Fagerberg, Holsten, and Eugene Lund. A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529-1537). St. Louis: Concordia, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 2, “Scripture and Tradition.” Loc. 901-1346
Fagerberg highlights the importance of tradition in Reformational thought. The Lutheran Reformers were interested in continuity with the early church (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 906). Luther especially avoided change whenever possible. Melanchthon had an intense interest in patristics throughout his career (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 911). This point of view was carried on by Lutheran apologists throughout the 19th century (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 933). Fagerberg briefly discusses some theologians who consider Luther as a revolutionary but Melanchthon as the voice of restraint. No doubt we find Melanchthon giving many formal arguments from Scripture and historic precedent (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 959).
Fagerberg observes that though Luther does not use as many references to the early Church as Melanchthon, he creates strong refutations of the enthusiasts and other innovators (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 971). The picture becomes more complicated when we ask what parts of tradition are accepted by the Reformers (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 1011). The critical issue is whether the tradition has the backing of Scripture or not. Traditions which do not have a root in the Bible are typically rejected, while those which are Scriptural are recognized and retained (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 1022). Fagerberg continues with a detail of some of the scholarly decisions made by the Reformers in acceptance or rejection of ideas.
It is important to remember that the overall message of the church is never to change. It is based on the unchanging Word of God (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 1129). The duty of the church is to proclaim Christ’s Word, clearly seen in baptism and communion, two enactments of Christ’s Word which have remained virtually unchanged over the years (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 1139). The Scripture was viewed as primary (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 1154). However, since there was no requirement simply to repeat words mechanically, some traditions, including creeds, sprang up. These all needed to be weighed against Scripture (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 1159).