Lutherans don't claim to have all the answers-Only God has those. God welcomes our questions! We don't claim to be the only Christians but we are a part of the one, holy catholic Church. Catholic meaning universal because the church is not a building but all Christians who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior from all over the world from different traditions and cultures.
What Do Lutherans Believe?
A faith founded on good news
Lutherans are Christians who accept the teachings of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546). Luther was a German theologian who realized that there were significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the practices of the Roman Catholic church at that time. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the door of Wittenberg University, titled “95 Theses” (to debate 95 theological issues). His 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 into a distinct separation between the Roman Catholic church of the time and those who accepted Luther’s suggested reforms. "Lutheran" became the name of the group that agreed with Luther’s convictions.
Today, nearly five centuries later, Lutherans still celebrate the Reformation on October 31 and still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings, such as Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. These comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:
We are saved by the grace of God alone -- not by anything we do;
Our salvation is through faith alone -- a confident trust in God, who in Christ promises us forgiveness, life and salvation; and
The Bible is the norm for faith and life -- the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.(We encounter Jesus because he is the Word)
Over the years, different Lutheran church bodies have been established and organized to meet the needs of Lutherans in communities and nations all over the world. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the largest Lutheran group in North America, founded in 1988 when three North American Lutheran church bodies united: The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America.
Lutherans are part of a reforming movement within the whole Christian church; as a part of practicing their faith, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its predecessors have engaged in ecumenical dialogue with other church bodies for decades. In fact, the ELCA has entered into cooperative "full communion" agreements (sharing common convictions about theology, mission and worship) with several other Protestant denominations, including the Moravian Church, The Episcopal Church,the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/The-Basics/What-Lutherans-Believe.aspx
CONFESSION OF FAITH
This congregation confesses the Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
a. Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.
b. The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
c. The canonical 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. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
This congregation accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this congregation.
This congregation accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
This congregation accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.
This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scripture and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God’s mission in the world.
NATURE OF THE CHURCH
All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head. All actions of this congregation are to be carried out under His rule and authority.
The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for worship and Christian service. Congregations find their fulfillment in the universal community of the Church, and the universal Church exists in and through congregations. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, therefore, derives its character and powers both from the sanction and representation of its congregations and from its inherent nature as an expression of the broader fellowship of the faithful. In length, it acknowledges itself to be in the historic continuity of the communion of saints; in breadth, it expresses the fellowship of believers and congregations in our day.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.
To participate in God’s mission, this congregation as a part of the Church shall:
a. Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness, and service.
b. Proclaim God’s saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ’s sake through faith alone, according to the apostolic witness in the Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the Gospel faithfully to future generations.
c. Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry with a global awareness consistent with the understanding of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
d. Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.
e. Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life together and for their calling in the world.
f. Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.
To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall:
a. Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered.
b. Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this ministry.
c. Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their calling in their daily lives and in their congregation.
d. Teach the Word of God.
e. Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out to all people.
f. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
g. Motivate its members to provide financial support for the congregation’s ministry and the ministry of other parts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
h. Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other congregations, the synod, and the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
i. Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with church-wide policy.