Preface to the Book of Concord

Written in German by Jakob Andreae and Martin Chemnitz (1580)

English Translation Copyright 2014 by Jon Alan Schmidt

Link to Bente/Dau Translation from Latin (1921)

[1] To each and every one who happens to read these our writings, we who are named hereafter, devoted to the Confession of Augsburg--the Electors, Princes, and Estates of the Holy Empire of the German Nation, according to the requirements of each one's rank and dignity--pronounce our proper service, friendship, gracious greeting and inclined will, as well as our most humble and willing service, and herewith make known:

[2] God the Almighty--in these last times of the perishable world, out of immeasurable love, grace and mercy toward the human race--let the light of His Holy Gospel and alone-saving Word appear and shine forth purely, clearly, and without corruption out of the superstitious, papistic darkness of the German nation, our beloved fatherland. As a result, a brief Confession collected out of the divine, prophetic and apostolic Scripture was presented in the German and Latin languages at the Diet of Augsburg in the year 1530 to the former emperor, Charles V, of most praiseworthy memory, by our God-blessed and Christian predecessors. It was set forth before all the estates of the empire, spreading and resounding publicly through all Christendom in the wide world.

[3] Many churches and schools have subsequently committed themselves to this Confession as the Symbol of their faith at this time, in the most highly contested articles against the papacy and all sorts of factions; and as a result, in a Christian and unanimous understanding, and without any controversy and doubt, they have drawn from and appealed to it. They have held tightly and constantly to the doctrine that they have comprehended in it, which is well-supported in divine Scripture and also briefly composed in the approved ancient Symbols. They have recognized this doctrine as the ancient consensus believed by the universal right-teaching church of Christ, fought for and repeated against many heresies and errors.

[4] But soon after the Christian departure of that highly enlightened and God-blessed man, Dr. Martin Luther, there occurred in our beloved fatherland, the German nation, the most dangerous events and difficult unrest. Amid such worrisome conditions and the disruption of well-ordered government, the enemy of the human race strove to scatter his seeds of false doctrine and disunity by stimulating harmful and irritating division in churches and schools--thereby corrupting the pure doctrine of God's Word, disrupting the bond of Christian love and unanimity, and markedly obstructing and impeding the progress of the holy Gospel. The adversaries of divine truth took this opportunity to proclaim us and our churches and schools evil, to disguise their errors, and to turn away poor and erring consciences from the knowledge of pure evangelical doctrine, and to keep them that much more docile under the papal yoke and coercion, as well as other errors against the Word of God. All of this is known to all, manifest and unconcealed.

[5] Now, there is nothing that we would rather see, wish, and pray of the Almighty than that our churches and schools might be maintained in the doctrine of God's Word and loving Christian unity, and that it might be engaged and propagated according to the guidance of God's Word, as during the lifetime of Doctor Luther. But it is the same situation as when the holy Apostles were still living, yet wrong doctrine was inserted through false teachers into the churches in which they themselves had planted the pure, clear Word of God. This has also been imposed on our churches for the sake of our impenitence and sin, and that of the ungrateful world.

[6] Therefore, having remembered and not neglected the office that we bear as commanded by God, we apply our diligence in it so that in our lands and territories--in which false, seductive doctrines are introduced and are steered ever longer, are ever more creeping in--our subjects might remain on the right path of the once recognized and known divine truth, and not be led away from it. Our praiseworthy predecessors--and in part we also--for that reason conformed ourselves to the end with each other at Frankfurt-on-the-Main in the year 1558, on the occasion that was imminent at that time of the required day of the Electors' resolution, that we wanted to come together in a common assembly and negotiate in a necessary and friendly way regarding several matters in which our adversaries had put the worst construction on us and our churches and schools.

