Note: This is the fifth series of posts providing commentary on the Book of Concord adapted from my Lutheran Essentials Class Notes. I pray they are edifying and aid in the reading of the Book of Concord. Scriptural citations are inspired by the Reader’s Edition to the Book of Concord. The quotes from the Book of Concord are from the Book of Concord website. You can find the first series on the Large Catechism here, the second series on the Augsburg Confession here, the third series on the Smalcald Articles here, and the fourth on the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope here.
1] To the Readers, one and all, of these Writings of ours, we, the Electors, Princes, and Deputies of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany, adherents of the Augsburg Confession, who have subscribed our names to the same, announce and declare, according to the dignity and rank of each one, our devotion, friendship, and greeting, combined with willing service.
2] It is a remarkable favor of Almighty God that in these last times and in this old age of the world He has willed, according to His unspeakable love, forbearance, and mercy, that after the darkness of papistical superstitions the light of His Gospel and Word, through which alone we receive true salvation, should arise and shine clearly and purely in Germany, our most beloved fatherland. And on this account, indeed, a brief and succinct confession was prepared from the Word of God, and the most holy writings of the Prophets and Apostles, and at the Diet of Augsburg, in the year 1530, was offered, by our most godly ancestors, in the German and Latin languages, to the Emperor Charles V, of excellent memory, and laid before [all] the deputies of the Empire, and finally, being circulated publicly among all men professing Christian doctrine, and thus in the entire world, was diffused everywhere, and began to be current in the mouths and speech of all.
3] Afterwards many churches and schools embraced and defended this Confession as a symbol of the present time in regard to the chief articles of faith, especially those involved in controversy with the Romanists and various corruptions of the heavenly doctrine [sects], and with perpetual agreement have appealed to it without any controversy and doubt. The doctrine comprised in it, which they knew both to be supported by firm testimonies of Scripture, and to be approved by the ancient and accepted symbols, they have also constantly judged to be the only and perpetual consensus of the truly believing Church, which was formerly defended against manifold heresies and errors, and is now repeated.
4] But it can be unknown to no one that, immediately after Dr. Martin Luther, that most distinguished hero, endowed with most eminent piety, was removed from human affairs, Germany, our dear fatherland, experienced most perilous times and most severe agitations. In these difficulties, and in the sad distraction of a government before flourishing and well regulated, the enemy of mortals cunningly labored to scatter in the churches and schools the seeds of false doctrine and dissensions, to excite divisions combined with offense, and by these arts of his to corrupt the purity of the heavenly doctrine, to sever the bond of Christian love and godly agreement, and to hinder and retard to a greater degree the course of the most holy Gospel. It, is also known to all in what manner the enemies of the heavenly doctrine seized this opportunity to disparage our churches and schools, to find covering for their errors, to draw alarmed and erring consciences away from the purity of the Gospel-doctrine, in order to render them more compliant in bearing and tolerating the yoke of the papal slavery, and in embracing also other corruptions conflicting with Godâ€™s Word.
5] To us, indeed, nothing could happen, either more agreeable, or which, we would judge, should be sought for more earnestly and prayerfully from Almighty God, than that both our churches and our schools should have persevered in the pure doctrine of Godâ€™s Word and in that longed-for and godly unanimity of mind, and, as was the case while Luther was still alive, that they should have been regulated according to the rule of the divine Word, and handed down to posterity in a godly and excellent way. We notice, however, that, just as in the times of the Apostles, into those churches in which they themselves had planted the Gospel of Christ corruptions were introduced by false brethren, so, on account of our sins and the looseness of these times, this has been allowed by an angry God against our churches also.
