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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[cf. Augsburg Confession]

In the last place, they present the twenty-first article, wherein they admit that the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, but not that they be invoked and aid be sought of them. It is certainly wonderful that the princes especially and the cities have allowed this error to be agitated in their dominions, which has been condemned so often before in the Church, since eleven hundred years ago St. Jerome vanquished in this area the heretic Vigilantius. Long after him arose the Albigenses, the Poor Men of Lyons, the Picards, the Cathari old and new: all of whom were condemned legitimately long ago. Wherefore this article of the Confession, so frequently condemned, must be utterly rejected and in harmony with the entire universal Church be condemned;

For in favor of the invocation of saints we have not only the authority of the Church universal but also the agreement of the holy fathers, Augustine, Bernard, Jerome, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Basil, and this class of other Church teachers.

Neither is the authority of Holy Scripture absent from this Catholic assertion, for Christ taught that the saints should be honored: "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor," John 12:26. If, therefore, God honors saints, why do not we, insignificant men, honor them? Besides, the Lord was turned to repentance by Job when he prayed for his friends, Job 42:8. Why, therefore, would not God, the most pious, who gave assent to Job, do the same to the Blessed Virgin when she intercedes? We read also in Baruch 3:4: "O Lord Almighty, thou God of Israel, hear now the prayers of the dead Israelites." Therefore the dead also pray for us. Thus did Onias and Jeremiah in the Old Testament. For Onias the high priest was seen by Judas Maccabaeus holding up his hands and praying for the whole body of the Jews. Afterwards another man appeared, remarkable both for his age and majesty, and of great beauty about him, concerning whom Onias replied: "This is a love of the brethren and of the people Israel, who prayeth much for the people and for the Holy city - to wit, Jeremiah the prophet." 2 Macc. 15:12-14. Besides, we know from the Holy Scriptures that the angels pray for us. Why, then, would we deny this of the saints? "O Lord of hosts," said the angels, "how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation? And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me comfortable words." Zech. 1:12, 13. Job likewise testifies: "If there be an angel with him speaking, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, he will pity him and say, Deliver him from going down to the pit." Job 33:23, 24. This is clear besides from the words of that holy soul, John the Evangelist, when he says: "The four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one of them harps and golden vials, full of odors which are the prayers of saints," Rev. 5:8; and afterwards: "An angel stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came up with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."

Lastly, St. Cyprian the martyr more than twelve hundred and fifty years ago wrote to Pope Cornelius, Book I, Letter 1, asking that "if any depart first, his prayer for our brethren and sisters may not cease." For if this holy man had not ascertained that after this life the saints pray for the living, he would have given exhortation to no purpose.

Neither is their Confession strengthened by the fact that there is one Mediator between God and men, 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1. For although His Imperial Majesty, with the entire Church, confesses that there is one Mediator of redemption, nevertheless the mediators of intercession are many. Thus Moses was both mediator and agent between God and men, Deut. 5:31, for he prayed for the children of Israel, Ex. 17:11; 32:11f. Thus St. Paul prayed for those with whom he was sailing, Acts 27; so, too, he asked that he be prayed for by the Romans, Rom. 15:30, by the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 1:11, and by the Colossians, Col. 4:3. So while Peter was kept in prison prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him, Acts 12:5. Christ, therefore, is our chief Advocate, and indeed the greatest; but since the saints are members of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:27 and Eph. 5:30, and conform their will to that of Christ, and see that their Head, Christ, prays for us, who can doubt that the saints do the very same thing which they see Christ doing?

With all these things carefully considered, we must ask the princes and the cities adhering to them that they reject this part of the Confession and agree with the holy universal and orthodox Church and believe and confess, concerning the worship and intercession of saints, what the entire Christian world believes and confesses, and was observed in all the churches in the time of Augustine. "A Christian people." he says, "celebrates the memories of martyrs with religious observance, that it share in their merits and be aided by their prayers."

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

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