Both of our fellowships are affiliated with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, a body of Christian churches and pastors who have voluntarily bound themselves together through a core set of documents which explain the central teachings of the Old and New Testaments. These documents are compiled together in the Book of Concord.
The common thread woven throughout these documents is the recognition that God rescues people from themselves, from each other, and from a dying world. This rescue is ultimately a rescue from our very nature. It requires death to self and life to God. It requires physical death and divine resurrection. It requires a fundamental transformation that no human being has the power to make happen. Only God can accomplish this absolute rescue. And God has made this rescue certain through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Lutherans treasure God’s gifts. They treasure the revelation of the Bible. They treasure their fellowship with the generations of Christians before them. They treasure the voices and practices of their ancestors. They treasure forgiveness, the Good News of Jesus. They treasure rescue stories. They treasure being filled with joy and the motivation to be part of God’s daily gift of rescue for others. Most of all, they treasure God’s desire to freely (and frankly, daily!) rescue them. Jesus has come and has offered life together in a new creation without evil, injustice, oppression, addiction, famine, disease, and the host of plagues that have held this world in bondage.
But Why Call Yourself Lutheran?
We call ourselves Lutheran because of the actions of a catholic monk, priest, and theologian named Martin Luder who lived in the 1500’s. Martin Luder earnestly desired to purge himself of all sin and grow in holy living. But all his efforts to this end failed. No matter how hard he tried to follow the rules of the church and imitate Jesus and other saints he could not rid himself of his sinfulness and guilt.
Then, through his study of the Bible, Luther discovered that God made sinners holy (justification) by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works prescribed by the church. This insight gave Luther the certainty of forgiveness of sins. This certainty not only freed Luther from his guilt, but it also freed him from the belief that merely following a set of rules could generate personal holiness. It also set him free to trust that his life would become holy (sanctification) through the initiative and guidance of the Holy Spirit and not his own effort.
To reflect his newly found freedom Martin Luder changed his last name from Luder to Luther. The word Luther comes from the greek word eleutheros which means “freedom”. We call ourselves Lutheran because we believe that only Jesus frees us from the power of sin, death, and the devil. And we believe that Jesus frees us for one and only one reason–He has freely chosen to love us and rescue us by forgiving our sins. God’s choice to free us belongs to Him alone. He does not choose because of our own spiritual or earthly achievements. We believe that God’s loving choice to free us is revealed to all only through the Word of God.
But Where Does The Missouri – Synod Part Come From?
This name is a shortened version of the fellowship’s much longer (but perhaps more inclusive sounding) name from the 1800’s. This original name in German was: The German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States.