St. Augustine was a Lutheran



Orthodox Lutheran Reply to "Was St. Augustine a Protestant?"

A favorite Roman Catholic tactic is to construct an imaginary strawman "Protestant Church" against which to argue. Usually this "Protestant Church" is a mish-mash of Calvinist, Baptist, "non-denominational" and pop Christian theology, and against such a Christianity, an Orthodox Lutheran is happy to contend. After all, Lutherans are not protestants but catholic.

Perhaps there is no better way to demonstrate this fact than to show that St. Augustine, the "Doctor of Grace," taught the same thing that Orthodox Lutherans teach out of the Book of Concord. Was St. Augustine a Protestant? No, he was most certainly a catholic Christian. That being said, however, the real question should be "Was St. Augustine a Roman Catholic?" The answer is "no". St. Augustine was a Lutheran avant la lettre, or more accurately, Lutherans are the real catholics.

The article below retains the headings in the original article written by Joe Willcoxson, a Byzantine Catholic and former Southern Baptist.


Augustine believed the canon of Scripture to contain the Greek OT canon also known today as the deuterocanonicals or "Apocrypha"

It is a common misunderstanding that Lutherans have thrown books out of the Bible or have diminished the canon of Scripture. Traditionally a Protestant Bible contains 66 books, a Roman Catholic 73 books, and an Eastern Orthodox 76 books. The differences lie in the number of books in the Old Testament. Specifically, Protestants omit the 'Apocrypha' (i.e. "hidden" or "secret" books), also known as the 'deuterocanonicals' (i.e. "second canon").

In the first "Lutheran" Bible, the Deutsche Bibel translated from the original languages into German by Martin Luther, the Apocrypha were included. Nearly all German-language Bibles published by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod until the 1930s included the Apocrypha. In the earlist period of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Apocrypha were read in the context of the divine service. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod even today affirms that the Apocrypha "should even be read in public worship from time to time". It is true that they were accorded a lower authority than the canonical books, but in this sense the earliest Lutherans were only following the testimony of the Church catholic, which did not universally agree that the Apocrypha were of equal weight as the canonical books of the Old Testament.

Thus in the Book of Concord one can find quotes from the apocryphal books of Tobit and 2 Maccabees and cited as Scripture.

The Book of Concord does not give a list of the canonical books of the Bible. Notably, neither does the Orthodox Church. The early Church never set forth a canon of Scripture in an Ecumenical Council. The core books were clear and known to all, but at the margins there was disagreement, and the Apocrypha sits at this margin. Therefore the Evangelical Lutheran Church follows the early Church catholic in placing the Apocrypha within the Bible but as, in the words of Johann Gerhard, "canonical books of the second rank." Here we only follow St. Jerome, the greatest translator of the Bible in the ancient Church who coined the phase "apocrypha" in the first place. We even follow St. Augustine who called the Apocrypha "of a different order." Such books are to be recommended for edification of the Christian and for reading in the Church, but they are not to be relied upon for the derivation of dogma.


Augustine Believed in Authoritative Tradition

Perhaps the most well-worn quote from St. Augustine to support his supposed affinity with contemporary Roman Catholics on the question of authoritative Tradition appears in his Against the Epistle of Manicheus, 4: "I should not believe the Gospel except as moved by the authority of the catholic church."

One should not run too far with this statement and those which Mr. Willcoxson offers, however, and inadvertently do violence to Augustine's true meaning and memory. As St. Martin Chemnitz says,
With these statements they can practice deception on those to whom the complete disputation of Augustine is unknown . . . they misuse these statements of Augustine to bolster their traditions, which they cannot prove with any testimony of Scripture; but with great impudence they are clearly wronging Augustine." (Examination of the Council of Trent 1, 252)
For Augustine, all which is to be believed must have its testimonies in Scripture.
Neither dare one agree with catholic bishops if by chance they err in anything, with the result that their opinion is against the canonical Scriptures of God. (On the Unity of the Church 10)

