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Sept 2013 (Vol. 58, No. 8)

Dear Saints of Grace congregation,

As I hope you remember from the previous Grace Notes article, I am going through the books that make up our Lutheran Confessions, that is, the Book of Concord (B of C).  I do this with the hope that it will drive you to read these ever-important writings in the history of our Lutheran confession of faith. I begin with the Preface.

Undeservedly, prefaces are probably the most skipped over section of any book, with the exception of maybe the acknowledgements.  The Book of Concord’s preface proves to be very valuable in that it offers crucial information with regards to what will be covered in the remainder of the sections that follow it.  Its initial address stresses that all of these writings were put together so that all could read them, no matter what level of reader compared to the theological writers who put it together.

The preface then gives a very brief understanding of the reason the Confessions were created.  Included in this are the events of 1530 when the creation of the Augsburg Confession (AC) took place.  The events after the death of our beloved The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther are also touched upon, revealing how Satan caused many difficulties by spreading false doctrine and bringing divisions and offenses within the Church. The preface then discusses a number of various conferences that took place as a result of the doctrine put forth in the Augsburg Confession (AC).  These conferences reveal the importance of the AC and its correction of the superstitions and wayward theology of the Roman Catholic Church at that time.  These conferences would present the opportunity for those adhering to the AC to remain firm in their stance; not giving in to every wind of doctrine that was coming along.  It also helped to find out who was not adhering to it, thus revealing those who were dissenting and going astray from the biblical truth held within the AC.

The preface then reveals the meaning of the Book of Concord’s creation.  A great summation of what the writers wanted to convey is stated thus:

“We repeat in conclusion what we mentioned several times earlier.  In this work of concord, we have not all wished to create something 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 the doctrine that, having been taken from the from the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures, is contained (a) in the three ancient creeds; (b) in the Augsburg Confession, presented in the year 1530 to the Emperor Charles V (of excellent memory); (c) in the Apology, which was added to this; (d) in the Smalcald Articles; and lastly (e) in both the Catechisms of that excellent man, Dr. Luther. 

Therefore, we also determined not to depart even a finger’s breadth either from the subjects themselves, or from the phrases that are found in them.  And we intend to examine all controversies according to this true norm and declaration of the pure doctrine.”

(An excerpt from A reader’s edition of the Book of Concord, pg. 37)

It is not hard to read how confessional the writers were at that time, and more importantly their fortitude for standing up for truth and against heresy.  What most people miss is how this is a true demonstration of love for one’s neighbor in not wanting them be led astray but, instead, led to be firm in the foundation of the Biblical truth held within the Book of Concord.  This is one preface that should not be skipped.

With you IN Christ!