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

Todd Rester
Friedrich Balduin
Tuesday, November 1st 2022
Nov/Dec 2022
by Friedrich Balduin; translated by Todd Rester

This edition of Balduin’s 1623 work Defensio Augustanae Confessionis (Wittenberg: Paul Helwigius, 1623; fols. G4v–H4v) was a response to Cardinal Peter Pázmány, S. J. (1570–1637) and his Hungarian polemic against Protestants titled HodegusIgazságra-Vezérló Kalauz (Wien: Posonban, 1613); other editions Bratislava (1623 and 1637) and Trnava (1766). Pázmány devotes six chapters in book four of his volume to a general refutation of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession; see Hodegus (1613), 325–67. Balduin’s Defensio is a direct response to Pázmány on this issue. It was originally a series of Latin disputations delivered publicly at Wittenberg that Balduin authored and presided over with a student respondent.[1]

63. So far, we have refuted those things that the Esauite alleged our confession taught beyond Scripture; now we will see what sort of thing he thinks is taught there contrary to Scripture.[2] First, he says this is contrary to Scripture, “that the confession teaches that doing something in divine worship without God’s command is a prohibited audaciousness.” I respond: But how can it be contrary to Scripture what Christ himself teaches in the words expressed in Scripture (Matt. 15:9), “In vain they worship me teaching the doctrines and commandments of men”? However, he objects the authority of Paul, who denies he has a commandment about this, that someone should be outside marriage. Yet he counseled that it would be better to remain such. Likewise, he did not have a commandment that he was ever to travel to Jerusalem from a vow, that he was to shave his head, and to desire other similar actions to please God, yet he did all those things. But I respond: The rule of Christ, which our confession repeats from his very mouth, is speaking about the commandments of men in divine worship. But the apostolic counsel that he gives concerning virgins does not concern any other part of divine worship, but he gives the counsel due to a present necessity, as he says in verse 26, because of course Christians had been exposed at that time to many persecutions and dangers, to which virgins were less exposed than spouses. Moreover, it should be noted that at some point the papists should be accustomed to proving their evangelical counsels from that passage of Paul, as is evident in the case of Bellarmine (tom. 2, bk. 2, ch. 9, on monks).[3] However, those counsels refer to God as their author, which, if this is true, how can our Pázmány oppose this passage to the divine commands? Paul’s vow was instituted by God himself for the Nazirites (Num. 6) but was freely used by Paul, not as part of the divine law, but as a bodily exercise whereby he was serving not God but the Jews; partly so that they would not think that he was entirely averse to the Mosaic law, as some thought he had committed a crime (Acts 21:21ff); and partly so that they would not be averse to the gospel of Christ and his ministers (Acts 18:18).

64. Next, he says that it is contrary to Scripture because our confession teaches that vowing chastity vows an impossible thing. I respond: But how can it be contrary to Scripture what Christ himself approves of, since he says regarding the gift of continence, “Not all receive this word” (Matt. 19:11), and, as experience testifies, how many votaries satisfy this vow so that it is necessary to permit them to have concubines, as we heard above? The Esauite opposes the authority of Paul who urges that a virgin should remain outside of marriage. But Paul counsels this on account of the present necessity and not for any except those who have the gift of chastity. And thus he added, “I want everyone to be as I am, but each person has their own gift from God, one certainly in this way, but another in that way” (1 Cor. 7:7–8). But regarding incontinence, he says in verse 9 that “if they are not continent, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn.” Moreover, this is most true, that virgins unable to be continent outside of wedlock pollute themselves with adultery. Moreover, Paul did not urge a vow of chastity upon such a virgin. Indeed, he does not even have one word about that vow.

65. The third point is of the same stuff,[4] for he says that it is contrary to Scripture that our confession stated, “The one who lives in celibacy acts contrary to the commandments of God and nature itself”—of course, if he does not have the gift of continence, for that must always be added, since Christ said about the continent that the one who can receive this should receive it (Matt. 19:11)—“for it is a common precept that everyone should have his own wife.” I respond: But how is this contrary to Scripture since the apostle Paul so expressly taught this in Scripture (1 Cor. 7:1)? “On account of fornication,” he says, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” The Esauite opposes not so much us as the apostle himself. “But if this is true,” he says, “then when the apostle counsels regarding celibacy, he counseled something contrary to God and nature.” The apostle did not counsel everyone broadly but those capable of continence; he urged something else for those who do not possess this gift, as we previously demonstrated.

