One of the goals of Brothers of John the Steadfast is to encourage laity in reading and studying the Book of Concord. The easiest to understand version of this is the Readers Edition produced by CPH in 2006. This is most convenient if you are reading a book, studying it in bible class, or enjoying it on your kindle, ebook, or in LOGOS. But many of us want to refer to passages from it online.
The Book of Concord website was a labor of love for Pastor Paul McCain for many years, and then, I offered to help Paul redesign the site and add many more resources to it. We continue to work together to gather materials and get them all organized and up on the site whenever we find something new and helpful for the site. I’ve been particularly involved in the coding on the site and getting everything organized so it is easier to move around the documents.
One of the things that I really like about the Book of Concord website is the ability to see the Augsburg Confession, the Roman Confutation (the reply by the Roman Emperor), and then the defense of the Augsburg Confession using the links under each article (shown below).
Here’s the page describing this feature on the Book of Concord website:
As you are reading the Augsburg Confession and the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, you will see to the right “Confession-Confutation-Defense”. This is a reference to the Augsburg Confession, the Roman Catholic reply, called the “Confutation” and then the Defense, which is the Lutheran Apology, or Defense, of the Augsburg Confession. We have provided a method to read each article of the confession, view the Roman response in the Confutation, then view the associated article in the Defense. Note that the Confutation is NOT in the Book of Concord, but is a document written by the Roman Church in response to the presentation of the Augsburg Confession.
To understand the history of these documents, here is part of the Book of Concord Web Site’s introduction to the Confutation, available here:
After the Lutherans presented the Augsburg Confession, on June 25, 1530, the Roman rulers and leaders met on June 26, and on June 27 presented the Emperor with a report that called for a response to the Augsburg Confession. Various options were considered for responding to the Lutherans, and on July 5, the Emperor commanded that a confutation be prepared and that the Lutherans submit to his judgment. John Eck, who worked with John Faber, Conrad Wimpina, and John Cochlaeus, led the Roman theologians charged with the preparation of the Confutation. They were ordered to be moderate in their response.
The introduction to the Apology (Defense), titled Phillip Melanchthon’s Greeting, helps also to put these documents in context (available here).
To understand why I like it so much, here’s an example. Looking at AC XIII:
1] Of the Use of the Sacraments they teach that the Sacraments were ordained, not only to be marks of profession among men, but rather to be signs and testimonies of the will of God 2] toward us, instituted to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them. Wherefore we must so use the Sacraments that faith be added to believe the promises which are offered and set forth through the Sacraments.
3] They therefore condemn those who teach that the Sacraments justify by the outward act, and who do not teach that, in the use of the Sacraments, faith which believes that sins are forgiven, is required.
Clicking on the “Confutation” link under this text, you find the reply from the Roman Emperor:
The thirteenth article gives no offence, but is accepted, while they say that the sacraments were instituted not only to be marks of profession among men, but rather to be signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us; nevertheless, we must request them that what they here ascribe to the sacraments in general they confess also specifically concerning the seven sacraments of the Church and take measures for the observance of them by their subjects.
In other words, they are fine with our statement, but then expanded on it to make sure that all seven sacraments of the Roman Church were observed.
After reading the Roman response, you can click on “Defense” and read the detailed response by the Lutheran Princes. This is 23 paragraphs, so I’m not going to duplicate it here; you can click here to read it for yourself.