6] Wherefore, mindful of our duty, which, we know, has been divinely enjoined upon us, we think that we ought diligently to apply ourselves to the labor of attacking in our provinces and realms the false teachings which have been disseminated there, and are gradually insinuating themselves, as it were, into the intimate acquaintance and familiarity of men, and that we should see to it that the subjects in our government may persevere in the straight way of godliness and in the truth of the heavenly doctrine, acknowledged and thus far retained and defended, and not be suffered to be led away from it. In this matter, indeed, partly our most worthy predecessors, partly we ourselves, were eagerly at work, when, in the year of Christ 1558, on the occasion of the Diet which was then being held by the Electors at Frankfort on the Main, the resolution was adopted by a unanimous vote that a special, general assembly should be held, where in a thorough, but nevertheless amicable manner there might be a conference among us concerning such matters as are maliciously charged, by our adversaries, against [us and] our churches and schools.
As the Epitome of the Formula of Concord lacks a formal introduction we will instead read the Preface to the Book of Concord as it applies to the Book of Concord as a whole and the Formula specifically. The Book of Concord was published by the Lutheran princes and compiled by Lutheran theologians in 1580. In publishing this collection of the Lutheran Confessions, they recognized their place in history. That light of the Gospel has shown forth in these grey and later days when previously it had been hidden by the pope (Acts 2:1-41, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6).
The Augsburg Confession is recognized by the Reformers, and is still held, as the pinnacle of Lutheran Confession and is based on Scripture and the predictions of the Scriptures. This Augsburg Confession spread to all after the Diet in 1530 and united Lutheran’s until the death of Luther in 1546. At which point Satan came back in full force causing error to spread amongst the Lutherans (Matthew 13:24-30).
Against this error the true Lutherans fought and longed for the true unity of the church, namely to remove error. However, these divisions were brought about by brethren in the church and permitted by God for the sins of the true Lutherans. Mindful of all of this the Lutherans fought the good fight to preserve pure doctrine (1 Corinthians 1, 3, Romans 16:17-20, Galatians 2:1-10, Ephesians 4:1-16, Hebrews 10:19-39).
The Naumburg Conference of 1561
7] And, indeed, after these deliberations our predecessors, of godly and excellent memory, together with some of us, assembled at Naumburg in Thuringia. On that occasion we took in hand the Augsburg Confession, offered to the Emperor Charles V in the great assembly of the Empire at Augsburg in the year 1530, and mentioned by us several times previously, and to that godly confession, built upon solid testimonies of the truth, which cannot be shaken, and is expressed in the Word of God, we all subscribed with one mind. In this way, of course, we meant to provide for the interests of posterity, and to enable and urge them, as far as we could, to avoid false doctrines conflicting with Godâ€™s Word. This we did also with the design that, both with his Imperial Majesty, our most clement lord, and also universally among all, there might be a permanent testimony that it has never been our intention to wish to defend or spread any new and strange dogma, but that we desired, God aiding us, to constantly support and retain the truth which we professed at Augsburg in the year 1530. We were also led to entertain a not uncertain hope that in this way not only those who oppose the pure evangelical doctrine would abstain from fabricated charges and accusations, but also other good and well-disposed men would be attracted by this renewed and repeated confession of ours, and, with greater zeal and care, would seek and investigate the truth of the heavenly doctrine, which alone is our guide to salvation, and, out of regard for the salvation of the soul and their eternal happiness, would assent to it, all further controversies and disputations being rejected.
The Naumburg Conference Failed
8] But, not without agitation of mind, we were informed that this declaration of ours and that repetition of a godly confession had too little weight with our adversaries, and that neither we nor our churches were delivered from the most grievous slanders, arising from prejudice, which they had circulated against us among the people; also, that those things which we have done, with the best intention and purpose, have been received by the adversaries of the true religion in such a way as though we were so uncertain concerning our [confession of faith and] religion, and so often had transfused it from one formula to another that it was no longer clear to us or our theologians what is the Confession once offered to the Emperor at Augsburg. These fictions of the adversaries have deterred and alienated many good men from our churches, schools, doctrine, faith, and confession. To these disadvantages there is also added that, under the pretext of the Augsburg Confession, the teaching conflicting with the institution of the Holy Supper of the body and blood of Christ and also other corruptions were introduced here and there into the churches and schools.
