XII. Other Sects

Which Never Embraced the Augsburg Confession.

However, as regards the sects and factions [sectarists and heretics] which never have embraced the Augsburg Confession, and of which express mention has not been made in this our explanation, such as are the Anabaptists, Schwenckfeldians, New Arians, and Anti-Trinitarians, whose errors have been unanimously condemned by all churches of the Augsburg Confession, we have not wished to make particular and especial mention of them in this explanation, for the reason that at the present time this has been our only aim [that we might above all refute the charges of our adversaries, the Papists].

Since our opponents alleged with shameless mouths, and decried throughout all the world our churches and their teachers, claiming that not two preachers are found who agree in each and every article of the Augsburg Confession, but that they are rent asunder and separated from one another to such an extent that they themselves no longer know what is the Augsburg Confession and its proper [true, genuine, and germane] sense; we have not made a joint confession only in brief words or names, but wished to make a pure, clear, distinct declaration concerning all the disputed articles which have been discussed and controverted only among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession, in order that every one may see that we do not wish in a cunning manner to dissemble or cover up all this, or to come to an agreement only in appearance; but to remedy the matter thoroughly, and have wished to set forth our opinion of these matters in such a manner that even our adversaries themselves must confess that in all this we abide by the true, simple, natural, and proper sense of the Augsburg Confession, in which we desire, moreover, by God’s grace, to persevere constantly until our end; and so far as it depends on our service, we will not connive at or be silent, lest anything contrary to the same [the genuine and sacred sense of the Augsburg Confession] is introduced into our churches and schools, in which the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed us teachers and pastors.

However, lest there be silently ascribed to us the condemned errors of the above enumerated factions and sects [“of which evil the papistic tyranny, which persecutes the pure doctrine is the chief cause”], -which as is the nature of such spirits, for the most part, secretly stole in at localities, and especially at a time when no place or room was given to the pure Word of the holy Gospel, but all its sincere teachers and confessors were persecuted, and the deep darkness of the Papacy still prevailed, and poor simple men who could not help but feel the manifest idolatry and false faith of the Papacy, in their simplicity, alas! embraced whatever was called the Gospel, and was not papistic,-we could not forbear testifying also against them publicly, before all Christendom, that we have neither part nor fellowship with their errors, be they many or few, but reject and condemn them, one and all, as wrong and heretical, and contrary to the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles, and to our Christian Augsburg Confession, well grounded in God’s Word.

Erroneous Articles of the Anabaptists.

Namely, for instance, the erroneous, heretical doctrines of the Anabaptists, which are to be tolerated and allowed neither in the Church, nor in the commonwealth, nor in domestic life, when they teach:

  1. That our righteousness before God consists not only in the sole obedience and merit of Christ, but in our renewal and our own piety in which we walk before God; which they, for the most part, base upon their own peculiar ordinances and self-chosen spirituality, as upon a new sort of monkery.

  2. That children who are not baptized are not sinners before God, but righteous and innocent, and thus are saved in their innocency without Baptism, which they do not need. Accordingly, they deny and reject the entire doctrine concerning original sin and what belongs to it.

  3. That children are not to be baptized until they have attained the use of reason and can confess their faith themselves.

  4. That the children of Christians, since they have been born of Christian and believing parents, are holy and the children of God even without and before Baptism; and for this reason they neither attach much importance to the baptism of children nor encourage it, contrary to the express words of the promise, which extends only to those who keep God’s covenant and do not despise it, Gen. 17:9.

  5. That a congregation [church] in which sinners are still found is no true Christian assembly.

  6. That no sermon should be heard or attended in those churches in which the papal masses have previously been said.

  7. That no one should have anything to do with those ministers of the Church who preach the holy Gospel according to the Confession, and rebuke the errors of baptists; also, that no one should serve or in any way labor for them, but should flee from and shun them as perverters of God’s Word.

