A neat post from a couple of bloggers on a good book to read…
I really enjoyed this blog post I bumped into the other day. I think you will too.
I was raised Lutheran. Baptized into the faith through water and the Word when I was 20 days old. Brought to Sunday School as a youth and after attending Confirmation class, I was confirmed in the Evangelical Lutheran Church when I was 4,866 days old.
During High School, I decided that I didn't believe in Jesus or God His Father. I left the faith for a while, but by the grace of God, I was called back to saving faith by the Word in college. After again attending an LC–MS church for several years, I decided that I would attend seminary with the intention of serving God's church as an under-shepherd (pastor).
Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Really Big Book (otherwise known as the Book of Concord of 1580). My surprise, by the way, was not that there was a really big book published 400+ years ago; no, my surprise was that there was a book which contains the official confession of the Lutheran Church. My surprise was that, in order to become a pastor in the Missouri Synod, I would have to read and agree with (subscribe unconditionally to ) everything in that book "because" it faithfully teaches what the Bible reveals.
Hmmm… interesting. How come I've never even heard of this?
And, wait a minute.
Everything? I have to agree with everything in that Really Big Book? You're going to ask me at my ordination if I believe that the entirety of the Book of Concord of 1580 (that self-same Really Big Book) is a "true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church?" (LC-MS Agenda). Not only that, but the answer I will be required to give is: "Yes, I make these Confessions my own because they are in accord with the Word of God"?
Wow. Here I don't even know this book exists and now unconditional subscription to the content of that book is going to be a prerequisite to ordination? Not only that, but I need to be able to say openly, freely, and without reservation that what that book says is in fact my own confession— not the confession of those long-dead reforming saints, but MY OWN!
Truth be known, once I started to get over my shock, then I started to get angry. I was mad. "Don't we just need the bible?!?"
Thanks be to God that I didn't despair. I figured "it couldn't hurt to read the stupid thing" and see what it says. After all, if this Book of Concord is the official confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church… if it is norm by which the Lutheran Church believes, teaches, and confesses what we believe the Bible says… I might as well give it a shot. Right?
So I started to read. And boy was I shocked! This Really Big Book was a treasure trove! It wasn't a bunch of debatable opinions by a bunch of really dead guys… it was a faithful teaching of what God reveals in Scripture. I began to realize just how silly my question of "Don't we just need the Bible?" was. The Book of Concord wasn't a replacement for the Bible. By no means! Rather, it was a faithful speaking of God's Word back again. And it was awesome! With the Book of Concord by my side, my Bible reading became the exciting adventure I never knew it could be. Before the Book of Concord, I was an intermittent Bible reader, after… I was a voracious reader, for the Bible had become for me that most delightful of feasts.
I still had some hard work to overcome a few things —like understanding the Bible's teaching on the doctrine of Election (which is HUGE!) and learning to value Baptism (which is also HUGE!)— but it's no exaggeration to say that my study of the Book of Concord transformed me. It opened my eyes to so much of what the Bible teaches. I went from being a life-long Lutheran who would have been comfortable joining your friendly Community Church down the street… to being a convicted Christian who would give his right hand before he'd let go of the theology confessed in the Lutheran confessions.
In the end, it's not about "being Lutheran." It's about "Christ and Him crucified" for you (1 Cor. 2:2). It's about God working through real Words and tangible Sacraments FOR YOU! It's about a radical grace that flies in the face of everything that world teaches. And I learned it all through the Book of Concord.
The Lord Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41–42). God bless you as you continue to sit at Jesus' feet!
n.b. this post was partly inspired by a blog comment of Rev. Jonathan Fisk, whose journey in part mirrors my own. I even shamelessly stole some of his phrases! Thanks, Jonathan!