What we believe
What does the ELCL confess:
Along with the whole Church, the ELCL confesses that Jesus Christ is the true and only Son of God the Father, that he became man for the salvation of the human race, and that through his death and resurrection the life of God in the Holy Spirit is offered and given to all who in faith receive the Gospel.
This Faith is authoritatively given in the prophetic and apostolic books of the Old Testament and the New Testament (Holy Scripture, the Bible) and is confessed by the Church in the three ecumenical creeds: Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed.
The Apostles' Creed gives a brief summary of the fundamental content of Christian faith:
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
As a Lutheran Church, the ELCL also accepts the teaching of the Lutheran Reformation as that is taught in the confessional writings of the Book of Concord (1580) and regards these writings as a true and faithful exposition of the Holy Scriptures. These writings include the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord.
How does the ELCL practice its faith:
Along with the whole Church, the ELCL believes that Christ has called and gathered a people who confess him to be Savior and Lord. In the name of Christ, and with him, the people of God worship their Father in heaven in hymn and prayer and in the sacrifice of a holy life and love toward their neighbor.
Liturgy: Originally "liturgy" referred to a public duty owed to the state by its citizens.
The Scriptures used the word to refer to the public duty of the people of God owed by them to God. Therefore, liturgy refers to the church's worship of God in its public services, most especially in the celebration of the holy Supper. Indeed, the church can even be defined as "the assembly of saints in which the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments are given as Christ established them" (Augsburg Confession 7).
Baptism: Jesus said that "unless one become a child of God through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3,5).
The apostle Paul calls baptism a "washing for rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Tit 3:5). Elsewhere the apostle says that in baptism we are one with Christ in his death and resurrection: "We were buried with Christ through baptism into death, so that, as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also are to walk in the new life" (Rom 6:4).
These words of Scripture tell us that in baptism our sins are washed away and forgiven and that we are through the Spirit created anew for a life of faith, hope and love. Because baptism is the birth of a child of God for life according to the Spirit, baptism can be received only one time. Yet, the Holy Spirit received in baptism works in those baptized a daily repentance of sins and a daily renewal for holy and righteous living.
Lord's Supper: On the night before his passion and death, Jesus gathered his disciples together to eat the Passover meal, remembering the redemption of Israel from the bondage of Egypt and the escape of the people of Israel from the angel of death. However, at this Passover meal Jesus established the Christian passover meal in which the eating of his Body and the drinking of his Blood became the perpetual communion in the redemption his death and resurrection brings. Jesus took bread and said to his disciples, "Take eat; this is my body." And he took a cup of wine and said, "Drink of this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:26-28).
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this Bread, he will live for ever; and the Bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (Jn 6:51). The apostle Paul spoke of the Lord's Supper as a "participation" in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 10:16). In the Lord's Supper, therefore, the Body and the Blood given and shed for the forgiveness of sins is distributed and received by all who eat and drink. Those who receive this sacrament in faith receive the forgiveness of sins, the nuture of faith, union with Christ, and eternal life.
Confirmation: In agreement with all Lutheran churches, the ELCL does not consider confirmation to be a sacrament. Rather, confirmation is the public affirmation of the Christian faith as that is confessed in the baptismal creed. After a period of instruction in the teachings of the Christian faith, a person publically confesses that the Christian faith is also his own faith. Upon thisi confession the person is allowed to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper. It is the practice of the ELCL that only confirmed members of the church may serve as godparents in the baptism of a child.
Prayer: As loving children ask of their loving father, so we are confident in Christ to bring our prayers and requests to our Father in heaven. Jesus said, "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and you will receive it" (Mk 11:24). Prayer is the response to the love of God that is in Jesus. Therefore, we pray in the name of Jesus and we pray with him when we come to the Father in prayer. Jesus himself taught us how to pray:
"Our Father, who are in heaven, may your name be made holy, may your kingdom come, may your will be done as earth as it is in heaven; give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who sin against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
This prayer teaches us to pray not only for ourselves but also for others, including our enemies, even as Jesus himself prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:34). Following Jesus, the apostle Paul also urges Timothy to pray and intercede for all people, including those in authority (1 Tim 2:1-2). Praying for all people, including those who are not of the household of faith, is a significant service that the church gives to the world.