“The aim of the author is to present a clear, concise, and yet as comprehensive a view as possible, of the way of salvation as taught in the Scriptures, and held by the Lutheran Church.
Timothy East’s practical book is intended to, “disturb the false peace of the criminally indifferent… impart consolation to the conscientiously fearful, (and to) excite to higher degrees of gratitude the comparatively few, who know that they are safe for eternity.
“Note how often faith is mentioned in the epistles. Two of Paul’s epistles – Romans and Galatians – were expressly written to prove that men are justified by faith… The letter to the Hebrews devotes a whole chapter – the 11th – to a panegyric on the heroes of faith… faith is the outstanding doctrine of the New Testament, and therefore should take precedence of a doctrine like election, which is treated more incidentally.
“Christ our Savior and all his apostles preached justification by faith, even as did the prophets of the Old Testament. Justification is the central doctrine of all the Scriptures, the heart and soul of the entire Christian religion.
“The mistake of those who direct all their efforts toward making men better and improving human society by teaching and enforcing the law… is of serious consequence to the souls of men… It can neither save their souls nor make them good… The only help for us is in Christ, without whom we can do nothing; and that help consists first of all in the forgiveness of our sins, which separate us from God and all that is good, and deprive us of all true peace and joy.
“The doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, was the turning point of the Reformation; it was the experience of its necessity and efficacy in the heart of Martin Luther that constituted his best qualification for the work of the Reformation; and as it distinguished the Lutheran Church from the Church of Rome, so it has come to be regarded as the distinguishing mark of separation between Protestantism and Romanism.
“In these godless and worldly times we must earnestly and diligently preach conversion. We must insist on its necessity. We must reason, exhort, convince, beseech, and plead; ‘Turn ye, turn ye; why will ye die?
“Human reason and inclination are always in their natural state averse to the doctrine of Justification by Faith. Hence it is no wonder that earth and hell combine in persistent efforts to banish it from the Church and from the world.
A Summary of the Christian Faith brings Hutter’s classic Compendium into a readable and easily accessible form. Henry Eyster Jacobs writes: “The book is not a mere compilation, but the matured expression of the convictions of the author, from the time when, as a child he was introduced to many of the problems treated, to the present.
“I want you to understand that I have never preached opinions from this pulpit; it is not a question of opinion; I have absolutely no right to stand here and give you my opinion, for it is not worth any more than yours; we do not come to church to get opinions; I claim that I can back up every sermon I have preached, with the Word of God, and it is not my opinion nor yours, it is the eternal Word of God, and you will find it so on the Judgment day.
Justified and saved by grace alone, for Christ’s sake, through faith — that is the kernel of the whole Gospel. This is the fundamental article of the Christian faith and upholds the entire system of Christian doctrine as well as the church itself.
“On November 16, 1881, 12 pastors and teachers, 4 representatives of congregations, and 9 guests met at Blue Island, Illinois to discuss the new doctrine of predestination the Missouri Synod had begun to teach at that time.
“This article [justification by faith] is, as it were, the fortress and chief bulwark of the whole Christian doctrine and religion. If this article remains inviolate, the perversions of the other articles will cease of themselves.
Towards the end of his life, C. F. W. Walther brought forth a teaching of election which many Missouri and other American Lutherans could not reconcile with the Scriptures or the Lutheran Confessions.
“…Every minister of the Gospel should so preach that he need never be ashamed of the words he has spoken. Do you suppose that if I were ashamed of my sermons I would have them put in cold print to speak long after I am dead?