The Lutheran Confessions



      






       

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The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

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Article II (I): Of Original Sin.

1] The Second Article, Of Original Sin, the adversaries approve, but in such a way that they, nevertheless, censure the definition of original sin, which we incidentally gave. Here, immediately at the very threshold, His Imperial Majesty will discover that the writers of the Confutation were deficient not only in judgment, but also in candor. For whereas we, with a simple mind, desired, in passing, to recount those things which original sin embraces, these men, by framing an invidious interpretation, artfully distort a proposition that has in it nothing which of itself is wrong. Thus they say: "To be without the fear of God, to be without faith, is actual guilt;" and therefore they deny that it is original guilt.

2] It is quite evident that such subtilties have originated in the schools, not in the council of the Emperor. But although this sophistry can be very easily refuted; yet, in order that all good men may understand that we teach in this matter nothing that is absurd, we ask first of all that the German Confession be examined. This will free us from the suspicion of novelty. For there it is written: Weiter wird gelehrt, dass nach dem Fall Adams alle Menschen, so natuerlich geboren werden, in Suenden empfangen und geboren werden, das ist, dass sie alle von Mutterleibe an voll boeser Lueste und Neigung sind, keine wahre Gottesfurcht, keinen wahren Glauben an Gott von Natur haben koennen. [It is further taught that since the Fall of Adam all men who are naturally born are conceived and born in sin, i.e., that they all, from their mother's womb, are full of evil desire and inclination, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God.] 3] This passage testifies that we deny to those propagated according to carnal nature not only the acts, but also the power or gifts of producing fear and trust in God. For we say that those thus born have concupiscence, and cannot produce true fear and trust in God. What is there here with which fault can be found? To good men, we think, indeed, that we have exculpated ourselves sufficiently. For in this sense the Latin description denies to nature [even to innocent infants] the power, i.e., it denies the gifts and energy by which to produce fear and trust in God, and, in adults [over and above this innate evil disposition of the heart, also] the acts, so that, when we mention concupiscence, we understand not only the acts or fruits, but the constant inclination of the nature [the evil inclination within, which does not cease as long as we are not born anew through the Spirit and faith].

4] But hereafter we will show more fully that our description agrees with the usual and ancient definition. For we must first show our design in preferring to employ these words in this place. In their schools the adversaries confess that "the material," as they call it, "of original sin is concupiscence." Wherefore, in framing the definition, this should not have been passed by, especially at this time, when some are philosophizing concerning it in a manner unbecoming teachers of religion [are speaking concerning this innate, wicked desire more after the manner of heathen from philosophy than according to God's Word, or Holy Scripture].

5] For some contend that original sin is not a depravity or corruption in the nature of man, but only servitude, or a condition of mortality [not an innate evil nature, but only a blemish or imposed load, or burden], which those propagated from Adam bear because of the guilt of another [namely, Adam's sin], and without any depravity of their own. Besides, they add that no one is condemned to eternal death on account of original sin, just as those who are born of a bond-woman are slaves, and bear this condition without any natural blemish, but because of the calamity of their mother [while, of themselves, they are born without fault, like other men: thus original sin is not an innate evil, but a defect and burden which we bear since Adam, but we are not on that account personally in sin and inherited disgrace]. 6] To show that this impious opinion is displeasing to us, we made mention of "concupiscence," and, with the best intention, have termed and explained it as "diseases," that "the nature of men is born corrupt and full of faults" [not a part of man, but the entire person with its entire nature is born in sin as with a hereditary disease]

7] Nor, indeed, have we only made use of the term concupiscence, but we have also said that "the fear of God and faith are wanting." This we have added with the following design: The scholastic teachers also, not sufficiently understanding the definition of original sin, which they have received from the Fathers, extenuate the sin of origin. They contend concerning the fomes [or evil inclination] that it is a quality of [blemish in the] body, and, with their usual folly, ask whether this quality be derived from the contagion of the apple or from the breath of the serpent, and whether it be increased by remedies. With such questions they have suppressed the main point. 8] Therefore, when they speak of the sin of origin, they do not mention the more serious faults of human nature, to wit, ignorance of God, contempt for God, being destitute of fear and confidence in God, hatred of God's judgment, flight from God [as from a tyrant] when He judges, anger toward God, despair of grace, putting one's trust in present things [money, property, friends], etc. These diseases, which are in the highest degree contrary to the Law of God, the scholastics do not notice; yea, to human nature they meanwhile ascribe unimpaired strength for loving God above all things, and for fulfilling God's commandments according to the substance of the acts, nor do they see 9] that they are saying things that are contradictory to one another. For what else is the being able in one's own strength to love God above all things, and to fulfil His commandments, than to have original righteousness [to be a new creature in Paradise, entirely pure and holy]? 10] But if human nature have such strength as to be able of itself to love God above all things as the scholastics confidently affirm, what will original sin be? For what will there be need of the grace of Christ if we can be justified by our own righteousness [powers]? For what will there be need of the Holy Ghost if human strength can by itself 11] love God above all things, and fulfil God's commandments? Who does not see what preposterous thoughts our adversaries entertain? The lighter diseases in the nature of man they acknowledge, the more severe they do not acknowledge; and yet of these, Scripture everywhere admonishes us, and the prophets constantly complain ( as the 13th Psalm, and some other psalms say, Ps. 14:1-3,5:9,140:3,36:1 ), namely, of carnal security, of the contempt of God, of hatred toward God, and of similar faults born with us. [For Scripture clearly says that all these things are not blown at us, but born with us.] 12] But after the scholastics mingled with Christian doctrine philosophy concerning the perfection of nature [light of reason], and ascribed to the free will and the acts springing therefrom more than was sufficient, and taught that men are justified before God by philosophic or civil righteousness (which we also confess to be subject to reason, and, in a measure, within our power), they could not see the inner 13] uncleanness of the nature of men. For this cannot be judged except from the Word of God, of which the scholastics, in their discussions, do not frequently treat.

