Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.
Augsburg Confession XXVII, “Concerning Monastic Vows” p. 82-91.
Apology to the Augsburg Confession XXVII, “Monastic Vows” pp. 278-289.
The Augsburg Confession addresses several problems which existed within monasticism of the day. After the time of Augustine a practice emerged of forcing young people to enter into monastic life against their will and without knowledge of the implications (Kolb 2000, 82). The attitude that a monastic life would earn merit before God also arose (Kolb 2000, 83). Once a commitment was made, it could not be released even if it was found to go against Scripture or the good of the person or community (Kolb 2000, 86). The idea that the vows can earn merit devalues God’s grace (Kolb 200o, 88). It also suggests that while monks may be truly sanctified it neither matters nor is possible for others (Kolb 2000, 89).
The Apology opens with an illustration of a monk who was prosecuted and imprisoned unjustly (Kolb 2000, 278). The monastery had become a place where leaders gathered power and wealth rather than Christian teaching (Kolb 2000, 278). While Melanchthon will defend “legitimate vows” he will object to the abuses of the system (Kolb 2000, 279). He refers back to Luther’s On Monastic Vows then begins to refute only a few arguments (Kolb 2000, 279). The monastic vow is not intended to earn forgiveness. This insults God’s grace (Kolb 2000, 280). The principles of monasticism, though they may be positive, are not biblical obligations (Kolb 2000, 281). The monastic life is no more filled with merit than any other vocation (Kolb 200, 284). The use of the monastery to gain wealth and power is never appropriate (Kolb 2000, 285).