Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.
Small Catechism IV “Concerning Baptism” pp. 359-362.
Large Catechism IV “Concerning Baptism” pp. 457-467.
Luther’s Small Catechism addresses baptism in several parts. What is it? As a sacrament baptism is God’s commanded application of water with God’s word of promise (Kolb 2000, 359). It grants forgiveness to all who receive it with faith (Kolb 2000, 360). This is possible because of God’s promises, not due to anything in the water (Kolb 2000, 360). In baptism our sinful self is put to death, foreshadowing our daily life of sorrow for sin and faith in God (Kolb 2000, 361). At this point there is an apparent insertion into the text of directions for confession of sins before a pastor and reception of forgiveness. Luther states specifically that “before the confessor we are to confess only those sins of which we have knowledge and which trouble us” (Kolb 2000, 361).
The Large Catechism adds particularly that it is through baptism that we are received as Christians (Kolb 2000, 457). Baptism is again a matter of God’s command. Baptism into God’s name is to be baptized by God, though with human hands (Kolb 2000, 458). The water is effective because of God’s Word (Kolb 2000, 459). Luther addresses the claim that faith saves without water. The water is added to give our faith something concrete to grasp and remember (Kolb 2000, 461). God typically works using external means. The baptism is received by faith, as God’s work (Kolb 200, 461). The question then arises whether it is appropriate to baptize infants. Can they believe? Luther observes that many who were baptized as infants do believe. If God did not approve of infant baptism they would not (Kolb 2000, 463). As with the Word, it is effective as it is received by faith (Kolb 2000, 465).