For we also do not say that we should be believed because we are in the church of Christ, because innumerable bishops of our communion have commended this church to which we adhere, or because it has been praised by the councils of our colleagues, or because such great miracles both of answer to prayer and of healing take place throughout the world in the holy places which our communion frequents" (On the Unity of the Church 16)

But now I ought not to quote the Nicean, nor you the Ariminensian Council, as if to judge beforehand. I will not be bound by the authority of this, nor you by the authority of that. On the authority of the Scriptures and not on any one's own, but on the common witnesses of both, let matter contend with matter, cause with cause, reason with reason." (Against Maximinimus 3, 14)

Whatever they may adduce, and wherever they may quote from, let us rather, if we are His sheep, hear the voice of our Shepherd. Therefore let us search for the church in the sacred canonical Scriptures. (On the Unity of the Church 3)

Let them show their church if they can, not by the speeches and mumblings of the Africans, not by the councils of their bishops, not by the writings of any of their champions, not by fraudulent signs and wonders, because we have been prepared and made cautious also against these things by the Word of the Lord; but [let them show their church] by a command of the Law, by the predictions of the prophets, by songs from the Psalms, by the words of the Shepherd Himself, by the preaching and labors of the evangelists; that is, by all the canonical authorities of the sacred books. (On the Unity of the Church 16)
Compare this last statement to a quite similar one from Martin Luther before the Imperial Diet in Worms: "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God."

It is true that St. Augustine held up the authority of the catholic Church, and did urge readers to find "repose, if one may use the expression, for his weariness, in what might be termed the resting-place of authority" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 2, 8, 13). However, St. Augustine faced a situation radically different from that of St. Martin Luther and thus, understandably, the two came to quite different conclusions about the infallibility of the visible Church. Luther and all Lutherans know that the visible Church, popes and councils, is not infallible, and that there can be a gulf between the foundation of the Church and a Council. Augustine, living in an earlier era, did not think this possible.

Why not? Most likely because St. Augustine lived in the wake of the defeat of the Arians who had briefly captured the Church catholic for heresy. Augustine was baptized in 387, six years after the First Council of Constantinople ratified the catholic faith and completed the Nicene Creed. Surely Augustine can be forgiven in this context for his confidence in the eternal correspondence between the authority of Scripture and the authority of the revealed Church.


Augustine believed in Baptismal Regeneration and Grace

Amen! And so, of course, do Lutherans inasmuch as we are catholic Christians. We confess, in the words of The Augsburg Confession,
It is taught among us that Baptism is necessary and that grace is offered through it. Children, too, should be baptized, for in Baptism they are committed to God and become acceptable to him. On this account the Anabaptists who teach that infant Baptism is not right are rejected.
We can also offer the words of Martin Luther in the Small Catechism:
What gifts or benefits does Baptism bestow?

Answer: It effects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare.
This has been believed, taught and confessed by the Church catholic since the beginning.

Augustine Believed Baptism was Necessary for Salvation

As do Lutherans. Holy Baptism is considered necessary for salvation because it is the means by which we sinners are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and joined to the Body of Christ, the Church. Indeed, Lutherans are happy to confess, in the words of the Large Catechism, "outside of this Christian Church, where the Gospel is not, there is no forgiveness, as also there can be no holiness [sanctification]." How are we made members of this Holy Church? Through Holy Baptism.

This is not to say, however, that all those who are not baptised are damned. Only unbelief condemns a person, and as the risen Christ told the Eleven, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16: 16) The person who rejects Holy Baptism is condemned, but not the person who for whatever reason is unable to receive Holy Baptism before his/her death.

Thus Lutherans say that Baptism is "necessary" but not "absolutely necessary".

Augustine Believed in the Real Presence

Amen and again amen! Lutherans, in fact, are the only "Protestants" so-called who also believe, teach and confess as the Church has always done that Christ is truly physically present in the Holy Supper. In fact, the clash between Lutherans and the Reformed in the 16th century over the Real Presence was a major reason why these two groups never unified.

