The Christian Church

Also [the confessors] 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. Augsburg Confession, Article 7

Difficulty level: Adult

Christ's Warning of False Prophets by Martin Luther

Concerning the Name "Lutheran" by C. F. W. Walther | "...we allow ourselves to be called Lutherans not because we want this name to separate us from other orthodox believers like the Corinthians did and further not because our faith is based upon Luther and finally not because we want to show that we confess a new doctrine and new church, a sect."

Why am I a Lutheran? by Edward G. Kettner | "Lutherans teach a Gospel which declares that salvation is God's work from start to finish."

Evangelical Catholics & Confessional Evangelicals: The Ecumenical Polarities of Lutheranism by Gene Edward Veith

Doctrinal Statements and Theological Opinions of the Lutheran Church of Australia by Henry P. Hamann and Hermann Sasse

The Church of the Augsburg Confession as the True Ecumenical Movement by Kurt Marquart

Difficulty level: Seminary

Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession—The Church by theologians of the Augsburg Confession | Excerpt:

...this Church exists, namely, the truly believing and righteous men scattered throughout the whole world. [We are speaking not of an imaginary Church, which is to be found nowhere; but we say and know certainly that this Church, wherein saints live, is and abides truly upon earth; namely, that some of God's children are here and there in all the world, in various kingdoms, islands, lands, and cities, from the rising of the sun to its setting, who have truly learned to know Christ and His Gospel.] And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry or the Gospel] and the Sacraments. And this Church is properly the pillar of the truth, 1 Tim. 3, 15. For it retains the pure Gospel, and, as Paul says, 1 Cor. 3, 11 ["Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ"], the foundation, i.e., the true knowledge of Christ and faith. Although among these [in the body which is built upon the true foundation, i.e., upon Christ and faith] there are also many weak persons, who build upon the foundation stubble that will perish, i.e., certain unprofitable opinions [some human thoughts and opinions], which, nevertheless, because they do not overthrow the foundation, are both forgiven them and also corrected. And the writings of the holy Fathers testify that sometimes even they built stubble upon the foundation, but that this did not overthrow their faith. But most of those errors which our adversaries defend, overthrow faith, as, their condemnation of the article concerning the remission of sins, in which we say that the remission of sins is received by faith.

Church Rites, Commonly Called Adiaphora by theologians of the Augsburg Confession

The Distinction Between Orthodox & Heterodox Churches, Thesis III by Francis Pieper

The True Visible Church of God on Earth by Francis Pieper — DRB: Although Pieper may have had good reasons to use the terminology of the Reformed sects around him, their distinction between a "visible church" and an "invisible church" does not appear in the Lutheran confessions, which speak of only one church which, while hidden, bears discernible marks:

The first sentence [of the Augsburg Confession, Article VII] is said to refer to the invisible church, since the one holy church, the one that goes on forever, is an article of faith and therefore is invisible. The second sentence, on the other hand, is taken as referring to the visible church, since the congregation of all believers, in which the Gospel is preached in the sacraments are bestowed, is made up of visible people among whom it here on earth the means of grace are administered and received... As we examine the debates over Article VII in the 19th and 20th centuries, we find that these controversies about its meaning do not derive from any unclarity in the Confession, but rather from the unclear thinking of its interpreters, who attempted to read into it later theological notions in the categories of their own ecclesiology... [The unity of the church] is always an object of faith, not of observation, even though the world may see something of its working: "Behold, how they love one another..." Hidden under the various church bodies with their different languages and nationalities, constitutions and forms of worship, and other human traditions, lives the one church. Its unity is also hidden under the divisions of Christianity. The one church is purely an article of faith, and yet it is a great reality in the world.

— Hermann Sasse, "Article VII of the Augsburg Confession in the Present Crisis of Lutheranism," in We Confess the Church, Concordia Publishing House, pp. 47, 53

In the NT each local church is the church of Christ in that particular place. The church does not consist of churches or congregations. It exists in them. The [one holy church] exists in the individual local church as far as this church has preserved the Gospel and the Sacraments as Christ has instituted them. This is the biblical truth in Walther’s doctrine of the church.

— Hermann Sasse, "The Crisis of Lutheranism," in The Lonely Way, Volume II, Concordia Publishing House, p. 290

The Deconfessionalization of Lutheranism? by Hermann Sasse

Concerning the Unity of the Lutheran Church by Hermann Sasse

A Remarkable Predilection for Small Numbers by Hermann Sasse

Hermann Sasse and the Liturgical Movement by John T. Pless

The Suffering Church: A Study of Luther's Theologia Crucis by Robert A. Kelly | Excerpt:

By calling the church hidden, Luther means to say that the church cannot be discovered or observed by natural reason. The true church is hidden under the sign of its opposite: weakness, suffering, persecution, schism, and heresy. Because of this many take offense and decide that the church does not exist. This concealing of the church is the work both of the devil, who wants the Gospel to be suppressed, and God, who wants to come to people only in faith.

Augsburg Confession VII Revisited by Kurt E. Marquart

Evangelical and Catholic — A Slogan in Search of a Definition by David P. Scaer

The Lutheran Understanding of Church Fellowship by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Theology of Fellowship by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Confessional Lutheranism in Today's World by Robert D. Preus

Conservative Reformation by Charles Porterfield Krauth

Theology of the Cross Contents

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Last updated Wednesday, April 16, 2008 .

Editors: David R. Bickel; others to be named (edit this page with the Wittenberg Wiki)

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