Augsburg Confession, the first Protestant confession of faith, and the basis of the present faith in Protestant Germany. Charles V., soon after his accession to the throne of Germany, summoned Luther to the diet of Worms (1521), and afterward issued an edict of outlawry against him and his adherents. But the insurrection in Castile and the war with France and Italy called him away. The edict of outlawry was inefficiently enforced, and the influence of the Lutherans was permitted to increase during the nine years of the emperor's absence. The diet of Spires (1529) had issued a decree for the purpose of conciliating the Lutherans by a proposed Roman Catholic reform, and uniting them against the Sacramentarians and Anabaptists. The Lutherans protested (hence Protestants), and made an unsuccessful effort to unite with Zwingli. At this juncture the emperor returned (1530). The German princes and estates were summoned to convene in diet at Augsburg in June. The summons called for aid against the Turks, making no reference to the religious difficulties of the kingdom, further than to promise at no distant time a speedy adjustment of them. On the 25th of the month a confession, prepared by Melanch-thon and approved by Luther, was read in the diet.
Two days later it was delivered to the Roman Catholic theologians for a reply. This was read in the diet on the 3d of August following, and called forth from Melanchthon a defence (Apologia Confessionis), which was afterward enlarged and published in Latin, and then in German. The object of the Augsburg Confession was not attained, and the edict of the emperor (Sept. 22) gave the Lutherans until the following April to bring themselves into conformity with the requirements of the church, and demanded their cooperation with the throne against the Zwinglians and Anabaptists. The Augsburg Confession and Melanchthon's defence were generally circulated in western Europe, and became a rallying point among the reformers. About 1540 Melanchthon made some important changes in the Confession. This form, known as the Confessio variata (the "altered Confession"), was received until 1580, when the Confess i-o innariata (the "unaltered Confession") was formally adopted as the standard of the Lutheran churches. - The Augsburg Confession comprises two parts, besides the appended Apologia, or defence.
Part I. comprises 21 articles, of the contents of which the following is an abstract: 1 treats of God and the Trinity, in accordance with the Nicene creed; 2 asserts that all men since the fall are born with sin; 3 treats of the person and mediation of Christ, in accordance with the Apostles' creed. 4. Justification is the effect of faith, exclusive of good works. 5. The Word of God and the sacraments are the means of conveying the Holy Spirit, but never without faith. 6. Faith must produce good works, but not to merit justification. 7. The true church consists only of the godly. 8. Sacraments are valid though the administrators are evil. 9. Infant baptism is necessary. 10. The real presence in the eucharist exists only during the period of receiving; the sacrament to be received in both kinds. 11. Absolution is necessary, but not particular confession. 12 is against the Anabaptists. 13. All who receive the sacraments must have actual faith. 14. No one can teach in the church or administer the sacraments without having been lawfully called. 15. Holy days and church ceremonies to be observed. 16. Of civil matters and marriage. 17. Of the resurrection, last judgment, heaven, and hell. 18. Of free will. 19. God is not the author of sin. 20. Good works are not wholly unprofitable. 21 forbids the invocation of saints.
Part II. comprises seven articles: 1 enjoins communion in both kinds, and forbids the carrying' out of the sacramental elements; 2 condemns the law for the celibacy of priests; 3 condemns private masses, and directs that some of the congregation shall always communicate with the priest; 4 denies the necessity of auricular confession; 5 is against tradition and human ceremonies; 6 condemns monastic vows; 7 discriminates between civil and religious power, the power of the church consisting only in preaching and administering the sacraments. The Apologia consists of 16 articles, treating of original sin, justification by faith, fulfilment of the law, penitence, repentance, confession, satisfaction, sacraments, ordinances, invocation of saints, communion in both kinds, celibacy, monastic vows, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. - Gieseler's "Church History," edited by Prof. II. B. Smith, vol. iv., p. 432 (New York, 1861), furnishes a summary of documents relating to the Augsburg Confession.