Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). For more information about the beliefs and teachings of the ELCA please visit: www.elca.org
Basic theological teachings of the ELCA ...
What do Lutherans believe?
Lutherans are Christians who accept the teachings of Martin Luther (1483-1546). Luther was a German theologian who realized that there were significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the practices of the Roman Catholic Church at that time. Today, nearly five centuries later, Lutherans still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings, such as Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. These comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:
- We are save by the grace of God alone – not by anything we do;
- Our salvation is through faith alone – we only need to trust God made known in Christ who promises us forgiveness, life and salvation; and
- The Bible is the norm for faith and life – the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
What is Christianity?
To define it simply, Christianity is one of the world’s major monotheistic religions. Christians believe in Jesus Christ and follow his teachings. We believe Jesus is God’s own son, sent by God to become human. As the son of God, Jesus is divine, but he was also a human being who lived among us on earth, over 2,000 years ago. Followers of Jesus are part of God’s people, whose heritage includes the Jewish people and the Christian Church throughout the world today.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus is fully man and fully God. We believe that in this Jesus atonement (the reconciliation of God and humankind) is accomplished. He is God’s promised Messiah, the Christ, humankind’s savior. In him, “God reveals to us most supremely who God is, how God relates to us and the world, and the depths to which God will go for our salvation.
What is the Holy Spirit?
ELCA Lutherans believe that the Holy Spirit, calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies us in the faith, and that all of this flows from what we understand to be the Holy Spirit’s paramount work – to reveal and glorify Christ, and to strengthen the believer’s faith. The center of God’s divine activity is the incarnate Son of God, Jesus the Christ. Yet, just as the Son performed the work of the Father who sent him, so the Spirit performs the work of the Son. The Spirit underscores the fulfillment of prophecy, witnessing to God revealed in Jesus. In carrying on Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Spirit’s ongoing work is to reveal truth, give life and strengthen faith (John 7:39, 14:26, 15:16, 16:7-15).
How do Lutherans read the Bible?
The Bible contains the story of God’s interaction with humankind, first through the understanding of the Jewish people (Old Testament, 39 books), and subsequently to all people through God’s self revelation in Jesus (New Testament, 27 books). Lutherans believe that people meet God in Scripture, where God’s heart, mind, relationship to – and intention for – humankind are revealed. Through an ongoing dialogue with the God revealed in the Bible, people in every age are called to a living faith.