Roman contribution to the Diet of Augsburg


#1

As the story goes, Luther and company split with the Catholic Church when they knowingly rejected Catholic doctrine in favor of “their own” interpretation of scripture.

This sounds reasonable today. Roman Catholics have a catechism, websites, and apologists to tell us what Roman Catholic doctrine is, so there is little doubt what isn’t. Was the same true in Luther’s day?

The reformation sparked a dispute as to what Christian doctrine was. Emperor Charles V wanted to settle this dispute to bring unity. Unity was a matter of some urgency because the Empire was being threatened by the Turkish military. The Emperor summoned both sides in the dispute to Augsburg in 1530.

Charles asked “the several estates of the Empire—on the strength of the Imperial edict—should submit their explanations, opinions, and judgments in German and Latin.”* The Lutherans submitted the Augsburg Confesson.

Rome did not submit their explanations, opinions, and judgements. I don’t know why. Perhaps because Rome wasn’t an estate of the Empire. Anyone know?

I find it odd that Rome didn’t submit anything. The Lutherans were supposedly in a state of heresy, but heresy against what? This would have been a perfect time for Rome to present its explanations to illustrate exactly what doctrines the Lutherans were contradicting.

Rome did not present its side, but it did orally deliver a rebuttal of the Augsburg Confession called [post=1807930]the Confutation[/post]. The Lutherans were not provided a written copy until 43 years later.

So, my question is as follows:
Is it reasonable to assume Luther was knowingly breaking from “Catholic doctrine” in 1517? What “Cahtolic doctrine”? If there was a body of doctrine that was recognizably “Catholic”, it was not presented when it could have been at Augsburg. Luther cannot be faulted in 1517 for rebelling against something that was presented so vaguely in 1530.

Also, what is the present status of the Confutation? In the age of the internet, it is hard to find. The only to places I know are not Catholic: “Project Wittenberg (a Lutheran site)” and project Gutenburg. Is it still “in force”. Catholics don’t seem very proud of it. It took 43 years to publish in the first place.

Should I count the Augsburg Confession as responded to?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

*From the preface to the Augsburg Confesson.


#2

The Roman response is also known by its Latin title Confutatio Pontifica. I just now Googled it and found a .pdf version which might be easier to read:

projectwittenberg.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/concord/EckConfutatioPontificia.pdf

I carefully read both it, and the Augsburg Confession in weighing my recent decision of whether to become Catholic. I also read Pope Leo X’s bull Exurge Domine, which can be found here:

papalencyclicals.net/Leo10/l10exdom.htm

From what I know about the Church Fathers, I had to concede that on a number of points, Luther had, in fact, departed from the historic faith.

Eastern Orthodoxy, which split off in the 11th century, provides a second independent witness of that historic faith. It and Catholicism agree with one another against Luther.


#3

I would guess that Rome didn’t want to set a precedent for princes calling general councils. The Church has produced doctrinal documents from the start of its history, beginning with St Paul’s letters, and the idea that there was no dogma for Luther to dissent from is absurd. Whether with hindsight it would have been better to have co-operated with Charles V and formally set forth the case against Luther is another matter.


#4

Given that the first ecumenical council was called by Emperor Constantine, I’m not sure that’s a good argument :slight_smile:

Jeremy


#5

Given that the first ecumenical council was called by Emperor Constantine, I’m not sure that’s a good argument :slight_smile:

[/quote]

Quite right. Emperors have called councils:
Nicaea, Constantinople I, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople II, Constantinople III, Nicaea II

The Pope crowned Charles V Holy Roman Emperor, so it may be that Rome didn’t want to continue the precedent, but the precedent seems to be there already.


#6

:idea:How about the Apology to the Augsburg Confession? Its long, but it responds directly to Confutatio Pontifica.

I read Exurge Domine. It doesn’t really say anything. That is, it doesn’t say anything about what Roman doctrine is. It lists doctrines Rome thinks are in error. It also goes through extraordinary lengths to try to build up a defense for the authority for the Pope to simply declare the doctrines erroneous. There is no appeal to scripture or past Catholic doctrines (except on the papal authority issue).

