Index of Doctrinal Points
In 1530, Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, convened a meeting of the princes of his
German territories at Augsburg requesting that they join the Imperial forces to fend off the attacks
of Turkish armies in Eastern Austria. He called upon the Lutheran nobility to explain their
religious convictions hoping that the controversy between Protestants and Roman Catholics could be
settled. Philip Melanchthon, a brilliant Professor of New Testament at Wittenberg University, was
sought to draft the confession that would represent the Lutheran Lords. Using several documents as
a basis, Melanchthon wrote the Augsburg Confession: a summary of the teachings and practices
of the Lutherans and corrections to the abuses of Roman Catholicism. It remains today as the basic
The Confession of Faith which was submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg
in the year 1530 by certain princes and cities.
Preface to the Emperor Charles V [cf. Confutatio Pontificia]
Most Invincible Emperor, Caesar Augustus, Most Clement Lord: Inasmuch as Your Imperial Majesty
has summoned a Diet of the Empire here at Augsburg to deliberate concerning measures against the
Turk, that most atrocious, hereditary, and ancient enemy of the Christian name and religion, in what
way, namely, effectually to withstand his furor and assaults by strong and lasting military provision;
and then also concerning dissensions in the matter of our holy religion and Christian Faith, that in
this matter of religion the opinions and judgments of the parties might be heard in each other's
presence; and considered and weighed among ourselves in mutual charity, leniency, and kindness, in
order that, after the removal and correction of such things as have been treated and understood in a
different manner in the writings on either side, these matters may be settled and brought back to one
simple truth and Christian concord, that for the future one pure and true religion may be embraced
and maintained by us, that as we all are under one Christ and do battle under Him, so we may be able
also to live in unity and concord in the one Christian Church.
And inasmuch as we, the undersigned Elector and Princes, with others joined with us, have been
called to the aforesaid Diet the same as the other Electors, Princes, and Estates, in obedient compliance
with the Imperial mandate, we have promptly come to Augsburg, and -- what we do not mean to say as
boasting -- we were among the first to be here.
Accordingly, since even here at Augsburg at the very beginning of the Diet, Your Imperial Majesty
caused to be proposed to the Electors, Princes, and other Estates of the Empire, amongst other things,
that the several Estates of the Empire, on the strength of the Imperial edict, should set forth and
submit their opinions and judgments in the German and the Latin language, and since on the ensuing
Wednesday, answer was given to Your Imperial Majesty, after due deliberation, that we would submit
the Articles of our Confession for our side on next Wednesday, therefore, in obedience to Your Imperial
Majesty's wishes, we offer, in this matter of religion, the Confession of our preachers and of ourselves,
showing what manner of doctrine from the Holy Scriptures and the pure Word of God has been up to this
time set forth in our lands, dukedoms, dominions, and cities, and taught in our churches.
And if the other Electors, Princes, and Estates. of the Empire will, according to the said Imperial
proposition, present similar writings, to wit, in Latin and German, giving their opinions in this
matter of religion, we, with the Princes and friends aforesaid, here before Your Imperial Majesty,
our most clement Lord are prepared to confer amicably concerning all possible ways and means, in
order that we may come together, as far as this may be honorably done, and, the matter between us
on both sides being peacefully discussed without offensive strife, the dissension, by God's help,
may be done away and brought back to one true accordant religion; for as we all are under one Christ
and do battle under Him, we ought to confess the one Christ, after the tenor of Your Imperial Majesty's
edict, and everything ought to be conducted according to the truth of God; and this it is what, with
most fervent prayers, we entreat of God.
However, as regards the rest of the Electors, Princes, and Estates, who constitute the other part,
if no progress should be made, nor some result be attained by this treatment of the cause of religion
after the manner in which Your Imperial Majesty has wisely held that it should be dealt with and
treated namely, by such mutual presentation of writings and calm conferring together among ourselves,
we at least leave with you a clear testimony, that we here in no wise are holding back from anything
that could bring about Christian concord, -- such as could be effected with God and a good conscience,
-- as also Your Imperial Majesty and, next, the other Electors and Estates of the Empire, and all
who are moved by sincere love and zeal for religion, and who will give an impartial hearing to this
matter, will graciously deign to take notice and to understand this from this Confession of ours
and of our associates.
Your Imperial Majesty also, not only once but often, graciously signified to the Electors Princes,
and Estates of the Empire, and at the Diet of Spires held A. D. 1526, according to the form of Your
Imperial instruction and commission given and prescribed, caused it to be stated and publicly proclaimed
that Your Majesty, in dealing with this matter of religion, for certain reasons which were alleged
in Your Majesty's name, was not willing to decide and could not determine anything, but that Your
Majesty would diligently use Your Majesty's office with the Roman Pontiff for the convening of a
General Council. The same matter was thus publicly set forth at greater length a year ago at the
last Diet which met at Spires. There Your Imperial Majesty, through His Highness Ferdinand, King
of Bohemia and Hungary, our friend and clement Lord, as well as through the Orator and Imperial
Commissioners caused this, among other things, to be submitted: that Your Imperial Majesty had taken
notice of; and pondered, the resolution of Your Majesty's Representative in the Empire, and of the
President and Imperial Counselors, and the Legates from other Estates convened at Ratisbon, concerning
the calling of a Council, and that your Imperial Majesty also judged it to be expedient to convene
a Council; and that Your Imperial Majesty did not doubt the Roman Pontiff could be induced to hold
a General Council, because the matters to be adjusted between Your Imperial Majesty and the Roman
Pontiff were nearing agreement and Christian reconciliation; therefore Your Imperial Majesty himself
signified that he would endeavor to secure the said Chief Pontiff's consent for convening, together
with your Imperial Majesty such General Council, to be published as soon as possible by letters that
were to be sent out.
