Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
9545 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring MD 20910

What is a Lutheran?
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Lutherans are Christians
Lutherans share a common understanding with all Christians regarding:
We believe that there is only one God, the holy and perfect creator of the universe, to whom we are all accountable.

We believe that God is three Persons whom the Bible call: Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit.  We understand that these three Persons do not constitute three Gods, but individually they are fully God and together they are One God, which we called "the Trinity."  We admit that this doctrine defies human logic, but we also admit that a mere human mind cannot fully understand God.  So we simply take our stand on what God has said about Himself.

We believe that Jesus Christ, is fully God and truly human.  He is not a man who became God, but He was eternally God and at a specific time in history, He became human. 

We believe as the Bible teaches that Jesus was born from a virgin woman named Mary, conceived by the direct working of God's Spirit in Mary's womb, not through any kind of sexual activity.

We believe that Jesus lived a sinless perfect life, and that the purpose of His life was to offer Himself in death as a substitute for sinful humanity.  We understand that while God hates sin, He loves sinners.  So it was through Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, God's justice against sin was satisfied, and through Jesus' sacrifice God is able to forgive sinners. (See Bad News - Good News video)

We believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead, that He physically showed Himself to eye witnesses who spoke with Him, touched Him, and ate with Him.

We believe that 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven, where He reigns as God over creation.

We believe that one day this physical world in which we live will cease to exist, and God will make a new perfect world for us.

Lutherans are Protestants
Protestantism began in the mid-1500s in northern Europe as a reaction to certain practices and teachings of the organized Christian church in Europe, which we now refer to as the Roman Catholic Church.  As Christians throughout northern Europe began studying the Bible, they saw what they felt were contradictions between the Bible's clear teaching about Christ, faith, and forgiveness, vs. what the church taught and practiced.  This religious movement became known as the Protestant Reformation.  The word "Protestant" comes from the word "protest."

Protestant Christians believe...
"You are saved by grace through faith, not by your own doing.  Salvation is a gift from God, not by our own works. So no one can brag." (Ephesians 2.8-9)
During the time of the Reformation, Protestants summarized these teachings in this simple slogan: 

Grace Alone
Faith Alone
Scripture Alone
Christ Alone

Protestants reject as unbiblical specific teachings and practices which have been prevalent in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.  Among these are:
Lutheran Distinctives*   
BAPTISM: In baptism we die with Christ and His new life emerges in us (see Romans 6).  Lutherans baptize babies because (1) babies are born with a sin-nature and need salvation as all people do, and (2) babies can have a faith relationship with God through Christ (see Mark 10:13-16). 

LORD'S SUPPER: Lutherans believe Jesus' promise that He offers us His true body and blood with the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper (see Matthew 26:26-28).

Why Jesus...
The Law: Bad News
Bad News
The Law is like a mirror that shows us our sin.

The Law tells us what we should do
    and what we have failed to do.

The Gospel: Good News
Bad News
The Gospel shows us our Savior.

The Gospel tells us what Christ has done for us.
"He personally carried away our sins in His own body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.
You have been healed by His wounds!" (1 Peter 2:24 NLT)

*Explanation of Lutheran Distinctives
Law & Gospel
Many Protestants view the Gospel -- the message of forgiveness through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross on our behalf -- as useful only for converting lost people from unbelief to faith.  After that, the convert "moves on" to the Law again in order to fix his life.  The problem is, this doesn't work.  Scripture teaches and experience confirms that the Law has no power to make us better people.  The Law is always a mirror that continually shows us our sins.  So Lutherans set up camp permanently on the Gospel's sweet message of God's grace and forgiveness that answers the Law's condemnation.   (See Galatians 3.)

Saving faith is a gift of God...
Lutherans are very careful to avoid Arminian "decision theology," which assumes people have inherent power to accept or reject the Gospel.  (Some Protestant theologians label this doctrine "Semi-Pelagianism" or "synergism.")  Scripture teaches that our sinful nature has power only to reject God's gift.  Faith is not a good work which God rewards with salvation.  Faith is created by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.  Faith itself is part of the salvation package which is totally God's gift.

See christdeaf.org/bible for in-depth studies on Baptism and the Lord's Supper.  Also browse Luther's Small Catechism for Deaf Christians.

Theological paradox
Christians have always been at home with illogical doctrines, such as the Trinity and the two natures of Christ.  However, most Christians are very uncomfortable with the Bible's answer to the question: "Why are some people saved and others are lost?"   Both Calvinists and Arminians have perfectly logical answers. 
Is the Lutheran position illogical?  Yes.  But it is perfectly consistent with the Bible's teaching that God wants all people to be saved and that He offers the merits of Christ's sacrifice to all, while we have no power within ourselves to receive that gift.

Eschatology occupies little space in Lutheran teaching.  But because
Evangelicals in our generation seem to be preoccupied with End-Time prophecies and time-tables, we mention the Lutheran position here.   See our study titled "Left Behind" on christdeaf.org/bible.


Post Script
This document was originally prepared as a handout for a presentation on religious diversity at Gallaudet University where several faith traditions shared the stage.

At the conclusion of this presentation, the moderator asked: "Why are you a Lutheran?"  (Other presenters were asked a similar question respective of their faith traditions.)

My answer:
(1) GRACE!
The first time I read Martin Luther's Large Catechism, a light came on.  For John Calvin and his followers, the hinge pin on which all theology swings is the Will of God.   For Luther the hinge pin for all his theology is the Grace of God

In Luther's words:  "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me."

Pastor Ron Friedrich
September 2012