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History:

One of the oldest branches of Protestantism is the Lutheran denomination which was created as a result of the Martin Luther’s Reformation movement in Europe on October 31, 1957. Luther, a German monk and teacher has been called the "Father of Reformation" because he had taken a stand against the practices of the Catholic church as he felt many were in direct conflict with biblical scripture.

In opposition to the traditional church’s practices, Luther posted the "95 Theses" (http://www.bookofconcord.org/95theses.php) on the Wittenberg Castle Church’s door calling for a public debate regarding the practices of the Catholic church. This is where Luther boldly proclaimed, even in the face of great opposition, that all church teachings and doctrines should come from the holy scripture alone. The door served as a public announcement area for the community and Luther’s posting were available for all to see. His statement of beliefs challenging the Catholic church, are now known as the Lutheran Confessions.

Allegedly, Luther’s intent in doing so was to reform the Catholic church from within by exposing the corruption and abuses of power and not to break off and form his own denomination. Because of his failed attempt in doing so, he was excommunicated from the church, however Luther’s message certainly wasn’t silenced any many followed his teachings.

On June 25th, 1530, in an attempt to restore religious and political unity in the Holy Roman Empire and to rally support against the Turkish invasion, Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor) invited the Princes and "free territories" in Germany to explain their new found religious beliefs which were based on Luther’s challenges of the church. This presentation of beliefs has become known as of the Augsburg Confession which is now the 4th document in the Book of Concord. June 25th marks the official "birthday" of the Lutheran Church. Because Luther kept preaching the Word of God even after the church threatened to put him to death for doing so, he was viewed as a criminal and not able to present himself on that day.

The Lutheran Reformation spread to different areas of the world and influenced the reform movement of John Calvin in France and Switzerland. It also had some impact on the English Reformation as well. John Calvin was so moved by the mission of the Lutheran Reformation, he became the chief founder of the Reformed bodies and because of Luther and Calvin many of today’s Christian church’s were born.

It wasn’t until 1638 that the first Lutheran Church in America was erected in Wilmington, Delaware. While the immigration was initially slow moving and quite small, by 1800 it’s membership grew by thousands each year. Most of the Lutheran bodies in America resulted originally out of national backgrounds. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, organized in 1847 was formed after the Saxon immigration of St. Louis drew confessional Lutherans to join together with one another in ministry. At that time, major emphasis was placed on education and many seminaries were established for training pastors. Today, the Missouri Synod is active throughout the world in mission work.

Lutheran Beliefs:

The Augsburg Confession consists of 28 articles that set forward what the Lutherans believed, ministered and confessed in positive (theses) and negative statements (antitheses). The theses are 21 Chief Articles of Faith describing the normative principles of Christian faith held by the Lutherans, the antitheses are seven statements describing what they viewed as abuses of the Christian faith present in the Roman church. The 28 articles can be found here: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/wittenberg-boc.html#ac

Like most traditional Christians, Lutheran’s believe in the 3 Ecumenical creeds:

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, the Forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life everlasting. Amen

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary And was made man; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father; And He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick (living) and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, And I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary thathe hold the catholic (i.e., universal, Christian) faith.Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled,without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, Neither confounding the Persons nordividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son,and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son,and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate,The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternal, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten, The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created not begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. An in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together and coequal, so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity, Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go onto life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

The Lutheran Confessions:

  • All Lutheran doctrine (teaching) is to be taken from Holy Scripture.
  • The Lutheran Confessions, or Symbols are seen as secondary norms, or as true declarations of the doctrines of Holy Scripture, which all who would call themselves Lutheran must confess and teach. For this reason the confessional Lutheran Church demands of all its public teachers and ministers a bona-fide subscription to all its Confessions as the pure and unadulterated declarations of God’s Word.

Sources
ReligionFacts.com
http://www.bookofconcord.org
http://www.iclnet.org

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