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AN EXEGESIS OF THE APOLOGY GF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION, ARTICLE IV By Robert W. Jenson lL ‘The_Apology's article--four--on justification begins: "In their (the Con- futation's) fourth, fifth, sixth and twentieth articles, they condemn us because we teach that men receive remission of sins not because of their merits but gratis, because of Christ and by faith in Christ." (1)° To understand the Apology, especially its dogmatic function for Iutherans and, in their view, for the church catholic, we mst first reckon with the history marked by this sentence. ‘The Confessi@ Augustana was written to save the unity of the western church, threatened by the clash between reforming movements and resistance to them. A reform movement in thb church is necessarily directed against church practices, at least initially, The practiceswhich the Lutheran movenent attacked were not practices to which the Roman authorities or the late-medieval church gen- erally had yet irrevocably committed thenselves. Therefore Melanchton could, in view of the Confessions irenic purposes, say that the conflict was only over 2. ipertain abuses, that have...come in with time. these are "abuses" of; the argunent of @A_ is clear: they abuse that escontial If, however, we ask what character of the gospel discussed in various contexts by all articles of CA from IV through XX1: that we are justified by faith alone, apart from works. This doctrine itself could be put among articles of "common Christian" teaching, be- cause it dealt with an aspect of Christian truth upon which there was as yet no dogma and about which the reformers believed they had scriptural backing. ‘The Lutheran confessors could still say: "This belongs to the teaching of the cath- olic church~-does it not?" The Lutheran doctrine of justification was precisely a dogmatic proposal to the catholic church; and the GA was the last occasion on which the proposal could-~with an only slightly forced smile--be made in innocence, 2 ‘T:. The answer of the Roman representatives~-and the only answer which CA has yet received from that quarter!--was the Gonfutation, In its article four we find: "But 48 anyone should disapprove these hunan merits which occur by the help of divine grace, he agrees more with the Manichaeans than with the catholic church. For it 4s contrary to all Scripture to deny that our works are meritorious." This statement had,at the Emperor's demand, replaced a much lengthier and less veiled attack; but all knew who the "anyone" was. In article five:"wthat they here speak of faith, may insofar be admitted as faith is not understood by itself * Inarticle six! *that (as some wrongly teach) but as it works through love... in this article they attribute justification to faith alone, is directly opposite to evangelical truth, which does not exclude works. lieve, if he does not do good, he is no friend of God." And in article twenty: 4 However much one may be~ when it is said "of good works that they do not merit the remission of sins..., this is rejected and disapproved." ; S0 soon as this "lo" to "justification by faith alone" was on-the record, the situation changed drastically. The controversy was no longer about "abuses" but directly about that which the reformers thought to be abused. ‘Thus Nelanchthon's reply to the rejection iakes one-third of the total bulk of the fpolosy. And now Yelanchthon mst write that the controversy is about "the chief locus of christian doctrine. *, Ye can no longer speak of Christians attempting to settle contrary evaluations of usage; now he mst spgf of lutheran confessore and their “adversaries"=~who must be suspected of having no "knoledge of Chriet™ at all (398). The issue is definitely church-divisive: "therefore, even if they suc- cessfully claim the nane'church' for themselves, we know that Christ's church Atself is among us..+." (400) Twill not regard it as my assignment, or withtoy competence, to decide whether Melanchton's meterial description of the "adversaries," throughout article