Who are Lutherans
LUTHERANS ARE SINNERS…but we are forgiven. Lutherans may identify themselves as students or senators, Texans or Tanzanians, children or senior citizens. But when we consider our religious beliefs, we will confess what you would soon find out: we fall short of God’s expectations. We will go on to tell that this same God forgives us. We believe that it is God acting for us and in us, not our own acts that brings forgiveness. Lutherans call this “Justification by Grace through Faith.” As a result, we are new people who are not haunted by guilt or bothered by worry. We trust God who comes to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
LUTHERANS ARE EVANGELICAL…and as forgiven people reach out to share the message of God’s grace. Evangelical refers to the Good news, or Gospel of Jesus Christ. As sinners, Lutherans sometimes get caught up in themselves as much as everyone else does, but we try to look beyond ourselves to bring the Gospel to community life with people of other faiths and those of no faith. We heartily welcome others to worship and work with us.
LUTHERANS ARE BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS…with our own understanding of what it means to be “born again.” Lutherans, like other catholic Christians, baptize infants, believing that God works grace in them. In fact, we believe that every day and in every act of serious return to God we are returning to our baptism and being born again. We come forth as new people, which means that we are born again, and again, and again.
LUTHERANS ARE WORSHIPPERS…who think of worship not as pastor’s performance but as the people’s service. We are sacramental. Along with Baptism, we celebrate the Eucharist every week. We believe that Christ is truly present in his body and blood through this sacrament that offers us the forgiveness of our sins and gives us nourishment for our faith. Ours is a singing church. Lutherans have always contributed much to Christian music. We place a special emphasis on the Word of God. Lutheran worship stresses preaching in the form of a sermon that addresses the needs of sinners and announces the loving activity of God. We believe that God speaks to us through the scriptures and so; we revere personal Bible reading and study, in addition to prayer.
LUTHERANS ARE STEWARDS…because we believe that all of life and health, all possessions and capabilities are, in a sense, on loan from God our Creator. So we keep on learning — never rapidly enough, or profoundly enough — how to give God a return on His investment in us.
LUTHERANS ARE PROTESTANTS…who are also catholic. As Protestants, we continue the reformation begun in the European churches in the 16th century. Being catholic, we believe that Christ’s church is universal and that we are connected with Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and other Christians who stress their ties to Christ’s church everywhere through the ages. We would not have chosen the name Lutheran; it was acquired accidentally, often from early enemies. The name refers to Martin Luther, a German monk and Old Testament professor, who came to renewed understanding of how God worked through him. Luther called for church reform and that led to protests — now known as the Protestant reformation. His statement of “Justification by Grace through Faith” for example, remains a central and distinct characteristic of Lutheran understanding today.
LUTHERANS ARE UNFINISHED PRODUCTS…though our forgiveness is complete. Aware of human weakness, imperfection and mixed-up priorities, Lutherans are hopeful people. We respond to God’s love by reaching out to others, to tell and to demonstrate the Good News of Jesus Christ. We believe that with God, anything is possible. We invite others, who are not currently active in Christian communities, to join us in the challenges, which a trouble-filled world presents, and to rejoice with us in the promises with which a loving God greets us.
The Lutheran Church is the largest Protestant denomination worldwide. We are the third largest Protestant denomination in the United States, having over five million members.