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Smalcald Articles

Smalcald Articles

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The Smalcald Articles or Schmalkald Articles are a summary of Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 doctrine, written by Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 in 1537 for a meeting of the Schmalkaldic League
Schmalkaldic League
The Schmalkaldic League was a defensive alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. Although originally started for religious motives soon after the start of the Protestant Reformation, its members eventually intended for the League to replace the Holy...

 in preparation for an intended ecumenical Council of the Church.

History


Luther's patron, Elector John Frederick
John Frederick, Elector of Saxony
John Frederick I of Saxony , called John the Magnanimous, was Elector of Saxony and Head of the Protestant Confederation of Germany , "Champion of the Reformation".-Early years:...

 of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

, asked him to prepare these articles for the Schmalkaldic League's meeting in 1537, held again in Schmalkalden
Schmalkalden
- Notable people :*Christoph Cellarius, scholar, born 22 November 1638, died 4 June 1707 in Halle*Christian Karl August Ludwig von Massenbach, colonel, born 16 April 1758, died 21 November 1827 at Białokosz...

. The League had been organized in 1531 as a union of various Lutheran territories and cities, to provide a united military and political front against Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 politicians and armies, led by Emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

.

When the Schmalkaldic League met, Luther was taken very ill with a severe case of kidney stone
Kidney stone
A kidney stone, also known as a renal calculus is a solid concretion or crystal aggregation formed in the kidneys from dietary minerals in the urine...

s and so was unable to attend the meeting. The league ultimately determined not to adopt the articles Luther had written. They were influenced not to adopt the Smalcald Articles by Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon , born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems...

, who was concerned that Luther's writing would be regarded as divisive by some. Melanchthon was asked to write a clear statement on the Papacy and this he did, a document that was adopted at the meeting as the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope , The Tractate for short, is the seventh Lutheran credal document of the Book of Concord...

.

In the Smalcald Articles, Luther summarized what he regarded to be the most important teaching in Christianity. The Articles were highly prized by John Frederick who ordered that they be made a part of his last will and testament. And though they were not adopted at the meeting of the Schmalkaldic League in 1537, they were widely used and were incorporated into the Book of Concord
Book of Concord
The Book of Concord or Concordia is the historic doctrinal standard of the Lutheran Church, consisting of ten credal documents recognized as authoritative in Lutheranism since the 16th century...

in 1580 as one of the Lutheran Confessions of the faith.

Although the intended Council was never held, the Smalcald Articles were seen as a supplement to the other Confessions of the Lutheran Church and are still used today. They are included in the Book of Concord
Book of Concord
The Book of Concord or Concordia is the historic doctrinal standard of the Lutheran Church, consisting of ten credal documents recognized as authoritative in Lutheranism since the 16th century...

.

First article



The first and chief article is this: Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 3:24–25). He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). All have sinned and are justified freely, without their own works and merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Romans 3:23–25). This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law, or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us… Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything else falls (Mark 13:31)

Translations


The Smalcald Articles are available in the following translations:
  • Bente, F., translator and editor. Concordia Triglotta. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921.
  • Kolb, Robert and Timothy J. Wengert, eds. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8006-2740-7
  • McCain, Paul T., Robert C. Baker, Gene Edward Veith, and Edward A. Engelbrecht, eds. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions — A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005. ISBN 0-7586-0806-3
  • Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959. ISBN 0-8006-0825-9

External links