Lutheranism 101

Lutherans are part of the Protestant branch of the Christian Church, whose roots stretch back to start of the Reformation nearly 500 years ago. The founder of our tradition, Martin Luther (right), was a German monk who initiated the Protestant movement in 1517 when he sought to debate certain practices and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that he thought were at odds with what he read in the Bible.

We still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings, including Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone. These comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:

  • We are saved by the grace of God alone – not by anything we do;
  • Our salvation is through faith alone – a confident trust in God, who in Christ 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.

Today, the Lutheran church continues to evolve to meet the complex realities of modern life. Our church is considered among the most ecumenical branches of Christianity, as we continue to seek dialogue leading to greater unity across the entire Christian Church.

We are in this position, perhaps, because our practices and beliefs share certain aspects with Roman Catholic, Orthodox and other Protestant traditions. The ordered liturgy of the Lutheran worship service and the importance of the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion have many similarities to the Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Orthodox traditions. The Lutheran church also shares with other Protestants (e.g., Presbyterians, Methodists) a strong emphasis on the Word of God and the importance of the Bible as the vehicle for God's living Word for us today.

To learn more about the Lutheran faith, please visit www.elca.org.