How do we understand the Christian Faith?
(Please note: We hold to the historic faith of the church as expressed in the creeds and confessions, but recognize the need to preach and teach so people can hear and understand their true meaning. We do not wish to merely repeat conventional pieties or the theological slogans of the past.)
- We believe in God
- This means that there is a power and purpose and presence at the heart of existence that cares for us, speaks to us and works in us and in our world.
- We believe in Jesus.
- Jesus was a real human being who lived in Palestine in the 1st century CE.
- From a purely human perspective, Jesus was a spiritual and moral genius with a profound vision into the character and will of God (that transcendent reality at the heart of the universe).
- From a faith perspective, Jesus was the embodiment of this transcendent power. When we see Jesus, we see who God is. When we are encountered by Jesus, we are encountered by God.
- It’s written by human beings not dictated by God.
- Those human beings were “inspired” (Think about the many ways we talk about an artist being inspired. It means their work somehow comes from outside themselves, but at the same time it comes through themselves.)
- Those writers and speakers were shaped by their culture and language – and it is important for us to understand those cultures and languages to understand it properly.
- But these writers and speakers were not bound by their culture. They also transcend it.
- These writings were preserved because their transcendent, inspired message spoke to people. It illumined their lives. It spoke truth. It called them to be better human beings.
- These writings still speak. God speaks to us through this writings to heal, challenge, renew and call us forth into our true humanity.
- The Bible is a library not a book – it is a collection of writings. A book has one perspective; a library is a conversation. (God is big enough and complex enough that a conversation is a better aid to hearing God’s message.)
- We take the scriptures seriously rather than literally. This is the way they themselves say they were meant to be taken. (We recognize, for example, that the purpose of the creation accounts in the Bible is to convey the message “you (and all things) were created for a purpose” not to teach us science. We think the question why we are here is much more important, and presents a more profound challenge, than the question how we got here.)
- Faith is trust. Faith is not intellectual assent to a set of ideas, it is the trusting response to a message and an allegiance to the speaker of that message – in this case, God and Jesus.
- We are affiliated with the Lutheran Church (currently the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – ELCA).
- The name Lutheran comes from Martin Luther, the 16th century German monk whose teaching and preaching led to the movement known as the Reformation.
- A “Lutheran” identity means we think that Luther’s insight into the central message of the scripture was right: The witness of scripture is to a God of grace whose purpose is to heal/save the world (each of us individually and all of us together).
- For Christians shaped by Luther’s insights, worship is about God speaking to us, about being encountered by this voice from the heart of the universe. (This involves preaching, which we care about a lot, but the music, the prayers, etc. are also meant to speak to us.)
- Our worship is sometimes formal and sometimes casual and often both.
- Everybody is welcome
- Children are welcome
- We celebrate communion every week
- Everyone is invited to share in communion if they wish (including children).
- The form of worship doesn’t matter as much as the message of Grace
- Lutherans generally kept the historic form of the church’s liturgy – but changed it to the language of the people (because it is about a message being spoken to us, not a ritual being done for God).
- We think there is value in this historic form of worship. It works to speak to our lives, and it is a helpful reminder that we are not the first and only Christians but part of a community that stretches back through time and around the world.