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Three Things I Like about the Book of Concord

March 11th, 2007
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If you have not taken the time to visit the Book of Concord blog site, I certainly invite you to do so. We are having a good conversation about the Book of Concord. We have "Roundtables" where a certain portion of the Book of Concord is considered both by our blog’s authors and by our readers. We are presently on Article VIII of the Augsburg Confession. Then we also have "Reflections" which are offered by our authors as the mood strikes them. Here is the latest "Reflection" on our BOC blog site.

What impresses me most as I read the Lutheran Confessions is how pastoral, practical and personal they are.

They are pastoral. The constant drum beat throughout them is the goal of comforting and
caring for souls. The Lutheran Confessions are not theological
speculations or abstractions. The times in which it was written called
for pastoral care on a scale that could only be compared to a national
emergency. Souls bruised and bullied by legalisms and demands placed on
them outside of and beyond the Sacred Scriptures were healed by the
healing and life-giving Gospel. Persons who were not healing the
comforting promises of the Holy Gospel, the free and full forgiveness
of all salvation through Christ, received the love of God as they heard
of the Savior who loved them and died and rose for them. The Lutheran
Confessions speak to us today because they speak of the most important
issues any of us ever face in our life. Who am I? What is life’s
meaning? Who do I know God? Am I loved? How can I be sure? What am I do
to with my life?

They are practical.
They go right to the heart of the key issues and, even in spite of the
length of some articlees in them, never wander off on side paths. It is
a book on a mission and that is to deliver the Gospel: purely, cleanly,
correctly and practically, again, for the care of souls. They are not
journal articles indulging in scholarly pursuits, or the pet interests
of their authors in the pursuit of credibility and respect in the
academic community. The Confessions are practical resources for
people’s faith and life, as they live and especially, as they die. Why?
Because the golden thread running throughout them is the chief and most
important teaching of the Christian faith: justification by God’s grace
alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, the teaching
drawn from Scripture, alone: the Gospel.

They are personal.
The Book of Concord was written by people who had deep and long
first-hand experience with the various theological ills they are
decrying and had first-hand knowledge of just how powerfully comforting
and consoling the Gospel is. Therefore, for example, when you read
about monasticism in this book, always behind these discussions stands
the man who spent well over a decade of his life in this lifestyle,
tortured and tormented no end by the lack of Gospel: Martin Luther. The
book could almost be said to be a spiritual autobiography of all those
who contributed to it. They are not dispassionate scientific essays.
They are not mystical and obscure texts. They are personal statements
of faith expressed on behalf of the Church, and for the Church, in
order to gather more and more into the Church.

Those are three
reasons why I am so passionate about the Book of Concord.

Your turn: Why do you
like the Book of Concord? What about it causes you to keep coming back to it?

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Categories: Lutheran Confessions
  1. Michael Zamzow
    March 11th, 2007 at 20:56 | #1

    I like the Book of Concord because it is careful not to unnecessarily offend (no personal attacks), yet not weaselly because it is willing to say, “damnamus.” Gensichen’s book (We Condemn) is a must read.
    McCain: This is an interesting comment. The Formula does avoid “naming names” when it rejects error, a point that causes some finally not to support it, but it decided to stick with issues, not people, per se. On the other hand, the Apology doesn’t hesitate to refer to the Roman theologians as “asses” and such.

  2. Jeff2
    March 12th, 2007 at 08:16 | #2

    I love the Book of Concord. I love its clarity. It goes to the heart of the matter “justification by grace through faith.” And yes i agree it is pastoral as well as theological and precise.

  3. March 12th, 2007 at 09:15 | #3

    They’re true.
    Unlike the Roman, Reformed, or Eastern Orthodox, which fall prey to greater and lesser degrees of “you can be like god…”, the Lutheran Confessions say, “God has become like you.” They never waver from this, Not even a little bit. Everything in the Confessions flows from scripture, rather than having scripture adjusted to match human reason.
    They are hopelessly focused on what Christ did “for you”, not on what you do for him. Not that good works are excluded, but that boasting is excluded. They merit nothing. Christ merits all.
    They are true because they point to the one who is the truth. (Reformation artwork, as you have noted, invariably has the preacher pointing to Jesus on the Cross. That’s not just a coincidence.)

  4. kerner
    March 12th, 2007 at 10:09 | #4

    What, if anything, does the Book of Concord say about who should receive Holy Communion? The issues of paedo-communion and closed communion have been recently discussed elsewhere, but I would like to know more about the confessional positions on them.

  5. Michael Zamzow
    March 12th, 2007 at 20:01 | #5

    Given the Oprahfication process taking over in some parts of the Lutheran Church today which the Lutheran Fathers probably did not foresee, they were very wise in not “naming names.” Post-modernists would twist this to say that the anathemas apply only to the 16th century and are no longer binding or relevant. They try it anyway—see the “agreement” on justification entered into by the ELCA. A simply reading of Chemnitz’ Examen would have saved them much embarressment.

  6. March 13th, 2007 at 17:06 | #6

    I like the the Book of Concord because of its bracing clarity. I still remember the first time I read the Apology on faith being prior to love. It took my breath away with its penetrating insistence that love is a work, and that faith must therefore precede it.
    I’d always affirmed salvation by faith alone before reading that chapter in the Apology, but that section of the chapter on justification burned away the syncretism that continued to survive in the ambiguities of my belief.

  7. March 14th, 2007 at 21:37 | #7

    I like the book of concorde because it puts the finger on Christian life very well, above all it emphasizes the Work of Jesus Christ in accordance with Scripture.

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