The Book of Concord March 10, 2007Posted by Ninja Clement in Theology.
Source: “A Brief Introduction to the Book of Concord”, The Book of Concord website
The Book of Concord contains documents which Christians from the fourth to the 16th century A.D. explained what they believed and taught on the basis of the Holy Scriptures. It includes, first, the three creeds which originated in the ancient church, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. It contains, secondly, the Reformation writings known as the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms, and the Formula of Concord.
The Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles came from the pen of Martin Luther; the Augsburg Confession, its Apology, and the Treatise were written by Luther’s co-worker, the scholarly Phillip Melanchthon; the Formula of Concord was given its final form chiefly by Jacob Andreae, Martin Chemnitz, and Nickolaus Selnecker.
…II. The Lutheran Confessions
Among the particular Lutheran Confessions the two catechisms [Small and Large] of Dr. Martin Luther are the earliest. Luther published them in the spring of 1529 to help Pastors and parents give instruction in the chief parts of Christian doctrine.
The Augsburg Confession was written by Melanchthon in 1530. Emperor Charles V had invited the Lutheran princes and theologians to attend a meeting of government leaders at Augsburg. He wanted to discuss how the religious controversy in his empire could be settled, so that German Lutheran princes would join the imperial forces to keep the Turks out of Europe. The Augsburg Confession is composed of several documents which already existed but which were combined by Melanchthon to give a clear but conciliatory summary of the teachings and practices of the Lutheran pastors and congregations. It is to this day the basic Lutheran confession.
The Apology of the Augsburg Confession was published in 1531. After the Augsburg Confession had been read to the emperor, a committee of Roman catholic theologians prepared a reply called the confutation. The Apology defends the Augsburg Confession against the accusations of the Confutation.
The Smalcald Articles were written by Luther in late 1536. On June 4, 1536, Pope Paul III announced that a council would be held in Mantua beginning May 8, 1537, to deal with the concerns of the Protestants. The elector (or prince) of Saxony requested Luther to prepare some articles for discussion at the council. Luther indicated on which points Lutherans would stand fast and on which points a compromise might be possible. These articles were never used for their intended purpose, but Lutherans at once recognized their value as a statement of pure evangelical doctrine, and they were therefore included in The Book of Concord.
The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope was prepared by Melanchthon at the Protestant meeting at Smalcald in 1537 where Luther’s articles were to be discussed but, partly because Luther became ill, were never publicly presented to the assembly. Instead Melanchthon was requested to prepare a treatise which actually is an appendix to the Augsburg Confession.
The Formula of Concord was written a generation after Luther’s death. Serious controversies had arisen among theologians of the Augsburg Confession which threatened the very life of the Reformation. The Formula of Concord deals with these dissensions and presents the sound Biblical doctrine on the disputed issues.