About Lutheranism

Joy Lutheran is a Christian church and member church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). As Lutheran Christians, we confess the following:

  • We believe in the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord and Savior.
  • We trust the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
  • We identify the Bible; the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds; and the Lutheran confessional writings in the Book of Concord as the basis for our teaching.

What are Lutherans?

Lutherans are Christians that identify with the theology and teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th century German monk who openly refuted some practices of the Roman Catholic Church at the time, and in doing so, became a leader of the Protestant Reformation.


What makes Lutheran theology unique?

Martin Luther felt alienated from a God he saw as angry and demanding.  No matter how hard he tried, Luther could never believe that what he did was good enough to find peace with God. Luther sought to be “justified” or righteous before God. Through his study of the Bible, Luther came to that justification, or being made right with God, was a gift from God that was freely given to all through faith, not through penance or through good works. This doctrine or teaching of “justification by faith” is at the core of the Lutheran understanding of the Gospel.

Building on this, Luther taught that Christians are justified through faith, yet constantly in need of God’s redeeming grace due to humanity’s sinful nature. The Latin terminology for this doctrine is simul justus et peccator, which can be translated as “simultaneously righteous and a sinner,” or “at the same time, a sinner and a saint.”


What does this really mean?

We believe that God’s grace is a gift that is freely given, and isn’t something to be earned. Sin is an inherent part of the human experience, and not just about doing right or wrong. No amount of good works could ever come close to being enough to make up for our brokenness. Because we are incapable of saving ourselves, God became truly human and died a human death in Jesus Christ. In this humbling act, we are saved from our sinful nature.

As “sinners and saints,” we recognize that we all fall short of perfection in our own unique and very human ways. We also recognize that we are all saved from this brokenness by God’s unwavering and steadfast love for us. This is a constant action; Lutherans often speak of “death and resurrection” as something that we individually experience on a daily, even moment-to-moment, basis.


Living by Faith

The Lutheran notion of sin and humanity’s brokenness does not mean that charitable works have no place in Lutheran teaching, however. Rather, we believe we are freed and empowered to love and serve our neighbors in response to God’s radical love. Luther referred to this as “the freedom of a Christian,” summarized in the statement that “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”

Martin Luther was exuberant when he described the freedom of “a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that believers would stake their lives on it a thousand times.” He once wrote, “Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good things unceasingly.”

Faith does not close our minds to the world or our hearts to others. And we’re always in a process of discovering, tending, unfolding, and nurturing what that faith looks like in our lives. To help us, we listen for the living word in Scripture. We listen to the witness of others and we watch for ways God is active in the world around us.

Faith is open and dynamic — engaging others in conversation, seeking truths, asking questions. Faith seeks understanding and speaks love in word and action.

Faith urges us to a full life, liberated for a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.

What do Lutherans believe about homosexuality and LGBTQ issues?

In 2009, the ELCA adopted the social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” which expresses the ELCA teaching on sexuality. Click here to read the statement.

The social statement opened doors for homosexual pastors in committed same-sex relationships to serve in rostered leadership positions in the church, while recognizing that the church is home to a broad array of opinions held by people from diverse backgrounds.

We at Joy welcome all persons in Christ’s name regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, gender, class, or other possible exclusionary distinctions. We seek an active commitment to inclusiveness in membership, evangelism, and social outreach. With a heart for the city and a passion for justice, we seek to be a place where all God’s people will know that they are loved.


What do Lutherans believe about other social issues?

The ELCA has adopted a number of social statements over its history that present the church’s teaching on various social issues. These include abortion, climate change, criminal justice, the death penalty, genetics, education, and health care. Click here to browse and read the ELCA Social Statements.

For further reading:

ELCA Teaching Main Page
ELCA Social Statements
Luther and Lutheranism

Comments are closed.