All Christians are Theologians, the Augsburg Confession – written by a layman and confessed by laymen.
By Pastor Scheer
I have often heard people say to me as a pastor you are a pastor, you need to know all of that doctrine stuff . Often people think that just because they are laity they are not meant to know all of that technical stuff. As Lutherans, we believe differently, that all Christians are given to know the whole Truth of the Scriptures, all of the teachings are meant to be learned and inwardly digested as we pray in the Collect For the Word.
This month provides us with a great opportunity to celebrate both our Lutheran heritage and also our laity (or as Luther classified them, hearers ). On June 25th the Lutheran Church celebrates the 481st anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. The Augsburg Confession is the foundational statement of what we Lutherans believe. It was written by Dr. Philip Melancthon, a layman who had learned from Luther the teachings from Scripture and was able to put them into a courageous confession.
The courageous Augsburg Confession gives us pause as Lutherans. In 1530 the Emperor could have easily executed the Lutherans for opposing the Pope. In the face of such danger, Dr. Melancthon went to work on writing the Augsburg Confession using materials from Luther and others and finally coming up with what we have today in our Book of Concord. This Confession was dangerous for Melancthon, but it became dangerous for even more laymen. At Augsburg, seven Lutheran princes and two mayors confessed their faith right in front of the Emperor and the officials representing the Pope. These laymen knew the danger in presenting the Truth of the Scriptures in opposition to the false doctrines that had crept into the Church over the years. Their faith compelled them to confess Christ even in a dangerous situation.
The Lutheran faith is not meant to be kept only to the clergy, but it is a faith born out of the Scriptures for all Christians to know and confess. It is a faith not meant to be secret, but openly confessed before emperors and neighbors alike. This means that Lutherans never stop teaching the faith to each other, clergy to laity, parents to children, teachers to pupils. It is our faith, given to us by God, and brilliantly confessed in both the written Augsburg Confession but also the deeds of those faithful laymen who confessed it so long ago. May their example of faith and courage encourage us in our life together as Lutherans. The world is a hurting place, and we Lutherans have the balm for the world s woe, the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ and the right administration of the Sacraments. These things give us the freedom to serve the neighbors that God has put before us in our daily lives (clergy and laity).
I would encourage you to crack out a copy of your Small Catechism once again, and take it to heart, for the teachings which God has preserved among us to this time are the answers to the questions of the day. You are theologians too.
Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being
prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with
gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:14b-15
Blessings as you contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to all the saints (Jude 3),