|This We Believe
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. 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.
Why a Lutheran church?
Martin Luther (b. November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, d. February 18, 1546 in Eisleben) is known as the Father of Protestantism. He had been 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 Lutherans Believe
"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."
Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus is God's son, chosen 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.
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 founding the story of God's new covenant with all of creation in Jesus.
What Do Lutherans Believe About Creation?
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.
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 Accept?
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 Communions are visible acts of God's love.
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 ultimate fulfillment.
What Must a Person Do to Become a Lutheran?
To become a Lutheran, only Baptism and instructions 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 their membership.
*Prepared by the ELCA Department for Communication (11/95); "What Is the Church" and "What Lutherans Believe" are adapted from "What Lutherans Believe," published by Evangelical Outreach, Division for Parish Services of the former Lutheran Church in America, now out of print.
Martin Luther's Seal
While a professor at Wittenberg, Luther devised this seal which he declared was meant to be "expressive of his theology." This explanation is the gist of a letter written to his friend, Herr Spengler, town clerk of Nuremberg:
The first thing expressed in my seal is a cross, black, within the heart, to put me in mind that faith in Christ crucified saves us. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."
Now, although the cross is black, mortified, and intended to cause pain, yet it does not change the color of the heart, does not destroy nature -- i.e., does not kill, but keeps alive. "For the just shall live by faith," -- by faith in the Savior.
But this heart is fixed upon the center of a white rose, to show that faith causes joy, consolation and peace. The rose is white, not red, because white is the ideal color of all angels and blessed spirits.
This rose, moreover, is fixed in a sky-colored ground, to denote that such joy of faith in the spirit is but an earnest and beginning of heavenly joy to come, as anticipated and held by hope, though not yet revealed.
And around this ground base is a golden ring, to signify that such bliss in heaven is endless, and more precious than all joys and treasures, since gold is the best and most precious metal. Christ, our dear Lord, He will give grace unto eternal life. Amen.
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:
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.
Immanuel Lutheran Church is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America IMMANUEL’S Centered in Christ + Growing in Faith The people of worship, education and fellowship.
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