Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Augsburg Confession (Part 9)

Article XVII—Of Christ’s Return to Judgment
Also they teach that, in the consummation of the world, Christ shall appear to judge, and shall raise up all dead, and shall give unto the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys; but ungodly men and the devils shall he condemn unto endless torments.

They condemn the Anabaptists who think that to condemned men and the devils shall be an end of torments. They condemn others also, who now scatter Jewish opinions, that, before the resurrection of the dead, the godly shall occupy the kingdom of the world, the wicked being every where suppressed.

Whoa! We have been condemned by the Augsburg Confession! The Confession here explicitly denies any doctrine of an earthly millenial kingdom, while we teach as a church a millenial reign of Christ on earth. (For those who were in our NT theology seminar last Sunday, we dealt with the kingdom of God. If you were not in the seminar but would like the notes, just contact me.)

We should understand that the Lutheran teaching here was standard fare for their day. The Confutation, which was the Roman Catholic reply to the Augsburg Confession, found no fault with this article. We should also understand that the idea of an earthly kingdom of God was brought into disrepute by those who thought they could establish such a kingdom through force of arms. Therefore, the belief in an earthly kingdom of God was often associated with rebellion and insurrection. The Lutherans wanted nothing to do with that, and rightly so.

Here's a side note: It intrigues me that the Lutherans were so insistent on a literalistic interpretation of Christ's words for the Supper ("This is my body") but would not accept a literalistic reading of Scripture's words about the kingdom.

1 comment:

ThirstyMan said...

Another interesting note is that not only did the Lutherans "condemn" the Anabaptists, Luther himself saw no other way to deal with what he saw as their heresy than to permit the persecution and torture of these believers.