerning this matter.
Pulling It Together
We are not big on excommunication these days. But we still do a pretty fair job of driving people out of our churches. A good deal of this happens because of the reason given in this seventh article of the Apology, or defense, of the Augsburg Confession. We shut out people because of our particular legalisms. “Do it our way or hit the highway” could be the mission statement of some churches. Those churches, usually unwittingly, have turned a previous pastor’s way of doing things into a tradition, which then became a rule. The Pharisees and the scribes expected Jesus’ disciples to follow their traditions and found fault with them for not doing so. So the question some of our pastors and church councils would do well to consider is, “Are we following our own traditions or are we following Jesus?”
Prayer: Help me to leave the traditions of people, Lord, and hold fast to you. Amen.
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