Text Box: Question?

Cornerstone of new addition to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fisherville, ON

Answer: U. A. C. stands for “Unaltered Augsburg Confession.” This statement of faith was written in 1530 as a brief summary of what the Evangelicals led by Martin Luther believed. The Augsburg Confession separated Evangelical (Lutheran) theology from Roman Catholicism. Its theology also divided the Lutherans from other reformers’ teachings — including those of John Calvin — and from heresies condemned by the Church in bygone days. The confession was written by Philipp Melanchthon (with much input from Luther) and signed by various noblemen and city councils. These German secular leaders (not religious spokesmen) presented it to Emperor Charles V on June 25th 1530 as their own confession of faith. It was later incorporated into the Lutheran Book of Concord.

“Unaltered” separates the original Augsburg Confession from later variations. There have been alterations to the original AC, the earliest coming in 1540, just 10 years after its initial presentation to the Emperor. This alteration, also known as the Variata, was presented by Melanchthon to John Calvin and others from the Reformed camp. His hope was to help ease the differences between the two main parts of the Reformation. Many Lutherans became concerned that some of these changes compromised the original confession at Augsburg and were in fact made, as it was supposed, in the interest of closer relations with the Swiss Reformers who had a different understanding (for example) of the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. The Variata made some concessions concerning the Real Presence in the Lord's Supper, among some other key theological points, so many Lutheran scholars rejected it as what we would today call a "sell out." Thus, while the Lutherans and the Calvinists held significant differences in teaching, John Calvin himself was able to sign the Variata in good conscience.

Because Melanchthon and like-minded conciliatory theologians made flexible what most of the original signers deemed a solid and unchanging confession, confusion grew as to whom should be considered a Lutheran. This became one of the main reasons later Lutheran theologians drafted the Formula of Concord and joined it with previous foundational documents — including the UAC — in what is called today, the Book of Concord.

Later, in the early part of the 19th Century American Lutherans debated the necessity of keeping a “pure” Lutheran confession in the face of a new land and a new culture. Many called for the need to alter the AC to be more “American”, others demanded that it stay the same. The movement for change is sometimes called the “American Recension of the Augsburg Confession” and was finally overcome by the influx of immigration from Scandinavia and Germany that began around 1840.

Having, UAC on a church cornerstone means that a particular congregation has declared that the original Unaltered Augsburg Confession is a true exposition of Holy Scripture and that any Variata is incorrect or imprecise and to be rejected. In Canada, you’ll see UAC especially on churches that grew out of the Lutheran confessional movement of the mid-1800s, including many who left Germany to avoid a government-imposed union with Protestant churches. It was (and remains) a sign of refusal to compromise what Scripture teaches.

Based in large part on an article by Walter Snyder, the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book “What Do Lutherans Believe” as well as materials from the LCMS web-site. http://www.lcms.org/