Jesus was very clear that being a disciple is about
making disciples. We Lutherans call ourselves "evangelical" because we try to
look beyond ourselves to bring the gospel to community life with people of other
faiths and those of no faith. Our mission field is wherever there are people who
do not know Jesus as Savior.
What We Believe
Lutherans believe in the Trinity; God the Father,
God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Lutherans confess God as Father and creator of the
Lutherans confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is the power of God for the salvation of all who
believe. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, human beings can be
reconciled to God.
Lutherans believe that Holy Spirit calls, gathers,
enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps the whole Christian church on earth.
Lutherans believe that the Holy Scriptures of the
Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God's Spirit
speaking through their authors, they record and announce God's revelation
centering in Jesus Christ. The Bible is the inspired Word of God and the
authoritative source and norm of the church's proclamation, faith, and life.
Lutherans believe that all human beings are born in
sin and cannot live the life God intends for us on our own. We believe that we
are justified by grace through faith on account of Christ.
Lutherans understand that God comes to us through
the Means of Grace, the Word of God and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy
Communion. Through them, God helps us understand and receive the benefits of a
relationship with Him. God graciously speaks to us through the Law, what we need
to do; and the Gospel, what Jesus Christ has done for us.
What Does It Mean to be Lutheran?
Who is Jesus Christ?
What is the Church?
Why a Lutheran
Lutheranism the Only True Religion?
Do Lutherans Look upon the Bible?
What Do Lutherans Believe About Creation?
Where Do Lutherans Stand on the Question of Sin?
Sacraments Do Lutherans Accept?
Do Lutherans Believe in Life After Death?
What Must a Person Do to Become a Christian?
What Must a Person Do to Become a Lutheran?
Who is Jesus
Jesus is God's son, sent by God to become human like us. In his life and being
he broke through the prison of sinfulness and thus restored the relationship of
love and trust that God intended to exist between himself and his children.
Though he is eternal, with God at the beginning of time, he was born on earth of
a virgin, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was at once truly God and truly
The man, Jesus of Nazareth, lived and died in
Palestine during the governorship of the Roman administrator Pontius Pilate; we
believe him to be the Messiah chosen by God to show his love for the world. He
is God, yet with all the limitations of being human. His relationship to God,
however, was not one of sin but rather of perfect obedience to the Father's
will. For the sake of a sinful world, Jesus was condemned to death on the cross.
But death could not contain him. On the third day
after his execution, the day Christians observe as Easter, Jesus appeared among
his followers as the risen, living Lord. By this great victory God has declared
the Good News of reconciliation. The gap between all that separates us from our
Creator has been bridged. Thus, Christ lives today wherever there are people who
faithfully believe in him and wherever the Good News of reconciliation is
preached and the Sacraments administered.
What is the Church?
The Christian church is made up of those who have been baptized and thus
have received Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Sometimes it is
referred to as "the Body of Christ." Lutherans believe that they are a part of a
community of faith that began with the gift of the Holy Spirit, God's presence
with his people, on the day of Pentecost. The church, regardless of the external
form it takes, is the fellowship of those who have been restored to God by
Christ. Indeed, to be called into fellowship with Christ is also to be called
into community with other believers.
The church is essential to Christian life and
growth. Its members are all sinners in need of God's grace. It has no claim on
human perfection. The church exists solely for the hearing and doing of God's
Word. It can justify its existence only when it proclaims the living Word of
Christ, administers the Sacraments and gives itself to the world in deeds of
service and love. Most Lutherans recognize a wider fellowship of churches and
are eager to work alongside them in ecumenical ministries and projects.
Why a Lutheran
Martin Luther (b. November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, d. February 18,
1546 in Eisleben) is known as the Father of Protestantism. He had studied to
become a lawyer before becoming an Augustinian monk in 1505, and was ordained a
priest in 1507. While continuing his studies in pursuit of a Doctor of Theology
degree, he discovered significant differences between what he read in the Bible
and the theology and practices of the church. On October 31, 1517, he posted a
challenge on the church door at Wittenberg University to debate 95 theological
issues. Luther's hope was that the church would reform its practice and
preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.
What started as an academic debate escalated to a
religious war, fueled by fiery temperaments and violent language on both sides.
As a result, there was not a reformation of the church but a separation.
"Lutheran" was a name applied to Luther and his followers as an insult but
adopted as a badge of honor by them instead.
