What is a Lutheran?
I have been a member of the Lutheran Church all of my life. I met my wife and we were married in the Lutheran Church. Our children were baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church. So, I would initially answer I am a Lutheran. To find the answer to the question, “What is a Lutheran?” you could simply google the answer. What you would come up with is from the Book of Concord website, and it elegantly answers the question. (See: http://bookofconcord.org/whatisalutheran.php) Of course, instead of a google search you can also download the Book of Concord app for your smartphone. To save you the hassle of looking it up, here is their short answer to “What is a Lutheran?”
While there are a variety of ways one could answer this question, one very important answer is simply this, “A Lutheran is a person who believes, teaches and confesses the truths of God's Word as they are summarized and confessed in the Book of Concord.” The Book of Concord contains the Lutheran confessions of faith.
At Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church we have identified ourselves not just as Lutherans but as members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). On the LCMS site it describes our identity (see: https://www.lcms.org/belief-and-practice) as:
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod teaches and responds 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 ultimate 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 co-eternal, one God.
Does this mean we follow the man Martin Luther? No, it does not. Our congregations accept and preach 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 phrases: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone. Come join us at our services to hear more about Grace, Faith and Scripture. We emphasize Luther’s three phrases on Reformation Sunday, traditionally the last Sunday in the month of October.
Have you identified yourself as a follower of Christ and a Lutheran second? The pastor that married Kim and me was of the opinion that the Lutheran Church was flawed, and he was a lifetime member of the Lutheran Church as it was closer than any other denomination in following the Scriptures.
My reflection after reading the Book of Concord and the Lutheran Confessions is that he was correct. This church, as well as all churches, is a human institution and as such it is flawed. For me and my house (Joshua 24:16) we serve the Lord, and as such we are in sync with the teachings at Good Shepherd and the Lutheran Church. Even if you did not join the church because it was Lutheran or even know what the Lutheran Confessions were prior to reading this message, my prayer is that you will take a look at them and start to gain an understanding of the Lutheran Confessions. Who knows, years from now the Lutheran Confessions may become your reason on where you chose to worship. If you are like me, you know that we recite common confessions of our faith during the worship services each week. You may also know these creeds as the Nicene, Apostles' and Athanasian Creeds. The Lutheran Confessions agrees with them whole-heartedly. This is why the creeds are studied in Confirmation class and recited weekly in our worship services.
So the next time you say you “are a Lutheran” you will know that you are person who believes, teaches and confesses the truths of God's Word as they are summarized and confessed in the Book of Concord.
May the Lord God richly bless your week.
-Glen Leavens, Head Elder