WHO WAS MARTIN LUTHER?
"Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times."
- Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German professor of theology, priest, author, composer, Augustinian monk and a seminal figure in the Reformation through his Ninety-five Theses, which he nailed to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.
The most important for Luther was the doctrine of justification—God's act of declaring a sinner righteous—by faith alone through God's grace. He began to teach that salvation or redemption is a gift of God's grace, attainable only through faith in Jesus.
Luther came to understand justification as entirely the work of God. Faith, for Luther, was a gift from God; the experience of being justified by faith was "as though I had been born again."
Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life, are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God's grace through the believer's faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology taught that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge, and opposed a religious hierarchy by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood.
Luther's translation of the Bible into the German vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible to the laity, an event that had a tremendous impact on both the church and German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible.
Luther's marriage to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant clergy to marry.
As a composer and hymnist, his hymns influenced the development of singing in Protestant churches, making music especially important in the church. Most notably, Johann Sebastian Bach was a devout Lutheran who composed music for the church, including hundreds of cantatas and both the St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion.
Those who identify with these, and all of Luther's wider teachings, are called Lutherans, though Luther insisted on Christian or Evangelical (German: evangelisch) as the only acceptable names for individuals who professed Christ.
"Christians live not in themselves, but in Christ and in their neighbor. Otherwise they are not Christians.
They live in Christ through faith, in their neighbor through love."
Martin Luther, "The Freedom of a Christian" (Luther's Works, vol. 31, p.371)
For Lutherans, faith is bold trust in God's steadfast love and mercy revealed in Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit we enter into a relationship with God that extends to joyful and generous service in our daily lives. It's a relationship where God's promise of steadfast love and mercy in Jesus opens us to a life of bold trust in God and joyful, generous service to everyone we know and meet in daily life.
Lutheranism, one of the largest branches of Protestantism, identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther. A hallmark of Lutheranism is the doctrine of justification: "by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of scripture alone" we are saved.
Lutherans believe in the Trinity--the Father, Son and Holy Spirit--and retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the catholic (universal) Church. Lutherans have two sacraments: Eucharist (Holy Communion) and Baptism.
Lutherans believe that good works from God's grace are the natural result of faith. Summed up: “Now that we don’t need to worry that we’re good enough for God, how do we direct our attention to our neighbor?” - bishop Jim Gonia.
THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH IN AMERICA (ELCA)
Gods Work. Our Hands. We Are Church.
The ELCA, headquartered in Chicago, IL, is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States. There are 80 million Lutherans in the world, including 24 million in Africa.
The ELCA values:
· The beauty and power of grace
· Forgiveness and reconciliation
· Dignity, compassion and justice
· Inclusion and diversity
· Courage and openness to change
· Faithful stewardship of God's creation and gifts
The ELCA's work and connections are local, regional and global. Through the ELCA World Hunger appeal, Lutheran Disaster Response, Lutheran World Relief, Immigration and Refugee services, Peace Not Walls (in Palestine and Israel), and an HIV/AIDS ministry we are committed to helping to solve many of the world's great social issues.
The ELCA also is committed to advocacy, especially issues of racial and social justice, science and technology, and ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
Our Values are grounded in faith, in our biblical and Lutheran confessional sources and our love of God and neighbor. They speak to the way this church lives and practices our faith, and they will guide how we journey forward in Christ as church together.
We believe that humans are saved from their sins by God's grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of Scripture alone.
Martin Luther’s emphasis on grace as a free gift is rooted in scripture: “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We believe that we are called to live our faith in the world as we work for justice and seek the good of all.
Lutheran World Relief