Does the Augsburg Confession Teach Anything Outside of Scripture? "Defensio Augustanae Confessionis" (Chapter IX)

Todd Rester
Friedrich Balduin
Monday, May 2nd 2022
May/Jun 2022
by Friedrich Balduin; translated by Todd Rester

In 1613, the Hungarian Catholic Cardinal Peter Pázmány, S.J. (1570–1637) published Hodegus Igazságra-Vezérló Kalauz. In Book 4 of this work, Pázmany devoted six chapters to a refutation of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession. In 1623, Lutheran theologian Friedrich Balduin published a direct response to Pázmany’s work, titled Defensio Augustanae Confessionis (Wittenburg: Paul Helwigius, 1623). Balduin’s Defensio was originally a series of Latin disputations publicly delivered in Wittenberg that Balduin authored and presided over with a student respondent.[1]

60. Now at last, the Esauite[2] approaches the Scriptures, which must be first of all. For if before this judge our confession cannot stand, then we freely confess action has to be taken regarding it. For it is the only thing by whose judgment the professors of any religion must stand or fall. “It is necessary for those who are subject, who are imbued with the Scriptures,” says Basil in his On Christian Ethics, rule 72, chapter 1, “to prove those things which are asserted by professors, both to receive those things that are consonant with the Scriptures, and to reject what is foreign to them, and to vehemently oppose those who persevere in strange teachings of this sort.”[3] But our adversary shows his true character, which is to say, “You speak in the manner of allies and your cause has the Scriptures in your mouth, yet there is hatred of them in your heart.” Now the shortest path forward would have been to show in individual articles where the Confession states something contrary to the Holy Scriptures, but it breaks apart under its own force, so he frankly admits “that he does not want to overturn those controversies that could produce genuine disputation.” But that was what was especially necessary to do; for to pluck out one or the other locus and twist it at will is characteristic of sophists, not of candid disputers. Without a doubt, if he would have examined it without hypocrisy, he will confess the very thing the papists at the Augsburg Assembly frankly confessed: that the confession offered by the Protestants cannot be refuted from holy Scripture. I certainly have been convicted in my conscience that of all the articles that our confession sets forth, there is not one that can be solidly refuted from the holy Scriptures; and the Jesuits themselves in the Colloquy of Regensburg [1601] said that there is not even one heresy that can be sufficiently refuted from only Scripture. Therefore, because they hold our doctrine as heretical, it follows that the Esauites would strive in vain to refute it from holy Scripture alone. Therefore, this entire disputation of our Pázmány is useless. But for the sake of fulfilling his desire, he brings to bear certain things wherein, he contends, the Confession teaches on one hand [doctrines] outside of Scripture and on the other contrary to it, which we will [now] examine.[4]

61. He says “outside of the Scriptures” because the confession teaches: (1) that we respectfully receive the Mass with all its accustomed ceremonies; (2) the apostles transferred the sanctification of the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day; (3) keeping the third commandment inviolate consists in this, that it obligates for the celebration of a feast, but what pertains to the sanctification of the Sabbath is the only variation that could occur; (4) the term for “essence” and “person” are present in the Godhead. For all these things, he says, are not read anywhere in Holy Scripture.[5]

I respond first generally: (1) it is rightly noted that all these things that the Esauite says here about the Mass, the sanctification of the Lord’s Day, about the transfer of the Sabbath, the essence and persons in the Godhead, the Papists also believe, which if our confession is outside Scripture or it would urge what is nowhere read in Scripture, it is manifest that the Papists teach and believe many things that are outside of Scripture, and yet some of them, among whom was the apostate Johann Pistorius, dared to debate with us from only Holy Scripture.[6]

