Lutheran Beliefs

Fast Facts: Lutheran Beliefs
Creeds Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Augsburg Confession, Formula of Concord (ELCA) (LCMS)
Religious Authority Bible alone
Human Nature "The first man was not brutelike nor merely capable of intellectual development, but ... God created man in His own image." (LCMS)
Means of Salvation "Faith in Christ is the only way for men to obtain personal reconciliation with God, that is, forgiveness of sins" (LCMS)
End Times "We reject every type of millennialism, or Chiliasm, the opinions that Christ will return visibly to this earth a thousand years before the end of the world." (LCMS)
Other Religions "Faith in Christ is the only way for men to obtain personal reconciliation with God." (LCMS) "There is a large hope for salvation, for all people whenever or wherever they might have lived and no matter how religious or irreligious they may have proved to be themselves." (ELCA)

Lutheran beliefs are expressed in numerous historical Lutheran confessions, most of which were penned by Luther himself or early Lutheran leaders. These confessions have been collected into the Book of Concord, which is regarded as an authority for doctrine and practice by all Lutherans.

ELCA Lutherans view the Book of Concord as an important expression of the Lutheran faith, but not necessarily binding in its entirety for all modern Lutherans. LCMS Lutherans, on the other hand, "regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for all pastors, congregations and other rostered church workers." [3]

The Book of Concord contains the following Lutheran texts:

  • The Three Ecumenical Creeds
  • The Augsburg Confession
  • The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
  • The Large Catechism
  • The Small Catechism
  • The Smalcald Articles
  • Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
  • The Epitome of the Formula of Concord
  • The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord

The official statement of faith of the ELCA is as follows:

  • This church confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe - Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation. - The proclamation of God's message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ. - The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
  • This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
  • This church accepts the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church.
  • This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it In faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
  • This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.
  • This church confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God's mission in the world.


  1. "The Difference Between the ELCA and the LCMS," Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Official Site.
  2. Beliefs: "Lutheran Confessions," Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Official Site.
  3. Practices: "What About Baptism?" LCMS website.
  4. FAQ: Homosexuality, LCMS website.
  5. ELCA/LCMS: The Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
  6. Ibid.
  7. LWF 2003 Membership Details
  8. ELCA Office of the Bishop
  9. "The Difference Between the ELCA and the LCMS," Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Official Site.

Article Info

Title Lutheran Beliefs
Last UpdatedJanuary 29, 2021
MLA Citation “Lutheran Beliefs.” 29 Jan. 2021. Web. Accessed 23 Jan. 2022. <>