The Confutatio Pontificia:

In Reference to the Matters Presented To His Imperial Majesty by the Elector Of Saxony and Some Princes and States of the Holy Roman Empire, On the Subject and Concerning Causes Pertaining to the Christian Orthodox Faith, the Following Christian Reply Can Be Given

August 3, 1530

Edited by J. M. Reu.
Published in
The Augsburg Confession, A Collection of Sources
Ft. Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press),
pp. 349-383.

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To Article XII

[cf. Augsburg Confession]

In the twelfth article their confession that such as have fallen may find remission of sins at the time when they are converted, and that the Church should give absolution unto such as return to repentance, is commended, since they most justly condemn the Novatians who deny that repentance can be repeated, in opposition both to the prophet who promises grace to the sinner at whatever hour he shall mourn, Ezek. 18:21, and the merciful declaration of Christ our Saviour, replying to St. Peter, that not until seven times, but until seventy times seven in one day, he should forgive his brother sinning against him, Matt. 18:22.

But the second part of this article is utterly rejected. For when they ascribe only two parts to repentance, they antagonize the entire Church, which from the time of the apostles has held and believed that there are three parts of repentance - contrition, confession and satisfaction. Thus the ancient doctors, Origen, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Gregory, Augustine, taught in attestation of the Holy Scriptures, especially from 2 Kings 12, concerning David, 2 Chron 3:1, concerning Manasseh, Ps. 31, 37, 50, 101, etc. Therefore Pope Leo X of happy memory justly condemned this article of Luther, who taught: "That there are three parts of repentance - viz. confession, contrition, and satisfaction -- has no foundation in Scripture or in Holy Christian doctors."

This part of the article, therefore can in no way be admitted; so, too, neither can that which asserts that faith is the second part of repentance, since it is known to all that faith precedes repentance; for unless one believes he will not repent.

Neither is that part admitted which makes light of pontifical satisfactions, for it is contrary to the Gospel, contrary to the apostles, contrary to the fathers, contrary to the councils, and contrary to the universal Catholic Church. John the Baptist cries: "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance," Matt. 3:8. St. Paul teaches: "As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness," Rom 6:19. He likewise preached to the Gentiles that they should repent and be Converted to God, bringing forth fruits meet for repentance, Acts 20:21. So Christ himself also began to teach and preach repentance: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," Matt. 4:17. Afterward he commanded the apostles to pursue this mode of preaching and teaching, Luke 24:47, and St. Peter faithfully obeyed him in his first sermon, Acts 2:38. So Augustine also exhorts that "every one exercise toward himself severity, so that, being judged of himself, he shall not be judged of the Lord," as St. Paul says. 1 Cor. 11:31. Pope Leo surnamed the Great, said "The Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, gave to those set over the churches the authority to assign to those who confess the doing of penance, and through the door of reconciliation to admit to the communion of the sacraments those who have been cleansed by a salutary satisfaction. Ambrose says: "The amount of the penance must be adapted to the trouble of the conscience." Hence diverse penitential canons were appointed in the holy Synod of Nicea, in accordance with The diversity of satisfactions, Jovinian the heretic, thought, however, that all sins are equal and accordingly did not admit a diversity of satisfactions. Moreover, satisfactions should not be abolished in the Church, contrary to the express Gospel and the decrees of councils and fathers.

Those absolved by the priest ought to perform the penance enjoined, following the declaration of St. Paul: He "gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," Tit. 2:14. Christ thus made satisfaction for us, that we might be zealous of good works, fulfilling the satisfaction enjoined.

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Rev. Robert E. Smith
Walther Library
Concordia Theological Seminary.

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