S What Does It Mean to Be Lutheran?


What does it mean to be Lutheran?
by Stan Lemon

There is something remarkably different from the way Lutheranism understands Jesus Christ than the Roman Catholic church, the Baptist church, or the Reformed church does. There is something which distinguishes Lutheranism from these other churches in how Scripture is intrepreted, and this difference is found in what it means to be Lutheran.

I've heard many answers to the question, what does it mean to be Lutheran? My personal favorite is that "we're right, and everyone else is wrong". My second favorite is a more theologically correct answer, Lutheranism is a confessional church. These answers are not quite what we are looking for though. What it means to be a Lutheran is that we are Christocentric, meaning that Christ is at the center of all of our theology.

Lutherans, do not look at creation outside of Christ. Lutherans do not look at their daily lives outside of Christ. Lutherans, do not look at the inerancy of Scripture outside of Christ. Furthermore when Lutherans look to Christ they look to Him knowing that His sacrificial death on the cross has forgiven all the sins of the world. The Roman Catholic church does not do this, they point to their works which through Christ merit them forgiveness. The Reformed and Baptists do not do this either, rather they point to their decisions and claim that Christ merits them forgiveness because of their decisions. These latter two teachings are false, and it is because they do not center around Christ, rather they center around man made intervention.

The study of Christ, or the study of how Christ is connected to and through all of our doctrine is called Christology. To be Lutheran is to see everything through Christ who died for forgiveness. To be Lutheran means that you realize your sinful nature, you see yourself as purely dead in sin, incapable of doing anything. This lack of capability is also significant to what it means to be Lutheran. Dead people can't do anything, and thus we fully rely on Christ who makes alive that which was dead.

When the Reformed and Baptists look at a cross they rarely depict it with Christ nailed to it. Lutherans on the other hand are notorious for big crucifixes, crosses with Christ nailed to them. Lutherans do this because it was when Christ was nailed to that cross where the sins of the world were forgiven. The blood shed at the cross washed, and made what was once crimson, white as snow. Lutherans realize that the events at the cross are the center of their theology. Furthermore, the events at the cross are the center of life.

To be Lutheran is to be Christocentric. To be Lutheran is to deny man's ability to play a role within our faith. Thus, Lutherans lay it all at the foot of the cross where true man and true God was pierced for the forgiveness of sins.

To be Lutheran is to always be pointing to Christ.