Our Lutheran Confessions provide the under-shepherds of Jesus, The Good Shepherd, with weapons to fight off false teaching wolves. They also provide a manual for the sheep to judge whether their pastor is truly Christ’s under-shepherd, or merely a hired hand or even a wolf. [rkh]
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF CONCORD
MISERICORDIAS DOMINI: EASTER 3
FORMULA OF CONCORD: SOLID DECLARATION
The Summary Content, Rule, and Norm
14] Moreover, since for the preservation of pure doctrine and for thorough, permanent, godly unity in the Church it is necessary, not only that the pure, wholesome doctrine be rightly presented, but also that the opponents who teach otherwise be reproved, 1 Tim. 3 (2 Tim. 3:16); Titus 1:9, — for faithful shepherds, as Luther says, should do both, namely, feed or nourish the lambs and resist the wolves, so that the sheep may flee from strange voices, John 10:12, and may separate the precious from the vile, Jer. 15:19, —
15] Therefore we have thoroughly and clearly declared ourselves to one another, also regarding these matters, as follows: that a distinction should and must by all means be observed between unnecessary and useless wrangling, on the one hand, whereby the Church ought not to be disturbed, since it destroys more than it builds up, and necessary controversy, on the other hand, as, when such a controversy occurs as involves the articles of faith or the chief heads of the Christian doctrine, where for the defense of the truth the false opposite doctrine must be reproved.
16] Now, although the aforesaid writings afford the Christian reader, who delights in and has a love for the divine truth, clear and correct information concerning each and every controverted article of our Christian religion, as to what he should regard and receive as right and true according to God’s Word of the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures, and what he should reject, shun, and avoid as false and wrong; yet, in order that the truth may be preserved the more distinctly and clearly, and be distinguished from all errors, and that nothing be hidden and concealed under ordinary terms [rather general words and phrases], we have clearly and expressly declared ourselves to one another concerning the chief and most important articles taken one by one, which at the present time have come into controversy, so that there might be a public, definite testimony, not only for those now living, but also for our posterity, what is and should remain the unanimous understanding and judgment [decision] of our churches in reference to the articles in controversy, . . .
The text used here is from Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church: German-Latin-English. These texts are in the public domain, can be found online @ http://bookofconcord.org, and may be freely copied.