Lutherans still celebrate the Reformation on October
31 and still hold to the basic principles of theology and practice espoused by
Luther, such as Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura:
We are saved by the grace of God alone -- not by
anything we do;
Our salvation is through faith alone -- we only need to believe that our sins
are forgiven for Christ's sake, who died to redeem us;
The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life -- the only true standard by
which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
Another of Luther's principles was that Scriptures and worship need to be in the
language of the people.
Many Lutherans still consider themselves as a
reforming movement within the Church catholic, rather than a separatist
movement, and Lutherans have engaged in ecumenical dialogue with other church
bodies for decades. In fact, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has
entered into cooperative "full communion" agreements with several other
Luther's Small Catechism, which contains teachings
on the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Holy Baptism,
Confession and Absolution, Holy Communion and Morning and Evening Prayers, is
still used to introduce people to the Lutheran faith, as is the Augsburg
Confession. These and other Lutheran confessional documents included in the Book
of Concord may be ordered from the ELCA Publishing House at 800/328-4648 or
Is Lutheranism the Only True Religion?
"Do Lutherans believe theirs is the only true religion?" This question was
once put to the late Dr. Elson Ruff, editor of The Lutheran. His answer was,
"Yes, but Lutherans don't believe they are the only ones who have it. There are
true Christian believers in a vast majority of the churches, perhaps in all."
The ELCA Confession of Faith says "This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord
and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who
How Do Lutherans Look upon the Bible?
To borrow a phrase from Luther, the Bible is "the manger in which the Word
of God is laid." While Lutherans recognize differences in the way the Bible
should be studied and interpreted, it is accepted as the primary and
authoritative witness to the church's faith. Written and transcribed by many
authors over a period of many centuries, the Bible bears remarkable testimony to
the mighty acts of God in the lives of people and nations. In the Old Testament
is found the vivid account of God's covenant relationship to Israel. In the New
Testament is found the story of God's new covenant with all of creation in
The New Testament is the first-hand proclamation of
those who lived through the events of Jesus' life, death, and Resurrection. As
such, it is the authority for Christian faith and practice. The Bible is thus
not a definitive record of history or science. Rather, it is the record of the
drama of God's saving care for creation throughout the course of history.
What Do Lutherans Believe
Lutherans believe that God is Creator of the universe. Its dimensions of
space and time are not something God made once and then left alone. God is,
rather, continually creating, calling into being each moment of each day.
Human beings have a unique position in the order of creation. As males and
females created in God's image, we are given the capacity and freedom to know
and respond to our creator. Freedom implies that we can choose to respond to God
either positively or negatively.
"Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice," an ELCA Statement on caring for
God's creation, is available from the ELCA Distribution Service (800/328-4648)
free (+ postage and handling). Order Code: 67-1185.
Where Do Lutherans
Stand on the Question of Sin?
Lutherans believe that all people live in a condition which is the result of
misused freedom. "Sin" describes not so much individual acts of wrongdoing as
fractured relationships between the people of creation and God. Our every
attempt to please God falls short of the mark. By the standard of the Law, of
which the Ten Commandments are a classic summary, God expresses his just and
loving expectations for creation, and our failure to live up to those
expectations reveals only our need for God's mercy and forgiveness.
What Sacraments Do Lutherans
Lutherans accept two Sacraments as God-given means for penetrating the lives
of people with his grace. Although they are not the only means of God's
self-revelation, Baptism and Holy Communion are visible acts of God's love.
In Baptism, and it can be seen more clearly in
infant Baptism, God freely offers his grace and lovingly establishes a new
community. It is in Baptism that people become members of Christ's Body on
earth, the Church. In Holy Communion -- often called the Lord's Supper or the
Eucharist -- those who come to the table receive in bread and wine the body and
blood of their Lord. This gift is itself the real presence of God's forgiveness
and mercy, nourishing believers in union with their Lord and with each other.
Do Lutherans Believe in
Life After Death?
While there is much we do not and cannot know about life beyond the grave,
Lutherans do believe that life with God persists even after death. Judgment is
both a present and future reality, and history moves steadily towards God's
This of course is a great mystery, and no
description of what life may be like in any dimension beyond history is
possible. Anxiety for the future is not a mark of faith. Christians should go
about their daily tasks, trusting in God's grace and living a life of service in
What Must a Person Do
to Become a Christian?
Jesus said, " Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and
everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:25-26)
What Must a Person Do to
Become a Lutheran?
To become a Lutheran, only Baptism and instruction in the Christian faith is
required. If you are already baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit, it will be necessary only to attend a membership class in a Lutheran
congregation and thus signify your desire to become a part of its community.
Active members of other Lutheran congregations usually need only to transfer