[7] Therefore, afterwards, our blessed predecessors--and in part we ourselves--formed an alliance at Naumburg in Thuringia to take in hand the above-mentioned Augsburg Confession, which was commended to Emperor Charles V in the great imperial assembly at Augsburg in the year 1530; and we unanimously subscribed again to this Christian confession as grounded in the testimony of the immutable divine Word, in order to warn and keep safe--as much as we could--our future posterity also from doctrine that is impure, false, and contrary to the Word of God. In such fashion and in many other ways, we testified and demonstrated to the Roman Imperial Majesty, our all-gracious lord, that our disposition and intention were not at all to accept, to defend, or to spread any different or new doctrine; but rather, regarding the truth once recognized and confessed at Augsburg in the year 1530 by means of divine bestowal, constantly to persist and to remain in confidence and hope, not only that the adversaries of pure evangelical doctrine should desist from their fictional blasphemies and slanders against us, but also that other good-hearted people would be reminded and spurred on through this our repeated confession to investigate with that much more seriousness the truth of the alone-saving divine Word, to assent to it, and to remain and persist as Christians for the salvation and eternal welfare of their souls, without any further disputations and arguments.

[8] We have, however, disregarded all of this; not without having to experience the burden that this, our explanation and repetition of our previous Christian confession, was little respected by the adversaries; nor through this were we or our churches delivered from the widespread, burdensome gossip. But such well-meaning action was understood and interpreted--by those associated with opinions that are erroneous and contrary to ours and those of our Christian religion--as if we should be so uncertain of the confession of our faith and religion, and have changed it so much and so often, that neither we nor our theologians might know which is the correct and once-presented Augsburg Confession. Through this unfounded pretention, many pious hearts were scared off and kept away from our churches and schools, doctrine, faith, and confession. In addition comes this mischief also: that under the name of the much-mentioned Augsburg Confession, the contrary doctrine of the holy Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, and other erring opinions, were inserted every now and then into churches and schools.

[9] When several God-fearing, peace-loving and learned theologians then noticed and well observed that it was better not to encounter these false defamations and daily enter further into disputes over religion, they explained and decided the existing divisions about all disputed articles thoroughly and properly, from God's Word, and exposed and rejected false doctrine. They merely confessed the divine truth, through which the mouths of the adversaries were stopped with constant reasons; and they presented simple, pious hearts with a more correct explanation and guidance on how to send themselves into such conflict, and how they might be warned about false doctrine in the future through God's grace.

[10] Thus the above-mentioned theologians initially explained themselves to each other clearly and correctly, through explicit writings from God's Word, in which form the above-mentioned irritating divisions, without displacement of the divine truth, could be resolved and lifted up; and through which the sham and cause sought by all the adversaries to blaspheme could be intercepted and removed. Finally they also took in hand the disputed articles; viewed, considered, and explained them in the fear of God; and in order to decide the existing divisions in a Christian way, they composed them in one writing.

[11] And as a report came to us of such a Christian work, we on our part have not only had it in good favor, but also regarded ourselves responsible--because of the office that we bear as commanded by God--to promote it with Christian seriousness and zeal.

[12] And after that, we--the Elector of Saxony, etc., with counsel and assistance from several Electors and Princes affiliated with our religion--called together a small number of distinguished, unsuspicious, well-experienced and learned theologians to Torgau for the promotion of unity among Christian teachers. They conversed with each other in a Christian way regarding the disputed articles and the just-indicated settlement that had been put in writing for this reason. And with invocation of God the Almighty, to His praise and honor, finally--with good deliberation and careful diligence, through the special grace of the Holy Spirit--they assembled everything relevant and necessary in good order, and brought it into a book. This was sent afterwards to many of the Electors, Princes and Estates affiliated with the Augsburg Confession, seeking that their Lordships and their distinguished theologians would read through it with special seriousness and Christian zeal, consider it back and forth, let their explanations and censures be composed in writing, and give us their candidly considered advice to recognize.

