What does this mean… to be Lutheran?
October 16, 2012 22 Comments
Since I happen to be finding good material lately, I’m going to continue today on the Lutheran church. Partially because some of my British friends have indicated to me that they know essentially nothing about us. Something that should be stressed, as it is in this article is that we do not follow Martin Luther, although he is one of us and a very wise teacher, we follow only Jesus Christ, and him crucified. The other thing is Lutherans are conservative, the Reformation happened because we were trying to conserve and reform the church. As conservative, American democrats say about their party, we didn’t leave the church, the church left us. This is the foundation of our lead in to many teachings, “The church has always taught…” For all my Catholic friends who just blew a gasket, we recognize that for the most part you came back to the fold. You just got too involved with what we call “The Kingdom of the Left” as opposed to the “Kingdom of the Right”. To us you
are were the schismatics. This article is by exegete77 writing in ”believe, teach, and confess”. it is one of the best summaries of what it really means to be a Lutheran that I have every read. Enjoy.
Over the past three decades I am often asked what it means to be Lutheran. What do Lutherans believe? What is most important? How does that work out in practice? This is just a brief introduction to those questions. Despite “popular” views, Lutherans do not follow Martin Luther. Rather, we confess the same Christian faith he did; hence we do not support everything he wrote. Martin Luther appeared at critical time in church history and had a significant influence on the entire Christian Church, but we do not “follow him,” rather Jesus Christ and him crucified. The name “Lutheran” was originally a derogatory term used by Luther’s enemies. Later, it became a term to distinguish itself from Reformed (Zwingli, Calvin, and later Arminius) as well as from the radical reformation.
Historic Continuity: “The Church has always taught…”
The Lutheran Church sees itself in continuity with the historic Christian Church throughout the ages, not something invented in the 16th century. That is, in most of our official writings (called the Lutheran Confessions), we often use the phrase “As the Church has always taught” to show that what Luther and others publicly were teaching was consistent with the historic church. We frequently use the term “catholic” (meaning “universal”) to denote the true Church throughout the ages, not in reference to the specific church body known as the Roman Catholic Church headed by the pope. This phrase is critical in understanding Lutherans, because while sometimes we look like Roman Catholics, we see the papal church deviating in the Middle Ages and onward from that historic faith. At the time of the Reformation, Luther and others continued what was done that was consistent with the Bible and the Church through the ages, but ridded itself of false teachings (especially in worship). In that sense Lutherans were “conservative” keeping that which was solid and discarding other elements. They could and did keep paintings, statures, icons, as aids to help people learn the stories of the Bible. On the other hand, Zwingli, Calvin and other Reformed leaders wanted to distance their churches from anything that looked Roman Catholic. For them, in regard to worship, they made significant alterations to the order of service and even destroyed what appeared in churches. The Reformed tended to get rid of paintings, statues, and icons. Lutherans use the phrase “believe, teach, and confess” to denote those statement which reflect accurately what the Bible teachings. In line with that, Lutherans accept the three Ecumenical Creeds as accurate statements of the Christian faith from the Bible (Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed). You can find them here.
Continue reading What does this mean… to be Lutheran? « ”believe, teach, and confess”.
Believe, teach, and confess byRichard P Shields is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work atexegete77.wordpress.com.
I have little to add to this except to hope that you have learned something about a part of Christianity, that is not particularly good at blowing its own horn. But do remember this is one of our core beliefs:
The reality under the cross is that we should expect persecution, suffering, and even death. Living in this world as Christians means life under the cross of Christ.
- Yes, You Do Have A Creed (reformedreader.wordpress.com)
- What Lutherans Believe, Teach & Confess: Class is In Session with Lutheranism 101 (prweb.com)
- Martin Luther’s Devotion to Mary(Ecumenical) (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)