articulus iustificationis dicitur articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae (the article of justification is said to be the article of the standing or falling of the church)”
—J. H. Alsted (1588–1638), Theologia scholastica didactica (Hanover, 1618), 711.
For the sense and origins of this celebrated phrase, see F. Loofs, “Der articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae.” It is necessary to challenge Loofs upon several points, particularly his suggestion that the phrase is first used in the eighteenth century by the Lutheran theologian Valentin Loscher in his famous anti-Pietist diatribe … and is restricted to the Lutheran constituency within Protestantism. This is clearly incorrect. The Reformed theologian Johann Heinrich Alsted uses the phrase a century earlier, opening his discussion of the justification of humanity coram Deo as follows: “articulus iustificationis dicitur articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae” (Theologia scholastica didacta (Hanover, 1618), 711). Precursors of the phrase may, of course, be found in the writings of Luther himself e.g., WA 40/3.352.3: “quia isto articulo stante stat Ecclesia, ruente ruit Ecclesia.”
Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei, 1.7