9] When some godly men, lovers of peace and harmony, besides also learned theologians, had noticed all these things, they judged that these slanders and the dissensions in religion which were constantly increasing more and more, could not be better met than if the controverted articles would be thoroughly and accurately set forth and explained from the Word of God, the false teachings would be rejected and condemned, and, on the other hard, the truth divinely delivered be clearly and lucidly presented; because they were convinced that by this method both silence could be imposed upon the adversaries, and the more simple and godly be shown a sure way and plan as to how they should act in these dissensions, and, aided by divine grace, could also in the future avoid corruptions of doctrine.
10] In the beginning, therefore, the theologians communicated to one another certain writings concerning this subject, sufficiently comprehensive, and derived from the Word of God, in which they showed clearly and skilfully how these controversies, which were not without offense to the churches, could be put to rest and removed from sight without any loss to the truth of the Gospel; for the result would be that the opportunities and pretexts sought for slander would be cut off and removed from the adversaries. Finally they took up and accurately and in the fear of God pondered and explained the controverted articles, and accordingly in a special writing stated comprehensively in what way and by what method the dissensions which had arisen could be settled in a right and godly manner.
11] Having been informed of this godly purpose of the theologians, we have not only approved it, but have also judged that it ought to be promoted by us with great earnestness and zeal, in view of the office and duty divinely committed to us.
After a previous conference at Frankfurt a conference was called at Naumburg in 1561. Everyone present seemed to be of one accord with the Augsburg Confession. It was hoped that this unity would endure, but quickly it fell apart especially along the lines of Holy Communion. Even still it was hoped by some that these differences could be resolved and that documents regarding that resolution could be published and disseminated.
The Torgau Conference of 1576
12] And accordingly, upon the counsel of some other Electors and Princes agreeing with us in religion, we, by the grace of God, Duke of Saxony, Elector, etc., summoned certain eminent and least suspected theologians, who were also experienced and endowed with preeminent learning, to Torgau in the year 1576, for the purpose of promoting the godly design of harmony among the teachers of the Church. When they had assembled, they conferred devoutly with one another concerning the controverted articles and the peace document which we have just mentioned. And indeed, after prayers had first been offered to Almighty God, and His praise and glory, they comprised, with extraordinary care and diligence, the Spirit of the Lord aiding them by His grace, all those things which seemed to pertain to, and to be required for, this deliberation in a very good and suitable document. Afterwards this book was transmitted to some chief adherents of the Augsburg Confession, Electors, Princes, and Deputies, with the request that they themselves, calling to their aid the most eminent and most learned theologians, should read it with anxious care and godly zeal, should diligently examine it, and commit their opinion and criticism upon it to writing, and, finally, express their judgment and the reasons therefore concerning the whole and each part.
13] Therefore, when we had received these criticisms, we found in them many godly and useful suggestions how the transmitted declaration of the pure Christian doctrine could be fortified and strengthened against corruptions and perversions by the testimonies of Holy Scripture, in order that in the course of time, under its guise, godless doctrines might not be concealed, but an altogether unvarnished declaration of the pure truth might be transmitted to posterity. Therefore, out of those things which had been considered best when they came to us, that book of godly concord of which we spoke was composed, and completed in the form in which it will be submitted.
14] Then some of our rank (for at that time not all of us, nor some others as well, were able to do this, on account of certain causes which were in the way), have caused this book to be recited article by article and distinctly to the theologians, and the ministers of the church and of the schools collectively and individually, and have caused them to be urged to a diligent and accurate consideration of those parts of the doctrine which are contained in it.
15] Accordingly, when they perceived that the explanation of the controverted articles, indeed, agreed especially with the Word of God, and then with the Augsburg Confession, they received this Book of Concord with a very ready mind and an expression of their gratitude towards God, as expressing the godly and genuine meaning of the Augsburg Confession, having voluntarily, and indeed accurately, pondered and considered it, and they approved it and subscribed to it, and publicly bore witness concerning it with heart, mouth, and hand. Wherefore that godly agreement is called, and forever will be, not only the harmonious and concordant confession of some few of our theologians, but, in general, of the ministers of our churches and rectors of schools, jointly and severally, in our provinces and realms.