(2) When we say that our doctrine contains nothing outside of the Scriptures, we do not understand this as including all the rites of the Church, which were always within the liberty of the Church, such as the celebration of the first day of the week, nor those terms whereby it is customary for the Church to explain the articles of the faith, such as the word essence and person, nor the τὸ ρητὸν or exact letter of [every] article of faith, but the dogmas themselves, which are necessary to believe under pain of salvation, are contained either with respect to the exact letter or plan in the Holy Scriptures. So Paul protests before Agrippa that he says nothing outside of what the prophets said would occur (Acts 26:22, cf. 13:38), and still he says about Jesus who had been raised from the dead, that through him the remission of sins will be proclaimed, and that all who believe in him will be justified, which, according to the letter, is not found in any of the prophets. So he employs phrases such as, that he was under the law, under sin, dying for sin, living in the flesh; he says the Lord of glory was crucified, the Son of God born of a woman, and so forth, which phrases are not extant in any of the prophets. He teaches about the rite of the Holy Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, about the use of doubtful things, about the eating of food sacrificed to idols [esu idolochytarum]and similar things that nevertheless are not mentioned in any of the prophets. And yet he said most truly that he did not teach anything outside of what had been written in the prophets, because the dogmas of faith that were handed down by him, had also been set forth either expressly or implicitly from the prophets.

62. Next, I am specifically responding to each of the Esauite’s objections: (1) that we should accept the pontifical Mass, which is imagined as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead. The Confession never taught this. But we have taught above (see chapter III) in what sense this is rightly said: that the Mass is retained among us and celebrated with the highest reverence.[7] We especially understand this as regarding the entire holy liturgy, with constant preaching of the word, prayers, holy sermons, and the use of the sacraments. But the Mass or holy liturgy is truly apostolic, recognized from the practice of the apostolic Church, and hence it is not in the least outside of Scripture.

(2) The sanctification of the seventh day was transferred by the apostles to the Lord’s Day is certainly not read in Scripture in express words. Nevertheless, it is gathered from this, because μίασαββάτων, the first of the Sabbaths was also a solemn feast in the Church of the apostles, so Paul commanded collections to be made on that day in the Corinthian church, since then people were more frequently gathering for holy things. Moreover, the first of the Sabbaths is the day closest following the Sabbath or seventh day, for which reason the day of resurrection is called μίασαββάτων, the first of the Sabbath, or the first day of the week next following the Sabbath (for on that very day of the Sabbath, the women rested according to the law), which today is named the Lord’s Day from Revelation 1:10. Jerome also wants the first day of the Sabbaths, on which Paul wants the collections to be established, named the Lord’s Day.[8] In Acts, also the first of the Sabbaths, it is read that the disciples came together for Paul’s preaching (Acts 20:7). What all those things teach well enough is that the change of the Sabbath into the Lord’s Day was an apostolic institution. Even if nothing especially stands out in Scripture, yet that means nothing, for what pertains to the rites of the Church about which individual points Scripture precisely defined nothing. However, the discussion here is not about rites but about the articles of faith and the same fundamentals.

(3) This is the same rationale about the third objection. For he treats of a certain ceremonial matter, not about an article of faith. So it would mean nothing, even if there is plainly nothing of this matter in Scripture. But in keeping the third commandment intact, although the Sabbath or the seventh day is no longer sanctified today, hence it is fitting that Paul expressly writes, “Let no one judge you in feast days, new moons, or sabbaths, which are shadows of things to come” (Col. 2:16). And just as Paul also takes up other things than ceremonial ones from the moral kind, such as from this—that in the law those who serve the altar have their food from the altar—he gathers the general rule that those who serve the Gospel must also live from the Gospel. And from the law that you should not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain, he takes a moral kind: that the worker is worthy of his wage. So also from the command to hallow the sabbath, we can gather a genus of not hallowing a certain day of the week. For the express mention of the Sabbath pertains to the ceremonial law that has been abrogated, which Paul teaches in Colossians 2:16; therefore, you see neither now do we teach anything outside of Scripture.

