The Road to The Book of Concord
By: Chief Elder – Bill Dahlgren
About 1510 Luther is allowed to go to Rome. He feels he will see wonderful things in Rome. He walks from Wittenberg to Rome. He becomes very disillusioned with the Roman Catholic Church when he sees priests visiting houses of prostitution, priests selling indulgences.
In 1515 Luther becomes enraged when John Tetzel is selling indulgences in Wittenberg telling potential buyers that an indulgence freed souls from punishment for confessed sins an could even release them from purgatory.
In 1517 Luther posts his 95 thesis on the door of the Wittenberg castle church. His actions get back to the pope.
In 1521, the pope declares Martin Luther an outlaw and is commanded to come to the city of worms Germany to recant his position. He does not recant.
The emperor Charles V wants the Lutherans and Catholics to meet in Augsburg and work out their differences. Meeting was to take place on May 2nd 1530. Luther and Melanchthon write the Augsburg Confession. The first 21 articles of The Augsburg Confession set fort Lutheran doctrine in order to demonstrate that they dissent in no article of faith from the Catholic Church. The remaining 7 articles discuss abuses that had crept into the Catholic Church in the centuries immediately preceding the reformation. The Augsburg confession is the backbone of the Lutheran Church.
Most of the 21 articles were accepted but none of 7 abuses were accepted.
The emperor wants another meeting to try an iron differences. Melanchthon writes the Apology of the Augsburg Confession which is the defense of The Augsburg confession. It is never presented as the Catholic Church keeps putting off the meeting in hopes that Luther would be dead before the meeting. Another meeting never takes place due to the ridiculous demands of the Catholic Church Lutherans would not be allowed to vote, only Catholics could vote.
The Council of Trent is finalized in 1563 and from this date the Catholic Church and the Protestants are completely separated.
The Smalcald articles were written by Martin Luther as there was little hope that the emperor would grant Lutherans religious freedom to practice a religion separate from Catholicism. The Smalcald league was formed by the German princes to defend against the emperor and the soldiers of the pope. The emperor defeated all of Germany except for Saxony. Germans given religious freedom because of Muslims.
In 1536 Pope John Paul III called for another council again to work out differences so the German Princes asked Martin Luther to clearly state the Lutheran Doctrine. Luther wrote The Smalcald Articles. The Lutheran doctrine had been stated in the Augsburg Confession, The Apology and the Large Catechism. There were things missing like views on purgatory, adoration of saints and most important the Papacy. The council never took place but the Lutherans felt the articles were so good that they were adopted in The Book of Concord.
These basics were all covered in sermons by Martin Luther at St. Mary’s Church in Wittenberg. He put all these sermons together in one book in 1529 called The Large Catechism.
ORIGIN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
By: Chief Elder Bill Dahlgren
We must remember that from Inception of the Christian church on Pentecost to 330AD, we only had the Hebrew Old Testament and many letters and the gospels. None of the Christian literature was put into one book. Constantine declared the roman empire Christian in 320 AD. It was brought to his attention that many Christian churches had different liturgy due to the churches only having parts of the New Testament. In 320AD, Constantine ordered Eusebius to make 50 bibles consisting of the Old Hebrew Testament and the New Testament. We have always accepted The Hebrew Old Testament.
Many people believe that the books of the New Testament were made authoritative by canon councils. Not so, by 100 AD all 27 books of the New Testament were being used by Christians as instructed by the apostles. No more authoritative books were written after the death of John about 100AD.
Until 330 AD, none of the books had been put together in one book. Constantine declared the Roman Empire as Christian about 320 AD. He noticed that none of the Christian churches had one book with all the 27 books together as one. In 330 AD, he ordered Eusebius of Caesarea to write 50 copies of the New Testament, Eusebius had the library of Caesarea and the library of Jerusalem at his disposal. He had many scribes available to do the job. Most Christian scholars believe that only the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex sinaiticus are what remain of these original 50 manuscripts.
Eusebius classified most all of the 27 books as not disputed after conferring with the other major church bishops at that time. Since 100 AD, a lot of new books had been written which he classified as disputed or heretical. All of the books are in the original 50 manuscripts written by Eusebius’s scribes.
A conflict began to arise among Christians. In about 140 AD, a man named Marcion arrived in Rome and began preaching only the 10 letters of Paul and portions of Luke, he was starting his own religion. This movement grew to such an extent the Christian church leaders saw the necessity to more clearly formalize the distinction between what was and was not authoritative scripture. This led to a list of writings considered authoritative by the Christian church.
Factors used to determine authenticity:
This simply documented and formalized the list of books which the early Christian church had already considered authoritative. (Before 100 AD).
It was necessary to canonize any new books that were purposed after 100 AD. This was mainly due to the Gnostics trying to add their books to the New Testament. Gnostics maintained that flesh and matter were evil and that man could be saved only by releasing his spirit form his imprisonment in his corrupt body. Many Gnostic thinkers seized upon the gospel story as the ultimate example of the triumph of spirit over matter. They claimed that Jesus had not actually been a man but a manifestation of the spirit, which had taken on material form in order to bring his message to men. The god who sent Jesus was not the god of the Old Testament, who had created the evil material world, but the true god, the lord of spirit. Such Gnostic ideas varied radically from the teaching of Jesus and the doctrine of the church. Jesus had been a real man, and his triumph had been not over the flesh but over death. His life and death represented the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Hebrew Old Testament, and his god was the same god who had created the universe.
Another group of heretics were called Arianism, followers of Arius, holding that Jesus was not of the same substance of god but was only the highest of created beings. Because of these people, the council of Nicea was called. Here, 318 of the church bishops met in Nicea in 330 AD and voted them wrong. 300 bishops voted against Arianism saying that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were one. This is the basis for our Nicenecreed.
Due to Gnostics and Arianism trying to change the New Testament, a canon meeting was held in Carthage in 397 AD that would canonize the present 27 books of the New Testament. This council in Carthage simply confirmed the 27 books that the apostles had made authoritative and denied the myriad of books presented by Gnostics and Arianist. The Hebrew Old Testament was never in contention.
Inerrancy of The New Testament
Many people say our bible has been revised to the point that it no longer gives us the original message. The Muslims use this argument to say that only their message is true since it has not been changed like our New Testament.
Most bible scholars agree that the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus were written by the scribes of Eusebius. We are confident there has been no changes to these bibles thanks to the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus at St. Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai in 1844 by Constantine Tischendorf. He was a Swiss bible scholar. The Codex Sinaiticus had been in St. Catherine’s since about 400 AD. The Code Sinaiticus was compared to the Codex Vaticanus and there were no major changes. The Codex Sinaiticus is now on display in the British museum and the Codex Vaticanus is in Rome in the Vatican Museum where it has been for many years.