Roman Confutation

Originally published at:

Confession Confutation Apology [Defense]

Editor’s Introduction

1 After the Lutherans presented the Augsburg Confession, on June 25, 1530, the Roman rulers and leaders met on June 26, and on June 27 presented the Emperor with a report that called for a response to the Augsburg Confession. Various options were considered for responding to the Lutherans, and on July 5, the Emperor commanded that a confutation be prepared and that the Lutherans submit to his judgment. John Eck, who worked with John Faber, Conrad Wimpina, and John Cochlaeus, led the Roman theologians charged with the preparation of the Confutation. They were ordered to be moderate in their response. The Emperor rejected several drafts of a response. They presented 280 pages for the Emperor’s review, and he rejected all but twelve pages. Finally, after five attempts, and six weeks of effort, the Emperor accepted a draft and allowed it to be read publicly to the Lutherans, which it was on August 3 by the Emperor’s secretary, Alexander Schweiss. It was, like the Augsburg Confession, prepared in both Latin and German, but read aloud only in German. Commenting on the preparation of the confutation, Johann Brenz wrote to Myconius, on July 10: “They say they are preparing wagon-loads of comments on our Confession. Eck, moreover, that good man, is their chief. Of the rest, there are twenty-three. You might say there is an Illiad of sophists.” [Anecdota Brentiana, p. 93; Corpus Reformatorum, II:280. Homer’s Illiad has twenty-four books].

2 The Confutation was regarded as being so bad, even by the Roman Catholics, that they did not allow the Lutherans to have a copy. Fortunately Lutheran scribes had copied every word down during its reading. It was not published until 1573, in Latin, and did not appear in German until 1808. The Lutherans asked for a copy after it was read, and were told by the Emperor on August 5 that they would not receive a copy, unless they met three conditions: (1) They that do not reply in writing; (2) They not print anything about it, or do anything to publicize it, a demand made specifically by the Roman theologians; (3) That they join with the Emperor and the Roman Catholic estates and concur with the Confutation, in every point. These demands were soundly rejected.

3 A conference between Roman Catholic and Lutheran theologians was convened and met from August 13-21, during which the Confutation was discussed, but neither party was willing to compromise. As a result of the conference, the Lutheran estates agreed that a response to the Confutation should be prepared, and commissioned Philip Melanchthon to prepare a first draft. Though he was not present when the Confutation was read, Melanchthon worked from the very accurate notes made by Camerarius and others. On September 22, Melanchthon presented his first draft of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Apology meaning “defense.” The Apology was offered by Chancellor Br¸ck to the Emperor, and was received in the name of the Emperor by the count palatinate Frederick, in the name of the Emperor, but was quickly returned after his brother, Ferdinance, whispered an order in his ear.

4 For more information on the Confutation see the Historical Introductions section.

Confession Confutation Apology [Defense]