[13] Now, afterwards these repeated indications and considerations were introduced, and in them all kinds of necessary and useful Christian reminders happened. In this form, the Christian doctrine contained in the transmitted explanation could be kept safe with God's Word against all sorts of dangerous misunderstanding, so that impure doctrine might not hide under it in the future, but rather a pure explanation of the truth might be delivered also to our posterity. Out of this, ultimately, the above-mentioned Book of Christian Concord that follows hereafter was produced.

[14] Therefore several of us--because it could not yet be administered at the time among all of us, as well as among several other additional Estates, for peculiar hindering reasons--let this book be read, article by article, to theologians, church and school ministers in each and every one of our far-off lands and territories, and we reminded and exhorted them to engage in diligent and serious contemplation of the doctrine contained in it.

[15] And having found that the explanation of the existing divisions was according to and consistent with the demands of the Word of God, as well as the Augsburg Confession, they have--to the extent that it has been submitted and heard--voluntarily accepted this Book of Concord as the right Christian understanding of the Augsburg Confession with well-considered courage, approvingly subscribed to it, and publicly testified to it with heart, mouth and hand. Consequently, this Christian settlement is called and is the unanimous and consistent Christian confession of not only a few of our theologians, but generally of each and every one of our church and school ministers in our lands and territories.

[16] Now in the meantime, then, the previous reports of our upright and well-regarded resolutions at Frankfurt-on-the-Main and Naumburg, and that of our praiseworthy predecessors, not only did not achieve the desired outcome of Christian unity, but also indicated that some wanted confirmation of their erroneous doctrine. Yet it did not come into our disposition and heart that through it we wanted to introduce, palliate, or confirm any new, false or erroneous doctrine, or to deviate in the slightest from the Augsburg Confession presented in the year 1530. And we--as many of us as were at the above-mentioned action at Naumburg--reserved to ourselves at that time and offered, if our confession would be contested by someone in the future or at whatever time necessity would require, that for this reason we wanted to do further explanation. Thus we have united and agreed in a Christian way to a final explanation of our disposition, the now-mentioned Book of Concord and repetition of our Christian faith and confession. And so that no one may let themselves become disturbed through the unfounded defamation of our adversaries--as if we should not know ourselves which was the right Augsburg Confession--instead the now-living, as well as our dear posterity, might be properly and thoroughly informed, and finally have certainty regarding which is the Christian confession that previously we and the churches and schools of our lands at all times confessed and invoked. We have wanted to confess--in accordance with the pure, infallible and immutable Word of God--only the Augsburg Confession that was presented to Emperor Charles V in the year 1530 at the great imperial assembly at Augsburg, as our blessed predecessors commended themselves to the same Emperor Charles V at the just-mentioned Imperial Diet, and to no other. Archives were available with the actual original as presented to the Emperor, which remained in the safe-keeping of the Holy Empire and was recently compared by well-attested people with great diligence to both the Latin and German exemplars, which were found to have the same meaning everywhere. For this reason also, we let the confession presented at that time be included with the following explanation and Book of Concord, so that many might see that we intended to tolerate no other doctrine in our lands, churches and schools than that once confessed at Augsburg in the year 1530 through the previously mentioned Electors, Princes and Estates. In this we also, by means of the grace of God, intend to persist until our blessed end and to appear before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ with cheerful, fearless hearts and consciences. And accordingly we hope that it will lead our adversaries to spare us, as well as our churches and their ministers, from the burdensome stipulations that they gave forth, as if we are uncertain of our faith and for that reason should make a new confession almost every year or month.

