Lutheranism 101

Since earliest times, the Christian Church has used statements of faith to summarize Biblical teachings. The earliest of these statements is called the Apostle’s Creed. It is witnessed as already being in common usage by A.D. 325.

While certainly not written by the Apostles it is called the Apostle’s Creed in that it accurately reflects what these first preachers of the Church taught about God. “Creed” comes, from the Latin word “credo” meaning “I believe.”

With the universal Christian Church, Lutherans teach and respond to the love of the Triune God: the Father, creator of all that exists; Jesus Christ, the Son, who became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in the final victory over death and Satan; and the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments.

The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.

Here is the text of the Creed with each statement accompanied by some of the Scriptural texts that the creedal statement summarizes.

I believe (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 4:5)

In God (Deuteronomy 6:4 1 Corinthians 8:6)

The Father (Psalm 89:27; Matthew 7:11)

Almighty (Genesis 7:1; Corinthians 6:18)

Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 33:6; John 5:17)

And in Jesus (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 1:21)

Christ (Daniel 9:24; John 3:34)

Luther’s Seal

Luther’s Seal is easily the most recognized symbol for Lutheranism, and for good reason. In Luther’s day it was a common practice for prominent members of the community to have a personal seal or coat of arms. The symbolism on the seal would tell others something about the person, what they did or believed. Through his bold preaching and teaching about the Word of God, Martin Luther had become well-known. So it was that in the year 1530, while Luther was at the Diet (meeting) of Augsburg, Prince John invited Luther to personally oversee creation of a seal that was meant to be expressive of his theology. Luther’s seal is rich with symbols and color. In a letter to a friend, Luther explained the symbolism of his seal

The Meaning of Luther’s Seal

Grace and peace from the Lord. As you wish to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, let me answer you in a most friendly way some of my thoughts about my seal that I want to fashion as a kind of symbol for my theology.

The first element should be a black cross within the heart, which retains its natural color, so that I would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. ‘For one who believes from the heart will be justified’ (Romans 10:10). Now about the black cross which puts the flesh to death and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural [red] color. The cross does not kill of the human nature altogether, rather keeps alive and preserves human nature in a new life. ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:17) but only by faith in the Crucified.

This heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12).

This rose stands in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed.

Around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end. It is more precious than all other kinds of joy and wealth, just as gold is the most noble, most precious of all metal.

May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter. Amen.

The Solas of Lutheranism

Being “Lutheran,” our congregations accept and teach the Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther that inspired the reformation of the Christian Church in the 16th century. The teaching of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three short phrases: Grace alone, Scripture alone, Faith alone.

Scripture alone The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.

Grace alone God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.

Faith alone By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.

Adapted from A Week in the Life of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, copyright 1996, Concordia Publishing House.

The Lutheran Confessions

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod accepts the Scriptures as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and subscribes unconditionally to all the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God. We accept the Confessions because they are drawn from the Word of God and on that account regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for all pastors, congregations and other rostered church workers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.