The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
At the height of the European renaissance in 1517, a German monk by the name of Martin Luther challenged the church of his day to return to the original roots of Christianity. During the course of the Reformation, layers of teaching, tradition, rites, and ritual that had accumulated over the centuries were re-examined and discarded or reaffirmed.
As Lutherans confess their faith in the words of the ancient Christian creeds, they claim to be a part of “the one holy Christian and apostolic church”. Lutherans do not claim to be followers of Martin Luther as such.
According to Martin Luther and other sixteenth century reformers, there are three fundamental teachings of the Christian church:
we are put right with God by FAITH ALONE
we are loved by God through GRACE ALONE
and the preaching and teaching of the church is based on SCRIPTURE ALONE.
We Lutherans share a common approach towards the interpretation of scripture. The Bible is the inspired word of God through which God still speaks, written by people for people over a period of hundreds of years. We believe that our faith is based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as it is witnessed in the New Testament and today we abide by the good news as revealed to us in the Bible.
In 1529 Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism as a foundation for religious instruction in the Christian faith for the newly established Protestant parishes. Even today these works provide us with a precise and understandable introduction into our Christian faith.
Together with all Christians we believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God comes to us as ONE God but continuously reveals himself to us in three distinctive roles:
God the Father created the world and mankind, entrusting us to be the stewards of his creation.
God the Son redeemed the world through his death and resurrection. People have fallen into despair and suffering but Jesus, the son of God has taken upon him the sin and pain of the world, thereby providing the opportunity for a new life in this world and beyond the threshold of death.
God the Holy Spirit sustains and guides us both as a church and as individuals in contemporary life. Daily we must search for answers to our question of how to live our lives in accordance with God’s will, showing love towards God and his creation, love towards Jesus as the Redeemer and Saviour and love towards our neighbour.
Lutherans recognize two sacraments as instituted by Christ himself: Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
In Holy Baptism God establishes his relationship with us. We are customarily baptized as infants to show that our relationship to God does not depend on us and on our good works. He beckons us into a relationship with him and not the other way around. All Christians are united by this one Baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In Holy Communion Jesus is present in, under and with the bread and wine. We eat his body and drink his blood, reassured that our sins are forgiven and receive nourishment for our daily journey.
Lutherans confess their Christian faith in the words of the ancient creeds of the Church with the worldwide fellowship of believers. We are thereby united with all those who have confessed the same faith over the ages and still confess this faith today.
“Evangelical” comes from the Greek “evangelein” meaning “good news”. Lutherans use the word to indicate our commitment to sharing a faith that is based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as it is witnessed in the New Testament.
Lutherans have no direct connection to other Christian denominations which may describe themselves as “evangelical”.
Lutherans have been actively involved in the modern ecumenical movement.
For example, the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation marks a milestone in relations between our two churches. It does not mark the end to the many open questions remaining, but rather a hopeful beginning for future dialogues.
We are in full communion with the Anglican Church in many parts of the world. This is a special relationship by which clergy, members and congregations of both denominations are recognized as brothers and sisters in Christ fully sharing in a celebration of the word and sacrament without any restriction or qualification.
At the denominational level, the Lutheran church is in dialogue with our Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist brothers and sisters to overcome our mutual ignorance, prejudices and false assumptions. We feel deeply connected to the people of other faith traditions by recognizing that they have the same dedication, devotion and loyalty in their expression of faith as we have to ours.