[17] As for the other edition of the Augsburg Confession, of which a report also happened in the Naumburg action--because we decided, and it is obvious and unconcealed to many, that several understood the error regarding the Holy Supper and other impure doctrine to be stashed and concealed under the words of that other edition in order to exert pressure on simple people to surmise it in public writings, despite the fact that such erroneous doctrine was rejected in the Confession presented at Augsburg with explicit words, and it says much to prove otherwise. Thus we hereby have also wanted to testify and demonstrate publicly that at that time and also still, our will and intention are that false and impure doctrine might in no way be concealed under it or be palliated, finessed, or confirmed through it as if it were in accordance with the evangelical doctrine. To that extent, then, we never understood or admitted the other edition to be contrary to the Augsburg Confession as it was first presented, and we have not wanted to reject or condemn other, more useful writings of Master Philipp Melanchthon--as well as Brenius [John Brenz], Urbanus Rhegius, Pomeranus [John Bugenhagen], etc.--insofar as they agree with the incorporated norm of the Concordia.

[18] Likewise, although several theologians, as well as Luther himself, were pointed by the adversaries (yet against their wills) from the Holy Supper in the disputation over the personal union of both natures in Christ; our theologians thus explain Christ in the contents of the Book of Concord, purely in accordance with the norm contained in it, that our constant intention and that of the book in the treatment of the Lord's Supper is only on this ground and foundation, and no other: namely, to point to the Words of Institution of the testament of Christ, Who is almighty and truthful, and able to provide what He decrees and has promised in His Word. And so they remain unchallenged on this ground and do not dispute from other reasons, but rather persist with simple faith in the simple words of Christ, which is the most secure and edifying of the common doctrines, and which this disputation cannot embrace. But the adversaries dispute such simple faith and understanding of the words of the testament of Christ, and chastise it as unbelief, and accuse us, as if our simple understanding and faith contradict the articles of our Christian Creed, and are false and incorrect according to it--especially regarding the incarnation of the Son of God, His ascension into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of the almighty power and majesty of God. It should be indicated and proven, through truthful explanation of the articles of our Christian Creed, that those articles are not contrary to our above-mentioned simple understanding of the Word of Christ.

[19] The Phrases and Modos Loquendi--that is, the ways of speaking--that are used in the Book of Concord concerning the majesty of the human nature in the person of Christ, set at and raised to the right hand of God, are such as to nullify all misunderstanding and nuisance. For this reason, the word abstractum [abstract] is not used in any sense by the school and church teachers. Our theologians explain themselves, purely with clear words, that the mentioned divine majesty is not attributed to the human nature of Christ outside of the personal union, or that it [the human nature] has the same [divine majesty] in itself even in the personal union (essentialiter [essentially], formaliter [formally], habitualiter [habitually], subiective [subjectively], as the schoolteachers say) to such an extent and as if it was taught that the divine and human natures, together with their attributes, blended with each other; and the human nature thus became exequirt, disowned by the divine nature, according to its essence and attributes, rather than, as the ancient church-teachers said, Ratione & dispensatione hypostatica unionis--that is, from the essence of the personal union--which is an unfathomable mystery.

[20] As for the condemnation, exposure and rejection of false, impure doctrine, especially in the article of the Lord's Supper: in this explanation and thorough laying down of the disputed articles, it must be explicitly and variously established, so that many can guard themselves against the same wasteland; and it can in no way be bypassed for many other reasons. In the same way, our will and intention did not mean hereby the people erring from simple-mindedness and not blaspheming the truth of the divine Word, much less the entire church within or outside the Holy Empire of the German Nation; rather, only that we intended in no way to tolerate the false and seductive doctrines, and the same stubborn teachers and blasphemers, in our lands, churches and schools. We meant them to be properly rejected, because they contradict the explicit Word of God and cannot endure beside it, so that pious hearts might be warned against them. For this reason, we have no doubt at all that there are many pious, innocent people to be found, even in the church, who previously did not agree with us in all things, who walk in the simple-mindedness of their hearts, do not rightly understand the matter, and take no pleasure in the blasphemy against the Holy Supper as it is kept in our churches according to the institution of Christ and, in virtue of the words of His testament, as it is consistently taught about. And hopefully, when they are rightly instructed in the doctrine, they will proceed and turn to the infallible truth of God's Word with us and our churches and schools, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. How then it will behoove the theologians and church ministers, that they properly remember from God's Word the danger to the souls of each one who errs out of simple-mindedness and ignorance, and warn against it, so as not to let one blind person be misguided through another. For this reason, then, we also hereby testify, before the face of God the Almighty and all Christendom, that our disposition and intention is not at all to give cause through this Christian settlement for any burden and pursuit of poor, embattled Christians. For as we carry with them a special mercy out of Christian love, we thus have a disgust and sincere dissatisfaction toward the rage of the persecutors, not at all wanting to make ourselves participants also of this blood, which without a doubt with be demanded from the hands of the persecutors on the great day of the Lord before the serious and stern judgment seat of God, for which they will also have to give a difficult account.

