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The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of The Book of Concord

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From their formulation in the sixteenth century through the present day, every generation of Lutheran leadership has grappled with the centrality and importance of the Lutheran confessional writings. In this important new volume, Arand, Kolb, and Nestingen bring the fruit of an entire generation of scholarship to bear on these documents, making it an essential and up-to-date class text. The Lutheran Confessions places the documents solidly within their political, social, ecclesiastical, and theological contexts, relating them to the world in which they took place, and assists readers in understanding the issues at stake in the narratives, both in their own time and in ours.

Get this volume and more on Lutheran studies with the Augsburg Fortress Lutheran Studies Collection (6 vols.).

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Key Features

  • Contains an up-to-date, scholarly analysis of these foundational Lutheran texts
  • Provides the historical and theological context from which to review the Lutehran Confessions
  • Explores the central Lutheran creeds in a thorough manner


  • A History of the Ancient Creedal Texts: Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian
  • The Theological Contributions of the Ancient Creeds
  • Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms
  • The Augsburg Confession
  • The Apology of the Augsburg Confession
  • The Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
  • Theological Tensions among Luther’s Followers before his Death
  • The “Culture of Controversy”: The Smalcald War, the “Interims,” and the Adiaphoristic Controversy
  • The Majoristic and “Antinomian” Controversies
  • The Synergistic Controversies, the Controversy over Original Sin, and the Doctrine of Election in the Late Reformation
  • The Osiandrian Controversy over the Righteousness That Avails before God
  • The Controversies over the Lord’s Supper and Christology
  • Efforts at Attaining Concord, 1552–1569
  • Jakob Andreae’s Drive for Lutheran Unity and the Composition of the Formula of Concord and the Book of Concord
  • Reactions to the Formula of Concord in the 1580s

Top Highlights

“First, they have become increasingly important because of the need to define the boundaries of historical Christianity in the face of numerous attempts to redefine Christianity in the light of ancient Gnosticism and revisionist versions of Christianity.” (Page 15)

“The Interims and the resulting controversy over adiaphora had raised three distinct issues for Lutheran theologians: (1) the relationship between Christian freedom and ceremonies or usages in the church; (2) the nature of public confession of the truth; and (3) the relationship between the church and the society in which it lives, more specifically, the secular government of that society.” (Page 183)

“The Apostles Creed conveys the essentials of the Christian faith in a straightforward, down-to-earth manner that is at once simple, concise, and easy to grasp. It does so with the language of the Scriptures themselves.” (Page 24)

“Given the sufficiency of the gospel, ‘it is not necessary that human traditions, rites, or ceremonies instituted by human beings be alike everywhere’ (Latin text).18 The Wittenberg theologians had redefined Christianity: they viewed it no longer as primarily a matter of human performance, certainly not of ritual. Rituals only served to enhance the conversation between the creator and his human creatures.” (Page 96)

“This means that we recognize that the task of confessing the faith is fundamentally eschatological. Believers always are conscious that their witness of Christ’s love to other believers and those outside the faith takes place in presence of and though the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Page 9)

Praise for the Print Edition

Confessional commitment, ecclesiastical identity, and scholarly expertise characterize this concise, yet incisive, analysis of the historical setting and theological content of the Lutheran Confessions in light of contemporary scholarship. The volume serves as a valuable companion to The Book of Concord, and it will be a welcome resource for all students of the Lutheran confessional documents, both in the parish and in an academic setting.

—Kurt K. Hendel, Bernard, Fischer, Westberg Distinguished Ministry Professor of Reformation History, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

In this volume, Arand, Nestingen, and Kolb, as internationally recognized premier scholars of the Lutheran Confessions, bring the harvest of the past quarter century research into the hands of readers. As they give a detailed historical account of the fascinating stories behind The Book of Concord with their own theological insight, readers will be drawn not only into the content but even more importantly into the mind of the Confessions and the way in which they taught and confessed Jesus Christ. The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord will make a remarkable and lasting contribution to a new generation of students, scholars, and pastors, and assist them in confessing Christ in the twenty-first century America and the world.

—Naomichi Masaki, associate professor of systematic theology, Concordia Theological Seminary

  • Title: The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord
  • Authors: Charles P. Arand, Robert Kolb, James A. Nestingen
  • Publisher: Fortress Press
  • Print Publication Date: 2012
  • Logos Release Date: 2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subject: Lutheran Church › Creeds--History and criticism
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-02-12T04:28:15Z

About the Editors

Charles P. Arand is a professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. His recent publications include The Genius of Luther’s Theology.

Robert Kolb is Emeritus Mission Professor of Systematic Theology and director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Among his many publications are The Book of Concord and Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith.

James A. Nestingen is emeritus professor of church history at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally recognized Luther scholar as well as a popular speaker and lecturer. Nestingen is the author of numerous books, including Martin Luther: A Life and Sources and Contexts of The Book of Concord.


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  1. Glenn Crouch

    Glenn Crouch


    This is a fascinating book covering the history behind the various confessional documents that make up the Lutheran Book of Concord. Thus it covers the Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian), Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms, Augsburg Confession, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Smalcald Articles and the Formula of Concord. Whilst I had a reasonable knowledge of the history of the creeds, and of the history of Luther’s life, I must admit I found much that I didn’t know (or hadn’t properly taken on board) when it came to the roughly 25 years following Luther’s Death. Plus it is nice to have all these histories in one place, and nicely connected. I felt the authors did a fair job when it came to examining both those for and against the various documents, as well as looking at the situations that motivated the documents. This is also a good book to get a feel for the history of the Lutheran Church in the 16th Century - as opposed to a history of Luther - and I think I was better versed in the latter than the former, so I welcomed my journey with this book.


Print list price: $39.00
Save $3.01 (7%)