What is a Lutheran Christian?


     While there are eight million Lutherans in the United States and sixty million worldwide, most people in East Texas are simply unfamiliar with the Lutheran church.  At Angel of Joy, we want our community to become more familiar with what we're about so that people without a church home will feel comfortable visiting and participating in our Christian fellowship.  To better understand Lutheranism, it is helpful to become familiar with our history and roots.


     Lutherans trace their roots back to the sixteenth century when Martin Luther, an Augustinian Roman Catholic monk, challenged some of the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  In 1517 Luther attached ninety-five theses (or propositions) to the front door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany.  Luther's bold actions were the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation throughout Europe.   In many recent surveys celebrating the new millennium, Luther has been chosen as one of the most influential thinkers and leaders of the last thousand years.


     Luther initially wanted the Roman Catholic Church to reform itself from within, but after several tumultuous years of heated debates, the "reformers" decided it was time to start a new church denomination.  Luther wanted this new denomination to be called the Evangelical Church, but over time, Lutheran became the common name for the denomination.


     Lutherans hold a number of teachings in common with the vast majority of Christian denominations, both Protestant and Catholic.  Many of the differences in Christian denominations are not so much over differences in core beliefs, but rather, over differences in tradition, style, and emphasis.


     If you were to boil down Lutheran beliefs to one word, a strong candidate for that word would be grace.  Grace is a word that describes God's unconditional and steadfast love.  If mercy is not getting what you deserve (punishment), then grace is getting what you don't deserve (love and forgiveness).  This grace is shown in countless ways, but most clearly of all in the good news that we are freely saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Most Christian denominations point to God's grace, but Lutherans tend to get really radical about it.