Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.
“Introduction to the Epitome of the Formula of Concord” pp. 486-487.
“Introduction to Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord” pp. 524-531
The Formula of Concord is presented in a brief form, known as the Epitome, and a longer form, known as the Solid Declaration. The Epitome is introduced with statements of the guiding principle of all Christian teaching. First, “the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testament alone” are the authority (Kolb 2000, 486). Other writings, regardless of their age, draw their authority from their consistency with the Old Testament and the New Testament. Confessions, also known as “symbols,” were quickly formulated to provide a brief and clear answer to false teaching. The compilers of the Book of Concord recognized the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed as a specific confession of the Christian faith. There was also a dispute over the authoritative text of the Augsburg Confession. The compilers of the Book of Concord recognize the unaltered Augsburg Confession, presented in 1530, as well as the Apology and Smalcald Articles as faithful expositions of the biblical faith (Kolb 2000, 487). To protect faithful teaching, the compilers urge study of Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms. From these foundations, all true and false teaching can be identified. To protect against error, it is made clear that the “other symbols, however, and other writings listed above are not judges, as is Holy Scripture, but they are only witnesses and explanations of the faith, which show how Holy Scripture has at various times been understood and interpreted in the church of God by those who lived at the time in regard to articles of faith under dispute and how teachings contrary to the Scripture were rejected and condemned” (Kolb 2000, 487).
The Solid Declaration also bears introductory statements. This introduction discusses the events of the Reformation in brief, particularly as a movement of doctrinal clarification. The Roman church considered the Evangelical movement as new teaching, while the teachers of the Reformation defended its historical and biblical foundations. For this reason the Augsburg Confession was presented in 1530, although it received “a churlish reaction from their opponents” (Kolb 2000, 524). The Solid Declaration is a confirmation, some 50 years later, that the Augsburg Confession is biblical and can stand the test of time. Sadly, the doctrines laid out in the Augsburg Confession had at times been misinterpreted. The misunderstandings led to a need for additional clarification. This was also a cause for the composition of the Solid Declaration (Kolb 2000, 525).
There follows a restatement of the foundational interpretive principles which were used in introduction of the Epitome on pp. 486-487. In essence, the principles are stated the same way, but with some expansion and occasional additional pieces of historical context. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of using adequate confessions to build unity within Christianity.