Fagerberg, Holsten, and Eugene Lund. A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529-1537). St. Louis: Concordia, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 1, “The Basis of the Confessions.” Loc. 192-900
The Lutheran confessions are self-consciously built on the Bible. There are many references to the Bible, which is treated as the authority. Fagerberg reminds the reader of the presumptive authority of Scripture. “When the Confessions were written, the authority of the Bible was not a problem; its authority was recognized on both sides of the confessional line of demarcation” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 198). The reformers insisted that all doctrines needed the authority of Scripture, not merely human opinion (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 214).
Fagerberg observes that God’s Word” is applied in the Confessions to the Bible, to specific parts of the Bible, or to statements, such as those in the Apostles’ Creed, which derive their content directly from the Bible (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 225). The authority, then, comes directly from the text of the Bible (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 275).
Often we find references to God’s command, mandatum Dei (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 292). There is a connection between the content of the Bible and a statement of God’s will. Many times a promise is added to a statement of God’s will, in which case the Confessions will refer to the concept as a “sacrament” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 303). The Lutheran confessions often argue that practices not required by God cannot be required of humans.
Fagerberg goes on to discuss various categories of God’s commands. Some pertain to “the activities which the Christian man carries on as a result of his faith” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 324). Others pertain to public worship practices (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 330). Overall, God’s commands are based on his will, especially to show mercy on humanity through Christ.
This leads Fagerberg to discuss confusion over the term “Gospel” He observes that sometimes the term is used in the wide sense of all Jesus says about forgiveness, sometimes in the narrower sense of the specific grace of God (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 357).
Another concept which is important to our understanding is that of divine law (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 391). That which is not enjoined by God is not binding, though it may be a perfectly good custom. It cannot be required.
Fagerberg then turns his attention to the function of the Bible (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 418). The use of the Bible expected in the Confessions is the oral, public reading and preaching. This is how God creates faith (Romans 1:17) (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 435). It is important that the proclamation be consistent with the written content of the Bible (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 482). Therefore, sound principles of interpretation of the Bible are very important (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 546). The basic principles followed were the consistency of Scripture and the distinction of Law and Gospel (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 595).