You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

Book of Harmony

Book of Harmony: Spirit and Service in the Lutheran Confessions

Martin J. Lohrmann
Copyright Date: 2016
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book of Harmony
    Book Description:

    The Reformation-era writings that make up the Lutheran Confessions remain lively resources for Christian ministry and mission today. Because each of the documents within the Book of Concord was written with a specific context and rhetorical purpose in mind, each has its own compelling story and objectives. Luther’s catechisms present the faith for daily life at the grass-roots level, with teaching elements that we might now view as typical of social media and multimedia. The Augsburg Confession and its Apology provide an adaptable foundation for preaching, teaching, church organization, and dialogue that is rooted in the promise of Christ, received through faith. Fifteen years after the Diet of Worms, the Smalcald Articles reveal yet another “Here I stand" moment for Luther. Finally, the Formula of Concord shows how the next generations of Lutherans used collaboration and consensus as they wrestled with important themes of faith and life. In summary, as these texts engage us with their stories, they invite us to consider what is most important about our journeys of faith and Christian witness in today’s twenty-first-century contexts.

    eISBN: 978-1-5064-0110-2
    Subjects: Religion
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. vii-viii)
    Martin J. Lohrmann
  4. Abbreviations (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface (pp. xi-xviii)
  6. 1 Introduction to the Book of Concord (pp. 1-18)

    From the Latin “with heart,” concord means harmony and peace. The Book of Concord (Concordiain Latin) is the collection of writings from the 1500s that many Lutherans have long used as the biblically-based foundation of their Christian faith and practice. As a title,Concordiaexpresses the great hope of unity in faith and service that many religious communities share and strive for. Also, uniqueness and diversity are built into this idea of harmony, because it is impossible to be harmonious if everyone is singing the same note.

    As a collection of writings rather than a single work, theBook...

  7. 2 Themes in the Early Lutheran Reformation (pp. 19-40)

    October 31, 2017, marks five hundred years since Martin Luther changed the course of western civilization with his95 Theses, also entitled, “A Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences.” Why did Luther write against indulgences? In exchange for money or activities like going on a pilgrimage or participating in a crusade, indulgences promised sinners forgiveness from the penalty of their sins, including penalties that would need to be paid in the afterlife in purgatory. Indulgences were particularly open to misuse and corruption because they connected money and salvation.¹

    Luther did not intend for his theses (points for discussion)...

  8. 3 Luther’s Catechisms: A Lifetime of Learning (pp. 41-68)

    If you want to teach the basics of Christian faith, where do you begin? When confronted with the need to give Christian instruction in down-to-earth ways, Martin Luther presented people with a catechism.

    Although “catechism” is not itself a simple word, it describes what it is and what it does. The word catechism has “echo” inside of it. In the early church, new Christians would echo back what they were learning from experienced believers. For centuries before Luther in the medieval church, the content of this instruction revolved around the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; sometimes...

  9. 4 The Augsburg Confession: Faith for a Grounded, Flexible Church (pp. 69-86)

    For the 1530 imperial diet in Augsburg, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V invited his protesting subjects to present a statement of their faith. Philip Melanchthon, who gave theAugsburg Confessionmost of its shape and expression, thus needed to show that Evangelical Lutheran reforms belonged solidly to the larger Christian tradition.

    For this reason, theAugsburg Confession(also called theAugustanaor CA, for its Latin nameConfessio Augustana) stressed the reformers’ desire to maintain unity with the universal church. At the same time, it laid out a vision of the faith, the church, and Christian life that remains distinctive...

  10. 5 Personal Faith and Shared Mission in the Apology (pp. 87-106)

    In a document that has come to be called the Roman Confutation, political and ecclesiastical authorities loyal to the pope rejected the ecumenically-orientedAugsburg Confessionnear the end of the summer 1530. In response, Philip Melanchthon wrote theApology of the Augsburg Confessionto defend the CA and to protest its rejection. He wanted to show beyond a doubt that the reformers’ message—God’s justification of the ungodly through faith alone in Christ alone—had deep scriptural roots and was faithful to the Christian tradition. Melanchthon also connected theology with the effects of Lutheran teachings, returning frequently to the relationship...

  11. 6 Freedom and Service in the Smalcald Articles (pp. 107-124)

    Luther’sSmalcald Articlesstand as something of an enigma in the Book of Concord. Given all of Luther’s important works, why does this later document receive such a privileged place in the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? Further, because these articles contain Luther’s sharp language against all manner of opponents, they can be viewed as “too Lutheran,” reflecting an unhelpful partisanship supposedly typical of the later Luther and rigid Lutheran Orthodoxy.¹

    In the face of such questions, this chapter interprets theSmalcald Articlesas a positive statement for Christian freedom, which presents a theological and ecclesiastical legacy from the...

  12. 7 A Model for Harmony: the Formula of Concord (pp. 125-148)

    The 1577Formula of Concordprovides an important test case for this study. Did later Lutherans lose the practical and spiritual concerns that drove Luther and Melanchthon’s works? Did the passionate faith of the early Reformation turn into a set of rigid, impersonal and unspiritual dogmas? Was harmony a serious value or did the word concordia become a cynical cover for power-hungry leaders? This chapter aims to show that sincere interest in mutual dialogue, intellectual honesty and communal well-being survived beyond the early Lutheran Reformation and are visible in theFormula of Concord.

    While we recall that concord means harmony,...

  13. Epilogue: The Lifelong Adventure of Faith (pp. 149-158)

    I started this book with a story about an early time in my life when Reformation history affected my relationship with my best friend. Over the years, I have continued to learn more about religion and religious history, always discovering fascinating ways in which faith and daily life inform and interact with each other.

    In my own experience as a practicing Lutheran and student of history, asking hard questions has repeatedly led me to new learning about myself, Christianity, and the world around me. When I have wondered about the existence of God, Luther’s explanation to the first commandment has...

  14. Bibliography (pp. 159-164)
  15. Index of Names and Subjects (pp. 165-170)
  16. Index of Scripture (pp. 171-173)
  17. Back Matter (pp. 174-174)