Why the Book of Concord is Like the Weather
Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, as the old saying goes. Similarly, it is popular in a confessional Lutheran church to hear people talk about being “confessional Lutherans.” But, what does this mean? It should mean that we are people who are committed to the summary of what the Bible teaches and explanation of Christian doctrine that is contained in the Book of Concord. But in order to be those sorts of people we actually have to continue reading and studying the Lutheran Confessions. Sadly, it often means little more than a polite nod toward the Book of Concord. “Oh, yes, there it is. We have it. It’s right over there, see? Doesn’t it look nice? Yes, we are confessional Lutherans.”
But do we actually read it, and not only read it, do we study it? Do the pastors and other church workers in Lutheran churches that have voluntarily pledged themselves to the contents of the Book of Concord spend much time, any time, reading it assiduously. That’s such a great word: “assiduously.”
Assiduously: Constant in application or attention; diligent; 2. Unceasing; persistent.
I can almost hear some saying, “We should spend more time with the Scriptures, not the Lutheran Confessions.” This is a great example of the logical fallacy of the “false alternative.” The Lutheran Confessions, as contained in the Book of Concord, are the normative confession of what traditional Lutherans believe the Bible teaches. That is why as much as we value the Holy Scriptures, we will place great value on the Lutheran Confessions.
Let’s make that this more personal. The Lutheran Confession are my confession. That’s what I promised when I was ordained and have subsequently promised at every installation service I have been through before assuming a new area of service in the Church. So has every pastor and every rostered church worker.
Now, let’s boil it down even further. If you do not apply yourself to the study of the Lutheran Confessions, you are not a confessional Lutheran. Yes, you may claim you are, but there is no meaningful sense in which one is a confessional Lutheran if one is not constantly studying and reading the Lutheran Confessions.
Let’s also be clear about this point: the Book of Concord is not simply for the “professional.” It is for anyone who wants to be and remain a confessing Lutheran Christian. That is why Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions was published in 2005 and why, in the eight years since, it has become the most widely used edition of the Book of Concord ever before published in English. The good news is that now there are well over 100,000 copies of this book in print. It has been widely circulated around the world, in both print and digital formats. It is being translated into other languages.
And so, unlike the weather, we can always do a lot more than just talk about the Lutheran Confessions. We can read and study them assiduously. We can rejoice that these confessions are what we believe, teach, confess and practice! That is what it means to be a confessional Lutheran.
You may purchase copies of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions from Concordia Publishing House. Visit www.cph.org/concordia or call 800-325-3040.