June 2023

Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word, Hymn 517 in the ELW

Dear Redeemer Family:
You may have noticed that I don’t have a Bible quote at the top of the page this month. Instead, I have
the title of a hymn. There’s a reason for that. The hymn, at least the text of the hymn, was written by
Martin Luther. And I chose it because June is a special month for Lutherans, at least historically. We
tend to think of October 31st, and Reformation Sunday. But something important happened on June
25th which is also important for the Reformation, and Lutherans in particular.

On June 25th, in the year 1530, the “Augsburg Confession” was presented to Emperor Charles V of
the Holy Roman Empire. It was written by request of the emperor to explain what the Lutherans
believed in opposition to the Roman Catholics. It was written in both German and Latin (Charles V
didn’t speak German, but he did know Latin). And its author was Phillip Melanchthon, not Martin
Luther. Although Luther had endorsed the document. It was written broadly to include as many
Christian groups as possible, while staying true to the Lutheran understanding of Christianity. It is the
main, or at least most important, Lutheran document and is the basis of our religious interpretation of
Scriptures. It consists of 28 Articles. The first 21 articles, we agreed with the Roman Catholic Church,
and always had (although there were some semantic arguments about some of them). The last 7
articles we disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church. I call them the “bones of contention.” Over the
last centuries, however, there has been agreement on about half of these last seven. The Augsburg
Confession is basically an outline of what Lutheran believe. It is our central document. You may have
studied it in Confirmation Class. I regularly use it when I teach Confirmation Class. It is a marvelous

A second item which involves June 25th, is that that is when we remember Phillip Melanchthon. He
died on April 19th in 1560, but because of his close connection with the Augsburg Confession, he is
remembered on the same date. He also wrote the Apology to the Augsburg Confession. Who was
Melanchthon? He was on of Luther’s best friends. Luther affectionately called him “Little Phil.” He was
short. He was never ordained. He was the university professor of Greek and Wittenberg. He was
particularly known for his scholarship, so much so that he has been called “the teacher of Germany.”
Although he is called Melanchthon. That was his “scholar’s name.” When you reached a certain level
in scholarship during his time, it was common to take a Latin name. Latin was considered more
respectable. Little Phil picked “Melanchthon,” which was the Latin equivalent for his real last name,
Schwarzwald. Yes, he was really Phillip Schwarzwald. When we were in Germany a couple of years
ago, Ruth and I got to tour his home in Wittenberg. He is an extremely important person in our
Lutheran heritage. So, read the Augsburg Confession, and remember Little Phil this month.

In Christ,
Pastor Rose

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