The Confessio Augustana (Augsburg Confession) is one of the binding confessions of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church and it is therefore one of its central documents. Philip Melanchthon (1497–1560), theologian, reformer and close confidant of Martin Luther (1483–1546), was one of its main authors in the context of the Augsburg Diet in 1530.
On 25 June 1530, representatives of the Lutheran imperial estates handed over a Latin version to Emperor Charles V (Roman king 1519–1556, emperor from 1530) and had it read out in German in which language it was also printed. Thirteen imperial estates joined the Confessio Augustana, including the Franconian margravies and the imperial cities of Kempten, Nuremberg, Weißenburg and Windsheim.
The text consists of two parts. The first part is essentially an attempt to prove that the Lutheran faith and its doctrine rest on Holy Scripture and on the ecclesiastical tradition. In the second part, the abuses of the Catholic Church are discussed and suggestions for improvements are made.
On the Augsburg Diet, Emperor Charles ordered the Confessio Augustana to be checked for its compliance with the principles of the Catholic Church. The result was the so-called “Confutatio Augustana” which was also read out but not printed at first. Although the Confessio Augustana also receives approval in the Confutatio, central points were rejected. The text states that the stipulations of the Roman Catholic doctrine must be strictly kept.
After his return to Wittenberg, Melanchthon created a defence of the Confessio Augustana against the accusations made in the Confutatio, the so-called “Apologia”. From 1531 onwards, it was published together with the Confessio in joint prints.