Lutherans are Christians, followers of Christ. As Christians, Lutherans hold major beliefs shared by many people of other Christian denominations as expressed in the Church’s three Ecumenical Creeds.
Like Christians in earlier centuries, the first Lutherans wrote statements of faith. Lutheran pastors pledge themselves to teach and practice consistently with these statements, known as the Lutheran Confessions. The Lutheran Confessions are collected in a Book of Concord. These statements of faith address many basic elements of Christianity, as well as practical issues of living as a Christian in the world. The two major statements of faith are the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession.
The Small Catechism presents the essential teachings of Christianity in a basic way: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper.
The Augsburg Confession presents the central teachings of the Lutheran Church, as well as issues where Lutherans differ from Roman Catholics and other Christian groups. The first 21 articles present the positive teaching of the Lutheran Church on various matters:
(2) Original Sin
(3) The Son of God
(5) The Ministry
(6) New Obedience
(7) The Church
(10) Lord’s Supper
(14) Ecclesiastical Order
(16) Civil Affairs
(17) Christ’s Return to Judgment
(18) Free Will
(19) The Cause of Sin
(20) Good Works
The last 7 articles explain changes to certain practices that the Lutheran Church made during the Protestant Reformation:
(22) Both Kinds in the Sacrament
(23) Marriage of Priests
(24) The Mass
(26) Distinction of Foods
(27) Monastic Vows
(28) Ecclesiastical Power
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