66. Fourth, he says that it is contrary to Scripture what our confession teaches, that “the one who believes in Christ is saved without works, by faith alone.” I respond: But how can this be contrary to Scripture because Paul so expressly teaches it, saying, “We hold that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law” (Rom. 3:28), and again, “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.”[5] And again, what the apostle James says—that “a man is not justified by faith alone” and that “faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:24, 26)—is not so much opposed to us as to the apostle Paul. But James is not treating of a person’s justification before God, about which Paul is speaking, but about a person’s justification before his neighbor; that is, he is not handling the causes of justification but the declaration of righteousness, which happens by works that witness about the faith of the person justified. For he speaks this way in verse 18, “Show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith from [my] works.” Moreover, it is most true because that declaration happens through works, without which faith is dead; for just as it is known that a man is alive from his respiration, so from a man’s works it is known that he lives before God. But that is not at all contrary to Paul, who is speaking about the causes of justification and not about the declaration of a man as justified; and in this way our confession speaks, on whose side Paul himself is dug in.

67. Fifth, he says that it is contrary to Scripture that our confession says, “Whoever would sin against conscience does not remain in true faith.” I respond: But how is this contrary to Scripture? Because Paul openly writes, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die” (Rom. 8:13). Living according to the flesh is sinning against conscience; dying is losing the faith that grants eternal life. And the divine John says, “Whoever sins is from the devil” (1 John 3:8). What does the devil have in common with faith? But the Esauite opposes that passage of John: “Many of the leaders believed in Christ, but nevertheless they loved the praise of men more than of God” (John 12:[42]), from which he infers that faith and sins against conscience can exist simultaneously. The faith of those leaders was not a true and saving one but a hypocritical one. For true faith exerts itself through confession and an earnest love of Christ, on account of which a believer suffers all kinds of hardships in the world. But those did not confess him, says John, so that they would not be ejected from the synagogues (12:[42]).

68. Sixth, he says that it is contrary to Scripture that our confession teaches that no one can fulfill the law of God. I respond: But how can this be contrary to Scripture because Scripture expressly says that there is no one who does not sin (1 Kings 8:46; Eccl. 7:21); and Christ himself says that Moses gave you the law and none of you keep the law (John 7:19)? That man objects the saying of Christ, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 2:30), and of John, “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). But Scripture does not contradict itself. Therefore, Christ and John are speaking about the regenerate, to whom the commandments of God are not burdensome, and not as if they could perfectly fulfill them. For this is applied to all men from what has been said prior. But because God deals with them in a singular way, he leads them by his Holy Spirit into his ways, guarding them from immense lapses, covering their infirmities with the righteousness of his Son, and counteracting the defects of their obedience with his most perfect one.

69. Seventh, he says that it is contrary to Scripture that our confession teaches that all have been born according to nature because they are born in sin—that is, without the fear of God, without confidence toward God, and with concupiscence—and from the corpus of the teaching of Philip, he adds that concupiscence is a thing condemned and by its own nature worthy of death.[6] I respond: But how is this contrary to Scripture, in which the most holy David confesses that he was conceived in sin (Ps. 51:7), and Paul calls concupiscence simply sin (Rom. 7:7)? Moreover, all sin is lawlessness (ἀνομία, 1 John 3:4) and worthy of a curse and death (Deut. 27:26). The passage of Paul is objected whereby we are said to be purged by baptism from all sins (Eph. 2:26) so that there would not remain in us anything liable to damnation (Rom. 8:1). But we answer with Augustine, “The concupiscence of the flesh is dismissed in baptism, not such that it does not exist, but so that it is not imputed,” which opinion is cited in the law of Gratian, On Consecration, distinction 4, chapter “Non ex quo.”[7] Moreover, it is said in Romans 8:1, ὀυδὲν κατάκριμα: There is no condemnation for the regenerate; not as if there was not any sin in them that would be worthy of death, but because those remaining sins are covered by the righteousness of Christ and are not imputed to believers resisting them through the Holy Spirit. “In fact, all the commandments are considered done, when what is not done is pardoned,” as again Augustine says.[8]

70. Eighth, he says that it is contrary to Scripture that our confession says, “Our justification does not even in the least bit depend upon a true and saving repentance.” Our confession nowhere teaches this, but it denies that a remission of sins depends upon the condition of our worth or of our works, as is clear from articles 8 and 20. It is not at all contrary to this doctrine in the least, because Scripture teaches that he must perish who does not repent (Luke 13:5) or who does not produce the fruits worthy of repentance (Luke 3:8). But who of us ever denied this?