In short, it is unhelpful in figuring out if a recognizable body of Catholic doctrine existed for Luther to knowingly reject in favor of “his own” interpretation (thus breaking away from THE Church and starting “his own”).


#7

Quite right, and the evangelicals made extensive use those doctrinal documents, citing them in their confessions. Why did Rome not even bring a compilation of those doctrinal documents to Augsburg, illustrate the evangelicals were in error, so they could all go home?

Whether with hindsight it would have been better to have co-operated with Charles V and formally set forth the case against Luther is another matter.

I have no reason not to think of Augsburg as a Christian Council. It was called by an Emperor and produced three documents:

  1. *Confessio Augustana
    2) its Apology
    3) Confutatio Pontifica *(belatedly)

“The Council of Augsburg”

Meeting minutes:[LIST]
*]Confession of Christian faith presented. (Augsburg Confession)
*]Opposition party voiced (literally) their concerns (The Confutation)
*]Concerns answered (The Apology)[/LIST]


#8

I don’t find it odd-- just the standard fare considering the awful state of affairs prevailing in the late medieval and Renaissance papacy. Rome was in little to no condition to be concentrating on a theological issue of serious import. The joint inability of Charles V to concentrate on the Protestant Reformation (because of his multiple problems) and of the Roman Church/Pope to ‘get-its-act-together’ and get a council going is what allowed the Protestant Reformation to occur and remain.

So, my question is as follows:
Is it reasonable to assume Luther was knowingly breaking from “Catholic doctrine” in 1517? What “Cahtolic doctrine”? If there was a body of doctrine that was recognizably “Catholic”, it was not presented when it could have been at Augsburg. Luther cannot be faulted in 1517 for rebelling against something that was presented so vaguely in 1530.

By what standard are we to judge this? If Luther writes against a Catholic teaching and provides his own view, is that enough? For then it clearly shows 1. that he knows the Catholic teaching 2. that he rejects it and 3. that he offers an alternative to it.

Some things that Luther rebelled against were quite plainly against the sense of the Catholic tradition and the Fathers-- for instance, the abolishment of the Eucharist as, “sacrifice” (which I believe Luther himself admitted to be their unanimous consent). As in the Babylonian Captivity, "the third captivity of this sacrament is that most wicked abuse of all, in consequence of which there is today no more generally accepted and firmly believed opinion in the Church than this — that the mass is a good work and a sacrifice." In 2.69 he refers directly to the Eucharistic prayer to dispute it– and that’s as direct as way of knowing what the Church teaches as there is. Besides, he says knowingly that, “What shall we say, then, about the canon of the mass and the sayings of the Fathers? First of all, if there were nothing at all to be said against them, it would yet be the safer course to reject them all rather than admit that the mass is a work or a sacrifice, lest we deny the word of Christ and overthrow faith together with the mass.” I think he most manifestly knows this teaching at least. As far as I know, while he started out only disputing indulgences, Johann Eck brought him to the point in debate where he had to dispute the infallibility of the Church, etc… and I think that on many issues he should have or did know that the Church teaching was that the Church was infallible, etc (at least in councils-- and if I do recall, he derides the idea that either the Pope or Councils were infallible, ‘for they have contradicted themselves’ as he is fond of saying-- he knew the Church position there, then). Possibly not on every doctrine, but certainly on many, where he most manifestly refused compromise. In his Address he often contrasts his position with the Catholic position. Under, ‘the first wall’ he contrasts his position about the priesthood of all believers. “As for the unction by a pope or a bishop, tonsure, ordination, consecration” this will never make, “a Christian or spiritual man.” Although that isn’t the clearest thing ever, by his next sentence, “we are all consecrated as priests by baptism” and the import of the rest of the section-- namely that there are no “characteres indelebiles” and that the only difference between the ministerial priest and the common priesthood is, “one of office and function”-- well, this cumulative view on the priesthood and orders seems to be knowingly and deliberatively against the Catholic teaching, for he not only seems to grasp it adequately, but also to reject it and replace it.

