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The Problems with the Lutheran Augsburg Confession

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Illustration of the Confession by Wenceslaus Hollar

Illustration of the Confession by Wenceslaus Hollar

I was raised in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the biggest church in my country, formerly state-church, with around seven million members of whom 85 % according to a recent poll don’t believe in Jesus. When I was saved in 2006, Martin Luther was one of my spiritual heroes. As I read the Scriptures and compared it to Catholicism I realized that they had added a lot of stuff that Jesus and the apostles never talked about, and I thought Luther was one of the first to realize that and to resurrect the original Gospel. Arguing that Scripture should be the only source to theology and pointing at Paul’s emphasis on justification by faith and grace, he criticized the unbiblical Catholic indulgence and several unbiblical doctrines. I thought Luther was awesome.

As I learned more about Luther and Lutheranism however, I started to realize that perhaps he wasn’t entirely biblical either. In fact, he changed the order of biblical books according to his personal opinion, placing the letter of James, one of my favourite biblical books, last because it didn’t make sense with his interpretation of sola fide. And he was a quite violent man, justifying wars, capital punishment, persecution against Jews and execution of Anabaptists. In fact, as I discovered the existance of Anabaptists and their radical, pacifist Jesus-centered theology, I realized that Luther was not the only one protesting against Catholic errors, and far from the best.

I hope to return to my criticism of Luther in a future post, but right now I want to turn to the Augsburg Confession, one of the most important Lutheran documents that actually is one of the primary faith documents of the Church of Sweden, in line with the Nicene Creed. It’s a really weird document. It starts like this:

Most Invincible Emperor, Caesar Augustus, Most Clement Lord: Inasmuch as Your Imperial Majesty has summoned a Diet of the Empire here at Augsburg to deliberate concerning measures against the Turk, that most atrocious, hereditary, and ancient enemy of the Christian name and religion, in what way, namely, effectually to withstand his furor and assaults by strong and lasting military provision…

So they basically manage to be idolatrous, violent and islamophobic in less than one sentence. And the hostility towards Turks is evident in other parts of the document as well:

Of the Worship of Saints they teach that the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, according to our calling, as the Emperor may follow the example of David in making war to drive away the Turk from his country.

Now, Jesus clearly preached pacifism, and so did the early church. And besides that, don’t you think it’s a little bit problematic to repeatedly point out Turks as evil creatures that should be banned from the land of an imperialist dictator?

Turning to the theological part, the claim that Lutheranism is Scripture-based is spoiled by the constant mention of sacraments. It’s mentioned 36 times in the document, compared to the Holy Spirit’s 18 times, or love’s four times. Now, I will write more about sacraments in the future, but I think everyone has to accept that they are never defined in the Bible, and so it is very problematic to say that the church is defined by administrating the sacraments, as the Augsburg Confession claims. Why should baptism and communion be sacraments, and not annointing the sick with healing oil or helping the poor? Because Lutheran’s don’t view that as important.

In fact, the document does not mention signs, wonders, miracles or Spiritual gifts at all. And this is of course totally unbiblical: miracles are very important in the New Testament. So no, the Augsburg type of Lutheranism is not based on Sola Scriptura, it’s possibly based on Sola Luther, and that’s definitely not the same thing or even similar.

The absurdity of the Augsburg Confession shows quite clearly that going to Lutheranism’s root is not the way forward for someone who wants to be Biblical. Now, of course I bless Lutherans and understand that many have no interest in standing for all the principles of Augsburg, but some argues that they want to do so, and I definitely not recommend that. Seek Spiritual inspiration in the charismatic movement, the Anabaptist movement or of course the early church movement, but stay away from original Lutheranism.


  1. artbucher says:

    This is an important piece of history that serves as a warning to current radical Christians to not dampen down the movements of the Holy Spirit by getting caught up in the fear-driven wars on militant Islamists. There’s more than just traditionalism at work that is directing contemporary people to adhere to the Augsburg Confession.

