As Lutherans, we understand that we belong to the Christian Church. We share a faith in Jesus Christ with billions of others around the globe and it is most helpful to understand this faith through a particular theological lens called Lutheranism.
Formally, that means we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, revealed to us in the Bible, expressed in the Church’s historic Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian) and witnessed to by the Lutheran Confessions.
That faith includes belief in:
God the Father. We believe that God the Father created the universe and continues to uphold it with love and power. The Father is both just and merciful, and desires to live in an intimate relationship with all people.
God the Son. We rejoice that God’s love is so great that God came to earth as a human being, Jesus of Nazareth. This Jesus, born of a virgin, is fully God and fully human. Through his death and his resurrection, Jesus makes it possible for all people to enjoy a living relationship with God.
God the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the continuing presence of God among us. Through the Holy Spirit, God comforts us, empowers us and lives within us. We believe that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to all believers, so that we can use those gifts to build up one another, to serve all people, and to give glory to God.
Human Beings. We believe that all persons matter to God. Created in God’s image, men and woman have inherent dignity and worth. Yet we acknowledge that because of our sinful nature, all humanity is alienated from God. If left to our own efforts and judged on our own merits, all men and woman are lost and spiritually dead. Nevertheless, we joyfully proclaim the good news that, because of Jesus Christ, forgiveness and new life are open to all. We proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that faith in him is the only pathway by which people may come to God. We dedicate ourselves to sharing this life-changing good news with our friends, our families, and the entire world.
The Church. We believe that the Church – be it a local congregation or the world-wide fellowship of believers – is the Body of Christ. As his Body, we accept the responsibility to reach others with the good news of Christ, to care for them so that they may experience God’s love, to help them grow in their relationship with God, and to equip them to serve others in Christ’s name.
The Bible. We affirm the Bible as the written Word of God. We believe that the Old and New Testaments are inspired by God, and we accept the Bible as the authoritative source and norm for all that we believe, all that we teach, and all that we do.
The Creeds and the Lutheran Confessions. We accept and affirm the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, as well as the historic confessions of the Lutheran Church, as faithful restatements and true expressions of the Christian faith.
Baptism and Communion. We affirm and practice the sacrament of Baptism, and believe that through the waters of Baptism we are adopted as God’s children and receive the gift of new life. We practice and encourage the Baptism of infants, as a sign of God’s unconditional love. We affirm and practice the sacrament of Communion, believing that through this holy meal God comes to love us, cleanse us and embrace us. In communion we do not merely remember Christ and his sacrifice for us: we also experience anew the real presence of Christ in our midst.
The End of History. We believe in and anticipate the return of Jesus Christ as the final fulfillment of God’s will for this hurting world. As we eagerly await Christ’s return, we acknowledge that no one can know its day or hour. We therefore call upon all people to place their faith in Christ, and thereby make the most of life today.
What this means is that we live as a people with identity (as the children of God), value (redeemed at the cost of Jesus’ life), and purpose (living to make God’s presence known in all we do).
We are drawn to experience God in worship, engage one another in fellowship, grow in faith through lifelong learning, and serve those in need. Or as Martin Luther so simply put it, we believe that we are “to see Christ in our neighbor, and be Christ to our neighbor.”
To learn more about what we believe and what it means, click here to visit the “What We Believe” section of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s website.