What is the Book of Concord?
Book of Concord is a book published in 1580 that contains
the Lutheran Confessions.
What are the Lutheran Confessions?
The Lutheran Confessions are ten statements of faith that
Lutherans use as official explanations and summaries of what
they believe, teach, and confess. They remain to this day
the definitive standard of what Lutheranism is.
What does Concord mean?
Concord means “harmony.” The
word is derived from two Latin words and is translated literally
as “with one heart.”
What does confession mean?
used in this context, confession means “to
say what you believe.” The Lutheran Confessions are
statements of faith that Lutherans use to say to the world, “This
is what we believe, teach and confess. ”
What is in the Book of Concord?
Book of Concord contains the Apostles’ Creed,
the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Augsburg Confession,
the Apology [Defense] of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald
Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,
the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula
What are the Ecumenical Creeds?
from the Latin word credere,
which means “to believe.” The three creeds
in the Book of Concord are the Apostles’ Creed, the
Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. They are described
as “ecumenical,” meaning “universal,” because
they are accepted by the majority of Christians worldwide
as correct expressions of what God’s Word teaches.
What is the Augsburg Confession and
Apology of the Augsburg Confession?
In the year 1530,
the Lutherans were required to present their confession
of faith before the Holy Roman Emperor in Augsburg, Germany.
The Augsburg Confession was publicly presented on June
25, 1530. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession was written
to defend the Augsburg Confession. Apology means “defense” when
used in this way.
What are the Small and Large Catechisms?
Luther wrote two handbooks in 1529 to help families and pastors
teach the basics of the Christian faith. The Small Catechism
and the Large Catechism are organized around six topics:
the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed,
the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, Confession, and the
Sacrament of the Altar. The catechisms were so universally
accepted that they were included as part of the Book of Concord
What are the Smalcald Articles and
the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope?
Luther wrote a set of doctrinal articles in 1537 for an
alliance of Lutheran princes and territories, known as
the Smalcaldic League. Luther’s articles were widely
respected and were eventually included in the Book of Concord.
At the same meeting that considered Luther’s articles,
Philip Melanchthon was asked to expand on the subject of
the Roman papacy and did so in his treatise, which was also
later included in the Book of Concord.
What is the Formula of Concord?
Luther’s death in 1546,
various controversies arose in the Lutheran Church in Germany.
After much debate and struggle, the Formula of Concord
was adopted in 1577 by over eight thousand princes, political
rulers, theologians, and pastors, effectively ending the
Who wrote the Book of Concord?
ancient creeds in the Book of Concord were prepared by early
church pastors and theologians. Philip Melanchthon, a layman,
was a professor of Greek and theology at the University of
Wittenberg. He was chiefly responsible for writing the Augsburg
Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and the
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope. Martin Luther
wrote the Small and Large Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles.
A group of Lutheran theologians prepared the Formula of Concord.
They were Jacob Andreae, Martin Chemnitz, Nicholas Selnecker,
David Chytraeus, Andrew Musculus, and Christopher Koerner.
Since we have the Bible, why do we
have the Book of Concord?
The Lutheran Confessions are
a summary and explanation of the Bible. They are not placed
over the Bible. They do not take the place of the Bible.
The Book of Concord is how Lutherans are able to say, together,
as a church, “This is what
we believe. This is what we teach. This is what we confess.” The
reason we have the Book of Concord is because of how highly
we value correct teaching and preaching of God’s Word.
A friend of mine says it is wrong to
use creeds or confessions. How do I respond?
itself not only contains numerous confessions and statements
of faith by believers, but it also urges us to confess
the faith. If a confession is completely in accord with
Scripture, we can hardly claim that the content of the
confession is merely “man-made” (1 Corinthians
Are the Lutheran Confessions just for
pastors and theologians?
No. They are for all people:
pastors, theologians, and laypersons alike. They are important
statements of faith. They are not necessarily easy to understand,
but they are so important that everyone who is a Lutheran
should be aware of what the Book of Concord is and should
have a copy of the Lutheran Confessions. There is an edition
of the Book of Concord prepared specifically for laypeople
to read, filled with notes, annotations, illustrations,
and many other useful materials to aid reading and understanding.
It is titled Concordia:
The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader’s Edition of the
Book of Concord. It is available from Concordia Publishing
House (1-800-325-3040 or www.cph.org).
