Fagerberg, Holsten, and Eugene Lund. A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529-1537). St. Louis: Concordia, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 10, “The Church” Loc. 5892-6438.
Because of the Lutheran emphasis on justification and God’s work, the view of the church had to change. “According to the Catholic view, Christ has delegated His spiritual power of the church and its ministry, with the pope at its apex” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 5896). In the Lutheran view, “the church is the creation of God the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament, and its only task is the function of providing these means of grace to men so that they might believe and be incorporated into the fellowship of Christ” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 5900). Fagerberg then discusses AC 7, where the church is a gathering of saints with the pure gospel and rightly administered sacraments (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 5905). He traces these ideas in earlier statements of Luther, where the gathering of Christians is prominent. This does not necessarily imply likemindedness. It does imply having a Christian confession. “As the people of God, the church is not an external kingdom with laws, regulations, and earthly government; it is rather an internal and spiritual kingdom, of which Christ is king” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 5995). Yet it is quite visible, with an assembly, Word, and Sacraments (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 6008).
The question must be asked, do those who are unbelieving simply disappear from the church? (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 6048). The Confessions deal with this by observing that some belong to the church “by name and actually” (AP VII.10) (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 6067). There will be some who gather but are not of the church, but will not be excluded until the fainal judgment. Fagerberg discusses this relationship at length.
The Church, then, is seen as a divine institution of divine origin (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 6138). It lives based on the Gospel, not anything else (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 6168). It is unified by the Sacrament (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 6177. The authority for all comes from Scripture, not from man.