What Is a Lutheran?

The name “Lutheran” has its origin in a German priest and professor of theology named Martin Luther. Luther was one of the main leaders of the Reformation, the Christian movement in the 16th century. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with monetary values or indulgences. Luther taught that salvation and subsequently eternity in heaven is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin and subsequent eternity separated from God.

His theology challenged the authority of the Roman Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God. His beliefs and writings caused him to be excommunicated from the Roman Church and condemned as an outlaw by the Emperor. Those who identify with Luther’s teachings are called Lutherans, even though Martin Luther insisted on Christian as the only name for individuals who professed a belief in Jesus Christ.

Luther and the other Reformers did not set out to create a new church. They worked instead for a reformation of the church, in reverent submission to the supreme authority of Holy Scripture, and with an unswerving zeal for the faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The essential message of the Lutheran Reformation is best summarized in Luther’s Kleiner Katechismus (Small Catechism), appreciated for centuries as an excellent compendium of basic Biblical teachings. The Small Catechism is also one of the official Confessions of the Lutheran Church, as contained in the Book of Concord.

Today there are several different Lutheran groups or denominations that sadly do not completely agree on all aspects of Biblical teaching, or their understanding of the spiritual legacy that has been passed down through the ages. Christ Lutheran Church of Whitefish, MT, is a member of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). LCMC is an association of congregations who are free in Christ, accountable to one another, rooted in the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, and working together to fulfill Christ’s great commission to go and make disciples of all nations.

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Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615

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