[21] And while our disposition and intention, as reported above, were always directed in this way--that in our lands, territories, schools and churches, no other doctrine would be led and driven than alone the one grounded in holy, divine Scripture and in the Augsburg Confession and Apology, taken in their right understanding, and by it nothing be allowed that might enter to the contrary--therein then this current settlement is also placed, intended and directed in its work. Thus we herewith again want to have testified publicly, before God and all people, that with the often-mentioned current explanation of the disputed articles, we made no new or other confession than the one that was once presented to Emperor Charles V, of Christian memory, at Augsburg in the year 1530. Rather, our churches and schools were commanded first to Holy Scripture and the Symbols, then also to the first-reported Augsburg Confession. And hereafter we want to have seriously exhorted especially the youth to be educated for church service and the holy ministry, to be instructed in this with devotion and diligence, so that also among our posterity the pure doctrine and confession of faith might be obtained and propagated through the help and assistance of the Holy Spirit, until the glorious future of our only Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ.

[22] Since we are certain of our Christian confession and faith from divine, prophetic and apostolic Scripture and adequately reassured through the grace of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and Christian consciences, the highest and uttermost necessity required--among so many errors, aggravated scandals, disputes, and lengthy divisions that had entered--that a Christian explanation and settlement of all existing disputations occur, which is well-founded on God's Word and according to which the pure doctrine is recognized and distinguished from the falsified. And the restless, contentious people, who wanted to be bound to no certain form of the pure doctrine, do not all stand free and open to awaken as they please their annoying disputations, to introduce and to advocate lingering errors; from which nothing else can follow than that finally the right doctrine is obscured and lost, and nothing other than uncertain opinions and doubtful, disputable delusions and views will be brought upon the following world. And thus we recognize from divine instruction that, because of the office that we bear, because of our own temporal and eternal welfare and that of our belonging subjects, we are responsible to do all of that and to set forth whatever might be ready for service and useful to the increase and spread of God's praise and glory, and to the propagation of his alone-saving Word, to the tranquility and peace of Christian schools and churches, and to the necessary comfort and instruction of poor, lost consciences. Besides, it is unconcealed to us that many good-hearted Christian persons of high and low standing anxiously sigh and carry a special desire for this salutary work of Christian concord. Therefore, even at the beginning of this our Christian settlement, our disposition and intention never was--and still is not--to keep this salutary and highly necessary work of concord in the dark, as a secret concealed from everyone, or to set the light of the divine truth under the bushel and table. Thus we have not suspended nor stopped the Edition and publication of it any longer, and do not doubt at all that all pious hearts that bear such righteous love toward divine truth and Christian, God-pleasing unity, will be pleased beside us in a Christian way with this salutary, highly necessary and Christian work, and in this way, will let there be no lack of promotion of the glory of God and of the common eternal and temporal welfare.

