After the death of Luther, the German church forged a statement of faith that outlined the distinctives of the Lutheran Church. The Book of Concord or Concordia (1577) was and is the standard statement of faith for all Lutheran churches even today. It confirms the monergistic view as Luther had so carefully expounded in his writings and debate with Erasmus. An interesting website and intro can be found at: http://bookofconcord.org/intro.php.
In ‘Article II – Free Will’, the Book of Concord declares this:
…Man of himself, or from his natural powers, cannot contribute anything or help to his conversion, and that conversion is not only in part, but altogether an operation, gift and present and work of the Holy Ghost alone, who accomplishes and effects it by His virtue and power, through the Word, in the understanding [of the] heart and will of man.
In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church, previously at the Council of Trent, convened by Pope Paul III in response to the challenge and growth of the Reformation, meeting over 18 years (1545-1563) had reaffirmed their commitment to the semi-Pelagian view that man’s free will was not lost and destroyed in the Fall of Adam. In the 5th canon of the 6th session of the Council of Trent we find an anathema (a condemnation):
If anyone says that after the sin of Adam, man’s free will was lost and destroyed…let him be anathema.
We’ve got a dilemma, haven’t we? The Reformation marched on however. The decisively monergistic creeds that flowed out of the Reformation can be seen as follows:
1561 – The Belgic Confession
1563 – The Heidelberg Catechism
1563 – The 39 Articles of the Church of England
1577 – The Formula of Concord (Book of Concord)
1647 – The Westminster Confession of Faith
1689 – The Baptist Confession of 1689.
Luther’s statement is instructive: “If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.”
What we will see, is that the controversy didn’t end with Luther and Erasmus. The next characters in this story are Calvin and Arminius, and to them we must turn.
Vaya con Dios mis hijas,
Dear ol’ Dad