Having heard that there were those who hoped to resolve the differences the princes called another meeting at Torgau in 1576. This time the meeting was of those theologians that were the least suspect and most well thought of. They put down a set of documents that dealt with the current controversies and served as the basis for the Formula of Concord. The princes saw this and went forward to commission a more full confession of the faith to resolve these doctrinal problems. Their hope was to end them once and for all.
The Role of the Augsburg Confession
16] Now, our conferences and those of our illustrious predecessors which were undertaken with a godly and sincere intention, first at Frankfort on the Main, and afterward at Naumburg, and were recorded in writing, not only did not accomplish that end and peaceful settlement which was desired, but from them even a defense for errors and false doctrines was sought by some, while it had never entered our mind, by this writing of ours, either to introduce, furnish a cover for, and establish any false doctrine, or in the least even to recede from the Confession presented in the year 1530 at Augsburg, but rather, as many of us as participated in the transactions at Naumburg wholly reserved it to ourselves, and promised besides that if, in the course of time, anything would be desired with respect to the Augsburg Confession, or as often as necessity would seem to demand it, we would further declare all things thoroughly and at length. And that is the reason why we have elaborated in this Book of Concord with great and godly agreement a declaration of our constant and perpetual, wish, and a repetition of our Christian faith and confession. Accordingly, in order that no persons may permit themselves to be disturbed by the charges of our adversaries spun out of their own mind, by which they boast that not even we are certain which is the true and genuine Augsburg Confession, but that both those who are now among the living and posterity also may be clearly and firmly taught and informed what that godly Confession is which both we and the churches and schools of our realms at all times professed and embraced, we emphatically testify that after the pure and immutable truth of God’s Word we wish to embrace the first Augsburg Confession alone which was presented to the Emperor Charles V, in the year 1530, at the famous Diet of Augsburg (this alone we say), and no other; copies of which, deposited in the archives of our predecessors, of excellent memory, who presented it in the Diet to Charles V himself, we caused to be compared by men worthy of confidence (lest we should be found wanting in most accurate regard for diligence) with the copy which was presented to the Emperor himself, and is preserved in the archives of the Holy Roman Empire, and we are sure that our copies, both the Latin and the German, in all things correspond to it, with like meaning. For this reason also we wished to insert the confession then presented in our explanation, which will be submitted herewith or in the Book of Concord, in order that all may understand that we have resolved to tolerate in our realms, churches, and schools no other doctrine than that which, in the year 1530, was approved at Augsburg in a solemn confession, by the above-mentioned Electors, Princes, and Deputies of the Empire. This Confession also, by the help of God, we will retain to our last breath, when we shall go forth from this life to the heavenly fatherland, to appear with joyful and undaunted mind and with a pure conscience before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ. We hope, therefore, that our adversaries will hereafter spare both us and the ministers of our churches, and not employ these customary and most grievous accusations, that we cannot decide among ourselves upon anything as certain concerning our faith, and that, on this account, we are forging new confessions almost every year, yea, even every month.
The Second Edition of the Augsburg Confession
17] Moreover, as to the second edition of the Augsburg Confession, of which mention is made also in the transactions at Naumburg, we notice, what is also known to all, that, under the pretext of the words of this latter edition, some have wanted to cover and conceal corruptions with respect to the Lord’s Supper and other errors, and by means of published writings have attempted to obtrude them upon an ignorant populace; nor have they been moved by the distinct words of the Augsburg Confession, (which was first presented,) by which these errors are openly rejected, and from which a far different meaning than they wish can be shown. Therefore we have decided in this writing to testify publicly, and to inform all, that we wished neither then nor now in any way to defend, or excuse, or to approve, as though agreeing with the Gospel doctrine, false and godless doctrines and opinions which may lie concealed under certain coverings of words. We, indeed, never received the latter edition in a sense differing in any part from the former which was presented. Neither do we judge that other useful writings of Dr. Philip Melanchthon, or of Brenz, Urban Rhegius, Pomeranus, etc., should be rejected and condemned, so far as, in all things, they agree with the norm which has been set forth in the Book of Concord.
