The Lutheran Distinctive Part 1

In many cases around the country, many people when they hear "Lutheran" Church, they are not quite sure what to think of this church body. For some people, they think of a sect that began merely in the 16th century just to start its own thing distinct from the Roman Catholic Church. Others are not sure what to make of this Church. Some have questions about whether or not we believe in Jesus. Others wonder if we're just a Roman Catholic-lite branch that just had some minor disagreements that led to a split. Over the next few posts, we will cover what makes the Lutheran Church first a Christian church, second what makes this church a continuation of the holy Christian church throughout the ages, and finally third as a distinct branch of the Christian church (or rather the fullness of what all Christians believe about God and His Word). While one can get a more in-depth view of this church body by reading our confessional statements in the Book of Concord, we will summarize them over the next few posts briefly. 

The Lutheran Distinctive #1: The Lutheran Church is a Christian Church 

When we talk about the Christian church (that church which spans all kinds of denominations as an invisible body of Christ) what is it that we are talking about, what is the Christian church? 

1. The Christian church is that church that confesses the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This is the distinctly Christian view that God is three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one divine substance. This is summarized in the great Christian creed known as the Athanasian Creed which states "For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is another...So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God." (Lutheran Service Book, Pg. 319). How this works is a divine mystery, however, this is one of the key doctrines of faith in order to be identified as a Christian church. 

2. The Christian church believes in Jesus Christ. What does this mean? The Christian church confesses that Jesus was both God and man fully. In addition, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary. It also confesses that Jesus was born, died on the cross for the sins of the world, rose again on the third day (which is associated with Easter), ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God. He also will come again to judge both the living and the dead. 

3. The Christian church believes in the authority of scripture. Scripture is the divine revelation of God in written form that traces the story of God to save and rescue his people from sin and death. All Christians believe that it is the authoritative text of the church. While there may be disagreements about the canon or to what extent it is authoritative, all Christians believe in it and that it is the infallible and inspired Word of God. 

4. It confesses with the whole church the three ecumenical creeds. These creeds are the Nicene Creed, the Apostles' Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. While not every Christian church might not confess these creeds in public worship, all Christians believe in the content of these creeds. These creeds summarize the doctrine of the Trinity, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ. Furthermore, it covers salvation that Jesus came to die on the cross to bring salvation to us who were lost and condemned due to our own sins after the Fall in Genesis.