(4) Finally, it is not necessary that the terms for “essence” and “person” are extant in Scripture, provided that the things themselves (res ipsa) are present in Scripture, which the Esauites will not deny, unless they want to be Arians, since, as Nazianzus says, certain things are present in Scripture, even if they are not said.[9] And (as Thomas grants me on this point),

If it is necessary that it may be asserted about God according to the term that holy Scripture teaches about God, it would follow that someone could not say anything about God in another language, unless in those which the Scripture of the Old and New Testament was first delivered. But the necessity to dispute with heretics forced finding new terms to signify the ancient faith. Innovation must not be shunned here, provided they are not profane as long as they do not depart from the sense of the Scriptures.[10]

Thus far Thomas. Therefore, not even simply with respect to these terms, we do not teach something outside of Scripture, because the things themselves understood by these words have been expressed evidently enough in Scripture, which no one would deny but an Arian. Moreover, because our confession mentioned the decree of the Nicene Council regarding the unity of the divine essence and the three persons, it did not happen as if (as our Esauite alleges) this article is unscriptural, but we will prove it from the authority of the Nicene Council. For the Apology for the confession holds this: “We have always taught, defended, and thought this article has the certain and firm testimonies in the holy Scriptures, which cannot be overthrown.” But he calls out this decree of the Nicene Council so that he would show that we do not reject all the decrees of the Nicene Council, as the Papists allege; but that what they themselves teach according to the authority of the Scriptures, we freely admit and acknowledge with free hearts the labors of the holy fathers against the heretics.

Todd Rester (PhD, Calvin Theological Seminary) is associate professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the director for the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research and also works with the Dutch Reformed Translation Society.

1. For Balduin’s entire response to Pázmány’s work, see Balduinus, Phosphorus Veri Catholocismi (Wittenberg: Johannes Gormannus, 1626). Balduin’s Defensio (1623) is found verbatim in its entirety in Phosphorus (1626), 403–576. On the significance of Pázmány, see R. Johnston, H. Louthan, and T. Ó hAnnracháin, “Catholic Reformers: Stanislas Hosius, Melchior Khlesl, and Peter Pázmány,” in A Companion to the Reformation in Central Europe, ed. H. Louthan and G. Murdock (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 210–22. On the commissioning of a Latin translation of Pázmány’s Hodegus so Wittenberg might refute it, see László Barta, “Adatok a Kalauzra Adott Wittenbergi Válasz Készíteséhez,” in Pázmány Péter és kora, ed. E. Hargittay (Piliscsaba, 2001), 268–73; cited in Johston, Louthan, and Ó hAnnracháin, 215n42.
2. Esauitae is a pun on Iesuitae, the Jesuits; e.g., Lucas Osiander (1534–1604) terms the Jesuits Jebusitae vel Esauitae in his Epitomes Historiae Ecclesiasticae Centuriae XVI Pars Altera (Tübingen: Georg Gruppenbach, 1603), fol. (:)2v.
3. Basil, Moralia in PG 31:846–48; idem, On Christian Ethics, trans. Jacob van Sickle (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2014).
4. Cf. Pázmány, Hodegus (1613), 346–48.
5. Cf. Pázmány, Hodegus (1613), 346.
6. Marginalia: Joh. Pistor. in suo Hodego. Germanico; Hodegetor; i.e., a guide or pathfinder, in Greek ὁδηγητήρ, in German, Wegweiser; see Johann Pistorius Jr. (1546–1608), Wegweiser vor alle verführte Christen (Münster Raesfeldt, 1599). Son of a renowned Lutheran pastor, trained in law and medicine at Wittenberg, Pistorius became an influential political, theological, and spiritual advisor to several German nobles as a Protestant and as a Roman Catholic. By 1584, he had converted from Lutheranism to Calvinism; by 1588, to Roman Catholicism. He was an active theological polemicist writing against Lutherans and Calvinists after 1588, eliciting manifold responses. See Cardinal Walter Kasper, ed., Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder-Verlag, 1999), 8:319ff.
7. Balduin, Defensio, fols. C2r–D1v.
8. Jerome, Contra Vigilantium in PL 23:339–52; idem, Against Vigilantius, NPNF2 6:417–23.
9. Gregory Nazianzus, Oration 31.21 (Fifth Theological Oration) in NPNF2 7:324.
10. Thomas Aquinas, ST, Ia q. 9, art. 8.
Monday, May 2nd 2022

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