This is an awesome book. It is handsome, sturdy, well-formatted, and easy to use. The subtitle is correct: it is A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord. Editorial props go to Paul McCain, Edward Englebrecht, Robert Baker, and Gene Veith as well as Concordia Publishing House for a job well done.
Now, I’m no Lutheran, but this book “almost maketh me” one! Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto is right: the book is “a wonderful guide out of the spiritual labyrinth created by liberal fudge on the one hand and simplistic self-righteousness on the other” (ix).
Why the title, Concordia? It means with and heart in Latin. “It describes a commitment to the truth so strong and so deep, it is as if those who share it have a single heart beat” (xiii).
What is genuine, historic Lutheranism? “To embrace the freedom of truth means rejecting the slavery of error. That is why this book uses two phrases to capture the essence of biblical confession: ‘we believe, teach, and confess’ and ‘we reject and condemn.’ One cannot believe, teach and confess the truth without also rejecting and condemning everything that endangers or contradicts the truth” (xiv).
What is in this 700+ page book? A helpful introduction on confessional Lutheranism, how to use the book, overviews, a reformation timeline, and what it means to subscribe to Lutheran confessions. The confessions are: The three Creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene, and Athanasian), The Augsburg Confession (1530), the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531), The Smalcald Articles (1537), The Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537; the title is a tad misleading – this treatise discusses authority in the church from a Lutheran perspective), The Small and Large Catechism (1529), The Formula of Concord, Epitome (1577) and The Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration (1577). There are also great historical introductions to those confessions, as well as a glossary, topical, and Scripture index.
You can get this book shipped to your door for well under $30 if you shop around. I’ll post on it from time to time, to be sure, but suffice it to say that this is a mini “Lutheran Library” in one book. All students of theology and church history should have one of these so you can learn from the Lutherans what Lutherans teach and confess. Though I have the usual Reformed qualms with certain aspects of Lutheran theology, I deeply respect their confessional stance in a day and age of confessional drifting.