Lutheran Teachings

Lutheran Expression of the Christian Faith

Together with other religious and spiritual paths, we participate in the common mission to keep alive the sacred flame of the divine Presence in each person, in history and in the cosmic evolutionary process.  Without claiming exclusivity, but in communion with all the rest, we present our singular message as a proposal of meaning for persons, community and society.

Grace

Grace is something you can never get but can only be given.  You can’t earn or deserve it or make it happen.  Can you deserve the taste of raspberries and cream, the laughter of children, the smell of rain, or the abiding companionship of good friends?  God is gracious and we are saved by grace which means there is nothing you can do to diminish or increase God’s love for you and life. (If God merely required our obedience—our dogs would get to heaven long before we do!)

Grace is universal—the gift of acceptance and affirmation based not on our worthiness or success but on Christ’ s unconditional, merciful love for each and all of us. Christ’s actions are always for the well being of the other:  What is most loving, life affirming, most healing and encouraging.  His grace-filled choices for others were often controversial.  Grace often appears as a disgrace.  Our decisions and choices make a difference.  How then shall we live?

Justice

Christian life is active not reactive. To recreate the world in God’s image and imagination fulfills our life’s baptismal calling.  Protecting the marginalized and advocating for the exploited and oppressed contributed to Jesus’ indictment and crucifixion.  As Martin Luther King said of the Good Samaritan Story—

The question is not what happens to me if I get involved but what happens to my brother or sister if I don’t get involved?

We are catalysts for developing God’s Beloved Community.

Interfaith

Narrow-minded religion reduces spiritual life to morality games of reward and punishment and competition among religions.  Our Christian faith welcomes the experience and expression of God in all faiths. All belong to God. Christ was infamous for welcoming people of all faiths and conditions. Christ made clear there are neither insiders nor outsiders in Christian practice.  When asked about the truths of other religions St. Augustine said 1500 years ago,

If what is shared is true, then it is of God.

Reforming

Aware that life is forever evolving, we believe that the community of faith must be constantly reforming.  Therefore the fabric of worship is always changing; exercising intellectual integrity in every field is required; and new ministries emerge through congregants discernment of personal callings.  Most importantly we believe “Change is Possible”—for persons, community and society.

Creativity/Creation

Our Trinitarian grounding nurtures our appreciation of the whole creation, the beauty of being human and our trust that we in our time can creatively contribute to the blessing of life. Market values reduce everything to commodities; prayer awakens our connection with the sacred nature of everything within creation.  Thus we value the arts—poetry, dance, music, theatre—for awakening our awareness and delight in the incredible mystery of life.

History

We are a limb on the Judeo–Christian tree.  Without Judaism we lose our biblical/spiritual grounding. Lutherans, who are reformed Catholics, began as a protest movement.  The preaching of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism and Communion shape the core of our faith practice.  We believe this world is cherished by God, that history matters and our commitments contribute to renewing the world.

Faith

We are God’s Beloved! The first gift of God is discovering ourselves to be loved, which is  is the core of our being and upon which everything else depends.  Faith is a response to being loved.  Faith then naturally insists on encouraging the well–being of all God’s people.  Faith trusts that God’s unconditional love empowers us to love as freely, generously and indiscriminately as God has loved us.  God takes the initiative to love us and God initiates a partnership with us to create a New Humanity and New Creation.

Trinity

Our God is a Community-in-Unity—the Intriguing Dance of overflowing compassion who longs for intimacy with us.

  • Abba/Imma (Papa/Mama)—surging, endlessly generating life…. Abba is hidden within and beyond the creation; the one who gives yet withdraws from any hint of possession.
  • The Word/Son—enacts God’s Compassion from the Beginning (Big Bang) and reveals God’s compassion in the life, innocent suffering and death and rising of Jesus.
  • The Holy Spirit—inspires and sustains our contemporary life with joy and energy, imagination and contemplation, wisdom and creativity.
  • Our lives and universe are lived inside the Triune Mystery who cannot be comprehended but savored through love, service, mercy and wonder.

Evolution and Science/ Integration with the New Cosmology

Science is our companion not an opponent on the faith journey.  We humans are the consciousness of the universe called to understand and encourage the richness of life for all beings and our planet. To learn the myriad intricate building blocks of the cosmos deepens our awe for that of which we are a part.  Human beings are not the center but the cutting edge and caregivers of life.

Theology divorced from the evolutionary views of Cosmology is only conceptual abstraction—what difference does it make?  Cosmology without Theology is a mirage—comprehending  life without experiencing Meaning is equally empty—what difference does it make?

The poet Muriel Ruykyser has said:

The universe is not composed of atoms, but stories.

These days we are beginning to understand how Evolution is a hidden hand of grace.

Several Lutherans of Distinction…

  • Johann Sebastian Bach—“There is Bach and then there is music.”  Every composition of his ended in a major chord in honor of the Resurrection.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer—German pastor, pacifist, prophet, spy, and martyr who was executed for attempting to assassinate Hitler.
  • Dag Hammarskjold—Former Secretary General of the United Nations. His journal “Markings” is composed of profound spiritual insights, Vagmarken/Markings.
  • Snoopy—100% Lutheran.

Want to know more about Martin Luther?

A prominent teaching of Luther’s was the Priesthood of All Believers:  faith is not mediated by a priest.  Numerous historians today credit this notion as the seed of what became democracy in Europe and America.

Click here for more…Martin Luther—the Historical Reformation