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Christ Lutheran Church

Church office: (770) 535-9938

What is a Lutheran?

A Lutheran is first and foremost a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Lutherans are members of a denomination of Christians who trace their theological heritage to the teachings of a group of 16th century (1500s) Christians, at the center of which was a man by the name of Martin Luther.


Luther

A bit of history

Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Germany and died on February 18, 1546. He was first a lawyer before becoming an Augustinian monk in 1505, and was ordained a priest in 1507. While continuing his studies in pursuit of a Doctor of Theology degree, Luther discovered significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the theology and practices of the church. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the church door at Wittenberg University to debate various theological issues (“95 Theses”). Luther's hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.

What started as an academic debate escalated to a religious war, fueled by fiery temperaments and violent language on both sides. As a result, there was not a reformation of the church but a separation. "Lutheran" was a name applied to Luther and his followers as an insult but adopted as a badge of honor by them instead.

Today, most Protestant (or, non-Catholic) Christian denominations (including Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Reformed, Presbyterian, etc.) owe some debt to Martin Luther for beginning the movement of which they are apart. Lutherans consider themselves the oldest group of Protestant Christians. Worldwide there are approximately 66 million Lutheran Christians . Though there are few in the South (outside of North and South Carolina), they constitute one of the largest groups of Christians across the mid-West. Just as there are various types of Baptists (Southern Baptists, Primitive Baptists, National Baptists, etc.), there are various types of Lutherans. The largest group, to which Christ Lutheran belongs, is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with 4.6 million members. Though many associate the word “evangelical” with conservative, narrow-minded believers who believe in the necessity of a personal conversion and faith for salvation, for ELCA Lutherans its connection is with its origin with the Greek word for “Gospel”—the good news of the story of life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who Christians consider to be the Messiah (Savior) of the world.


BELIEVING

Lutherans of all type hold to the following teachings embraced by Luther:

We are saved by the grace of God alone, not by anything we do. We receive God’s grace through faith alone; we only need to trust that our sins are forgiven because Christ offered himself for the sins of the whole world. (Ephesians 2.8-10)
The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life; it is the only true standard by which all Christian teachings are to be judged.
The Bible should be read and worship should to be done in language that the average person can understand.

From the earliest days, Christians have struggled to understand the interplay of beliefs and actions. Some have argued that faith that does not demonstrate itself in actions is “dead” (James 2.26).

Others, have argued that we are made acceptable before God (justified, or “saved”) not by what we do but in whom we trust (Romans 3.28). Lutherans understand this to mean that while we can never make ourselves “good enough” for God, because of what Christ has done, God accepts us anyway as we confess our weakness and failure (sin) and put our trust (faith) in Christ.

 The problem is that we tend to think of faith as something that can be measured; as in,
“Do I have enough faith?” However, faith (as Lutherans understand it) is not something we can measure, but it is something that inspires and moves us. Faith is what a child has when she trusts that her parents will take care of her. Our trust in God’s grace should look like this.