  2. Rick says:

    Back then, and even more now, Islam is a VERY real enemy of
    Christianity. It is not “one of the great religions of the world.” It is a direct enemy of Jesus Christ. As Christians,
    we are fools to act like Islam is just another way to heaven.
    On Judgment Day, Jesus will be our judge…He said so. Muslims
    treatment of Jesus in the Koran is disgraceful.

    • Hi Rick! Well, I actually think that compared to Talmud or common atheist opinion, the Koran is VERY respectful towards Jesus. It teaches that He was a prophet who taught the truth and did miracles and that He will come back to judge the world, but that He wasn’t the Son of God. The Talmud on the other hand says that “Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and deceived and led Israel astray”, and atheists usually mock Jesus, calling Him crazy or even worse. So by that standard atheism and judaism are the “VERY VERY real enemy” of Christianity. But why prioritize heresies like that, can’t we just agree that Jesus rocks and all ideologies that deny Him are wrong?


      • ricklamascus says:

        Have you actually read the Koran account of the birth of Jesus or are just quoting what Muslims claim? I have read that account and there is NO RESPECT to Jesus or Mary. In the Koran, there is no Joseph or Nazareth. Mary was adopted by Zechriah. Being pregnant, she walked out of Jerusalem one day, held onto a palm tree and wished she was dead.
        Then gave birth and walked back into Jerusalem with baby Jesus. Those who knew her said, “Mary, you have done a terrible thing.”
        That is RESPECT ? Please state the Sura where Jesus will come bck to judge the world. Rick

        • Whaaaat? Yes I have read the Quran but I don’t think you’ve read it very well. Can you give me sura and verse to your statement. What I find is “Behold! the angels said, ‘Oh Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter, and in (the company of) those nearest to God. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. He shall be (in the company) of the righteous… And God will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel'” (3:45-48).

          Here are some more

          Jesus’ return is part of Islamic tradition, I don’t think it’s mentioned in the Quran but in the hadiths: Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43: Kitab-ul-`Ilm (Book of Knowledge), Hâdith Number 656 for example.


          • ricklamascus says:

            1. I am a Missouri Synod Lutheran. What religion are you?

            2. You are giving Islam way too much credit for “respecting”
            Jesus. Respect for Jesus must include the Trinity…Father,
            Son, and Holy Spirit. Islam does not accept Jesus as the Son
            of God and has no concept of the Holy Spirit. Sura 10 is very
            clear about this, denying the Trinity especially in 10:28 and
            10:35, mocking partner-gods(Son and Holy Spirit)and this is not
            the only place. In Sura 10:65, to say that there is a Son of God
            is to blaspheme God–according the Koran. Sura 10:28 and Sura 10:35 are further condemnation of Jesus as the Son of God and condemnation of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus said in
            John 14:6, “I am the way. No one comes to the Father except
            through me.” These are not small, insignificant details, but
            the absolute core of Christianity.

            3. Jesus will be our judge on Judgment Day. He said so in
            John 5:22 ………..
            “The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son…Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” This does NOT square with Islam, at all. Islam
            reduces Jesus to a prophet, not the Son of God.

            4. The birth of Jesus in the Koran is mentioned in Sura 19:1-36.
            Amongst other distortions, this is where Mary hugs the palm tree
            and wishes she wss dead. The she takes baby Jesus back into
            Jerusalem and the people tell her, “Mary, you have done a terrible thing.” And Baby Jesus talks to the people…as a
            newborn! All of this contradicts the Bible. How is that any
            respect for Jesus?

            5. It is common for Muslims and those who are sympathetic to
            Islam to gloss over acceptance of Jesus without investigating
            what the Koran really says concerning Jesus and all other
            aspects of the Bible. The stories of Jonah, Joseph, and
            Abraham are in no way similar to the Bible accounts. The hope
            is….Christians will accept Muslim claims and will not really
            read the Koran. But I do.

            4. “The return of Jesus is part of the Islamic tradition…”.
            But…NOT return to be the judge of all on Judgment Day.
            Islamic tradition does not hold Jesus to be the Son of God and
            part of the Trinity. Accepting 2 or 3 of 10 absolutes of
            Christianity is not OK. Christians cannot pick and choose what
            parts of Christianity they will accept and dismiss and distort
            things that are not convenient.

