Melanchthons use of the term «confession» for his definition of the church at Augsburg in 1530 initiated a new approach to characterizing the churchs nature. It grew naturally out of the Wittenberg understanding of Gods nature as a God of conversation and community and centers the church in the evangel of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone. It identifies the churchs life as eschatological, giving a sense of urgency to its proclamation in Gods on-going battle against -Satan and evil, prescribing for the church a life of evangelical and ecumenical witness and the edification of its people.
An edition of controversial works which contributed to confessional consolidation in the second half of the sixteenth century is being prepared as part of a project entitled «Controversia et Confessio,» under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences and Literature of Mainz, in cooperation with the Johannes Gutenberg University and the Institute of European History in Mainz. The project is also producing a biographical-bibliographical data bank available on-line for general use. The project is described here against the background of the culture of conflict or controversy that accompanied the interpretation of the Reformation legacy in the later sixteenth century. Work on a revised edition of the Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche is also underway.
The Augsburg Confession is the most important doctrinal confession of the Evangelical-Lutheran Churches worldwide. There are, however, -issues of principles of interpretation that must be dealt with, as the question about the authoritative text of the Confession, which text edition should be used. The author suggests that the critical edition of 1930 should be regarded as the best reconstruction of the original manuscripts and thus as the more authentic text, closest to the texts delivered to the emperor June 25, 1530. Discussing the relationship between the Latin and the German versions of the AC, he argues that they are equally -authentic. Because of that, he proposes that the German version should be used together with the Latin and therefore also be translated into modern languages.
Since the days of bishop James Ussher in the middle of the 17th century, it has become customary to see Marcellus letter to the Roman bishop -Julius (339–340) as the first attestation of the traditional creed of the -Roman community. This theory was argued extensively by J. N. D. Kelly in his classic monograph on the early Christian creeds. In recent years, this opinio communis has been challenged by W. Kinzig, C. Markschies and M. Vinzent. They argue that the creed quoted by Marcellus in his letter is exactly what it seems to be – Marcellus own creed. This creed was soon adopted by the Roman community. Hence the creed of Marcellus is the mother of The Old Roman Creed as well as of the somewhat later Apost-les Creed. The present article surveys some of the contributions made in the recent debate generated by the input of the three German scholars, and suggests some arguments in favour of the traditional theory.
The Danish-Norwegian king, Fredrik II, refused to subscribe The Book of Concord 1580. One reason for that was to avoid new conflicts among the theologians that could threaten a peaceful development in his territories. An other reason was that he already in 1569 had signed 25 articles on religion that made his confessional profile as clear as he wanted it to be. These articles on religion, Fremmedartiklene, were supposed to be the tools that were needed to deal with the problem of Calvinistic and Roman catholic immigration. Contrary to the confessional mainstream in Europe that made The Book of Concord the confessional Lutheran canon, the king of Denmark and Norway tried to secure the confessional identity by simplification of the theological issues rather than theological clarification as intended by The Book of Concord. The 25 articles on religion are of special interest as a confessional position contrary to the mainstream L-utheranism in the late 16th century.