What is Lutheran?

At Ascension Lutheran Church we believe our middle name is important. As a matter of fact, it’s at the very “center” of who we are. For that reason, we think it’s important to take a little time to consider what it means to be a Lutheran church. 

  • Lutheran’s got their name as a result of the activities of Dr. Martin Luther who lived about 500 years ago in eastern Germany. Martin was one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. Some people confuse that Dr. Martin Luther with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader who was active in the U.S. during the middle part of the twentieth century. Both were great men, but the Lutheran Church gets its name from the German Martin Luther.
  • The roots of the Lutheran church can be traced back to 1517 which marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The early activities of the reformation began at Wittenberg University, and were firmly grounded in the academic community. Since that time Lutherans have placed tremendous value on education at all levels. Ascension Early Childhood Education Center was started with that in mind, and is a part of that rich educational tradition of the Lutheran Church.
  • Some people think of individual Christian denominations as being somehow “narrower” than Christianity as a whole. Lutherans have always viewed themselves as being only and wholly followers of Christ. Rather than being a narrow way of understanding what it means to be Christian, Lutheranism provides a lens and perspective which provide deep and rich understanding of how God interacts with His creation, including all people. As a result, Lutheranism is not an exclusive club open only to a few who understand it, but a way for all people to better understand and describe God’s relationship to His people and His whole creation.This distinctively “Lutheran lens” provides a valuable set of tools to Christians as we seek to understand ourselves, our vocation, and God’s will for us. Just a few of these perspectives include: 
  • Paradox: The centrality of paradox in Lutheran theology means that Lutherans live in a both/and rather than an either/or world. We are invited to believe that two things which seem contradictory may in fact both be true. The cross is the greatest contradiction of all. Christ’s humiliating defeat is God’s glorious victory. Those who walk the way of the cross find life by losing it (another paradox). Other powerful paradoxes which provide distinctively Lutheran lenses on the Christian life include law & gospel, the two kingdoms, and living simultaneously as saint & sinner.
  • Humility: a Lutheran view of the world and our relationship to God is grounded in the confident humility that we are incapable of completely comprehending and living out God’s full plan for us, and that we are unable to fully understand God’s will and ways at work in His creation. We live simultaneously in the assurance of God’s boundless grace and mercy for those that He created and striving to live our lives in God pleasing ways.
  • Vocation: Lutherans acknowledged that God gives each of us a distinctive set of gifts, skills, abilities, experiences, and predispositions which He then expects us to passionately deploy in service to Him and His creation. Education becomes the means by which we discover and strengthen the understanding and expression of that vocation.
  • Sacramental Theology: Lutherans believe that God reveals his truth through both scripture and through His sacraments. Martin Luther defined a sacrament as an act instituted by God in which God Himself has joined His Word of promise to the visible element and by which He offers, gives and seals the forgiveness of sin earned by Christ. Lutherans celebrate this special sacramental closeness in baptism and in the Lord’s Supper.

Finally, Lutherans note  that human reason has its limits, and God’s revelation is definitive in matters of faith. While education and reason inform and empower our life on earth they cannot redeem; God’s revelation in Jesus Christ alone has that power.

“Thanks to Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church for parts of this explanation.”