“Martin Luther” To understand the Lutheran perspective on the Christian faith one must begin with a particular recruit to the monastic and clerical life — Martin Luther: He was a towering personality with an intellect akin to Einstein. He could cut through the heart of intricate, theological and spiritual problems and find a way to communicate the essence of these ideas to the common person. It has been said that he had a fine, earthy way of speech, which allowed him to translate the Bible into the language of the people. Beyond this, he was also a prolific writer, a passionate preacher and a wonderful hymn composer. He had a love for music, scripture and his Lord.
It was never Luther’s intent to start a new church. However, he was in the words of the Christian scholar Jaroslav Pelikan, an “obedient reformer.” He only wanted to reform the old church.
The meaning of grace to a Lutheran: The grace of God is the central theme of Lutheran belief and, among the different Ecumenical groups, is one thing that sets us apart. It is what we proclaim to be all about. Grace is a gift that Lutherans believe is not earned, but received from God. Grace has dawned upon the world with healing for all human kind. Luther would maintain that grace does not abolish nature, but perfects it. It is generous, forgiving, renewing and fulfilling.
In fact, Lutherans can be described in three Latin statements:
Sola Scriptura, scripture alone: The beliefs of our church rest on the Bible as its primary source and the foundation for all that we believe.
Sola Fides, faith alone: Faith becomes extremely important because with it we are linked to a relationship with God built on hope, forgiveness and love.
Sola Gratae, grace alone: Grace becomes key to understanding and interpreting God’s loving actions in Jesus Christ and his message for the whole world.
Who are Lutherans? Today, Lutherans cannot be defined as they once were – as white northern Europeans. On the contrary, the Lutheran church is filled with many nationalities. You can hear the Lutheran liturgy spoken around the world in Spanish, Swahili, Slovakian, Chinese and many other languages. Lutheranism is the fastest growing religion in Africa and Indonesia. We come in all ethnicities and we gather for worship on Sundays around “word and sacrament.” We also love good music. Johann Sebastian Bach is another Lutheran gift to the world.
What we care about. Lutherans can be seen very often as trying to respond to those in need who are hungry, homeless and affected by disaster. Lutheran community services respond to all social issues, from counseling, adoption, domestic violence, illness and elderly support. There are Lutherans around the world building wells, establishing schools and responding with medical aid in countries that are ravaged by famine and poverty. You can find Lutheran chaplains in hospitals, on major campuses and counseling centers. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is in partnership with its 26 colleges and universities in settings where matters of learning and faith are engaged. There are Lutheran hospitals, nursing homes, camps and seminaries around the world. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has nearly 10,500 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Finally, Lutherans come from all walks of life and most of us are just people who gather on Sunday mornings to break bread together, drink wine as we observe the Eucharist and listen to the good news of Jesus Christ. Usually, you’ll find us holding a cup of coffee afterwards and participating in lively conversation about our week’s activities and every other imaginable topic.
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