14] These were the reasons why, in the description of original sin, we made mention of concupiscence also, and denied to man's natural strength the fear of God and trust in Him. For we wished to indicate that original sin contains also these diseases, namely, ignorance of God, contempt for God, the being destitute of the fear of God and trust in Him, inability to love God. These are the chief faults of human nature, conflicting especially with the first table of the Decalog.

15] Neither have we said anything new. The ancient definition understood aright expresses precisely the same thing when it says: "Original sin is the absence of original righteousness" [a lack of the first purity and righteousness in Paradise]. But what is righteousness? Here the scholastics wrangle about dialectic questions; they do not explain what original righteousness is. 16] Now in the Scriptures, righteousness comprises not only the second table of the Decalog [regarding good works in serving our fellow-man], but the first also, which teaches concerning 17] the fear of God, concerning faith, concerning the love of God. Therefore original righteousness was to embrace not only an even temperament of the bodily qualities [perfect health and, in all respects, pure blood, unimpaired powers of the body, as they contend], but also these gifts, namely, a quite certain knowledge of God, fear of God, confidence in God, or certainly 18] the rectitude and power to yield these affections [but the greatest feature in that noble first creature was a bright light in the heart to know God and His work, etc.]. And Scripture testifies to this, when it says, Gen. 1:27, that man was fashioned in the image and likeness of God. What else is this than that there were embodied in man such wisdom and righteousness as apprehended God, and in which God was reflected, i.e., to man there were given the gifts of the knowledge of God, the fear of God, confidence in God, and the like? 19] For thus Irenaeus and Ambrose interpret the likeness to God, the latter of whom not only says many things to this effect, but especially declares: That soul is not, therefore, in the image of God, in which God is not at all times. 20] And Paul shows in the Epistles to the Ephesians 5:9, and Colossians 3:10, that the image of God is the knowledge of God, righteousness, and truth. 21] Nor does Longobard fear to say that original righteousness is the very likeness to God which God implanted in man. 22] We recount the opinions of the ancients, which in no way interfere with Augustine's interpretation of the image.

23] Therefore the ancient definition, when it says that sin is the lack of righteousness, not only denies obedience with respect to man's lower powers [that man is not only corrupt in his body and its meanest and lowest faculties], but also denies the knowledge of God, confidence in God, the fear and love of God or certainly the power to produce these affections [the light in the heart which creates a love and desire for these matters]. For even the theologians themselves teach in their schools that these are not produced without certain gifts and the aid of grace. In order that the matter may be understood, we term these very gifts the knowledge of God, and fear and confidence in God. From these facts it appears that the ancient definition says precisely the same thing that we say, denying fear and confidence toward God, to wit, not only the acts, but also the gifts and power to produce these acts [that we have no good heart toward God, which truly loves God, not only that we are unable to do or achieve any perfectly good work].

24] Of the same import is the definition which occurs in the writings of Augustine, who is accustomed to define original sin as concupiscence [wicked desire]. For he means that when righteousness had been lost, concupiscence came in its place. For inasmuch as diseased nature cannot fear and love God and believe God, it seeks and loves carnal things. God's judgment it either contemns, when at ease, or hates, when thoroughly terrified. Thus Augustine includes both the defect and 25] the vicious habit which has come in its place. Nor indeed is concupiscence only a corruption of the qualities of the body, but also, in the higher powers, a vicious turning to carnal things. Nor do those persons see what they say who ascribe to man at the same time concupiscence that is not entirely destroyed by the Holy Ghost, and love to God above all things.

