Martin Luther is known as the Father of Protestantism. He had studied to become a lawyer before becoming an Augustinian monk in 1505 and was ordained a priest in 1507. While continuing his studies in pursuit of a Doctor of Theology degree, he discovered significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the theology and practices of the church. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the church door at Wittenberg University to debate 95 theological issues. Luther’s hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.
What started as an academic debate escalated to a religious war, fueled by fiery temperaments and violent language on both sides. As a result, there was not a reformation of the church but a separation. “Lutheran” was a name applied to Luther and his followers as an insult but adopted as a badge of honor by them instead.
Lutherans still celebrate the Reformation on October 31 and still hold to the basic principles of theology and practice espoused by Luther, such as:
- We are saved by the grace of God alone — not by anything we do
- Our salvation is through faith alone — we only need to believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who died to redeem us
- The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life — the only true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
We strive to live these principles out in everything we do; we worship to give thanks to God for the grace shown in Jesus Christ our Lord; we come together to study the Bible and learn how we can respond to that grace in our daily lives; and we go out in service to the world, shining with the light of Christ.
So you too might be a Lutheran if you love the Lord and want to grow in your service in his name.
To find out more about Lutherans and Lutheran beliefs, visit the ELCA website.