Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.
Augsburg Confession VII, “Concerning the Church” pp. 42-43.
Apology to the Augsburg Confession VII-VIII “The Church” pp. 174-183.
The Augsburg Confession teaches in Article 7 that there is one unified Christian church and that it is enough that “there the gospel is preached harmoniously according to a pure understanding and the sacraments are administered in conformity with the divine Word” (Kolb 2000, 42-43(. Ceremonial uniformity is not necessary.
In the Apology it is clear that the Confutation rejected this article because it asserts that the Church is an assembly of saints. The opponents rejected a separation of unbelievers from the Church (Kolb 2000, 174). Melanchthon observes that AC VIII affirms that the church does not exclude unbelievers from “outward fellowship.” Word and Sacrament retain power even in the presence of unbelievers (Kolb 2000, 175). Yet within this visible outward association the Church of those who believe the same does exist (Kolb 2000, 175). There follow biblical examples of the unity of believers. The Church therefore has both external and internal manifestations (Kolb 2000, 176).
Among those unbelieving people present in the Church are some who proclaim the Word of God and administer Sacraments. The Apology places the power of the Sacrament on the spoken and enacted Word. It is therefore not the faithfulness of the minister which makes the Sacrament effective (Kolb 2000, 179).
Traditional practices, such as observance of different holidays, may be helpful in nurturing the faith. Yet they need not be held universally (Kolb 2000, 181). All these things should direct our attention to Christ.