Denominations of the Christian faith can confuse many people, both Christians and non-Christians alike. Admittedly, it can be confusing between all of the different denominations, from Baptists and Pentecostals to Presbyterians and Lutherans. Faith Lutheran Church in Hesperia is a church of the Lutheran denomination. But what exactly does that mean to you? Below, we’ll go over in brief how the Lutherans came to be and what it means for you. Contact us today to learn more!
WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN DENOMINATION?
Denominations are a result of a difference in belief in Christians that all stems from the First Council of Nicaea, which was the Christian church’s first attempt to formalize Christian beliefs and resolve disagreements, such as was Jesus actually begotten by God. Prior to this, Christ’s teachings were mainly taught by his disciples who then taught their disciples. In a world with very few books and very few people who could read, it was easy to get beliefs mixed up.
Over the centuries, there were more councils (notably the Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451) that attempted to narrow down Christian teachings and gain a consensus. For hundreds of years, the Christian church went about its business of converting people to Christ. However, as human nature dictates, differences arose that led to the Great Schism of 1054 where a formal break between the Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church took place.
This great break lasted until a man by the name of Martin Luther couldn’t abide by some of the teachings of the Catholic church and nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of a church in Germany, stating that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humanity can only reach salvation through faith alone and not through deeds. Hence, the Protestant Reformation began, as well as the beginnings of Lutheranism.
THE THREE DOCTRINES (OR SOLAS) OF LUTHERANISM
Martin Luther taught and Lutherans today believe in three main doctrines, or solas, that guide everything Faith Luthern Church in Hesperia does.
- Sola Gratia — humans are saved from their sins by God’s grace alone
- Sola Fide — humans are saved from their sins by faith alone
- Sola Scriptura — humans are saved from their sins on the basis of Scripture alone
In the literal Latin translation, it’s easier: grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. Along with the Holy Trinity, that’s what the Lutheran faith boils down to.
THE THREE SACRAMENTS OF LUTHERANISM
There are three sacraments, or sacred acts of the divine institution, that Lutherans adhere to:
- Baptism — Baptism is a ceremony where you declare your belief in Jesus Christ as your Savior and as the son of God. When you are baptized, Lutherans believe you receive God’s promise of salvation.
- Eucharist — Also known as Holy Communion, the Eucharist is a ceremony of asking for God’s forgiveness for your sins by eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ himself.
- Penance — Lutherans believe you must confess your sins as part of receiving forgiveness. This is done as a whole in the General Confession that is done before every Eucharistic service and in private with a pastor, which is known as the Holy Absolution.
This is just a cursory introduction to the Lutheran faith and history. For more information, stay tuned to future blog posts, and please visit our website, or call Faith Lutheran Church in Hesperia where all are welcome!