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 XVIII

[cf. Augsburg Confession]

In the eighteenth article they confess the power of the Free Will - viz. that it has the power to work a civil righteousness, but that it has not, without the Holy Ghost, the virtue to work the righteousness of God. This confession is received and approved.

For it thus becomes Catholics to pursue the middle way, so as not, with the Pelagians, to ascribe too much to the free will, nor, with the godless Manichaeans, to deny it all liberty; for both are not without fault. Thus Augustine says: "With sure faith we believe, and without doubt we preach, that a free will exists in men. For it is an inhuman error to deny the free will in man, which every one experiences in himself, and is so often asserted in the Holy Scriptures."

St. Paul says: "Having power over his own will." 1 Cor. 7:37. Of the righteous the wise man says: "Who might offend, and hath not offended? or done evil, and hath not done it?" Eccles. 31:10. God said to Cain: "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him," Gen. 4:7. Through the prophet Isaiah he says: "If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land. But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword." This also Jeremiah has briefly expressed: "Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil, as thou couldest," Jer. 3:5. We add also Ezek. 18:31ff.: "Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed; and make ye a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves and live." Also St. Paul: "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets," 1 Cor. 14:32. Likewise 2 Cor. 9:7: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart; not grudgingly or of necessity." finally, Christ overthrew all the Manichaeans with one word when he said: "Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good." Mark 14:7; and to Jerusalem Christ says: "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matt. 23:37.

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

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