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Augsburg Confession: 1530

The document presented by Melanchthon to the diet in Augsburg begins by emphasizing the continuity of the traditional Christian faith in Lutheran doctrine. Of its twenty-eight articles, the first twenty-one (covering all possible topics from original sin, through ecclesiastical structure to the cult of the saints) are themes on which there is argued to be no disagreement between the Catholic church and the reformers.

The remaining seven articles contain the crux of the matter. They are the areas where the reformers maintain that abuse has crept into church practice in relatively recent centuries. Lutheran reform claims merely to revert in these cases to the earlier scriptural model.

The seven listed abuses are: giving communion to the laity in one kind rather than two (the bread but not the wine); making celibacy compulsory for priests; treating communion as a sacrificial mass; insisting upon confession to a priest (as opposed to private confession to God); offering shortcuts to God's grace, as in the sale of indulgences; allowing monasteries to degenerate into worldly institutions; and granting too much authority to bishops.

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