Luther’s Little Instruction Book (Small Catechism) has been translated into many of the languages of the world. Williston Walker in his History of the Christian Church describes it as “one of the noblest monuments of the Reformation”. Of it, Luther writes,
The Catechism is the Bible of the laymen. In it the entire body of Christian doctrine, which every Christian must know in order to be saved, is contained…
“The Apology is more than a mere polemical treatise. It is a thorough discussion, in all its relations, of the cardinal doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, without Works; for whatever be the article treated, the discussion always reverts to this theme. At first reading, it may indeed seem diffuse, but farther study will show that it contains little, if anything, unnecessary, as it is its aim to meet the questions proposed at every turn, and to examine them from varied standpoints.
The Augsburg Confession is the first part of the Book of Concord, the Lutheran Confessions. The Saxon Visitation Articles were used by pastors to instruct their congregants and appeared in Saxon editions of the Book of Concord until the forced union of Lutheran and Reformed in the Nineteenth Century.
In republishing this book, we seek to introduce this editor and content to a new generation of those seeking authentic spirituality.
“The Formula of Concord is the result of controversies within the Lutheran Church after the breach with the Papacy had become complete… It required more than a single generation for the Evangelical faith in all its power to penetrate the minds and lives of even its staunchest adherents; and when we recall the deplorable condition into which the Church had fallen, and the deep ignorance not only of the people, but also of the ministry, described in the introductions to the Catechisms, we cannot wonder at the subsequent internal struggles, when the controversy with the Papists absorbed less attention…
This volume is an essential reference for understanding the Protestant Reformation and the shaping of the Lutheran Confessions.
Friedrich Bente (1858-1930) was educated at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and served pastorates in Humberstone and Jordan, Ontario, Canada. Bente was president of the Canadian District of the Missouri Synod. He edited Lehre und Wehre and co-edited the “Triglotta” translation of the Lutheran Confessions. He is famous for his masterful volume, Historical Introductions to the Book of Concord.
“The following story has been taking form in my mind for several years, and at last I have been able to write it out… At this distance from the late Civil War, it is time that passion and prejudice sank below the horizon.
“The title of the story will naturally lead the reader to expect that deep shadows rest upon many of its pages. I know it is scarcely the fashion of the present time to portray men and women who feel very deeply about anything, but there certainly was deep feeling at the time of which I write, as, in truth, there is today.
“The preparation of this edition of Luther’s Commentary on Galatians was first suggested to me by Mr. P. J. Zondervan, of the firm of publishers, in March, 1937… ‘Luther is still the greatest name in Protestantism. We want you to help us publish some leading work of Luther’s for the general American market. Will you do it?’
“‘I will, on one condition.’
“‘And what is that?’
“‘The condition is that I will be permitted to make Luther talk American, “streamline” him, so to speak—because you will never get people, whether in or outside the Lutheran Church, actually to read Luther unless we make him talk as he would talk today to Americans.
“The attentive reader… will see that the matters here treated are not antiquated or obsolescent, but enter most deeply into the issues of the hour.” — Henry Eyster Jacobs
On This Page From the Translator: Book Contents From a Pastor Order a Printed Copy Download the eBook Publication Information LutheranLibrary.org paperback edition available on Amazon
From the Translator: “The popular edition, here offered, fulfills the hope of the editor from the very beginning, to have the Confessions published at such price that they may he scattered broadcast throughout all English-speaking lands… Such edition will serve an important office in deepening and strengthening the faith of our people in drawing them together in the bonds of a common fellowship, and in enabling them to appreciate all the more highly their heritage…
“The invisible hand moved mysteriously among the members of First Community Church and struck Reverend Stephen Winthrop. The blow was meant solely for him, but it struck deeply into the inner circle of the church membership, though he would have preferred to suffer alone… The evidence appeared surreptitiously: a picture lying face upward in the path of Amelia Decker.”
Dan E. L. Patch began his public service as a patrolman in the Police Department of the City of Highland Park.
