On June 25th, 1530 Martin Luther and his followers presented the Augsburg Confession to the princes and electors of Germany, who in turn presented it to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, thus establishing the basis of confessional Lutheranism for centuries to follow. What I find most interesting about the Augsburg Confession is its thoroughgoing catholic substance. There is very little herein to which modern Roman Catholics should find major objection (though, the issues that do remain are certainly bound to be very vigorous ones: viz clerical celibacy, the number of the sacraments, the sacrament of orders, the rejection of monasticism as a Christian vocation, etc).
However, the self-understanding of the Confession is that “our churches dissent in no article of the faith from the Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted by the corruption of the times, contrary to the intent of the Canons”. Whether or not this assessment is true is something that Lutheran and Roman communions will have to continue to wrangle over together. However, if nothing else this is an important reminder that heresy can occur just as easily by addition as by subtraction. And that a vibrant evangelical catholicity which is at once historical and critical is the goal toward which we all must strive.