Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meanings of Words

Confessional Lutherans probably spend too much time on the meanings of words (at least this one does), but it is important to get the words correct. During a Sunday Bible class several weeks ago (I know, slow to write...), the question came up related to what confutation meant in the context of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession. I thought it might be important to post the difference between Confutation and Refutation, especially in light of the Apology to AC. So, based on, here are the differences:

Confutation: Act of proving something false, invalid, defective or wrong via argument.

Refutation: Disproof of, act of proving an erroneous or false opinion. Prove to be in error.

Obviously refuting something is the stronger of the two, and requires pretty solid evidence. While Lutherans like to think they are right (as does the Roman Catholics, Baptists, etc), we can't on this side "refute" much, and probably shouldn't necessarily "shut them down" every time. You can prove, via scriptural argument and reason, an idea is false or invalid (confute). This is why the Apology to AC is more of a confutation of the Roman Catholic assertions than a total refutation. As a side note, it didn't help the Holy Roman Emperor was Roman Catholic and it didn't serve to win the argument by calling the Roman Catholic church in major error across broad swaths of doctrine when you agree with the Scripturally based Doctrine. (That usually is hard to do with brotherly love, while confutation is much easier and proper. ;-))