What documents should a layperson read
first in the Book of Concord?
The Small Catechism is
called “The Layman’s
Bible” by the Formula of Concord because it does such
a good job of summarizing the most important teachings of
the Bible. The Large Catechism would be the next document
to read carefully. The Augsburg Confession is the primary
Lutheran Confession and should be read by every layperson.
The Smalcald Articles are lively, bold, and powerful and
capture readers’ interest. The time and attention needed
to read the longer documents in the Book of Concord are well
worth the effort since they are filled with such powerfully
comforting and instructive biblical truth.
What is a confessional Lutheran?
confessional Lutheran is a person who uses the documents
contained in the Book of Concord to declare his faith to
the world. The contents of the Book of Concord are cherished
by such a person precisely because they are powerful means
by which the correct teachings of Holy Scripture can be taught
and shared with other people. The spirit of confessional
Lutheranism is reflected well in the last words written in
the Book of Concord: “In the sight of God and of all
Christendom, we want to testify to those now living and those
who will come after us. This declaration presented here about
all the controverted articles mentioned and explained above—and
no other—is our faith, doctrine, and confession. By
God’s grace, with intrepid hearts, we are willing to
appear before the judgment seat of Christ with this Confession
and give an account of it (1 Peter 4:5). We will not speak
or write anything contrary to this Confession, either publicly
or privately. By the strength of God’s grace we intend
to abide by it.” (FC SD XII 40).
What is an “unconditional subscription” to
Confessional Lutheran pastors are
required to “subscribe,” that
is, to pledge their agreement unconditionally with the Lutheran
Confessions precisely because they are a pure exposition
of the Word of God. This is the way our pastors, and all
laypeople who confess belief in the Small Catechism, are
able with great joy and without reservation or qualification
to say what it is that they believe to be the truth of God’s
Why is an unconditional subscription
to the Lutheran Confessions so important?
Lutheran churches insist on a subscription to the Confessions because they
agree with the Bible, not merely in so far as they
agree with Scripture. Otherwise, there would no objective
way to make sure that there is faithful teaching and preaching
of God’s Word.
Everything would depend on each pastor’s private opinions,
subjective interpretations, and personal feelings, rather
than on objective truth as set forth in the Lutheran Confessions.
Do all Lutheran churches have the same
view of the Book of Concord?
No. Many Lutheran churches
in the world today have been thoroughly influenced by the
liberal theology that has taken over most so-called “mainline” Protestant
denominations in North America and the large Protestant state
churches in Europe, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. The foundation
of much of modern theology is the view that the words of
the Bible are not actually God’s words but merely human
opinions and reflections of the personal feelings of those
who wrote the words. Consequently, confessions that claim
to be true explanations of God’s Word are now regarded
more as historically conditioned human opinions, rather than
as objective statements of truth. This would explain why
some Lutheran churches enter into fellowship arrangements
with non-Lutheran churches teaching things in direct conflict
with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.
Do other churches have confessions like
the Lutheran Church?
Yes, they do. Most other churches
have confessions scattered throughout various books. The
Book of Concord is unique among all churches in the world,
since it gathers together the Lutheran Church’s most
normative expressions of the Christian faith into a single
book that has been used for nearly five hundred years as
a fixed point of reference for the Lutheran Church. Other
churches have various catechisms and confessions they can
point to, but few have as complete a collection of confessions
that has received as much widespread use and support, for
so long a time, as the Lutheran Confessions contained in
the Book of Concord of 1580.
Summing things up...
To be a
Lutheran is to be one who honors the Word of God. That Word
makes it clear that it is God’s desire for
His Church to be in agreement about doctrine and to be of
one mind, living at peace with one another (1 Corinthians
1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11). It is for that reason that we
so treasure the precious confession of Christian truth that
we have in the Book of Concord. For confessional Lutherans,
there is no other collection of documents, statements, or
books that so clearly, accurately, and comfortingly presents
the truths of God’s Word and reveals the biblical Gospel
as does our Book of Concord.
Hand in hand with our commitment
to pure teaching and confession of the faith is, and always
must be, an equally strong commitment to reaching out boldly
with the Gospel and speaking God’s
truth to the world. That is what confession of the faith
is all about, in the final analysis. Indeed, “Since
we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been
written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also
believe, and so we also speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13).
This is what it means to be, and to remain, a genuine confessional