Part 1: The Foundation of My Faith
As someone who was raised in both the United Methodist Church and the Wesleyan faith, the fact that I am now a pastor in the Lutheran church comes as a shock to many people. In fact, I still have many friends who are ministers in various Wesleyan and Methodist denominations.
The change from being a Methodist Pastor to a Lutheran Pastor has been a trying one for me on a personal as well as a professional level. For those who have only a passing familiarity with the Lutheran Church. Martin Luther, a German theologian, is considered to be the founder of the Lutheran faith. Luther was a challenger of the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. The Lutheran Church was founded as a direct result of his beliefs and ideas. To this day, millions of Lutherans all over the world continue to follow the teachings that he developed through his deep study of God’s Word.
The doctrines of sola Scriptura, sola fide, and sola gratia are the three cornerstones upon which Lutheranism is established. These tenets emphasize the fact that the Bible is the only reliable source of religious truth, that faith is the only basis for being saved, and that grace is the only way to earn God’s favor. Lutherans hold the belief that God forgives and grants eternal life to all people who turn away from their sins and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah who died for their sins. In addition to this, they place a strong emphasis on love, justice, and service to others through the new obedience that we have found in Christ (the third use of the law). In the same way, Lutherans are steadfast in their commitment to the doctrines of justification solely through faith and the priesthood of all Christians. They also practice baptism for infants and the regular use of the Eucharist. In addition, Lutherans place a strong emphasis on the importance of tradition as well as the Bible. The Bible, in the view of Lutherans, is the divinely inspired word of God and, as such, it is the final and authoritative authority. They are of the opinion that reading and studying the Bible is beneficial for anyone and everyone. That the Bible should serve as our main source for matters of faith and life. It reveals to us who God is and how we are to conduct ourselves in this life.
Because I agree with these beliefs and practices, I identify as a Lutheran as my religious affiliation today.