The Augsburg Confession clearly states: "we defend the doctrine received in the whole church -- that in the Lord's Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present and are truly offered with those things that are seen, bread and wine."

Augustine Believed the Mass to be a Sacrifice

Let St. Martin Chemnitz begin:
This I do not deny. For it is certain that the ancients transferred the designation "sacrifice, offering, victim, host," etc., to the very action of the Lord's Supper, in fact, to the very body and blood of Christ in the Supper. But this I do deny, that the ancients by the term "sacrifice" understood the theatrical representation by which the papalists define the sacrament of their Mass, and that the historic action of the priest, handling the body and blood of Christ with certain gestures and acts, is a propitiatary sacrifice for the expiating and blotting out sins, for placating the wrath of God, and for obtaining any and all benefits from God. (Examination of the Council of Trent 2, 486-487)
When Mr. Willcoxson says St. Augustine believed the mass to be a sacrifice, he is really playing a word game and little more. Augustine certainly believed in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the forgiveness of sins won there for humanity. He also certainly believed that this forgiveness is distributed to the faithful through the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. And yet the "sacrifice" of the Lord's Supper is in no way our act of propitiation, but rather Christ's act. For example, St. Augustine never taught the foolishness of Thomas Aquinas, who claimed that Christ died only to forgive original sins while the Church through the Mass sacrifices for the forgiveness of actual sins. What Augustine did teach is the following:
The Hebrews, again, in their animal sacrifices, which they offered to God in many varied forms, suitably to the significance of the institution, typified the sacrifice offered by Christ. This sacrifice is also commemorated by Christians, in the sacred offering and participation of the body and blood of Christ. (Reply to Faustus the Manichaean 20, 18)

Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? And yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. In most cases, moreover, they do in virtue of this likeness bear the names of the realities which they resemble. (Letter 98, 9, to Boniface)

This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ. And this also is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, known to the faithful, in which she teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God. (The City of God 10, 6)
Thus St. Augustine does not teach the Roman doctrine that the mass is itself a sacrifice for sins. In particular, since Augustine clearly taught salvation by grace through faith, we should not make too much of his use of the term "sacrifice" regarding the Mass.

Augustine Believed in the Necessity of the Lord's Supper for Salvation

Lutherans are unwilling to make the Lord's Supper a law, for the Holy Supper is first and foremost a gift, and no one can legislate the reception of a gift -- for in doing so it ceases to be a gift completely.

That being said, any Christian who despises the Lord's Supper and stays away from it is certainly jeopardizing his/her salvation, and thus Lutherans agree with St. Augustine (again!). As Martin Luther states in the Large Catechism,
Now it is true, we repeat, that no one should under any circumstances be coerced or compelled, lest we institute a new slaughter of souls. Nevertheless, let it be understood that people who abstain and absent themselves from the sacrament over a long period of time are not to be considered Christians. Christ did not institute it to be treated merely as a spectacle, but commanded his Christians to eat and drink and thereby remember him.

Augustine Believed in Purgatory and Praying for the Departed

Let us start with the words of Martin Luther in the Smalcald Articles II,2:
St. Augustine does not write [in Confessions IX, 11, 13] that there is a purgatory, nor does he cite any passage of the Scriptures that would constrain him to adopt such an opinion. He leaves it undecided whether or not there is a purgatory and merely mentions that his mother asked that she be remembered at the altar or sacrament. Now, this is nothing but a human opinion of certain individuals and cannot establish an article of faith. That is the prerogative of God alone.
Indeed, St. Augustine's words cited by Mr. Willcoxson ("That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some more slowly and some more quickly in the greater or lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire") demonstrates quite clearly that St. Augustine considered purgatory to be speculative on his part. And men have no right to establish articles of faith.

Regarding prayers for the dead, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXIV is bold to claim that
We know that the ancients spoke of prayer for the dead. We do not forbid this, but rather we reject the transfer of the Lord's Supper to the dead ex opere operato.
Let us also be quite clear on this point: St. Augustine does not say that the merits of Christ or the saints are transferred to the dead in purgatory to relieve their suffering there, which Rome teaches. On this matter Lutherans as catholic Christians are much closer to St. Augustine than are Roman Catholics.

