At the heart of what we believe is the conviction that salvation is the free gift of God's grace (undeserved mercy) for Christ's sake alone. "Since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the curse of nature are conceived and born in sin" (Augsburg Confession II, 1), the Lutherans confessed before Emperor Charles V in Augsburg, Germany, in 1530. This "inborn sickness and hereditary sin" makes it utterly impossible for people to earn forgiveness. If salvation were dependent upon human initiative, there would be no hope for anyone. But God forgives our sins, says Luther in his Large Catechism (1529), "altogether freely, out of pure grace" (LC III, 96). [Romans 5:12, Psalm 51:5, John 3:5, John 1:29, Romans 3 Romans 3:21-26, Romans 4:5]
Because salvation is a free gift of God, and because of our being "by nature" sinful, the human "free will" is also powerless with regard to salvation. Free will has some freedom, in the civil world (to obey laws or not to, to be moral or not to, etc), but in eternal or matters of salvation, the free will is bound without God's Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 2:14]
Righteousness is worked in the hearts of men when the Holy Spirit is received through hearing the Word. [Galatians 3:2-6]
Thus salvation is by "Grace Alone", and not by works - and has NEVER been by the works of man or by obeying the law (10 commandments, ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, etc). We reject any teaching that demands a "decision" or a "choice" on the part of the person, but instead believe, teach, and confess that the decision was God's, that he sent His only son to die on the cross for us, because we could not do anything to reach Him.
While God's grace is universal and embraces all people, the Scripture teaches that this grace can be appropriated by sinful human beings only through faith. Faith is more than a knowledge of the history of Christ! [Romans 4:16] God's promise to save and forgive sins goes out to all, but it is received by faith - by anyone who believes it to be true. Faith DOES NOT originate in man, but originates with God. God gives faith through the preaching of the Word. Those who hear it, then, receive, through the faith given, the forgiveness of sins. Otherwise faith would be a work of man. [Romans 2:8-9]
Why, then do some receive and others not? This is the haunting question that no one dare answer! Scripture is silent concerning this, and so should we.
While maintaining a deep appreciation for the church catholic (the universal church), Missouri Synod Lutherans believe that Scripture alone - NOT Scripture and tradition, Scripture and the church, Scripture and human reason, or Scripture and experience - stands as the final standard of what the Gospel is.
We also believe that confidence in the reliability of the Bible is not possible apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Christians believe what the Scriptures teach because they believe in Jesus Christ. Christ is the object of faith, not the Bible.
We believe, teach, and confess that it is by Christ Alone that the world is redeemed, justified, and made right with God. This redemption is received passively by faith in Christ and His saving work on the cross.
We believe, teach, and confess the Scriptural teaching of Baptism, that it is a means by which God gives the forgiveness sins and saves. Baptism is God's work, not man's.
We believe, teach, and confess the Scriptural teaching of the Lord's Supper, that it is a means by which God forgives sins, and that Christ's true body and true blood are physically, really present in the Supper. For Scripture says "this IS my body...this IS my blood," and we should believe and teach the same.
We profess our faith publicly using the Apostles, Nicene, and Athenasian Creeds, which are clear confessions of Scripture.
We believe that the one God reveals Himself in three persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, just as Scripture teaches.
We believe that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and therefore infallible and trustworthy.
We believe, teach, and confess that marriage is a holy estate, given by God to his creation. It is a symbol of Christ and His church. Therefore marriage can only be between a man and a woman. This is the order of creation, and this is God's desire for His people.
We believe, teach, and confess that life begins with God, and not with human decision. Therefore it is wrong to end a life, even if that life is unborn.
You can find more information about The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod by visiting our international website. You may also call, write, or visit our church! You may call us at any time and speak to the vicar or pastor. You may use the form on the Contact Us page to send us an email.
You might also find the following links helpful regarding our beliefs, doctrine, and practice:
- The Three Universal or Ecumenical Creeds
- The Augsburg Confession (1530)
- The Defense of the Augsburg Confession (1531)
- The Smalcald Articles (1537)
- The Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537)
- The Small Catechism (1529)
- The Large Catechism (1529)
- The Formula of Concord, Epitome (1577)
- The Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration (1577)
The What About Series (a series of 27 publications written by former president A.L. Berry, which address doctrinal topics and moral issues to help Christians grow in their understanding.
