The Lutheran Confessions Background


Lutheran Confessions Link


The Book of Concord is the name given to that book, published in 1580, that contains the Lutheran Confessions. Concord comes from the Latin Concordia, meaning unity or agreement. The Book of Concord contained an exposition of those essential teachings of the Gospel that Lutherans based their unity upon. They also served as a platform for unity with all Christians. What are the Lutheran Confessions? They are 10 special statements of faith that Lutherans have adopted as official confessions of what they believe. Far more than historical documents, they are still viewed today as a definitive statement of what it means to be Christian and Lutheran. Lutherans view the Lutheran Confessions to be a standard by which all teaching and practice in their churches must be judged. This is because Lutherans have already become convinced that these Confessions are a correct exposition of the Word of God, the ultimate authority and standard of Christian truth.


All Lutheran pastors must subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions as true, and promise to conform their preaching and teaching to the doctrinal standard therein. Not all are agreed on what such subscription means, however. Pastors of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod make a quia (Latin, because of) subscription, meaning that they subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions because they are a faithful exposition of God's Word. Many other Lutheran pastors (including those in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, ELCA) make a quatenus (Latin, in so far as) subscription, that is, they subscribe to the Confessions in so far as they are a faithful exposition of God's Word. This has often led to a denial of large portions of the Confessions.


Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord, 1580





Apostles' Creed

Second Century A.D.


Baptismal Creed used in Rome.

Nicene Creed

325, 381 A.D.

Assembled Bishops at the Council of Nicea (325) and the Council of Constantinople (381)

This Creed intends to clearly state on the basis of Scripture that Jesus Christ is true God equal with the Father and that the Holy Spirit is also true God, equal with the Father and the Son.

Athanasian Creed

Sixth - Eighth Century A.D.

Unknown. Named after the great church father Athanasius, who was bravely defended the faith of the Nicene Creed against Arianism.

Confesses the teaching of the Trinity and the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Small Catechism


Martin Luther

A short work that was to educate the laity in the fundamentals of the Christian Faith.

Large Catechism


Martin Luther

Though covering the same chief parts of Christian doctrine as the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism is really a series of reedited sermons that Luther preached.

Augsburg Confession

June 25, 1530

Philipp Melanchthon

Often viewed as the chief Lutheran Confession; it was presented by the Lutherans to Emperor Charles V at the imperial diet of Augsburg as a statement of the chief articles of the Christian faith as understood by Lutherans; also contained here is a listing of abuses that the Lutherans had corrected.

Apology to the Augsburg Confession


Philipp Melanchthon

After the Roman theologians had condemned many of the teachings of the Augsburg Confession (AC), Melanchthon authored this lengthy defense of AC. Rightly considered a Christian classic.

Smalcald Articles


Martin Luther

Articles of faith intended by Luther to be an ecumenical platform for an upcoming ecumenical council. Stated what the Lutherans could not compromise and why.

Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope


Philipp Melanchthon

Was intended to serve as a supplement to the Augsburg Confession, giving the Lutheran position on the pope.

Formula of Concord


Jacob Andreae, Martin Chemnitz, David Chytraeus

A restatement of some teachings in the Augsburg Confession over which Lutherans had become divided. The Solid Declaration is the unabridged version. The Epitome, is an abridged version, intended for congregations to study. Over 8,100 pastors and theologians signed it, as well as over 50 government leaders.

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