Francisco Herrera is a Ph.D. student at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He blogs at and is the convener of

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Decolonizing the Church

by Francisco Herrera 04-25-2018
In the Augsburg Confession, activists see the key to Lutheranism that better reflects the diversity of its people.
Popova Valeriya /

Popova Valeriya /

It must have been an odd thing, being the Holy Roman Emperor in June 1530, making the long trek to the Bavarian city of Augsburg to meet with a league of rebel states. But this is where Charles V found himself. Stranger yet, he was doing this not to convince these leaders to form a military alliance (though he was hoping to confirm their military fealty), nor to advocate for trade deals or relish the verdant Bavarian countryside.

Instead, the most powerful man in Europe had come to talk theology, with the hope that he could reunite a church fractured by the teachings of a rebel monk and a novice professor a mere 13 years earlier, in 1517. A monk who had since been condemned for heresy and treason in the 1521 Edict of Worms, but who—thanks to his ruler, Frederick III of Saxony—had nonetheless been hiding safely in plain sight ever since.

That wily monk, of course, was Martin Luther.

Thankfully, Luther and his supporters were relegated to the imperial backburner after the Diet at Worms, an imperially sanctioned assembly of the Holy Roman Empire, as global political matters and internal quibbling between testy royals kept Charles busy between 1521 and 1529. So the “Lutherans,” as they began to be called, took advantage of those years to thoroughly educate the priests and populace of Saxony about the most central of Luther’s teachings—the Doctrine of Justification: People “cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3 and 4).”