18] Now, although some theologians, and among them Luther himself, when they treated of the Lord’s Supper, were drawn, against their will, by their adversaries to disputations concerning the personal union of the two natures in Christ, nevertheless our theologians in the Book of Concord, and by the norm of sound doctrine which is in it, testify that both our constant and perpetual opinion and that of this book is that with regard to the Lord’ Supper godly men should be led to no other foundations than to those of the words of institution of the testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. For since He is both almighty and true, it is easy for Him to do those things which He has both instituted and promised in His Word. And indeed, when this foundation will not be assailed by their adversaries, they will not contend in this kind of argument concerning other methods of proof, but, in true simplicity of faith, will firmly insist upon the very plain words of Christ, which method is the safest, and is best suited to the instruction of uneducated men; for those things which have been discussed with greater exactness they do not understand. But indeed, since this our assertion and the simple meaning of the words of Christ’s testament are assailed by the adversaries, and rejected as godless and conflicting with the nature of true faith, and finally are claimed to be contrary to the Apostles’ Creed (especially to the statements concerning the incarnation of the Son of God, His ascension into heaven, and His sitting at the right hand of the almighty power and majesty of God) and therefore to be false, it must be shown by a true and thorough interpretation of these articles that our opinion differs neither from the words of Christ nor from these articles.
Much confusion about the contents of the Augsburg Confession occurred when Philip Melanchthon continued to make revisions of the document considering it his own personal confession. Eventually it was published as a second edition, called the Variata. This new confession caused rampant confusion amongst the people.
Thus the princes and theologians of the unaltered Augsburg Confession went back into the archives and pulled out the original to verify what it said. They found that their versions matched with the original and that the differences with the revised edition were stark. The princes and theologians here stress that they hold the original unaltered Augsburg Confession. They wish to make a pure confession before the Lord on the Last Day (2 Corinthians 5:1-10).
Give all the problems wit it, the second edition of the Augsburg Confession is fully rejected. Though the useful writings of those who hold to it are kept, so far as they are consistent with the unaltered Augsburg Confession. Thus we still hold to the orthodox writing and teachings of Melancthon even though he later compromised the faith.
The disputes that had arisen also drew into question the nature of the personal union of Christ’s divine and human natures. As we will see in the Formula of Concord VII and VIII the attacks on Holy Communion are really an attack on the person of Christ. Thus we must maintain our confession in the face of it.
The Book of Concord
19] As to the phrases and forms of expression which are employed in this Book of Concord, when we treat of the majesty of the human nature in the person of Christ, elevated and placed at the right hand of God, in order to remove all subtle suspicions and causes of offense which might arise from the different significations of the word abstract, (as both the schools and the fathers have hitherto employed this term,) our theologians in distinct and express words wish to testify that this majesty is in no way to be ascribed to the human nature of Christ outside of the personal union, neither are we to grant that the human nature possesses this majesty as its own or by itself (even in the personal union) essentially, formally, habitually, subjectively. (The schools like these terms, although they are not good Latin.) For if we would adopt this method both of speaking and teaching, the divine and human natures with their properties would be confounded, and the human, with respect to its essence and properties, would be made equal to the divine, yea, indeed, would be altogether denied. Therefore the theologians judge that we ought to believe that this occurs according to the method and economy of the hypostatic union, as learned antiquity has spoken cautiously concerning this subject, that it is a mystery so great as to exceed all the powers of our natural ability and understanding.