Augustine Believed In the Communion of Saints and Saintly Intercession

Certainly the Evangelical Lutheran Church teaches the existence of the Communion of Saints, inasmuch as we embrace and confess the Apostles Creed. We include the scriptural songs of angels in our liturgy (e.g., "This Is the Feast," the Gloria in Excelsis, the Sanctus) and sing with the heavenly host, as we acknowledge in the Conclusion to the Proper Preface: "Therefore, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying . . ."

Lutherans depart from Rome on the matter of saintly intercession. As the Apology to the Augsburg Confession states, Lutherans "grant that the angels pray for us" (XXI: 8) and "that the saints in heaven pray for the church in general, as they prayed for the church universal while they were on earth" (XXI: 9). We do not thereby promote requests for such prayers, however. Why not? It lacks clear testimony of Holy Scripture, and it gives rise to untold mischief in the Church, both in practice and in doctrine, particularly the Roman doctrines of purgatory and the transfer of the merits of the saints in heaven to those on earth.

As Philip Melancthon notes well in the Apology XXI: 33: "Even supposing that the invocation of saints could be taught with great moderation, the precedent would still be dangerous." Why dangerous? Because Melancthon fears 'prayer' to the saints "obscures the work of Christ and transfers to the saints the trust we should have in Christ's mercy" (Ap. XXI: 15). Certainly Melancthon had just reason for such fears in his own context. In the Smalcald Articles, St. Martin Luther calls the invocation of saints "idolatry" as it is tied in the Roman church to keeping fasts and festivals, saying masses and offering sacrifices to them, regarding them as helpers in times of need, etc. etc., i.e. obscuring the "first and chief article" that salvation is through faith and not works.

While St. Augustine followed the practices of his day regarding the invocation of the saints, he was also keen to keep the focus of Christian prayer on God and deflect undue attention to His saints. He also worked tirelessly to combat the many excesses the cult of the saints in his era, and expressed many substantial doubts as to the propriety of such practices.
If the souls of the dead took part in the affairs of the living, and if it were their very selves that, when we see them, speak to us in sleep; to say nothing of others, there is my own self, whom my pious mother would no night fail to visit, that mother who by land and sea followed me that she might live with me. Far be the thought that she should, by a life more happy, have been made cruel, to that degree that when any thing vexes my heart she should not even console in his sadness the son whom she loved with an only love, whom she never wished to see mournful. But assuredly that which the sacred Psalm sings in our ears, is true; "Because my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord hath taken me up. Then if our parents have forsaken us, how take they part in our cares and affairs? But if parents do not, who else are there of the dead who should know what we are doing, or what we suffer? (On Care to Be Had for the Dead 16)

Howbeit it is a question which surpasses the strength of my understanding, after what manner the Martyrs aid them who by them, it is certain, are helped; whether themselves by themselves be present at the same time in so different places, and by so great distance lying apart one from another, either where their Memorials are, or beside their Memorials, wheresoever they are felt to be present: or whether, while they themselves, in a place congruous with their merits, are removed from all converse with mortals, and yet do in a general sort pray for the needs of their suppliants, (like as we pray for the dead, to whom however we are not present, nor know where they be or what they be doing) (On Care to Be Had for the Dead 20)

