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 preach 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 hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings:
- 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
- The Bible is the norm for faith and life—the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
- We believe in a God that has created us and blesses us with all that we have in this life.
- God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to this earth to save us from our own self-destruction and lead us to a more abundant life.
- Jesus died for our sins, and through him, we receive incredible grace and forgiveness for daily living.
- Jesus rose from the dead on the first Easter Sunday, and because he lives, we too will live an eternity with him in heaven.
- God does not leave us alone but sends us the Holy Spirit.
- The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and through the Bible, God reveals his will and purpose for our lives.
- Jesus left us two sacraments that remind us of his love: Baptism and Holy Communion. In Baptism, God claims us as one of his children, washes away our sins, and sends to us the Holy Spirit. In Communion, God forgives us our sins and strengthens us for service in the world.
- This church confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 church 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 church accepts the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church.
- This church 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 church 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 church confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures 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.
*as published in the Constitution of Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church