New Book on the History and Theology of the Formula of Concord

The following is translated from a news release from the Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK), a sister church to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Philipp Melanchthon summarized the central points of the Evangelical-Lutheran teaching in the 1530 Augsburg Confession using the concept of “Confession.” This led to the formulation of a series of confessional writings in the Reformation churches. In an attempt to end controversy regarding the interpretation of the “Augsburg Confession” and to unite the warring churches, the “Formula of Concord” was produced in 1577, a summary of essential beliefs which became part of the canon of most Lutheran churches, and – although in theological circles too often marginalized – is still of central importance.

Dr. Robert Kolb, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in St. Louis (USA), a sister church of the German Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church (SELK) and Visiting Lecturer at the Lutheran School of Theology (LThH) of Oberursel SELK, has now produced an introduction to the state of research concerning the history of the development of the Formula of Concord and its impact on the self-identity and the teaching of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“Kolb is today perhaps the foremost expert in the English speaking world on the theological history of Lutheranism in the period of the Lutheran Confessions,” writes Prof. Dr. Thomas Kaufmann, Professor of Church History at the Georg-August-University Göttingen, in the introduction to the book. “He understands the theological debates of Lutheranism, not merely as elements of a social and cultural-historical problem of formulation, but exactly in the sense of what the protagonists claim that they are, namely, a dispute over theological truth, which Lutheran theologians also today must regard to be an inevitable obligation which will be of profit intellectually.”  For Kolb, “Confession . . . was the organizing center of Lutheranism.”  The new publication reflects “the decades-long research of a renowned colleague,” who discusses “the Lutheran theology of the Formula of Concord in very high-profile manner.”

The book Die Konkordienformel. Eine Einführung in ihre Geschichte und Theologie is published as volume eight of the series of supplementary volumes to the “Oberurseler Heften,” published by the Lutherisch Theologische Hochschule Oberursel by Professor Dr. Werner Klän. The translation from the English was done by Marianne Mühlenberg (Göttingen), the series editor was responsible for the review of the language. The 208-page book (binding: hardcover), published by Edition Ruprecht (Göttingen) and which both the Oberursel Hochschule and the SELK cooperated in producing, costs € 29.90.

An video interview with Dr. Klän and Dr. Kolb is available (in English!) on YouTube


The German edition is now available from

The English edition will be available in April, 2012 published by Fortress Press.  It will be included in a volume entitled The Lutheran Confessions. History and Theology of the Book of Concord, which will also contain treatments of the ancient or ecumenical creeds by Charles P. Arand, professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, and of the “Wittenberg confessions” – the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the catechisms of Luther, the Smalcald Articles, and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – by James A. Nestingen, emeritus professor of historical theology at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul.

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1 Comment

  1. Timothy W Hershey December 16, 2011

    Very Well stsated ” although in theological circles too often marginalized – is still of central importance.”
    If we cannot confess the faith that we are called to then how easily it will be for us to be deceived or even lured to sleep in our culture of relevence and multiple realities where there is a cry against absolute truth and truth is now only subjective,and subjective only to “what you think is true is true…for you. And what he thinks is also true. And what she thinks is also true….we are all right and no one is wrong after all in reality we are all really gods unto ourselves right? Oh, that not true. Not rue at all and the truth, the asolute truth is in fact as true as it ever was and can be found in our confessions. The thing that unites us. These confessions are needed now as much as they were needed when they were written. If you do not believe me just talk to the average Lutheran Christian in the average congregation and ask him about what it is that he oe she believes.

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