Lutheran churches profess that the Holy Scriptures are the source and norm of their doctrine and life. They proclaim the historic, ecumenical creeds of the church – the Apostles’, the Nicene and the Athanasian – which say that God is a Trinity who creates, saves and sustains us. What Lutheran churches everywhere believe and profess is explained in detail in several confessional writings dating from the 16th century, which they see as pure expositions of God’s Word. The most fundamental of these are the Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Small Catechism. These theological confessions, rather than particular forms of worship or organization, are the unifying principle for Lutherans and the focus of their identity.
Lutherans especially emphasise that God offers his eternal love to humans as a gift – it is not something that we can earn by what we do. In Christ, God has shown that he accepts us as we are, with our many failings. By placing our trust in this gracious promise of God, given in Christ, we are brought into a right relationship with God. Lutherans sum this up by saying that we are justified by grace, through faith. Such faith empowers us to express love to our neighbours freely – not in an effort to win God’s salvation, but in thanks and praise to the God who loves us unconditionally and eternally.
For more information about Lutheran beliefs, see the page on worship.