The Lutheran Confessions
In the 16th century, the Lutherans drew up a written statement of faith which outlined the differences between their beliefs and those taught by Roman Catholicism. This statement was called “The Augsburg Confession.” Over the course of the next 50 years, the Lutherans produced several more statements of faith which further clarified their beliefs. In 1580, all of these “confessions” were placed into a single binding known as The Book of Concord.
Every church has a statement of faith. Many will publish it in a brochure or on their church’s web site. You’ll usually find a number of doctrinal statements along with Biblical references. This web page contains an abbreviated form of the beliefs of the Lutheran Church. A comprehensive statement of our faith (complete with Biblical references) is found in The Book of Concord. It is over 700 pages though.
Types of Lutheran Churches
There are three main Lutheran church bodies in America – the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).
The three Lutheran bodies agree in their understanding of the Trinity, Jesus, baptism and communion (except the fellowship aspect). We use a lot of the same language and even our worship can look very similar. It may seem as if any differences between us would be minor. This is not the case, however. The differences are profound and as a result, we view each other as different denominations. Our primary disagreements consist of our view of the Bible, women’s ordination and issues related to morality.
The LCMS and the Wisconsin Synod are more conservative and fairly similar. They maintain that Biblical truths are timeless and as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. As such, both church bodies believe ordination is limited to men. They also hold conservative beliefs towards abortion, same sex relationships and sex outside of marriage.
The ELCA maintains views that would be regarded as less conservative/more progressive. They believe some of the Bible’s content is applicable only to the past and that the church needs to be more accommodating to the present day. The ELCA observes no limits in regards to ordination and is open to abortion. Same sex relationships for clergy and laity were officially recognized in August of 2009.
Holy Shepherd is a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).
Those who are new to Lutheranism receive instruction about our church’s beliefs and teachings through Adult Catechesis. The word catechesis is derived from a combination of Greek words, which means teaching by word of mouth. In our classes, we cover the differences of all major world religions along with the essential teachings of the Christian faith as delivered to us in the Bible. Questions are encouraged and often lead to interesting discussions. Our classes are composed of people from a variety of denominational backgrounds. We also have some members of our church who enjoy taking them as a refresher. Catechesis is offered three times a year typically in Fall, Spring and Summer. If you’d like to know more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org