On October 31, 1517, a Catholic monk by the name of Martin Luther posted a list of objections he had with the Roman Catholic Church and some of its theological practices. His letter to the Roman Catholic Church, known as the 95 Theses, was an invitation to have a scholarly discussion primarily on the practice of indulgences. Luther’s hope was that the church would reform its practice and that preaching would be more consistent with the Word of God in the Bible.
What was an invitation was perceived as a threat and became the event that set off the Protestant Reformation.
The 95 Theses were printed in the German language and distributed throughout northern Europe. Other reformers with objections to the Roman Catholic Church emerged. Luther and other reformers attracted followers who formed many of the mainline Protestant denominations that we see today. An invitation to discuss the church practices turned into a separation from the Roman Catholic church. “Lutheran” was a name applied to Luther and his followers as an insult, but instead was adopted as a badge of honor.
In addition to disagreement on indulgences, Martin Luther looked to the Bible and rediscovered the basic principles of belief and theology centered on grace alone, faith alone, and scripture alone:
• We are saved by the grace of God alone – not by anything we do,
• Our salvation is through faith alone – we only need to trust that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who died to redeem us,
• And that the Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life – the only true standard by which teachings are to be judged.
For centuries the Lutheran faith flourished in Northern Europe and in Scandinavian countries. When the great migration of Europeans came to the United States, Lutherans came by the tens of thousands. Lutherans settling in American towns and cities established their own churches, often with small family based congregations. The northern states of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa became centers of Lutheran population. More recently, with the mobility provided by autos, many Lutherans relocated to the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the America.
Over the years congregations would form partnerships and affiliations, sometimes based on culture and language of the “old country” of origin, sometimes based on different understanding of the Bible or theology. But gradually leaders recognized that the Lutheran church could accomplish much more together as a larger church body as opposed to small individual churches or affiliations. Today there are two large Lutheran Church bodies: the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America (ELCA) and the smaller Missouri Synod.
Today it is difficult to accurately describe what a Lutheran is. The Lutheran Church has moved from being a white immigration-based church to a global church, with 5.6 million members in Tanzania, Africa alone. Lutherans are known for their generosity, giving millions of dollars to world relief efforts and development. Over 10,000 Lutherans volunteered in the clean-up and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. ELCA Lutherans highly value education, sponsoring 26 colleges and universities, 14 high schools, 296 elementary schools, and 1573 preschools.
Creator Lutheran Church is a part of the ELCA, which is the most moderate Lutheran denomination. We tend to value traditions, are generally reserved, but are socially progressive. We are highly supportive of women in ministry and leadership, attempt to be welcoming and inclusive to all, and are committed to our Christian friends. Theologically, we try to engage the head and the heart, allowing people to have their faith questions without criticism, and are willing to live in the tension of belief and scientific knowledge.
You are invited the visit the ELCA website to become more familiar with the church, its history, its programs and priorities.