20] As to the condemnations, censures, and rejections of godless doctrines, and especially of that which has arisen concerning the Lord’s Supper, these indeed had to be expressly set forth in this our declaration and thorough explanation and decision of controverted articles, not only that all should guard against these condemned doctrines, but also for certain other reasons could in no way have been passed by. Thus, as it is in no way our design and purpose to condemn those men who err from a certain simplicity of mind, but are not blasphemers against the truth of the heavenly doctrine, much less, indeed, entire churches, which are either under the Roman Empire of the German nation or elsewhere; nay, rather has it been our intention and disposition in this manner openly to censure and condemn only the fanatical opinions and their obstinate and blasphemous teachers, (which, we judge, should in no way be tolerated in our dominions, churches, and schools,) because these errors conflict with the express Word of God, and that, too, in such a way that they cannot be reconciled with it. We have undertaken this also for this reason, viz., that all godly persons might be warned diligently to avoid them. For we have no doubt whatever that even in those churches which have hitherto not agreed with us in all things many godly and by no means wicked men are found who follow their own simplicity, and do not understand aright the matter itself, but in no way approve the blasphemies which are cast forth against the Holy Supper as it is administered in our churches, according to Christ’s institution, and, with the unanimous approval of all good men, is taught in accordance with the words of the testament itself. We are also in great hope that, if they would be taught aright concerning all these things, the Spirit of the Lord aiding them, they would agree with us, and with our churches and schools, to the infallible truth of God’s Word. And assuredly, the duty is especially incumbent upon all the theologians and ministers of the Church, that with such moderation as is becoming they teach from the Word of God also those who either from a certain simplicity or ignorance have erred from the truth, concerning the peril of their salvation, and that they fortify them against corruptions lest perhaps, while the blind are leaders of the blind, all may perish. Wherefore, by this writing of ours, we testify in the sight of Almighty God and before the entire Church that it has never been our purpose, by means of this godly formula for union to create trouble or danger to the godly who to-day are suffering persecution. For, as we have already entered into the fellowship of grief with them, moved by Christian love, so we are shocked at the persecution and most grievous tyranny which with such severity is exercised against these poor men, and sincerely detest it. For in no way do we consent to the shedding of that innocent blood, which undoubtedly will be required with great severity from the persecutors at the awful judgment of the Lord and before the tribunal of Christ, and they will then certainly render a most strict account, and suffer fearful punishment.
21] In regard to these matters (as we have mentioned above) it has always been our purpose that in our lands, dominions, schools, and churches no other doctrine be proclaimed and accurately set forth than that which is founded upon the Word of God, and contained in the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, (and that, too, when understood properly in its genuine sense,) and that opinions conflicting with these be not admitted; and indeed, with this design, this formula of agreement was begun and completed. Therefore before God and all mortals we once more declare and testify that in the declaration of the controverted articles, of which mention has already been made several times, we are not introducing a new confession, or one different from that which was presented in the year 1530 to Charles V, of happy memory, but that we wished indeed to lead our churches and schools, first of all, to the fountains of Holy Scripture, and to the Creeds, and then to the Augsburg Confession, of which we have before made mention. We most earnestly exhort that especially the young men who are being educated for the holy ministry of the churches and schools be instructed in this faithfully and diligently, in order that the pure doctrine and profession of our faith may, by the help of the Holy Ghost, be preserved and propagated also to our posterity, until the glorious advent of Jesus Christ, our only Redeemer and Savior. Since, therefore, such is the case, and being instructed from the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures, we are sure concerning our doctrine and confession, and by the grace of the Holy Ghost our minds and consciences have been confirmed to a greater degree, we have thought that this Book of Concord ought to be published. For it seemed exceedingly necessary that, amidst so many errors that had arisen in our times, as well as causes of offense, variances, and these long-continued dissensions, there should exist a godly explanation and agreement concerning all these controversies, derived from God’s Word, according to the terms of which the pure doctrine might be discriminated and separated from the false.