Even if Luther did not know what was Catholic doctrine, I think it quite obvious that he knew what was not Catholic doctrine due to ecclesial pronouncements. When the saints and greats were censured for their views, they didn’t burn the papal bulls, but instead patiently appealed them. I believe Meister Eckhart acted this way.

Now, as an addendum, many of the, ‘heretics’ of the ancient Church stated their heresy before any real development-- or perhaps were themselves the reason for the development. Perhaps we shouldn’t fault Nestorius for his heresy-- but we should fault him for not subordinating himself to the judgment of the Church when it came.

-Rob


#9

No matter. If Rome was in no condition to deal with issues of serious theological import, there were men who were. They studied, they discussed, they compiled a statement of historic Christian faith and submitted it to the diet of Augsburg.


#10

But isn’t the question why Rome didn’t, not why intelligent theologians didn’t?

-Rob


#11

This is interesting. I never completely figured out the theological mechanics of the mass as a sacrifice.

I grant that the Fathers called the sacrament a “sacrifice” pretty consistently from the beginning. Is this just because of Malachi? What about Hosea?

Anyway. Like I said, my knowledge of the sacrifice of the mass is hazy, but might Luther have been right to condemn the practice, if it were practiced incorrectly? Today Catholics say they are not re-sacrificing Jesus, but participating in the sacrifice that is eternally “present”—if I understand correctly. Was this subtly understood as such at the time?Therefore the daily sacrifice of Christ will cease universally at the advent of the abomination - i.e. of Antichrist
CONFUTATIO PONTIFICIA
The daily sacrifice of Christ? :hmmm:


#12

It doesn’t really matter why Rome didn’t. If Rome was sitting on the theological sidelines during this critical phase we should know it. If “Rome was in little to no condition to be concentrating on a theological issue of serious import”, why should I put any trust in the theological documents (i.e., Exurge Domine, Confutatio Pontifica) it produced at the time, or even consider its participation in the Diet of Augsburg as relevant to the resolution of the crisis of Christian disagreement?

You say the “state of affairs prevailing in the late medieval and Renaissance papacy” was “awful”. So what? Does the world stop turning? Does God stop providing for his Church? Rome did not participate effectively at Augsburg. Other Christians did. Is it outside the power of God to use some when others drop the ball?


#13

[quote=Angainor]Should I count the Augsburg Confession as responded to?
[/quote]

Yes, in the Council of Trent. Whatever ‘force’ the Confutation had or has is superseded by the dogmatic pronouncements of the council.

Luther may honestly have thought in 1517 that he was arguing for the ‘true’ catholic faith, but at the Diet of Worms in 1521 he was quite obviously confronted with the judgment of the Church, which he rejected. Therefore, after 1521 he was a formal heretic.
He seems to have acted continually according to his [rather diseased] conscience, so perhaps he is not in hell.

By the way, here is an interesting webpage.


#14

That’s it. In antiquity the Roman Emperor did call Councils. Then by the Middle Ages it was on the say so of the Pope. There was a serious proposal to go back to something more like the old system, which the Pope wasn’t too happy about.


#15

That Luther responded at all indicates he recognized there were disputes with the Church and it says as much in the introduction.


#16

:tissues:


#17

The Diet of Worms went something like this:

Rome: Recant!
Luther: No.

It doesn’t help me to know what Rome thought about what the Christian faith was, or if there was a recognizable body of ‘Catholic’ doctrine being proclaimed.

Yes, in the Council of Trent. Whatever ‘force’ the Confutation had or has is superseded by the dogmatic pronouncements of the council.

Superseded? What is that? The Confutation reflects what Rome thought was the Christian faith at the time, and if there was a recognizable body of ‘Catholic’ doctrine. We have to judge Luther’s actions in reaction to that.

Sure, there was a very recognizable body of ‘Catholic’ doctrine after Trent. But before Trent, a body of Christian doctrine was already being proclaimed by the evangelicals (Lutherans). Trent contradicted that body of doctrine.


#18

That’s the whole issue of the Reformation: the authority of Rome. That’s what makes you a Protestant and me a Catholic. I obey Rome, and you do not.

