What We Believe

We believe, teach, and confess the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We believe, teach, and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe in him.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.

The proclamation of God's message to us as both law and gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy in the person and work of Jesus Christ through whom God was pleased to reconcile all things to himself.

The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.

We believe, teach, and accept the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the sole authoritative source and norm of our proclamation, faith, and life.

We accept the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the scriptural faith we believe, teach, and confess.

We believe, teach, and accept the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism as true witnesses to the Word of God, normative for our teaching and practice. We acknowledge that we are one in faith and doctrine with all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.

We believe, teach, and confess the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid expositions of the Holy Scriptures.

We believe, teach, and confess the gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the priesthood of all believers for God's mission in the world.

The Founding of the Lutheran Church
  Martin Luther, a monk and theology professor in Wittenberg, Germany, began studying the Bible and came to believe that certain practices of the Roman Catholic church needed to be reformed. 

Luther was especially critical of the Pope’s use of indulgences to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in the early 1500s. Indulgences were official church documents that could be purchased to eliminate a person’s need to stay in purgatory after they died. The Catholic Church taught that purgatory was a place of cleansing where believers atoned for their sins before going on to heaven.

Luther distilled his criticism into the Ninety-Five Theses, a list of complaints he publicly nailed to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg, in 1517. He challenged the Catholic Church to debate his points. 

Indulgences were an important source of revenue for the church, and Pope Leo X was not open to debating them. Luther appeared before a church council but refused to take back his statements, saying:

Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason−I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.

In 1521, Luther was excommunicated by the church. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared Luther a public outlaw. Eventually, a bounty would be put on Luther’s head.

While others had tried to reform the Roman Catholic Church before Luther, two unusual developments allowed his movement to survive and spread. First, Luther was a favorite of Frederick the Wise, Prince of Saxony. When the Pope’s soldiers tried to hunt Luther down, Frederick hid and protected him. During his time in seclusion, Luther kept busy by writing.

The second development that allowed the reformation to catch fire was the invention of the printing press. Luther translated the New Testament into German in 1522, making it accessible to common people for the first time. He followed that with the Pentateuch in 1523. During his lifetime, Martin Luther produced two catechisms, dozens of hymns, and a flood of writings that set forth his theology and explained key sections of the Bible.

By 1525, Luther had married a former nun, conducted the first Lutheran worship service, and ordained the first Lutheran minister. Luther did not want his name used for the new church; he proposed calling it Evangelical. Catholic authorities coined “Lutheran” as a derogatory term but Luther’s followers wore it as a badge of pride.

Even though Luther is called the Father of the Reformation, he has also been dubbed the Reluctant Reformer. His early objections to Catholicism focused on abuses: selling indulgences, buying and selling of high church offices, and the relentless politics involved with the papacy. He did not intend to split from the Catholic Church and start a new church.

However, as he was forced to defend his positions over the next several years, Luther eventually developed a theology that was at non-negotiable odds with Catholicism. His doctrine that salvation came by grace through faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, and not by works, became a pillar of several Protestant denominations. He rejected the papacy, all but two of the sacraments, any redemptive power for the Virgin Mary, praying to saints, purgatory, and celibacy for clergy.

Most importantly, Luther made the Bible – “sola scriptura” or Scripture alone – the only authority for what Christians are to believe, a model nearly all Protestants follow today. The Catholic Church, in contrast, holds that teachings of the Pope and the Church bear the same weight as Scripture.

Contact Us
Email: info@christlutheranwaco.org

Office Phone: (254)756-4615

Physical and Mailing Address:
3101 MacArthur Drive
Waco, TX 76708