If the outcome, therefore, should be such that the differences between us and the other parties
in the matter of religion should not be amicably and in charity settled, then here, before Your Imperial
Majesty we make the offer in all obedience, in addition to what we have already done, that we will
all appear and defend our cause in such a general, free Christian Council, for the convening of which
there has always been accordant action and agreement of votes in all the Imperial Diets held during
Your Majesty's reign, on the part of the Electors, Princes, and other Estates of the Empire. To the
assembly of this General Council, and at the same time to Your Imperial Majesty, we have, even before
this, in due manner and form of law, addressed ourselves and made appeal in this matter, by far the
greatest and gravest. To this appeal, both to Your Imperial Majesty and to a Council, we still adhere;
neither do we intend nor would it be possible for us, to relinquish it by this or any other document,
unless the matter between us and the other side, according to the tenor of the latest Imperial citation
should be amicably and charitably settled, allayed, and brought to Christian concord; and regarding
this we even here solemnly and publicly testify.
Chief Articles of Faith
Article I: Of God.
Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council
of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and
to be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called
and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness,
the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons,
of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And
the term "person" they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality
in another, but that which subsists of itself.
They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who
assumed two principles, one Good and the other Evil: also the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans,
and all such. They condemn also the Samosatenes, old and new, who, contending that there is but
one Person, sophistically and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct Persons,
but that "Word" signifies a spoken word, and "Spirit" signifies motion created
Article II: Of Original Sin.
Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with
sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this
disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those
not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.
They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to
obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his
own strength and reason.
Article III: Of the Son of God.
Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the
womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably
enjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly
suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and
be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.
He also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into
heaven that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over
all creatures, and sanctify them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts,
to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin.
The same Christ shall openly come again to judge the quick and the dead, etc., according to
the Apostles' Creed.
Article IV: Of Justification.
Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or
works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they
are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has
made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3
Article V: Of the Ministry.
That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the
Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy
Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to
wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they
are received into grace for Christ's sake.
They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the
external Word, through their own preparations and works.
Article VI: Of New Obedience.
Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary
to do good works commanded by God, because of God's will, but that we should not rely on those works
to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith,
as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable
servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of
God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by
Article VII: Of the Church.
Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation
of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.
And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the
Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that
is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5, 6.
Article VIII: What the Church Is.
Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless,
since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use
Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The Scribes and the Pharisees
sit in Moses' seat, etc. Matt. 23:2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the
institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men.
They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry
of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be unprofitable and of none
Article IX: Of Baptism.
Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered
the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are
received into God's grace.
They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are
saved without Baptism.
Article X: Of the Lord's Supper.
Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and
are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach
Article XI: Of Confession.
Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although
in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the
Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.
Article XII: Of Repentance.
Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of
sins whenever they are converted and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus
returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition,
that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which
is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven,
comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which
are the fruits of repentance.
They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. Also
those who contend that some may attain to such perfection in this life that they cannot sin.
The Novatians also are condemned, who would not absolve such as had fallen after Baptism,
though they returned to repentance.
They also are rejected who do not teach that remission of sins comes through faith but command
us to merit grace through satisfactions of our own.
Article XIII: Of the Use of the Sacraments.
Of the Use of the Sacraments they teach that the Sacraments were ordained, not only to be
marks of profession among men, but rather to be signs and testimonies of the will of God toward
us, instituted to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them. Wherefore we must so use the
Sacraments that faith be added to believe the promises which are offered and set forth through the
They therefore condemn those who teach that the Sacraments justify by the outward act, and who
do not teach that, in the use of the Sacraments, faith which believes that sins are forgiven, is
Article XIV: Of Ecclesiastical Order.
Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer
the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.
Article XV: Of Ecclesiastical Usages.
Of Usages in the Church they teach that those ought to be observed which may be observed without
sin, and which are profitable unto tranquillity and good order in the Church, as particular holy days,
festivals, and the like.
Nevertheless, concerning such things men are admonished that consciences are not to be burdened,
as though such observance was necessary to salvation.
They are admonished also that human traditions instituted to propitiate God, to merit grace,
and to make satisfaction for sins, are opposed to the Gospel and the doctrine of faith. Wherefore
vows and traditions concerning meats and days, etc., instituted to merit grace and to make satisfaction
for sins, are useless and contrary to the Gospel.
Article XVI: Of Civil Affairs.
Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it
is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and
other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make
legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife,
to be given in marriage.
They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civil offices to Christians.
They condemn also those who do not place evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in
faith, but in forsaking civil offices, for the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart.
Meanwhile, it does not destroy the State or the family, but very much requires that they be preserved
as ordinances of God, and that charity be practiced in such ordinances. Therefore, Christians are
necessarily bound to obey their own magistrates and laws save only when commanded to sin; for
then they ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29.
Article XVII: Of Christ's Return to Judgment.
Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment, and
will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys,
but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end.
They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned
men and devils.
They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection
of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere