Title page from the 1580 German edition
Doctrine of the Lutheran Church
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The Book of Concord (1580) or Concordia (often referred to as the Lutheran Confessions) is the historic doctrinal standard of the Lutheran Church, consisting of ten credal documents recognized as authoritative in Lutheranism since the 16th century. They are also known as the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or in a belief system. The etymological Greek analogue is "catechism".
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the teaching of Martin Luther, a 16th century German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.
A creed is a statement of the shared beliefs of a religious community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets.
The Book of Concord was published in German on June 25, 1580 in Dresden, the fiftieth anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession to Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg. The authoritative Latin edition was published in 1584 in Leipzig.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Dresden is the capital city of Saxony, Germany, on the River Elbe near the Czech border.
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the Augustan Confession or the Augustana from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Protestant Reformation. The Augsburg Confession was written in both German and Latin and was presented by a number of German rulers and free-cities at the Diet of Augsburg on 25 June 1530.
Those who accept it as their doctrinal standard recognize it to be a faithful exposition of the Bible. The Holy Scriptures are set forth in The Book of Concord to be the sole, divine source and norm of all Christian doctrine.
The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.
Sola Scriptura is a theological doctrine held by some Christian denominations that the Christian scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith and practice.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.
The Book of Concord was compiled by a group of theologians led by Jakob Andreae and Martin Chemnitz at the behest of their rulers, who desired an end to the religious controversies in their territories that arose among Lutherans after the death of Martin Luther in 1546.It was intended to replace German territorial collections of doctrinal statements, known as corpora doctrinæ (bodies of doctrine) like the Corpus doctrinæ Philippicum or Misnicum. This aim is reflected by the compilers' not calling it a corpus doctrinæ although it technically is one. The list of writings predating the Formula of Concord that would be included in The Book of Concord are listed and described in the "Rule and Norm" section of the Formula.
Jakob Andreae was a significant German Lutheran theologian and Protestant Reformer involved in the drafting of major documents.
Martin Chemnitz was an eminent second-generation German, Evangelical Lutheran, Christian theologian, and a Protestant reformer, churchman, and confessor. In the Evangelical Lutheran tradition he is known as Alter Martinus, the "Second Martin": Si Martinus non fuisset, Martinus vix stetisset goes a common saying concerning him. He is listed and remembered in the Calendar of Saints and Commemorations in the Liturgical Church Year as a pastor and confessor in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and subsequent Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2005) used by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Martin Luther, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.
Following the preface written by Andreae and Chemnitz (1578–80)the "Three Ecumenical Creeds" were placed at the beginning in order to show the identity of Lutheran teaching with that of the ancient Christian church. These creeds, the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed, were formulated before the East-West Schism of 1054, but the Nicene Creed is the western version containing the filioque.
The Apostles' Creed, sometimes titled the Apostolic Creed or the Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief—a creed or "symbol". It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Catholic Church, Lutheranism and Anglicanism. It is also used by Presbyterians, Moravians, Methodists and Congregationalists.
The Nicene Creed is a statement of belief widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because it was originally adopted in the city of Nicaea by the First Council of Nicaea in 325. In 381, it was amended at the First Council of Constantinople, and the amended form is referred to as the Nicene or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
The Athanasian Creed, also known as Pseudo-Athanasian Creed or Quicunque Vult, is a Christian statement of belief focused on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicunque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes". The creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century. It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated. It differs from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Apostles' Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree with the creed.
The other documents come from the earliest years of the Lutheran Reformation (1529–77). They are the Augsburg Confession , the Apology of the Augsburg Confession , both by Philipp Melanchthon, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, his Smalcald Articles , Melanchthon's Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope , and the Formula of Concord , which was composed shortly before the publishing of the Book of Concord and intended for the same purpose: the pacification and unification of the growing Lutheran movement. The preface of the Book of Concord was considered to be the preface of the Formula of Concord as well.
The Apology of the Augsburg Confession was written by Philipp Melanchthon during and after the 1530 Diet of Augsburg as a response to the Pontifical Confutation of the Augsburg Confession, Charles V's commissioned official Roman Catholic response to the Lutheran Augsburg Confession of June 25, 1530. It was intended to be a defense of the Augsburg Confession and a refutation of the Confutation. It was signed as a confession of faith by leading Lutheran magnates and clergy at the meeting of the Smalcald League in February, 1537, and subsequently included in the German  and Latin  Book of Concord. As the longest document in the Book of Concord it offers the most detailed Lutheran response to the Roman Catholicism of that day as well as an extensive Lutheran exposition of the doctrine of Justification.
Luther's Small Catechism is a catechism written by Martin Luther and published in 1529 for the training of children. Luther's Small Catechism reviews the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys and Confession and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is included in the Book of Concord as an authoritative statement of what Lutherans believe. The Small Catechism is widely used today in Lutheran churches as part of youth education and Confirmation. It was mandatory for confirmands in the Church of Sweden until the 1960s.
Luther's Large Catechism is a catechism by Martin Luther. It consists of works written by Luther and compiled Christian canonical texts, published in April 1529. This book was addressed particularly to clergymen to aid them in teaching their congregations. Luther's Large Catechism is divided into five parts: The Ten Commandments, The Apostles' Creed, The Lord's Prayer, Holy Baptism, and The Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Catechism, along with related documents, was published in the Book of Concord in 1580.
The Augsburg Confession has singular importance
as the unanimous consensus and exposition of our Christian faith, particularly against the false worship, idolatry, and superstition of the papacy and against other sects, and as the symbol of our time, the first and unaltered Augsburg Confession, which was delivered to Emperor Charles V at Augsburg during the great Diet in the year 1530 ...
A recent book on Lutheranism asserts, "To this day ... the Augsburg Confession ... remains the basic definition of what it means to be a 'Lutheran.'"The Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise, and the Formula of Concord explain, defend, or serve as addenda to The Augsburg Confession.
The simple Latin title of the Book of Concord, Concordia, (Latin for "an agreeing together") is fitting for the character of its contents: Christian statements of faith setting forth what is believed, taught, and confessed by the confessors "with one heart and voice." This follows St. Paul's directive: "that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1:10)(NKJV). The creeds and confessions that constitute the Book of Concord are not the private writings of their various authors:
Inasmuch, however, as they are in complete agreement with Holy Scripture, and in this respect differ from all other particular symbols (i.e., denominational creeds and credal statements), the Lutheran confessions are truly ecumenical and catholic in character. They contain the truths believed universally by true Christians everywhere, explicitly by all consistent Christians, implicitly even by inconsistent and erring Christians. Christian truth, being one and the same the world over is none other than that which is found in the Lutheran confessions.
To this day the Book of Concord is doctrinally normative among traditional and conservative Lutheran churches, which require their pastors and other rostered church workers to pledge themselves unconditionally to the Book of Concord.They often identify themselves as "confessional Lutherans." They consider the Book of Concord the norma normata (Latin, "the normed norm") in relation to the Bible, which they consider the norma normans (Latin, "the norming norm"), i.e. the only source of Christian doctrine (God's authoritative word). In this view the Book of Concord, on the topics that it addresses, is what the church authoritatively understands God's authoritative word to say. This is also called a "quia" (because) subscription to the Lutheran confessions, i.e. one subscribes because the Book of Concord is a faithful exposition of the Scriptures.
It implies that the subscriber has examined the Lutheran confessions in the light of the Scriptures in order to arrive at this position, which in the subscriber's view does not require the disclaimer implied in a "quatenus" (insofar as) subscription. One who subscribes the Lutheran confessions quatenus, insofar as they are a faithful exposition of the Scriptures, believes that there might be contradictions of the Scriptures in them. In some cases this is the manner of subscription of some other Lutheran churches, [ which? ] which regard the Book of Concord as an important witness and guide to the historical teachings of the Lutheran Church although not necessarily doctrinally binding.
English translations of individual documents of The Book of Concord, notably The Augsburg Confession, were available since the 16th century.The first complete English translation of The Book of Concord was the 1851 Henkel edition followed by a second edition in 1854. These volumes included historical introductions.
Henry E. Jacobs and others published the next English version in 1882 with a revised "People's Edition" in 1911. The 1882 edition was accompanied by a companion volume that contained historical introductions and English translations of other documents illustrative of the history of The Book of Concord.
The third complete English translation was published in 1921 as a jubilee observance of the 400th anniversary of the Reformation (1917) along with the German and Latin texts as the Concordia Triglotta: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church, German-Latin English edited by Friederich Bente.This edition introduced the practice of inserting in square brackets the translations of variant readings of either the Latin translation of the German or the German translation of the Latin text. A smaller edition with just the English text was also published.
The differences of the German translation of The Apology of the Augsburg Confession from the original Latin text were made apparent by Bente's insertion within square brackets of the variant readings of his English translation of the German text into the main body of his translation of the original Latin text. Justus Jonas, who had originally translated the Apology from Latin into German, made use of both the quarto and the octavo editions. The other reason for the differences is the "looseness" of the Jonas translation that is more like a paraphrase than a translation.
With the appearance of the 1930 Bekenntnisschriften critical text a new English version was deemed desirable. This was begun but left unfinished by John C. Mattes, who died in 1948. In 1959, the "Tappert" edition was produced, with Theodore G. Tappert as general editor and translator and with Jaroslav Pelikan, Robert H. Fisher, and Arthur Carl Piepkorn as additional translators.This edition discontinued the practice of inserting translations of variant readings in square brackets. However, it began the practice of providing the translations of both the German and Latin texts of the Augsburg Confession since both texts of that confession are considered authoritative. The manner of presentation was the translation of the German text on the top of the page, that of the Latin on the bottom.
An extensive revision of the Tappert edition was published in 2000, translated and edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert. As with the Tappert edition, the "Kolb-Wengert Edition" was translated by scholars from two different Lutheran denominations (Kolb of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and Wengert of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).This edition provided the translations of both German and Latin texts of the Augsburg Confession on alternating pages. The translation team also included Eric Gritsch, Charles Arand, William Russell, James Schaaf, and Jane Strohl.
The Kolb-Wengert edition exhibits one of the difficulties in the translation of The Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Two editions of The Apology were published in 1531, namely, the "quarto edition" and the "octavo edition", which are so designated based on the format in which they were printed.The quarto edition was printed with the first publication of The Augsburg Confession in April or May 1531; hence, the name "editio princeps" ["first edition"]. The octavo edition followed in September, 1531.
The Kolb-Wengert translation of The Apology of the Augsburg Confession uses the later octavo edition text of 1531 rather than the earlier quarto edition text of 1531, with the variant readings of the quarto edition appearing in italics. The Tappert edition had used the quarto edition as the basis of its translation.The editors and translators of the Kolb-Wengert edition decided to use the octavo edition as the main source for their translation because they believed the octavo edition was the official text of The Apology. This is the position of the German scholar Christian Peters, who claimed the quarto edition was merely a stage on the way to a definitive text, i.e. the octavo edition.
The octavo edition Latin text was utilized in a private Latin edition of The Book of Concord in 1580.Scholars question whether or not this octavo edition text can be considered the text approved by the Lutheran Church in the 16th century. The official 1584 Latin Book of Concord has the quarto edition text as its text of The Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Another notable feature of the Kolb-Wengert edition is the setting off of "the filioque" of the Nicene Creed in square brackets.
The most recent English version of the Book of Concord was published in 2005 to commemorate the 425th anniversary of its publication and the 475th anniversary of the presentation of The Augsburg Confession. Entitled Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions—A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord, it is a revision of the English text of the Concordia Triglotta and was edited by Paul T. McCain, Edward A. Engelbrecht, Robert C. Baker, and Gene E. Veith.A second edition followed in 2006.
Crypto-Calvinism is a pejorative term describing a segment of German members of the Lutheran Church accused of secretly subscribing to Calvinist doctrine of the Eucharist in the decades immediately after the death of Martin Luther in 1546.
Confessional Lutheranism is a name used by Lutherans to designate those who accept the doctrines taught in the Book of Concord of 1580 in their entirety because (quia) they are completely faithful to the teachings of the Bible. Confessional Lutherans maintain that faithfulness to the Book of Concord which is a summary of the teachings found in Scripture, requires attention to how that faith is actually being preached, taught, and put into practice. Confessional Lutherans believe that this is a vital part of their identity as Lutherans.
This is a sub-page for the Justification (theology) page.
The Smalcald Articles or Schmalkald Articles are a summary of Lutheran doctrine, written by Martin Luther in 1537 for a meeting of the Schmalkaldic League in preparation for an intended ecumenical Council of the Church.
The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537), The Tractate for short, is the seventh Lutheran credal document of the Book of Concord. Philip Melanchthon, its author, completed it on February 17, 1537 during the assembly of princes and theologians in Smalcald.
Formula of Concord (1577) is an authoritative Lutheran statement of faith that, in its two parts, makes up the final section of the Lutheran Corpus Doctrinae or Body of Doctrine, known as the Book of Concord.
Body of Doctrine in Protestant theology of the 16th and 17th centuries is the anthology of the confessional or credal writings of a group of Christians with a common confession of faith.
Sacramental union is the Lutheran theological doctrine of the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Christian Eucharist.
Charles Porterfield Krauth was a pastor, theologian and educator in the Lutheran branch of Christianity. He is a leading figure in the revival of the Lutheran Confessions connected to Neo-Lutheranism in the United States.
The theology of Martin Luther was instrumental in influencing the Protestant Reformation, specifically topics dealing with Justification by Faith, the relationship between the Law and the Gospel, and various other theological ideas. Although Luther never wrote a "systematic theology" or a "summa" in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas, many of his ideas were systematized in the Lutheran Confessions.
Martin H. Franzmann was an American Lutheran clergyman and theologian. He was also a college professor and poet who wrote numerous books and hymns.
Eric W. Gritsch was an American Lutheran ecumenical theologian and Luther scholar.
In the Lutheran Church, Confession is the method given by Christ to the Church by which individual men and women may receive the forgiveness of sins; according to the Large Catechism, the "third sacrament" of Holy Absolution is properly viewed as an extension of Holy Baptism.
A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance.The Church of England prayer book describes a sacrament as 'an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace'. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a means by which God enacts his grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.
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