1. What initially prompted you to write this booklet?
“I was asked to provide a short explanation of what the Augsburg Confession (1530) is all about that lay folks, and not just pastors, could understand. Historic documents, like our American Constitution, are really important, but for some of us they can be a little off-putting because we don’t fully understand the jargon, or technical language, in them. My goal was to introduce thoughtful laity to the Augsburg Confession, a kind of “magna carta” of Christian freedom, the foremost confession of faith for all Lutherans around the world. My goal wasn’t just to help Lutherans and other Christians understand their faith better, but also to help them, like the early reformers, confess and share their faith.”
2. Why is the Augsburg Confession, which was written hundreds of years ago and in a different context, still relevant to us today?
“It’s relevant because it addresses the core of our humanity and our need for God. If you want to really understand who you are, ask yourself, “what captivates me?” To be human is to be captivated. You can’t help but give your heart to someone or something. This is true for every person. We have no freedom to choose whether or not we can be captivated. We just are. The Bible word which best our core as humans is the “heart.” The problem with sin is that we fail to honor God who wants to take our hearts captive and fill us with his goodness. Instead, we think we can do a much better job at running our lives than what God ever could. So, we become turned in on ourselves. The Augsburg Confession describes how God hammers away at our self-centeredness, breaks it up, disintegrates our defenses, all for the purpose of getting us to trust in Jesus, put ourselves into his good hands, and live entirely from him and his love.”
3. You mention that the Augsburg Confession opposed both the abuses of the Catholic Church and the teachings of other Protestants. Does that mean Luther’s theology and the Lutheran movement are in some sort of third category?
“I like the question, but I don’t think so. Sure, the author of the Augsburg Confession, Philipp Melanchthon situated this confession of faith with respect to the positions of the Roman Catholic Church and non-Lutheran Protestants. But, when it comes right down to it, his most important concern was to confess the gospel as promise and to show how it is different from the law as command. He, along with his mentor, Martin Luther, are less interested in positioning themselves in relation to other Christians (though that is a factor) and more interested in sharing the gospel home to all who will hear.”
4. Is there any advice or thoughts you want to share with potential readers?
“Lots of people want to grow in their faith but they don’t know how to. The best way is to learn your faith: what does your faith teach? And, in learning it, how do you share it with others? Digging into the Augsburg Confession, along with studying the Scriptures, is a powerful way to grow in your faith, become a stronger witness for Christ, and understand how to appropriate and present the gospel such that you and others live from grace, from God’s promise and love. This guide to the Augsburg Confession will help you by sharing its basic concepts in understandable language. With that under your belt, you’ll be able to tackle the original head on with greater confidence.”