Let us not have a religion of the cult of the dead, because if they lived piously they are not in the habit of seeking such honors, but want Him to be worshipped by us through whose illumination they rejoice that we have become companions of their merit. Therefore they are to be honored because of imitation, not adored as a matter of religion. (On True Religion 55)
St. Augustine allows the invocation of the saints so as not to place a stumbling block before a weaker brother in Christ. In the face of the popularity of the practice among the laity and its promotion by many in the Church hierarchy, how much could Augustine protest? Yet in De pastoribus 8, Augustine demonstrates as clearly as possible his position on the matter.
There are also good mountains. 'I have lifted up my eyes to the hills, whence help will come to me.' And behold, for your hope is not in the mountains: 'My help,' says he, 'comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth'. Do not think that you are wronging the holy mountains when you say: 'My help comes from the Lord,' etc. The mountains themselves proclaim this to you. There was once a mountain that shouted: 'I hear that there are divisions among you: "I am of Paul, I of Apollo, I of Cephas, I of Christ"'. Lift up your eyes to the mountain itself, hear what he says, and abide in him. 'Was Paul crucified for you?'. Therefore, after you have lifted up your eyes to the hills whence your help comes, that is, to the authors of the divine Scriptures, give heed to what he cries with all his marrow, with all his bones: 'Lord, who is like Thee?' in order that you may safely say and without any harm to the mountains: 'My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.' Not only will the mountains then not be angry at you, but they will then love you and be favorable to you. If you repose your hope in them, they will become sad.
Clearly Augustine's inclinations were not for but against intercessory prayer to the saints. Note that Augustine did not even pray to his own mother, Monica, a saint surely worthy of appeals for intercession. If he had seen the rank abuses to which the practice of prayers to the saints had given rise in the days of Martin Luther, Augustine would have pressed his true sentiments more strongly indeed.

Augustine Believed in the Authority of the Church

The most important contention here by Mr. Willcoxson is that Augustine "did not teach sola scriptura." Indeed, the version of sola scriptura which passes among most Baptist circles, replete with the right of private interpretation and divorced from the historical Church, is wholly unknown to St. Augustine as it is to Lutherans.

This is what Lutherans mean by the phrase sola scriptura:
the Word of God alone should be and remain the only standard and rule of doctrine, to which the writings of no man should be regarded as equal, but to which everything should be subjected. (Formula of Concord Solid Declaration, Rule and Norm, 9)
Is this any different from what St. Augustine himself confessed?
the established authority of Scripture must outweigh every other (Reply to Faustus the Manichean 13, 5)

it is not without cause that the canon of the church was fixed with such wholesome vigilance, to which the certain books of the prophets and apostles belong, which we dare not at all judge, and according to which we judge concerning other writings, whether of believers or of unbelievers. (Against Cresconius 2, 31)
In fact, Holy Scripture is not only the foundation of all doctrines in the Church. It is the foundation of the Church herself, as St. Paul teaches (Eph. 2: 20) and Augustine echoes.
Surely it is the books of the Lord on whose authority we both agree and which we both believe. There let us seek the church (On the Unity of the Church 3)

let us search for the church in the sacred canonical Scriptures (On the Unity of the Church 3)
Contrary to the Roman claim that the Scriptures derive their authority from the Church who drew up the canon, Augustine follows the teachings of the early Fathers that the Church recognizes the authority of the Scriptures but does not grant them authority. Their divine inspiration makes them self-authorizing.
The Manichaeans read the apocryphal writings, written, I know not by what inventors of fables, under the name of apostles. These would have merited during the time of their writers to be received into the authority of holy church, if holy and learned men who were living at that time and were able to examine such things had recognized them as having spoken the truth. (Reply to Faustus the Manichean 22, 79)
It is indeed true that St. Augustine believes in the authority of the catholic Church, but primarily because in his day she was the true custodian of the Holy Scriptures, demonstrated by
The consent of peoples and nations [which] keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained (Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental 4)
All this Lutherans are likewise happy to admit and acknowledge, particularly in that our claim is that the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the name by which the ancient catholic Church is known today.

Augustine Believed in Apostolic Succession

As St. Augustine believed strongly in the authority of bishops (under the ultimate authority of Holy Scripture, of course), it is no surprise that he also held to the importance of apostolic succession as well as an assurance of the faithfulness of those bishops to the apostolic teachings since the beginning of the Church.

