Thursday, October 14, 2010

FW: Are You Reading the Lutheran Confessions?

Well, are you?


Feed: Confessional's Bytes
Posted on: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:37 AM
Author: Jim Pierce
Subject: Are You Reading the Lutheran Confessions?


As many of the regular readers of Confessional's Bytes know, I am not a "life long Lutheran." If you have read my book Wittenberg Confessions (see the top, left hand side bar of my blog for the link to my book), or have simply "hung out" at this blog long enough, you know that I have a background in Pentecostalism and then spent eighteen years as an atheist before my Lord Jesus Christ gave me His gift of faith so that I could receive the forgiveness of my sins. This was all done by His grace alone through faith alone in Him. And just as He has done for so many, God opened my understanding to His Holy Word and I know without a doubt that I am forgiven because of what Christ did for me through His suffering and death on the cross roughly two thousand years ago. Salvation is the gift of God and not merited by any thing I have done or can do. In a sense, the pure confession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ drives me to Lutheranism, since that is where it is found. We can all read this pure confession of the Gospel in the Lutheran Book of Concord.

"Life long Lutherans" have typically read the Small Catechism while growing up. I could only speculate as to how many, or how few, have actually read the Book of Concord (which contains the Small Catechism) from cover to cover. It certainly isn't an easy task to read through the Lutheran confessions, since the writing is thick with specialized terms conveying rich theology. However, studying the Book of Concord is well worth the time and effort. If you want to know what it means to be a Christian, then the Book of Concord is an excellent resource. If you call yourself a Lutheran, but haven't read the Book of Concord yet, then now is the time to start reading and learning your confession of faith and heritage.

The following is a list of books and sources that will hopefully aid those who want to read the Lutheran Confessions, but don't know how to get started.

  1. You can purchase the second edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions at Concordia Publishing House by following this link. It is on sale for only $20 and the leather bound issue is only $5 more! This is the "reader's edition" of the Book of Concord and I highly recommend it to those reading through our confessions for the first time because of all the great notes and resources CPH has put into this volume.
  2. If you don't want to purchase a book and prefer a digital source to read from, then look no further than the website, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Lutheran Church (link). I regularly use the Book of Concord website as a resource, since it provides the full text of our Lutheran confessions on-line. The website also has an iPhone version of the Book of Concord available for download and for the scholars amongst us, they provide a PDF of the German and Latin texts of the Book of Concord, too.
  3. Perhaps you want to read the Book of Concord, but you don't want to do so alone. No worries, there may be a Confessions Reading Group near you. Visit Steadfast Lutherans (aka "Brothers of John the Steadfast") to find one of the many reading groups listed here. If you don't see a group nearby, consider contacting Steadfast Lutherans for a kit of materials designed to help establish a reading group.
  4. Once you start studying the Book of Concord, you may find that you want to deepen your understanding of the history surrounding its formation and read the texts to which much of it is in response to. Sources and Contexts of the Book of Concord (found here) is an excellent source book to have on hand through which provides key texts such as the "Confutation of the Augsburg Confession" which is the Roman Catholic response to the Augsburg Confession and to which the Lutherans respond in the "Apology of the Augsburg Confession."

The above is not an exhaustive list of resources, and is meant to provide a good start for anyone interested in learning about Lutheranism, or for those calling themselves "Lutheran" and who would like to get to know the faith we confess. I can tell you, there is no substitute for reading the Book of Concord yourself. You can read books and blogs about the Book of Concord, but you will not benefit from any of those as much as you would by simply picking up the text and reading it.

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