71. Finally, he says our confession completely falls apart when [it says] that everyone who believes has their sins forgiven them and has attained the grace of God. But how is this contrary to Scripture? Did not Christ say to the paralytic, “Take heart, son, your sins have been forgiven you” (Matt. 9:2)? Paul also writes with great fullness of assurance,[9] “I am certain that neither death nor life, nor angels nor princes, nor powers, neither the present nor things to come, neither width nor height nor depth, nor any other creature can separate me from the love of God” (Rom. 8:38)—which words of Paul the divine Bernard transfers to each and every believer: “You should be certain,” he says, “because neither death nor life, nor anything else that the apostle as much manifoldly as boldly enumerated, could separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.”[10] To these, the words of Paul must certainly not be opposed, wherein he commands us “to work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). For there he is not treating of a servile fear that flees from God, and he does not promise his grace and good will to [such a] person, but he is treating the filial fear that reverences God as his Father so that he would not in any way offend him. And so that former fear is partly an Epicurean security and partly a spiritual pride and arrogance, so that we would not grow haughty in confidence of the gifts but that we would depend entirely upon God’s mercy. Nor must that passage of Sirach be opposed, “Concerning propitiated sin, be not without fear” (Sir. 5:5).[11] According to the Greek text, the words are meant in this way: “Concerning indulgence, do not be excessively secure, so that you would heap up sins on sins.”[12] Therefore, these words are opposed to the security of those sinning who promise themselves impunity due to the mercy and longsuffering of God. But that has nothing in common with the filial confidence of the godly toward God. Most awkwardly of all, he is opposed “because, if someone certainly ought to believe that his sins are forgiven, he ought not to ask more fully for the remission of his sins.” Now, because we sin daily, we also seek remission daily, just as David witnesses about all the saints (Ps. 32:6)—which petition, because it is from faith, furnishes no reason why we should doubt the listening [to our requests] that Christ also promised with an oath (John 16:23).

72. These are what our Pázmány thinks are contrary to Scripture in the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana). Pázmány, that outstanding interpreter of sacred letters, in which [objections] he openly and exceedingly shows forth his most base infantility and how many things in the papacy are taught against the express [witness of the] Scriptures, so that they are not believed. So he has shown in short compass that: there could be some [aspect of] divine worship that may not be divinely prescribed to us; that the vow of continence may be simply possible for all; that faith could stand with sins against conscience; that not all [people] propagated according to nature are born in sins, and so forth; all of which manifestly contradict Holy Scripture. Therefore, let us congratulate ourselves because this so scrupulous Aristarchus could not find in our confession anything contrary to Scripture, which testimony must not be condemned—that it is in such agreement with the holy letters that not even the gates of hell could prevail against it.

Dr. Todd Rester (PhD, Calvin Theological Seminary) is associate professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He serves as the director for the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research and works as a translator for the Dutch Reformed Translation Society.

1. For my translation of chapter IX, see Modern Reformation (May/June 2022): 26–29. 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 H. Louthan and G. Murdock, eds., A Companion to the Reformation in Central Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 210–22. On the commissioning of a Latin translation of Pázmány’s Hodegus so that Wittenberg might refute it, see László Barta, “Adatok a Kalauzra Adott Wittenbergi Válasz Készíteséhez” in E. Hargittay, ed., Pázmány Péter és kora (Piliscsaba, 2001), 268–73; cited in Johston, Louthan, and Ó hAnnracháin, 215n42.
2. Cf. Pázmány, Hodegus (1613), 347–48.
3. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (1542–1621), tome 2, controv. 2, bk. 2, ch. 9, Disputationes de controversiis Christianae Fidei, 4 vols. (Ingolstadt: Adamus Sartorius, 1601), 2:450–467.
4. ejusdem farinae: lit. “of the same flour”
5. Emphasis in original Latin: NON justificatur homo ex operibus legis, NISI per fidem Iesu Christi.
6. Conscupiscentia sit res damnata, et sua natura digna morte; cf. Philip Melanchthon, Corpus Reformatorum: Philippi Melanchthonis opera quae supersunt omnia, ed. K. Bretschneider and H. Bindseil, 28 vols. (Halle: A. Schwetschke & Sons, 1834–1860), 26:351–2.
7. Augustine, De nuptiis et concupiscentia, 1.25 in PL 44:429–30; Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence in NPNF 1, 5:274; cf. Gratiani Decretum, pt 3, dist. 4, ch. 146.
8. Augustine, Retractiones, 1.19 in PL 32:613.
9. magna πληροφορία
10. Bernard of Clairvaux, “In Festo Pentecostes, Sermo III” §7 in PL 183:333.
11. De propitiato peccato ne sis sine metu.
12. De venia, ne sis nimium securus, ut peccata peccatis cumules.
Tuesday, November 1st 2022

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