Why are we called Lutherans?
Lutherans are named after Dr. Martin Luther. He lived in the 1500s and taught at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. As a young theologian, he found that he disagreed with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church about how a person attains salvation. He discovered that what the church was teaching and doing was quite different than what the Bible says. Luther addressed many points of disagreement and nailed them on the local church door. These 95 Theses, as they came to be known, interested many who read them. They were widely circulated and debated. Luther’s ideas inspired and encouraged others throughout Europe. They began to call themselves “Lutherans,” though that was never Dr. Luther’s desire. He simply wanted to reform the Roman church. However, his efforts resulted in the world-changing Protestant Reformation. As Lutherans, we hold Dr. Luther in high esteem, but we don’t worship him. His writings are important to Lutherans, but not as important as the inspired Word of God, the Bible.
How do Lutherans worship God?
Lutherans typically go to church to worship, although a person can worship God in any setting. Here are a few reasons we gather at church on Sundays:
1. To come together with other believers. When we gather at church, we gather with those who believe as we do. We share a common confession of faith. We encourage each other to live lives of joy, peace, and love, in Christ.
2. To receive Holy Communion together. When Jesus was on Earth, he initiated a special meal, which we continue to receive even today. He took ordinary bread and wine and said that in them, His body and blood are really present, for the forgiveness of sins. Because we sin daily, we receive Holy Communion often, so that we can receive the blessings of this holy meal. It is one of the sacraments of the church.
3. The other sacrament is Holy Baptism. Lutherans baptize infants and adults because the Bible says that all, including infants, have sinned and are separated from God and in need of forgiveness. In baptism, one receives the forgiveness of sins, and thus, the promise of eternal life in heaven, in the presence of God.