Superseded? What is that? The Confutation reflects what Rome thought was the Christian faith at the time, and if there was a recognizable body of ‘Catholic’ doctrine. We have to judge Luther’s actions in reaction to that.

Yeah, Luther chose his own interpretation of Scripture over Rome’s. So he was excommunicated, but of course since he was his own authority, that didn’t matter. He was his own Pope.

Sure, there was a very recognizable body of ‘Catholic’ doctrine after Trent. But before Trent, a body of Christian doctrine was already being proclaimed by the evangelicals (Lutherans). Trent contradicted that body of doctrine.

Trent decided in favour of a certain body of doctrine, which is also defended in the Confutation, but the former has the greater authority, as it contains dogmatic pronouncements. The authority of Trent resides in Rome, however–so if you object that authority, naturally Trent doesn’t matter to you.

What you seem to be questioning here is whether the ‘Roman Catholic’ doctrine is the ‘true’ Catholic doctrine. Yeah, that’s the Reformation Question.
If you answer ‘yes,’ then you are a Roman Catholic (or at least a Catholic in communion with Rome). If you answer ‘no,’ then you have to say what is the ‘true’ Catholic doctrine, and more importantly: why?
Why is the Augsburg Confession an expression of true Catholic doctrine? It appeals to the Church Fathers and to Scripture: but whose interpretation of the Fathers and Scripture? Luther’s (as understood by Melanchthon). His interpretation was clearly rejected by Rome at the Diet of Worms.

What we’re looking for, Angainor, is what body of ‘Catholic’ doctrine was the **real **one at the time of the Augsburg Diet. Two sides were presented: the ‘Evangelical’, and the ‘Roman.’ Both appealed to Scripture and the Fathers, but with differing interpretations. So how do we decide which interpretation was correct? Either an arbitrary choice or an appeal to the authority represented by the respective sides, namely, Dr. Martin Luther and Pope Leo X.

So: what gave Luther more authority over Catholic doctrine than the Pope?

Even the Augsburg Confession in **Article XXVIII: *Of Ecclesiastical Power ***admits considering the power of the Keys:

*"…by divine right, there belongs to the bishops as bishops…to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the Gospel …]" *(emphasis mine).

Martin Luther was not a bishop.

Furthermore, Emperor Charles V, the Imperial mediating authority who called the Diet and to whom the Augsburg Confession and its Apology were addressed, clearly decided in favour of the Roman position.


#19

If that’s it, that’s it. No amount of demonstrating that the Augsburg Confession represents the historical Catholic faith will make any difference at all. So be it.

Even the Augsburg Confession in **Article XXVIII: *Of Ecclesiastical Power ***admits considering the power of the Keys:

"…by divine right, there belongs to the bishops as bishops…to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the Gospel …]" (emphasis mine).

Yes, it is recognized that it within the bishop’s jurisdiction to judge doctrine. But scripturally, this is not absolute:But when they teach or ordain anything against the Gospel, then the congregations have a commandment of God prohibiting obedience, Matt. 7, 15: Beware of false prophets; Gal. 1, 8: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed; 2 Cor. 13, 8: We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. Also: The power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. So, also, the Canonical Laws command (II. Q. VII. Cap., Sacerdotes, and Cap. Oves). And Augustine (Contra Petiliani Epistolam): Neither must we submit to Catholic bishops if they chance to err, or hold anything contrary to the Canonical Scriptures of God.


#20

[quote=Angainor]If that’s it, that’s it. No amount of demonstrating that the Augsburg Confession represents the historical Catholic faith will make any difference at all. So be it.
[/quote]

And how are we to decide whether the Augsburg Confession is a true representation of the historical Catholic faith? Who or what is the deciding authority on the correct interpretation of Scripture and Tradition?

[quote=Angainor]Yes, it is recognized that it within the bishop’s jurisdiction to judge doctrine. But scripturally, this is not absolute:
[/quote]

And who or what is the deciding authority on whether a bishop ‘teaches or ordains anything’ contrary to the Gospel?
In other words, where does Christ ultimately place the power of the Keys?


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