The Lutheran Church is a mainline Christian denomination, and shares central biblical truths with other Christian churches. Along with other mainline churches of all times we confess the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.
We believe in the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe Jesus Christ is both truly God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and truly human, born of the Virgin Mary.
We hold the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the authoritative source for our teaching and practice.
Along with other Protestant churches we teach that people are put right with God by God's undeserved love on account of Jesus' death and resurrection and that this right relationship is received by people through faith. ‘Grace alone', ‘Christ alone', ‘Faith alone', ‘Scripture alone' is a simple summary of Protestant teaching in this area.
Here are some of the more distinctive of Martin Luther's teachings which we believe:
- Sinner/Saint. We believe that Christians are totally right with God because of Jesus Christ and at the same time we are always less than perfect because of sin. God's action is always grace (undeserved love) and God's action is always central, not my action. See Romans 7:14-25
- The centrality of baptism. For Lutherans baptism is not merely a rite or ceremony involving a person's declaration of faith. It is God's action performed in the community of the church to claim a life under grace. Baptism is the complete gift and we spend our lives unpacking its meaning. See Romans 6:3-11.
- The universal priesthood of all believers. Baptism fits us for the ‘office' of universal priesthood of all believers. There is no privileged class in Christianity: all have equal access to God's grace and God is present in all. The key marks of this priesthood are forgiveness of others as God has forgiven us, loving service of others as Christ has served us, and intercession, in which we take the concerns of each other to God in prayer. See 1 Peter 2:9-10 and ‘one another' verses.
- Vocation. God's call is acted out in all occupations and stations in life. Success by earthly standards is not a criterion for judging faithfulness to that call. See 1 Corinthians 7:17-24.
- The limits to human reason in spiritual matters. We do not reason our way into faith. Faith from God's side is a claim on our lives. Reason is a tool in the service of faith, not its master. Within these limits, reason remains nevertheless a glorious gift, because by using it we are able to discover and interpret revelation. Romans 11:33-36.
- The two natures of Christ. In Jesus Christ God took human form. Jesus always remains both truly God and truly human. This frees us from searching for God elsewhere, and it means that God is truly present in Holy Communion, baptism, the Scriptures, and the Christian community. See 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.
- The theology of the cross. The central event in Jesus' ministry was not his teaching of miracles, but his death on the cross. There he displayed his obedience to God and put our disobedience to death. His glory and holiness were hidden in his suffering and death. We are called to a similar obedience that may draw us into suffering and in which also our life with God may be hidden. See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
- Resurrection life. The resurrection of Jesus is not only the guarantee that those who believe in him will be raised to eternal life after this present life. It is also the source of power for the Christian's everyday life. In baptism we have been buried with Christ and raised with Christ. See 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Romans 6:3-11.
- The distinction between Law and Gospel. The Law is what God required people to do for God. The Gospel is what God does for people. Lutherans are careful not to confuse the two, and to keep the emphasis always on the Gospel, which alone gives freedom and life. See Romans 8:1-11.
- The Protestant Principle. ‘The Church is always in the process of being reformed.' No institution of system or doctrine is ever perfect. All need to be continually evaluated and reassessed.
Lutherans believe that the Church is the one, holy, community of forgiven sinners in the world.
This community of baptised people has been created and is sustained by the Word of God as it is preached and enacted in the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.
It is also taught that at all times there must be and remain one holy, Christian church. It is the assembly of all believers among whom the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the gospel. (Augsburg Confession, 1530, Part VII. "Concerning the Church")
So, we can say as Lutheran in as far as the Good News; the gospel of forgiveness of sins and salvation from death by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, is proclaimed and the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are enacted according to the good news, then that is the Christian Church.
We stand in solidarity with all Christians of all traditions and denominations as we preach and teach and administer the good news of Jesus' forgiveness given through his word and sacraments as wonderful gifts to the church.
We also stand apart from any teaching that lessens the gospel and replaces it with some other teaching about how human beings are made right with God. The good news of Jesus is the news that must be at the center of our congregation and all Christian congregations because only on the unmerited love and favour of God, given fully for sinners in Jesus Christ and delivered to each one personally by the Holy Spirit, working through the Word and Sacraments, does the church stand or fall.
Baptism is the means by which God pours out his grace on sinners and makes them part of his community of faith - the Christian Church. Jesus said,
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Baptism is all about God's grace - his undeserved love.
The thing that makes baptism powerful and effective for people is the Word of God, so Lutherans believe and teach that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, working through the water and the Word that a person becomes a member of God's family when they are baptised.
We baptise infants because we believe that baptism is all about God's grace in the first instance. But baptism is not a once-off event that acts like some kind of insurance policy for people when they die. We believe the Bible shows that baptism is an ongoing event – a daily even in the life of a Christian.
For this reason, when parents bring their children to be baptised, we ask that they meet with the Pastor and let the Pastor show them what baptism is and what their ongoing responsibilities as parents of that baptises child will be.
Parents are the most powerful teachers of their children and so, as they have their children baptised they are making a commitment to bring their children to Worship, praying for their children and bringing them up in the faith of the Christian Church.
Some wonderful promises of God concerning baptism:
Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:37)
Don't you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. (Romans 6:3-5)
But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Repent and be baptised … And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
It is through faith that all of you are God's children in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptised into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. (Galatians 3:26-27)
It is in infant baptism that the Gospel is proclaimed loudest in the church; for here it is quite clear with in God's sight man is a being who receives… A child shows what real faith means: to be in God's presence with empty hands, to be dependent on him. God gives his promises even without man's understanding. (From One in the Gospel by Friedemann Hebart)
In baptism, through the Holy Spirit, God forms a simple bond of trust with even the smallest child.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, "Take and eat; this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup after the supper and when he had given thanks he gave it to them and said, "Drink of it all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." (based on Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19,20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25)
If you come to our Worship Service you may ask yourself whether or not you should participate in Holy Communion with us.
Lutheran believe that in holy communion we are united with Christ and with one another. By communing together, we say: 'We are one in our faith. We believe and confess the same things about Jesus and his supper.' Lutherans believe that
- Holy communion is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ given with bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself for us Christians to eat and drink.
- In the sacrament we receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
- That person is well prepared and worthy who believes these words: given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins… The words "for you" require simply a believing heart. (Martin Luther's Small Catechism)
From this understanding of Holy Communion, our practice is to ask people who are new to our community to refrain from participating in Holy Communion. However, we also do not wish to embarrass people, and so if a visitor to Mountainside comes to the altar to commune with us, that person will ordinarily not be refused.
If a person would like to regularly attend services at Mountainside, then we invite them to consult the Pastor and go through a brief instruction on the Lutheran understanding of Holy Communion, leading to a short rite of admission to the Lord's table with us.
Pastor is very happy to speak with visitors about Holy Communion and offer instruction.
He is worthy and well prepared who believes these words: "given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins". But anyone who does not believe these words, or doubts them, is neither prepared nor worthy, for the words "for you" require simply a believing heart. (Martin Luther in the small catechism)
As we come to the Lord's holy meal, it is helpful for all of us to ask:
- Do I repent of my sins?
- Do I believe that Jesus died for me and do I believe that he gives me his body and blood in this meal as a guarantee of forgiveness?
- Do I intend, with God's help, to fight against sin and live as God's child?