  8. That under the New Testament the magistracy is not a godly estate.

  9. That a Christian cannot with a good, inviolate conscience hold the office of magistrate.

  10. That a Christian cannot without injury to conscience use the office of the magistracy in matters that may occur [when the matter so demands] against the wicked, neither can its subjects appeal to its power.

  11. That a Christian cannot with a good conscience take an oath before a court, nor with an oath do homage to his prince or hereditary sovereign.

  12. That magistrates cannot without injury to conscience inflict capital punishment upon evil-doers.

  13. That a Christian cannot with a good conscience hold or possess any property, but is in duty bound to devote it to the common treasury.

  14. That a Christian cannot with a good conscience be an inn-keeper, merchant, or cutler.

  15. That married persons may be divorced on account of faith [diversity of religion], and that the one may abandon the other, and be married to another of his own faith.

  16. That Christ did not assume His flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary, but brought them with Him from heaven.

  17. That He is not true, essential God either, but only has more and higher gifts and glory than other men.

And still more articles of like kind; for they are divided among themselves into many bands [sects], and one has more and another fewer errors, and thus their entire sect is in reality nothing but a new kind of monkery.

Erroneous Articles of the Schwenckfeldians.

Likewise, when the Schwenckfeldians assert:

  1. First, that all those have no knowledge of the reigning King of heaven, Christ, who regard Christ according to the flesh, or His assumed humanity, as a creature, and that the flesh of Christ has by exaltation so assumed all divine properties that in might, power, majesty, and glory He is in every respect, in degree and position of essence, equal to the Father and the eternal Word, so that there is the same essence, properties, will, and glory of both natures in Christ, and that the flesh of Christ belongs to the essence of the Holy Trinity.

  2. That the ministry of the Church, the Word preached and heard, is not a means whereby God the Holy Ghost teaches men, and works in them saving knowledge of Christ, conversion, repentance, faith, and new obedience.

  3. That the water of Baptism is not a means by which God the Lord seals adoption and works regeneration.

  4. That bread and wine in the Holy Supper are not means by which Christ distributes His body and blood.

  5. That a Christian man who is truly regenerated by God’s Spirit can in this life keep and fulfil the Law of God perfectly.

  6. That a congregation in which no public excommunication or regular process of the ban is observed, is no true Christian congregation [church].

  7. That the minister of the Church who is not on his part truly renewed, righteous, and godly cannot teach other men with profit or administer real, true sacraments.

Erroneous Articles of the New Arians.

Also, when the New Arians teach that Christ is not a true, essential, natural God, of one eternal divine essence with God the Father, but is only adorned with divine majesty inferior to, and beside, God the Father.

Erroneous Articles of the New Anti-Trinitarians.

  1. Also, when some Anti-Trinitarians reject and condemn the ancient approved symbola, Nicaenum et Athanasianum (the Nicene and Athanasian creeds), as regards both their sense and words, and teach that there is not only one eternal divine essence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but as there are three distinct persons, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, so each person has also its essence distinct and separate from the other persons; yet that all three are either as otherwise three men, distinct and separate in their essence, of the same power, wisdom, majesty, and glory [as some imagine], or in essence and properties unequal [as others think].

  2. That the Father alone is true God.

These and like articles, one and all, with what pertains to them and follows from them, we reject and condemn as wrong, false, heretical, and contrary to the Word of God, the three Creeds, the Augsburg, Confession and Apology, the Smalcald Articles, and the Catechisms of Luther. Of these articles all godly Christians should and ought to beware, as much as the welfare and salvation of their souls is dear to them.

Since now, in the sight of God and of all Christendom [the entire Church of Christ], we wish to testify to those now living and those who shall come after us that this declaration herewith presented concerning all the controverted articles aforementioned and explained, and no other, is our faith, doctrine, and confession, in which we are also willing, by God’s grace, to appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, and give an account of it; and that we will neither privately nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it, but, by the help of God’s grace, intend to abide thereby: therefore, after mature deliberation, we have, in God’s fear and with the invocation of His name, attached our signatures with our own hands.