Creeds and Confessions
Under the Scriptures sit the symbols of the church: the Creeds and Confessions. In these symbols the church rightly confesses the teaching of the Scriptures. The Creeds and Confessions are not a source of teaching, rather they faithfully confess the Scriptures and reject those errors that are contradicted by the Scriptures. The Confessions of the church are contained in the Book of Concord (published 1580). The Lutheran Church subscribes unconditionally to the 1580 Book of Concord as “a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God.” The Book of Concord consists of ten documents, or confessions of the Christian faith.
- The Apostles Creed (3rd Century)
- The Nicene Creed (325 AD)
- The Athanasian Creed
- The Augsburg Confession (Philip Melanchthon, 1530)
- The Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession (Philip Melanchthon, 1531)
- The Small Catechism (Martin Luther, 1529)
- The Large Catechism (Martin Luther, 1529)
- The Smalcald Articles (Martin Luther, 1537)
- The Treatise on the Power and the Primacy of the Pope (Philip Melanchthon, 1537)
- The Formula of Concord (1577)
The entire Book of Concord can be viewed online here.
Included in the Lutheran Confessions is an important document called The Small Catechism. It was written by Dr. Martin Luther in 1527. Since then, Luther’s Small Catechism has provided a basic summary of the most important teachings in the Bible for Christian instruction of all ages. The Small Catechismis divided into six chief parts, and these make up the central teachings of the Lutheran Church.
The chief parts of The Small Catechism are:
- The Ten Commandments
- The Apostle’s Creed
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Confession and Absolution
- The Lord’s Supper
The following are the biblical texts (and creed) that are contained in the Small Catechism. For Luther’s explanation of these texts, click here.
The Ten Commandments
- You shall have no other gods.
- You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
- Remember the sabbath to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Plate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life + everlasting. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (St Matthew 28:19).
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying” (Titus 3:5-8).
“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
Confession and Absolution
“The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven'” (John 20:22-23).
The Lord’s Supper
The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and St. Paul write: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also he took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (This is a compilation of the accounts of the Lord’s Supper from St Matthew 26:26-28; St Mark 14:22-24; St Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)