22] Besides, this matter is of importance also in this respect, viz., that troublesome and contentious men, who do not suffer themselves to be bound to any formula of the pure doctrine, may not have the liberty, according to their good pleasure, to excite controversies which furnish ground for offense, and to publish and contend for extravagant opinions. For the result of these things, at length, is that the pure doctrine is obscured and lost, and nothing is transmitted to posterity except academical opinions and suspensions of judgment. To these considerations was also added this that, agreeably to the office committed to us by God, we understand that we owe our subjects this, viz., that we should diligently care for the things which pertain to this life and the life to come, and that we should take pains, with the greatest earnestness and to our utmost ability, to attend to those matters which promote the extension of God’s name and glory, the propagation of His Word, (from which alone we hope for salvation,) the peace and tranquillity of churches and schools, and the instruction and consolation of disturbed consciences, especially since it is certainly a settled fact with us that this salutary work of Christian concord has already been longed for and expected with anxious prayers and the greatest desire by many good and sincere men both of the highest and the lowest rank. For from the beginning of this work of peaceful settlement, indeed, we have not been of the opinion, neither are we even now, that this work of concord, which is so salutary and exceedingly necessary, should be removed from the eyes of men, and altogether concealed, and that the light of heavenly truth should be placed under a bushel or table; wherefore we ought in no wise to defer its publication. Nor do we doubt that all the godly who are lovers of the heavenly truth, and of concord pleasing to God, will approve, together with us, of this salutary, useful, godly, and very necessary undertaking, and that they will act so that nothing may be wanting in them, even to the greatest effort, whereby the glory of God and the common welfare in both temporal and eternal things may be promoted.
It was then in this spirit that the Book of Concord was brought forth. In order to settle these issues and provide a full confession of faith. It is for the simple as well so that they may know what pure doctrine is. It is also to condemn those who spoke against the clear word of Christ on the Sacrament of the Altar.
The hope is that if the simple are taught properly they will be moved by the Word of Truth. In order to not be negligent in any of these things the princes and theologians wish to publish this book. So that that way the pure confession of faith may endure to the end (Matthew 5:13-16, Titus 2).
23] We indeed (to repeat in conclusion what we have mentioned several times above) have wished, in this work of concord, in no way to devise what is new, or to depart from the truth of the heavenly doctrine which our ancestors, renowned for their piety, as well as we ourselves, have acknowledged and professed. We mean that doctrine, which, having been derived from the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures, is contained in the three ancient Creeds, in the Augsburg Confession, presented in the year 1530 to the Emperor Charles V, of excellent memory, then in the Apology, which was added to this, in the Smalcald Articles, and lastly in both the Catechisms of that excellent man, Dr. Luther. Therefore we also have determined not to depart even a finger’s breadth either from the subjects themselves, or from the phrases which are found in them, but, the Spirit of the Lord aiding us, to persevere constantly, with the greatest harmony, in this godly agreement, and we intend to examine all controversies according to this true norm and declaration of the pure doctrine. Then, also with the rest of the Electors, Princes, and Deputies of the Holy Roman Empire, and other kings, princes, and magnates of the Christian state, in accordance with the constitution of the Holy Empire, and the agreements which we have with them, we determined and desired to cultivate peace and harmony, and to render to each one, according to his rank, all duties belonging to us, together with the offices of friendship.
24] Besides, having made known our objects, we will also earnestly apply ourselves with great strictness and the most ardent zeal to the defense of this work of concord, by diligent visitations of the churches and schools in our realms, oversight of printing offices, and other salutary means, according to occasions and circumstances which may be offered to ourselves and others. We will also take pains, if either controversies already composed should be renewed, or new controversies concerning religion should arise, to remove and settle them betimes, for the purpose of avoiding offense, without long and dangerous digressions.
