Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The desire of Charles V to achieve unity at Augsburg was not to be; Catholic theologians perceived correctly that, despite Melanchthon’s conciliatory language, the Catholic and Lutheran positions were incompatible, and while the diet was still in session, several more German states endorsed the Augsburg confession. The emperor then allowed a team of Catholic scholars to compose a confutation of the confession, which, he declared, had refuted the errors of the Evangelicals. He would not permit the dissidents to have a copy of the confutation, but they took notes during the reading, and Melanchthon soon produced Apologie de Confession aus dem Latin verdeudschet (1531; The Apologie, 1536). When the Protestants presented this to the emperor, he refused to accept it. The Apologie appeared in print in 1531 and quickly gained acceptance in Lutheran states. In 1537, Lutheran theologians meeting in Smalcald formally endorsed it as another confession of their church. In contrast to the pacific language of the Augsburg confession, that of The Apologie is polemical, even belligerent, evidence there was no longer any expectation of reconciliation with Rome. Luther often extolled Melanchthon’s confessional works as accurate summaries of Christian doctrine.

The history of the Augsburg confession after 1530 reflects the seriousness with which the Evangelicals regarded doctrinal precision. Melanchthon made several revisions of the...

(The entire section is 403 words.)