Lutheran FAQ

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What are Lutherans?

Lutherans are Christians who believe that the efforts of Martin Luther in the 16th century to keep the church faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ were on target and need to continue.

What is the Gospel?

The Gospel is that you, just as you are, in your anxiety and guiltiness, as creature and sinner, are infinitely loved, forgiven, received, valued and accepted by God.  This Word of God was uniquely incarnate in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It lives today in the Church, the Body of Christ.

What is sin?

Sin is not sickness or ignorance.  Sin is people’s refusal to be who God created them to be.

What is salvation?

Salvation is being grasped by the grace of God so that you know yourself to be loved and forgiven by God and therefore reconciled to God, yourself and all your neighbors.  You cannot do anything to earn salvation.  God does it all, through grace alone.

If you don’t have to do anything to earn salvation, does that mean Lutherans don’t do good works?

Lutherans do lots of good works.  But we do them out of gratitude to God, in response to God’s grace, not to make God like us better.

Do Lutherans believe in the Bible?

Not the same way we believe in God.  God so loved the world that God didn’t give it a book — or send an email, tweet or Facebook post.  God gave the world a son, Jesus Christ.  The Bible is God’s gift to us also, but it is not a substitute for God.  We do not worship the Bible; we worship the God revealed to us through our sacred texts, the Bible.  We believe the Bible is more like a compass than a roadmap.

How many sacraments do Lutherans have?

Two.  Baptism and Communion.  In them we believe God comes to us; we do not go to God.

How do Lutherans worship?

We follow an ever-changing-but-also-timeless liturgy of Word and Sacrament.  We often refer to the key elements of our worship as Gathering, Word, Bath, Meal and Sending.

Why are Lutherans Evangelical?

Martin Luther disliked the 16th-century reform movement being named after him (“Lutheran”), preferring Evangelical, derived from the biblical term euangelion, the Greek word for Good News (or Gospel).  Our theology is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are Gospel people, living and serving in the grace of God and proud to bear the historic name Evangelical.  We are not fundamentalists, and we distinguish ourselves from so-called American Evangelicalism.

Are Lutherans ecumenical?

Yes.  We believe that all churches who are faithful to the Word of God in Jesus Christ are already one with us.

Do Lutherans believe they hold the one true faith?

Yes.  But we also believe we are not the only ones who hold it.