A number of political and theological controversies followed after the death of Martin Luther (in 1546). These controversies included the topics of Original Sin, Righteousness, Law and Gospel, Good Works, the Lord’s Supper, Election, and more.
In an attempt to settle these controversies and bring about a theological unity among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession, a meeting was held in Torgau from April until June of 1576. Momentum from this meeting inspired the writing of a confession, The Formula of Concord, a year later.
The two leading theologians were Jakob Andrea and Martin Chemnitz.
The Epitome of the Formula of Concord was published first in 1577. It provides profound insight into the theology of the Scriptures, and also provides an outline for approaching theological controversies.
The Epitome is published in the Book of Concord (1580), and is considered a right articulation of doctrine and a correct exposition of the Holy Scriptures.
For us, the Epitome is a beautiful and surprisingly comforting unfolding of Biblical teaching. Each theological dispute is carefully and clearly outlined, and the appropriate Scriptures are brought together to witness to the truth. Only after the case has been made from the Scriptures, the testimony of the Augsburg Confession, Martin Luther, and other fathers of the church are brought in to support the teaching.
Errors are rejected with clarity. The truth is brought forth to comfort sinners with the hope of the Gospel. All the time the Formulators have their eyes and their pens pointing at Christ, preaching and teaching His person and work for us.