“Concerning the timeliness of this book little need be said. It is an exposition of the Law — God’s Law. The message of the Law is needed in our congregations today as much as ever. Even where church attendance is gratifying, spiritual life is often on a rather low spiritual and moral plane.
“The range of topics treated in these sermons is virtually extensive with the spiritual needs and duties of our people.
Hans Laub fell back, but he kept his balance. The Norwegian continued his advance, his fist loaded and aimed at its retreating target.
“Stop, swine!” Hans Laub bellowed. “Don’t come near me!”
But the Norwegian came, a step behind Laub’s backward movement.
When the Nazi was backed against a concrete mixer, flanked on one side by gravel and on the other by cement sacks, he cried, “Stop, I say! Bruno, where are you?
“You don’t mind my being absolutely frank, do you?” continued Baxter after a somewhat awkward silence. “It’s years since I spoke to anyone about such things, and I really want to know.”
“To know what?” and the young minister looked at him wonderingly.
“Whether what you preach has any real meaning to you.”
“Why, hasn’t it to you?”
“Not a bit,” replied Baxter.
Joseph Hocking was a Cornish novelist and United Methodist Free Church minister.
“Young Doctor Jack Thrillby stepped out of the operating room and heard the newsboys in the street below shouting “MILLIONAIRE’S DAUGHTER KIDNAPPED.”
“In this streamlined story, Chief Patch emphasizes the fact that a conviction of sin, with the salvation which follows, is the only solution of the country’s crime problems, since there is no permanent cure for crime apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel puts the cure where it belongs — in the heart.
“After the Israelites had reached the wilderness of Sinai, Moses informed them that it was the purpose of God to come down upon mount Sinai in the sight of all, and make a covenant with his people. On the third day the people met with God, and heard his voice which proceeded from the fire, the cloud and the thick darkness…
“The Lord wrote the words which he had pronounced, on two tables of stone, and delivered them to Moses.
“That man is an opium-eater,” he said in a low tone, and his explanation of the effects of the drug was a diagnosis of Mr. Jocelyn’s symptoms and appearance. The firm’s sympathy for a man seemingly in poor health was transformed into disgust and antipathy, since there is less popular toleration of this weakness than of drinking habits. The very obscurity in which the vice is involved makes it seem all the more unnatural and repulsive, and it must be admitted that the fullest knowledge tends only to increase this horror and repugnance, even though pity is awakened for the wretched victim.
“These sermons were preached in the Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia, to a congregation consisting in part of University and college students. In preaching it was impossible to disassociate from my mind the struggles through which many of these young people were passing and the battles which I was asked to help them fight during the week.
“The endeavor throughout is to set forth Christ Jesus as the Savior of the world.
“I saw now what I had never realized before. The Church of Rome was like no other Church. It did not demand liberty simply that it might extend its distinctive religious dogmas, and thus lead others to adopt those dogmas; it demanded liberty that it might destroy liberty. It was not simply a religious body; it was primarily a huge political machine, which worked for supremacy. It was struggling to obtain power whereby it might make any other form of religion impossible.
“What we propose for you, dear reader, is a plain discussion on the subject of Baptism. We are led to this because of the persistent effort which is being made to undermine your faith and lead you to believe that you were baptized at the wrong time, and in the wrong way, and with a wrong notion as to the benefits which your baptism is designed to bring to you.
“Lift me up,” he said.
Endellion lifted him up, and the dying man seized the pen.
“I give everything I have here in Australia, and all I possess in Dulverton, Devon, England, or elsewhere, to my good friend Ralph Endellion. I’m dying, but my mind is sound.
“Robert Granville Dulverton.”
Joseph Hocking was a Cornish novelist and United Methodist Free Church minister. Like the American Presbyterian minister Edward Roe, Hocking’s novels combine rich characters with gripping stories.
“He had expected to be immediately forwarded to some dirty German prison, where he would suffer the same fate as many of his English comrades. Instead of which, however, he might almost have been a guest of honor. For this reason he could not help coming to the conclusion that this special treatment was for some purpose.
“On the second day after the interview mentioned in the last chapter, he was closely questioned by some German officers.