            5. The quote from Sura 3:45 you gave is a deceptive verse. It
            does NOT accept Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior and Son of God.
            It stops way short of that. It only confirms that Jesus was the
            son of Mary and is worthy of respect as a prophet. Jesus speak-
            ing as a baby is an Islamic claim…not a Bible claim, so it is
            of no value. The Koran also distorts stories about Joseph and

            6. Islam is built on a lot of hadith and very little Koran. The
            Koran spends much time criticizing Jews and Christians after
            providing misinformation and distortions from the OT and NT.

          • ricklamascus says:

            According to Islamic tradition which describes this graphically, Jesus’ descent will be in the midst of wars fought by the Mahdi (lit. “the rightly guided one”), known in Islamic eschatology as the redeemer of Islam, against the Antichrist (al-Masīh ad-Dajjāl, “False messiah”) and his followers.[27] Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes—his head anointed. He will then join the Mahdi in his war against the Dajjal. Jesus, considered as a Muslim, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually, Jesus will slay the Antichrist, and then everyone from the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb, referring to Jews and Christians) will believe in him. Thus, there will be one community, that of Islam.[28]

            Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43: Kitab-ul-`Ilm (Book of Knowledge), Hâdith Number 656:

            JESUS, CONSDERED A MUSLIM, WILL ABIDE BY THE ISLAMIC TEACHINGS ???????? No Christian can accept this.

          • Hi brother. I’m a Jesus hippie.

            Yes, Islam says that Jesus was a Muslim and that he isn’t the Son of God, and of course I do not agree with that. What I’m saying is that I don’t agree with you that it’s the religion that depicts Jesus in the most disgraceful way. Let’s look at some other religions:

            Hindus often say that Jesus was a Hindu, possibly a reincarnation of some Hindu god that taught people how to do yoga.

            Buddhists say that He was a Buddhist that taught people nirvana and meditation, but He wasn’t the Son of God.

            New agers say that He was a spiritual man who had great energies and said good stuff, but He wasn’t the Son of God.

            Judaism says that He was a Jewish rabbi but wasn’t the Son of God. Some say He even was a false prophet, changing the Torah and using dark magic, as Talmud says.

            Atheists usually say that if Jesus’ even existed He was a religious fanatic with crazy ideas about the end of the world. He did no miracles and wasn’t the Son of God because God doesn’t exist.

            Muslims say Jesus was a great Muslim prophet who did miracles but He wasn’t the Son of God.

            So, no religion except Christianity says that Jesus is the Son of God, so you can’t say OMG ISLAM DOESN’T SAY JESUS IS GOD IT’S THE WORST RELIGION EVER!!! I would actually say that atheism has the most disgraceful view of Christ and then the Jewish Talmud.


          • ricklamascus says:

            The greatest enemy is the enemy within. That is the one that is the most difficult to defend against. Clear-cut enemies can be defended. They are what they are. The guard is let down against what seems to be not so bad60….for now.

            All other religion are not seeking to destroy Christianity. The
            muslims would love to treat US Christians the same way they treated Christians in the 600’s – 1500’s …convert of die.

            Other religions do not have that attitude. They are present, but they are not our sworn enemy, seeking to take us down. They
            are not seeking to deceive us, lull us into a sense security, then pounce when the time is right. The greatest advocate
            against Christianity is a weak Christian who is “reaching out to
            muslims” telling other Christians that Muslims are “just like us.” They are not “just like us.” The goal of Islam is to
            conquer Christianity. The Koran rips Jews and Christians and
            then offers Islam as the correction. It is what it is.

            Christians are to promote Jesus and the Word of God, and not
            promote other religions. Jesus said so. “I am the Way, the
            Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is NOT a Christian goal to find some complimentary
            points in Islam and elevate that religion as also “one of the
            ways” to heaven.

      • ricklamascus says:

        Please ID the Sura and verse that
        says Jesus will return to be the judge of all, including Muslims, on Judgment Day.

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The author

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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