25] As a manifest testimony of this, we have with great consent subscribed our names, and attached also our seals:
Louis, Count Palatine on the Rhine, Elector. Augustus, Duke of Saxony, Elector. John George, Margrave of Brandenburg, Elector. Joachim Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg, Administrator of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg. John, Bishop of Meissen. Eberhard, Bishop of Luebeck, Administrator of the Episcopate of Werden. Philip Louis, Count Palatine on the Rhine. The guardians of Frederick William and John, Dukes of Saxony. The guardians of John Casimir and John Ernest, Dukes of Saxony. George Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg. Julius, Duke of Brunswick and Lueneburg. Otho, Duke of Brunswick and Lueneburg. Henry the Younger, Duke of Brunswick and Lueneburg. William the Younger, Duke of Brunswick and Lueneburg. Wolfgang, Duke of Brunswick and Lueneburg. Ulrich, Duke of Mecklenburg. The guardians of John and Sigismund Augustus, Dukes of Mecklenburg. Louis, Duke of Wuerttemberg. The guardians of Ernest and Jacob, Margraves of Baden. George Ernest, Count and Lord of Henneburg. Frederick, Count of Wuerttemberg and Moempelgard. John Gunther, Count of Schwartzburg. William, Count of Schwartzburg. Albert, Count of Schwartzburg. Emich, Count of Leiningen. Philip, Count of Hanau. Gottfried, Count of Oettingen. George, Count and Lord in Castel. Henry, Count and Lord in Castel. Otho, Count of Hoya and Burgkhausen. John, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst. John Hoier, Count of Mansfeld. Bruno, Count of Mansfeld. Hoier Christopher, Count of Mansfeld. Peter Ernest, Jr., Count of Mansfeld. Christopher, Count of Mansfeld. Albert George, Count of Stolberg. Wolfgang Ernest, Count of Stolberg. Louis, Count of Gleichen. Charles, Count of Gleichen. Ernest, Count of Reinstein. Boto, Count of Reinstein. Louis, Count of Lewenstein. Henry, Baron of Limburg, Semperfrei. George, Baron of Schoenburg. Wolfgang, Baron of Schoenburg. Anarc Frederick, Baron of Wildenfels. Mayor and Council of the City of Luebeck. Mayor and Council of the City of Lueneburg. Mayor and Council of the City of Hamburg. Council of the City of Brunswick. Mayor and Council of the City of Landau. Mayor and Council of the City of Muenster in the Gregorian Valley. Council of the City of Goslar. Mayor and Council of the City of Ulm. Mayor and Council of the City of Esslingen. Council of the City of Reutlingen. Mayor and Council of the City of Noerdlingen. Mayor and Council of Rothenburg on the Tauber. Mayor and Council of the City of Hall in Swabia. Mayor and Council of the City of Heilbronn. Mayor and Council of the City of Memmingen. Mayor and Council of the City of Lindau. Mayor and Council of the City of Schweinfurt. Council of the City of Donauwoerth. Chamberlain and Council of the City of Regensburg. Mayor and Council of the City of Wimpffen. Mayor and Council of the City of Giengen. Mayor and Council of Bopfingen. Mayor and Council of the City of Alen. Mayor and Council of the City of Kaufbeuren. Mayor and Council of the City of Isna. Mayor and Council of the City of Kempten. Council of the City of Goettingen. Mayor and Council of the City of Leutkirch. The entire Government of the City of Hildesheim. Mayor and Council of the City of Hameln. Mayor and Councilmen of the City of Hannover. Council of Muehlhausen. Council of Erfurt. Council of the City of Eimbeck. Council of the City of Nordheim.
The Lutheran princes and theologians do not wish to make something new but rather confess what has always been confessed by the church catholic. Thus they have compiled this book which includes:
- The Three Ecumenical Creeds
- The Unaltered Augsburg Confession and Apology
- The Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and the Primacy of the Pope
- The Small and Large Catechisms
- The Formula of Concord
It is hoped that this publication of this Book of Concord will put an end to all controversies that exist in their day. If any new controversy arises the princes and theologians of the unaltered Augsburg Confession will settle and remove them speedily.
1 Built on the Rock the Church shall stand
Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land;
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the soul distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.
2 Surely in temples made with hands
God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
High above earth His temple stands,
All earthly temples excelling.
Yet He who dwells in heav’n above
Chooses to live with us in love,
Making our bodies His temple.
3 We are God’s house of living stones,
Built for His own habitation.
He through baptismal grace us owns
Heirs of His wondrous salvation.
Were we but two His name to tell,
Yet He would deign with us to dwell
With all His grace and His favor.
4 Here stands the font before our eyes,
Telling how God has received us.
Th’altar recalls Christ’s sacrifice
And what His Supper here gives us.
Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim
Christ yesterday, today, the same,
And evermore, our Redeemer.
5 Grant, then, O God, Your will be done,
That, when the church bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
“I know MY own; My own know Me.
You, not the world, My face shall see.
My peace I leave with you. Amen.”