[23] For in conclusion, we again finally repeat that through this work of concord we are determined and intend to make nothing new, nor to deviate at all--either in Rebus [in substance] or Phrasibus [phrases]--from the divine truth once recognized and confessed by our God-blessed predecessors and by us, as it is grounded in the prophetic and apostolic Scripture, and farther comprehended in the three Symbols, as well as the Augsburg Confession presented in the year 1530 to Emperor Charles V, of mildest memory, the Apology that followed it, and in the Smalcald Articles and the Large and Small Catechisms of that highly enlightened man, Dr. Luther. Rather, we are determined and intend much more, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, unanimously to persist and to remain in it, and also to regulate all disputes of religion and their explanations in accordance with it; and along with our fellow-members of the Electors and Estates in the Holy Roman Empire, as well as other Christian potentates--in accordance with the content of the Holy Empire's orders, and especially the unions that we have with them--to live in good peace and unity, and to produce for everyone, according to his proper standing, all love, service and friendship.

[24] Thus we also want to agree further in a friendly way in which form in our lands--through diligent visitation of the churches and schools, stirring of the printers, and other salutary means, in accordance with our own and each place's circumstances--seriously to maintain this work of concord. And where current or new disputes will again arise regarding our Christian religion, they may be resolved and settled in a timely way, without becoming dangerously widespread, to protect from various scandals.

[25] To this document we have subscribed with unanimous hearts, and we let our seals imprint it.

Lewis, Palatine of the Rhine, Elector.

Augustus, Duke of Saxony, Elector.

John George, Margrave of Brandenburg, Elector.

Joakim Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg, Administrator of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg.

John, Bishop of Meissen.

Everard, Bishop of Lubeck, Adm'r. of the Episcopacy of Verdün.

Philip Lewis, Palatine of the Rhine.

The Tutors of Frederick William, and John, Dukes of Saxony.

The Tutors of John Casimir and John Ernest, Dukes of Saxony.

George Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg.

Julius, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg.

Otho, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg.

Henry the younger, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg.

William the younger, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg.

Wolfgang, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg.

Ulrick, Duke of Mecklenburg.

The Guardians of John and Sigismund Augustus, Dukes of Mecklenburg.

Lewis, Duke of Würtemberg.

The Guardians of Ernest and Jacob, Margraves of Baden.

George Ernest, Count and Lord of Henneburg.

Frederick. Count of Würtemberg and Mümpelgart.

John Gunter, Count of Schwarzenburg.

William, Count of Schwartzenburg.

Albert, Count of Schwarzenburg.

Emic, Count of Leiningen.

Philip, Count of Hanau.

Gødfrey, Count of Oettingen.

George, Count and Lord in Castel.

Henry, Count and Lord in Castel.

Otto, Count of Hoien and Bruchausen

John, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst.

John Hoier, Count of Mansfeld.

Bruno, Count of Mansfeld.

Hoier Christopher, Count of Mansfeld.

Peter Ernest (junior,) Count of Mansfeld.

Christopher, Count of Mansfeld.

Albert George, Count of Stolburg.

Wolfgang Ernest, Count of Stolburg.

Lewis, Count of Glichen.

Charles, Count of Glichen.

Ernest, Count of Reinstein.

Boto, Count of Reinstein.

Lewis, Count of Leonstein.

Henry, Baron of Limburg.

George, Baron of Schönburg.

Wolfgang of Schönburg.

Anare Frederick, Baron of Wildenfels.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Lubeck.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Luneburg.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Hamburg.

The Aldermen of Brunswick.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Landau.

The Mayor and Aldermen of the Province of the Monastery in the Valley of Gregory.

The Aldermen of Goslar.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Ulm.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Eslingen.

The Aldermen of Reutlingen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Nördlingen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Rotenburg, near Tuber.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Seveor.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Heilbron.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Memmingen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Lindau.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Schweinfurt.

The Aldermen of Donawerd.

The Chamberlain and Aldermen of Ratisbon.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Wimpfen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Giongen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Bopfingen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Alen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Kaufbeuen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Isna.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Campten.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Göttingen.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Leutkirch.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Hildesheim.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Hamel.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Hanover.

The Aldermen of Mulhausen.

The Aldermen of Erfurt.

The Aldermen of Eimbeck.

The Aldermen of Northeim.

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