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Luther and Melanchthon on Justification and the Apology of the Augsburg Confession

October 21st, 2006
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From time to time, one hears that Luther’s emphasis on the imputation of God’s righteousness is not actually the teaching that is emphasized in the Lutheran Confessions in regard to justification. Interestingly, there are some who point to the differences between the first and second editions of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession in an effort to show the difference between Luther and Melanchthon on justification. I found this interesting abstract of a journal article and thought I would pass it By the way, if you have never read the excellent joint LCMS seminary statement on the JDDJ, you really must. A significant debt of gratitude is owed to Dr. David Scaer, Chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and Dr. Charles Arand, chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, and their respective departments for this fine statement.

Titre du document / Document title

Luther versus Melanchthon?
Zur Frage der Einheit der Wittenberger Reformation in der
Rechtfertigungslehre (Luther versus Melanchthon? About the question of
the unity of the Reformation of Wittenberg in the docrine of
justification) (Luther versus Melanchthon? Sur la question de l’unité
la Réforme de Wittenberg dans la doctrine de la justification)

Auteur(s) / Author(s)

FLOGAUS Reinhard (1)

Affiliation(s) du ou des auteurs / Author(s) Affiliation(s)

(1) Theologische Fakultät der Humboldt-Universität, Waisenstrasse 28, 10179 Berlin, ALLEMAGNE

Résumé / Abstract

the last decade the new Finnish Luther research established by T.
Mannermaa has revived the old thesis by K.Holl and his school that
Melanchthon spoiled Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith by an
imputative understanding of justification. According to this view,
Luther’s teaching on justification through the presence of Christ was
superseded by Melanchthon’s one-sided forensic doctrine of
justification, which also appeared in the Formula of Concord. In this
paper important texts by Melanchthon on the doctrine of justification
are compared with statements by Luther made at about the same time in
order to find out whether the two Wittenberg reformers really held
different opinions on this central point of Reformation theology. The
analysis makes clear that both, Luther and Melanchthon, saw forensic
and effective justification not as alternatives but as a unity. It is
true that up until the Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Luther mostly understands the presence of God in man as the presence of
Christ and that on the whole Luther emphasizes this point more than
Melanchthon, who in this context usually speaks of the Holy Ghost. This
does not, however, constitute a substantial difference. While in the
octavo edition of the Latin Apology and in the German Editio princeps
of the Confessio Augustana, which appeared in the fall of 1531,
Melanchthon stresses the forensic aspect of the doctrine of
justification, this is much less pronounced in the German Confessio
Augustana Variata of 1533. In Melanchthon’s Loci of 1535ff iustus
effici and iustus reputari do no longer play a decisive role.
Melanchthon interprets justification above all as the forgiveness of
sins, as reconciliation and as a gift of the Holy Ghost. During these
years Luther also stressed the complete forensic justification as
opposed to the gradual and partial effective justification of the
believer. Moreover, since 1532 Luther adjudicated priority to the
justifying forgiveness of sins

Revue / Journal Title

Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte
(Arch. Reformationsgesch.)
ISSN 0003-9381

Source / Source

2000, vol. 91, pp. 6-46

Langue / Language


Editeur / Publisher

Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, Gütersloh, ALLEMAGNE

Mots-clés anglais / English Keywords

Luther (M.) ;
Melanchthon (P.) ;
Justification ;
Reformation (The) ;
Faith ;
Reconciliation ;
Gift ;
Sin ;

Mots-clés français / French Keywords

Luther (M.) ;
Melanchthon (P.) ;
Justification ;
Réforme (La) ;
Foi ;
Réconciliation ;
Don ;
Péché ;
Confessio Augustana ;
Formula Concordiae ;

5271137 ;
527iv ;
527 ;

Localisation / Location

INIST-CNRS, Cote INIST : 25532, 35400009252207.0010

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Categories: Lutheran Confessions
  1. Holger Sonntag
    October 21st, 2006 at 10:56 | #1

    Probably much would depend on what Flogaus makes of this summary sentence: “The analysis makes clear that both, Luther and Melanchthon, saw forensic and effective justification not as alternatives but as a unity.” That would be the point where real Lutherans part company with Pietists and others — what does “unity” mean here?

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