26] We, therefore, have been right in expressing, in our description of original sin, both namely, these defects: the not being able to believe God, the not being able to fear and love God; and, likewise: the having concupiscence, which seeks carnal things contrary to God's Word, i.e., seeks not only the pleasure of the body, but also carnal wisdom and righteousness, and, contemning God, trusts in these as good things. 27] Nor only the ancients [like Augustine and others], but also the more recent [teachers and scholastics], at least the wiser ones among them, teach that original sin is at the same time truly these, namely, the defects which I have recounted, and concupiscence. For Thomas says thus: Original sin comprehends the loss of original righteousness, and with this an inordinate disposition of the parts of the soul; whence it is not pure loss, but a corrupt habit [something positive]. 28] And Bonaventura: When the question is asked, What is original sin? the correct answer is, that it is immoderate [unchecked] concupiscence. The correct answer is also, that it is want of the righteousness that is due. And in one of these replies the other is included. 29] The same is the opinion of Hugo, when he says that original sin is ignorance in the mind and concupiscence in the flesh. For he thereby indicates that when we are born, we bring with us ignorance of God, unbelief, distrust, contempt, and hatred of God. 30] For when he mentions ignorance, he includes these. And these opinions [even of the most recent teachers] also agree with Scripture. For Paul sometimes expressly calls it a defect [a lack of divine light], as 1 Cor. 2:14: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. 31] In another place, Rom. 7:5, he calls it concupiscence, working in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. We could cite more passages relating to both parts; but in regard to a manifest fact there is no need of testimonies. And the intelligent reader will readily be able to decide that to be without the fear of God and without faith are more than actual guilt. For they are abiding defects in our unrenewed nature.

32] In reference to original sin we therefore hold nothing differing either from Scripture or from the Church catholic, but cleanse from corruptions and restore to light most important declarations of Scripture and of the Fathers, that had been covered over by the sophistical controversies of modern theologians. For it is manifest from the subject itself that modern theologians have not noticed what the Fathers meant when they spake of defect [lack of original righteousness]. 33] But the knowledge of original sin is necessary. For the magnitude of the grace of Christ cannot be understood [no one can heartily long and have a desire for Christ, for the inexpressibly great treasure of divine favor and grace which the Gospel offers], unless our diseases be recognized. [As Christ says Matt. 9:12; Mark 2:17: They that are whole need not a physician.] The entire righteousness of man is mere hypocrisy [and abomination] before God, unless we acknowledge that our heart is naturally 34] destitute of love, fear, and confidence in God [that we are miserable sinners who are in disgrace with God]. For this reason the prophet Jeremiah 31:19, says: After that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh. Likewise Ps. 116:11: I said in my haste, All men are liars, i.e., not thinking aright concerning God.

35] Here our adversaries inveigh against Luther also because he wrote that "Original sin remains after Baptism." They add that this article was justly condemned by Leo X. But His Imperial Majesty will find on this point a manifest slander. For our adversaries know in what sense Luther intended this remark that original sin remains after Baptism. He always wrote thus, namely, that Baptism removes the guilt of original sin, although the material, as they call it, of the sin, i.e., concupiscence, remains. He also added in reference to the material that the Holy Ghost, given through Baptism, begins to mortify the concupiscence, and creates new movements [a new light, a new sense and spirit] in man. 36] In the same-manner, Augustine also speaks, who says: Sin is remitted in Baptism, not in such a manner that it no longer exists, but so that it is not imputed. Here he confesses openly that sin exists, i.e., that it remains, although it is not imputed. And this judgment was so agreeable to those who succeeded him that it was recited also in the decrees. Also against Julian, Augustine says: The Law, which is in the members, has been annulled by spiritual regeneration, and remains in the mortal flesh. It has been annulled because the guilt has been remitted in the Sacrament, by which believers are born again; but it remains, because it produces desires, against which believers contend. 37] Our adversaries know that Luther believes and teaches thus, and while they cannot reject the matter they nevertheless pervert his words, in order by this artifice to crush an innocent man.

38] But they contend that concupiscence is a penalty, and not a sin [a burden and imposed penalty, and is not such a sin as is subject to death and condemnation]. Luther maintains that it is a sin. It has been said above that Augustine defines original sin as concupiscence. If there be anything disadvantageous in this opinion, 39] let them quarrel with Augustine. Besides Paul says, Rom. 7:7. 23: I had not known lust (concupiscence), except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Likewise: I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. These testimonies can be overthrown by no sophistry. [All devils, all men cannot overthrow them.] 40] For they clearly call concupiscence sin, which, nevertheless, is not imputed to those who are in Christ, although by nature it is a matter worthy of death where it is not forgiven. 41] Thus, beyond all controversy, the Fathers believe. For Augustine, in a long discussion, refutes the opinion of those who thought that concupiscence in man is not a fault, but an adiaphoron, as color of the body or ill health is said to be an adiaphoron [as to have a black or a white body is neither good nor evil].

