Document Type


Publication Date



What is the genre of the Augsburg Confession? Knowing this identifies the meaning and use of the document historically and presently. The confession is apocalyptic, despite the disparaging place this genre has held in recent theology. The case comes especially from Martin Luther’s own correspondence of the time and his later recollection of the events given in his 1542 Genesis lectures. In the Genesis lectures Luther connected Augsburg to the conflict Rebecca had come to in the case of primogeniture and Jacob. The first table of the commandments came into strange conflict with the second: the law of authority conflicting with the promissio that makes faith. That is apocalypse, the conflict of the law and gospel. This had happened to him, Luther judged,in the 1518 questioning before Cardinal Cajetan. It happened again for the whole evangelical cause in 153ه at Augsburg, and led the Confessors to take up Psalm 119 as their prescript in its overt apocalyptic language: ”we speak of your decrees before kings, and shall not be put to shame.” The remaining argument uses three of Luther’s letters written from Coburg immediately prior to and following the presentation of the Confession 1530 to Melanchthon (June 29), Spalatin (June 30) and Cordatus (July 6). It is a theological argument made in the letter that speaks of foe Confession as a public sermon used as an instrument of foe Holy Spirit for the creation of true church ex nihilo. Thus the genre of the CA is not only apocalyptic, but also the specific proclamation that distinguishes law and gospel. The CA is a sermon that regards and reckons only faith as righteousness in God’s sight. The proclamation of the Confession meant this divine word became a deed - God’s own cosmic courthouse, thus transferring the Reformation from Luther’s person, to the public when the thing was proclaimed literally to kings and the end - and new beginning - arrived in proclamation.

Publication Title

Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie




De Gruyter





First Page


Last Page




Published Citation

Paulson, Steven D. "What kind of confession is the Augsburg Confession?: 'I will also speak of your decrees before kings, and shall not be put to shame' (Psalm 119:46)." Neue Zeitschrift Für Systematische Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 56, no. 1 (2014 2014): 12-34.