The Beginnings of the Lutheran Church

Martin Luther was a Catholic Priest who, by closely studying the Bible, came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Among many things, he strongly disputed the Catholic view on indulgences (performing an act — including paying money to the church — to reduce the punishment of sin). Luther publicly proposed an academic discussion of his concerns by nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. The Latin Theses were later printed in several locations in Germany in 1517, and in 1518, the Ninety-five Theses were translated from Latin into German.

Luther’s writings were so popular copies had spread throughout Germany within two weeks. Copies had spread throughout Europe within two months, and by 1519, copies were seen as far as France, Italy, and England. Despite pressure from the Catholic Church, Martin Luther refused to renounce all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520, and he refused the same to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1521 at the Diet of Worms. He was excommunicated by the Pope and condemned as an outlaw by the Emperor as a result.

It was the Catholic Church’s desire to have Luther apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic. It was declared a crime for anyone in Germany to give Martin Luther food or shelter, and anyone could kill Luther without legal consequence. Martin Luther was smuggled to safety before he could be apprehended, and he continued to disseminate his writings. Even from hiding, he continued to push the Catholic Church on the practice of indulgences, which they eventually ceased as a result. He also translated the Bible from Greek to German so that people could read it for themselves. Luther was responsible for many revolutionary things, including helping nuns escape from the Nimbschen Cistercian Convent in April 1523 by arranging for them to be smuggled out in herring barrels. Once such nun, Katharina von Bora, he later married on June 13, 1525. His wedding was unprecedented, and a seal of approval on clerical marriage resulted from his marriage. In the same year, he set to the 

task of organizing a new church, and he also wrote many hymns that are still sung today.

The Ideology of the Lutheran Church

In contrast to the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism favors the idea that the scripture of the Holy Bible is the final authority, and Lutherans hold to the creed, “By grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of Scripture alone.”

Unlike other theologies, such as Calvinism, Lutherans choose to maintain adherence to many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation church while highlighting the importance of the Lord’s Supper. In Lutheran theology, we differ in concepts of predestination, God’s law and its purpose, the divine grace, and the perseverance of the saints from Reformed theology teachings.

The Lutheran Church Today

With approximately 80 million followers, Lutheranism is one of the largest denominations of Protestantism, and the third most common Protestant denomination. The largest community of Lutheran churches, the Lutheran World Federation, includes 74 million members. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (or LCMS for short) is a traditional, confessional Lutheran denomination. It is the second-largest Lutheran body with 2 million members in the United States alone. Strong, focused, and faithful, the Lutheran community continues to welcome new members and followers in Christ.

If you’re looking for more information about the Lutheran Church or Lutheran beliefs, then please contact us or come visit our Lutheran Church in Hesperia this Sunday.