- The Gospel
- The Bible
- Holy Baptism
- The Lord's Supper
- Being a Lutheran
- The New Millennium
- and MANY more...
What does the word "concord" mean?
The word "concord" comes from the Greek, and simply means agreement, harmony, or unity. As Lutherans in the Missouri Synod, we agree and are unified under one God, one Holy Scriptures, one faith, one baptism, and one common confession. Some Lutheran church bodies (such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America/ELCA) do not stand in "concordance" or agreement with us for they have rejected Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.
What does the word "synod" mean?
"Synod" comes from the Greek (again) and simply means "walking together". Congregations in the LCMS voluntarily choose to belong to the synod. Belonging and walking together also means that all churches share a common confession of Jesus Christ as taught in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions (we believe that the Lutheran Confessions are true to Scripture and conform to Scripture).
How do I become a member of a Missouri Synod congregation?
Well, that depends on the congregation. Most congregations will ask that you attend a new member class (sometimes called a "seekers class") where you will learn the ins and outs of the Missouri Synod, of basic Christian doctrine, and be introduced to the Lutheran Confessions. Afterward, and when both you and the pastor feel you are ready to join the congregation, you will make a public profession of faith during a worship service. Unlike other churches, we believe that baptism is a "once for all time" thing, meaning that if you were previously baptized in the name of the Triune God, that baptism is sufficient because God says it is. Thus there is no need for a "believer's baptism" (a practice not taught or done in Scripture or historically in the Church). If, however, you are not baptized, you will be asked to receive Holy Baptism. While it is normal practice to baptize in front of the congregation, this is not necessary. God's promise through baptism is sure whether or not a congregation sees it.
After becoming part of the congregation (and the LCMS) as a "communicate" member, you will also be permitted to receive the Lord's Supper with your congregation. We generally only allow members to receive the Sacrament, for the care and concern of all.
As members of the congregation (and the LCMS), you are free to offer your talents, time, and treasures to the congregation in any way helpful. You are encouraged to do what you can to edify the congregation, as long as what you do does not go against the teachings of Christ's Word in the Holy Scriptures. (Read more about Becoming a Member by clicking here.)
What is the Church Year Calendar and why do you use it?
Good question! Many churches have, for one reason or another, abandoned the use of a Liturgical or Church Year Calendar. Historically, and yes even in Scripture, there has always been a sacred calender, or church calendar, or liturgical calendar. The Israelites, in the Old Testament, were given a liturgical calender which they followed "religiously", even as the secular or civil calendar was used. Jesus himself followed both a secular and a liturgical calendar. And so today, we continue to follow a special church calendar. Essentially, for the Church, the "church year" begins 4 weeks before Christmas; December 25. But, you can read more about the Church Calendar by following this link.
What will I expect if I attend worship at your congregation?
Well...that's a hard question to answer! You'll find most congregations in the Missouri Synod are filled with people from all walks of life, all ages, and all backgrounds, coming together to share in one common confession, to receive God's promises of forgiveness, peace, and eternal salvation, to enjoy fellowship with one another and with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Lord's Supper... Most churches have a Sunday School program for kids, a youth study program, confirmation, adult Bible study, community events, outreach events, musical events (the Lutheran church is well known for it's diverse and in depth musical history), prayer, special worship services, and on and on and on...Every congregation is a little different as it molds itself to meet the needs of its people and its community. Click here for more about congregational life in the LCMS.
What about other Lutheran bodies; what's the difference between them and the LCMS?
The LCMS is in fellowship with several Lutheran bodies throughout the world, meaning that because we share in a common confession, we are willing to also share pastors and teachers, and we share table and prayer fellowship. But we are also sternly against fellowship with some Lutheran bodies like the ELCA and WELS. We believe common beliefs and a common confession of faith are essential, and we do not take this lightly.
What about other Christian denominations; what are some of the differences between them and the LCMS?
There are many differences between the LCMS and other Christian denominations. Some differences are very simple, like worship practice or the clothing that a pastor wears. Some are more serious, like the doctrine of Baptism, the Lord's Supper, how a person is saved, free will, predestination, etc. You can read up on some of these differences by clicking here.