42] But if the adversaries will contend that the fomes [or evil inclination] is an adiaphoron, not only many passages of Scripture, but simply the entire Church [and all the Fathers] will contradict them. For [even if not entire consent, but only the inclination and desire be there] who ever dared to say that these matters, even though perfect agreement could not be attained, were adiaphora, namely, to doubt concerning God's wrath, concerning God's grace, concerning God's Word, to be angry at the judgments of God, to be provoked because God does not at once deliver one from afflictions, to murmur because the wicked enjoy a better fortune than the good, to be urged on by wrath, 43] lust, the desire for glory, wealth, etc.? And yet godly men acknowledge these in themselves, as appears in the Psalms and the prophets. [For all tried, Christian hearts know, alas! that these evils are wrapped up in man's skin, namely to esteem money, goods, and all other matters more highly than God, and to spend our lives in security; again, that after the manner of our carnal security we always imagine that God's wrath against sin is not as serious and great as it verily is. Again, that we murmur against the doing and will of God, when He does not succor us speedily in our tribulations, and arranges our affairs to please us. Again, we experience every day that it hurts us to see wicked people in good fortune in this world, as David and all the saints have complained. Over and above this, all men feel that their hearts are easily inflamed, now with ambition, now with anger and wrath, now with lewdness.] But in the schools they transferred hither from philosophy notions entirely different, that, because of passions, we are neither good nor evil, we are neither deserving of praise nor blame. Likewise, that nothing is sin, unless it be voluntary [inner desires and thoughts are not sins, if I do not altogether consent thereto]. These notions were expressed among philosophers with respect to civil righteousness, and not with respect to God's judgment. [For there it is true, as the jurists say, L. cogitationis, thoughts are exempt from custom and punishment. But God searches the hearts; in God's court and judgment it is different.] With no greater prudence they add also other notions, such as, that [God's creature and] nature is not [cannot in itself be] evil. In its proper place we do not censure this; but it is not right to twist it into an extenuation of original sin. And, nevertheless, these notions are read in the works of scholastics, who inappropriately mingle philosophy or civil doctrine concerning ethics with the Gospel. 44] Nor were these matters only disputed in the schools, but, as is usually the case, were carried from the schools to the people. And these persuasions [godless, erroneous, dangerous, harmful teachings] prevailed, and nourished confidence in human strength, and suppressed the knowledge of Christ's grace. 45] Therefore, Luther wishing to declare the magnitude of original sin and of human infirmity [what a grievous mortal guilt original sin is in the sight of God], taught that these remnants of original sin [after Baptism] are not, by their own nature, adiaphora in man, but that, for their non-imputation, they need the grace of Christ and, likewise for their mortification, the Holy Ghost.

46] Although the scholastics extenuate both sin and punishment when they teach that man, by his own strength, can fulfil the commandments of God; in Genesis the punishment, imposed on account of original sin, is described otherwise. For there human nature is subjected not only to death and other bodily evils, but also to the kingdom of the devil. For there, Gen. 3:15, this fearful sentence is proclaimed: I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. 47] The defects and the concupiscence are punishments and sins. Death and other bodily evils, and the dominion of the devil, are properly punishments. For human nature has been delivered into slavery and is held captive by the devil, who infatuates it with wicked opinions and errors, and 48] impels it to sins of every kind. But just as the devil cannot be conquered except by the aid of Christ, so by our own strength we cannot free ourselves 49] from this slavery. Even the history of the world shows how great is the power of the devil's kingdom. The world is full of blasphemies against God and of wicked opinions, and the devil keeps entangled in these bands those who are wise and 50] righteous [many hypocrites who appear holy] in the sight of the world. In other persons grosser vices manifest themselves. But since Christ was given to us to remove both these sins and these punishments, and to destroy the kingdom of the devil, sin and death, it will not be possible to recognize the benefits of Christ unless we understand our evils. For this reason our preachers have diligently taught concerning these subjects, and have delivered nothing that is new, but have set forth Holy Scripture and the judgments of the holy Fathers.

51] We think that this will satisfy His Imperial Majesty concerning the puerile and trivial sophistry with which the adversaries have perverted our article. For we know that we believe aright and in harmony with the Church catholic of Christ. But if the adversaries will renew this controversy, there will be no want among us of those who will reply and defend the truth. For in this case our adversaries, to a great extent, do not understand what they say. They often speak what is contradictory, and neither explain correctly and logically that which is essential to [i.e., that which is or is not properly of the essence of] original sin, nor what they call defects. But we have been unwilling at this place to examine their contests with any very great subtlety. We have thought it worth while only to recite, in customary and well-known words, the belief of the holy Fathers, which we also follow.

? - Confession - Confutation - Defense

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