During the Reformation, Lutherans in Germany eagerly sought to maintain the visible succession of bishops through the laying on of hands as a sign of the unity of the Church across time. As Phillip Melancthon says in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIV,
it is our greatest wish to maintain church-polity and the grades in the Church [old church-regulations and the government of bishops], even though they have been made by human authority [provided the bishops allow our doctrine and receive our priests]. For we know that church discipline was instituted by the Fathers, in the manner laid down in the ancient canons, with a good and useful intention. But the bishops either compel our priests to reject and condemn this kind of doctrine which we have confessed, or, by a new and unheard-of cruelty, they put to death the poor innocent men. These causes hinder our priests from acknowledging such bishops. Thus the cruelty of the bishops is the reason why the canonical government, which we greatly desired to maintain, is in some places dissolved. . . . we wish here again to testify that we will gladly maintain ecclesiastical and canonical government, provided the bishops only cease to rage against our Churches.
Of course, in Scandinavia, apostolic succession among Lutherans was maintained and is so down to this day. The ELCA, although heterodox in many ways, is through its relationship with the ECUSA seeking to re-establish apostolic succession among its bishops.

While apostolic succession is a Good Thing, all being said, it is important not to become entranced by a list of bishops going back to St. Peter and assume this bestows authority. After all, St. Augustine did not believe as Rome teaches today that ordination places an "indelible character" upon the soul of the ordained. Moreover, as St. Martin Chemnitz accurately observes,
There is a greater difference between the primitive apostolic church and the papal kingdom than there is between heaven and earth. Therefore they must prove that their church is apostolic before they can arrogate this privilege to themselves. (Examination of the Council of Trent, I.2.3.7)
Bearing an apostolic doctrine rather than an apostolic pedigree is clearly the more important of the two. In the early Church, these two meanings of apostolicity went together and were extremely effective in defending the Church against gnosticism and myriad other heresies. Lutherans maintain these happy fellow travellers have parted ways long ago.

Augustine Believed in the Possibility of Falling from Grace

Lutherans have never believed in the Calvinist/Anabaptist error of "once saved, always saved".
Thus many receive the Word with joy, but afterwards fall away again, Luke 8, 13. But the cause is not as though God were unwilling to grant grace for perseverance to those in whom He has begun the good work, for that is contrary to St. Paul, Phil. 1, 6; but the cause is that they wilfully turn away again from the holy commandment [of God], grieve and embitter the Holy Ghost, implicate themselves again in the filth of the world, and garnish again the habitation of the heart for the devil. With them the last state is worse than the first, 2 Pet. 2, 10. 20; Eph. 4, 30; Heb. 10, 26; Luke 11, 25. (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Election, 42)
Here again we are only too happy to stand with St. Augustine.

Augustine Believed in the Sacrament of Penance

Orthodox Lutherans generally recognize three sacraments: Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confession and Forgiveness (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XI). A quick perusal of Luther's Small Catechism shows the Blessed Reformer highlighting all three, even including a "brief form of confession" by which a Christian might
receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven. (Small Catechism, Confession)

Augustine Believed Mary To Be Ever Virgin

As did all Lutherans in the Era of Orthodoxy -- and even many today!
Mary, the most blessed virgin, did not conceive a mere, ordinary human being, but a human being who is truly the Son of the most high God, as the angel testifies. He demonstrated his divine majesty even in his mother's womb in that he was born of a virgin without violating her virginity. Therefore she is truly the mother of God and yet remained a virgin. (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VIII)
Much more can be read on this issue from an orthodox Lutheran perspective in my article, "The Blessed Virgin and Christian Dogma".

It is too bad Mr. Willcoxson didn't add one final entry:

Augustine Believed in Salvation by Grace through Faith

Now, having duly considered and weighed all these circumstances and testimonies, we conclude that a man is not justified by the precepts of a holy life, but by faith in Jesus Christ -- in a word, not by the law of works, but by the law of faith; not by the letter, but by the spirit; not by the merits of deeds, but by free grace. (On the Spirit and the Letter 22)
It turns out St. Augustine was a good Lutheran after all! Or rather, it turns out that Lutherans are the true catholics.

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