Coburg, Wartburg, Wittenberg. The Book of Concord seems to throw you into a world of confusing names, titles and places. The book’s primary confession is the Augsburg Confession, which — it seems — Philip Melanchthon apologized for in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Why the “Power and Primacy of the Pope”? Aren’t we Lutherans? We do not do the “pope” thing. The Book of Concord concludes with the Formula of Concord, which comes in two flavors: the Epitome and the Solid Declaration. You might look at this book and conclude: “This is a pastor book; it’s not for me.”
Dear Christian, these writings are not the ravings of stubborn, 16th-century Germans, but the confessions of the one holy Christian church, a faithful confession for all time. They confess that God has reconciled the world to Himself in Jesus Christ and delivers this reconciliation in His church through the proclamation of His Word and the Sacraments.
In this issue, we provide a toolkit to help you read these confessions. Cameron MacKenzie offers the historical background of the Book of Concord, while Erik Herrmann explains the theological context of these documents. Charles Arand explains what “confessional subscription” means. Mark Bestul shows how to use these confessions devotionally. Sean Smith explains how this collection of documents serves as symbols for Lutherans. Finally, President Harrison shares the biography of his good friend and faithful confessor, the sainted Paul McCain, in whose honor we offer this issue. Through McCain’s tireless work, Concordia Publishing House provided the church a treasure: Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions — Reader’s Edition. Never before have the Lutheran Confessions been so accessible to English-speaking Lutherans.
Roy S. Askins
Managing Editor, The Lutheran Witness