Frequently Asked Questions

Lutheran FAQ

Luther's Rose
Luther's Rose

In a July 8, 1530 letter to Lazarus Spengler, Luther interprets his seal:

Grace and peace from the Lord. As you desire to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, I shall answer most amiably and tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology.

The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. "For one who believes from the heart will be justified" (Rom. 10:10). Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17) but by faith in the crucified.

Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matt. 28:3; John 20:12).

Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed.

And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal.

This is my compendium theologiae [summary of theology]. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation. May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter.  Amen.

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What are Lutherans?

Lutherans are Christians who believe that the efforts of Martin Luther to keep the church faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ were on target and need to continue.

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What is the Gospel?

The Gospel is that you, just as you are, in your anxiety and guiltiness, as creature and sinner, are infinitely loved, forgiven, received, valued, and accepted by God. This Word of God was uniquely incarnate in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It lives today in the Church, the Body of Christ.

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What is sin?

Sin is not sickness or ignorance. Sin is people’s refusal to be who God created them to be.

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What is salvation?

Salvation is being grasped by the grace of God so that you know yourself to be loved and forgiven by God and therefore reconciled to God, yourself and all your neighbors. You cannot do anything to earn salvation. God does it all, through grace alone.

If you don’t have to do anything to earn salvation, does that mean Lutherans don’t do good works?

Lutherans do lots of good works. But we do them out of gratitude to God, not to make God like us better.

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Do Lutherans believe in the Bible?

Not the same way we believe in God. God so loved the world that he didn’t give it a book. He gave it his Son Jesus Christ. The Bible is very important, but it is not a substitute for God.

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How many sacraments do Lutherans have?

Two. Baptism and Communion. In them we believe God comes to us; we do not go to God.

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How do Lutherans worship?

We follow the traditional liturgy of Word and Sacrament, that is, preaching, and communion.

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Are Lutherans ecumenical?

Yes. We believe that all churches who are faithful to the Word of God in Jesus Christ are already one with us.

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Do Lutherans believe they hold the one true faith?

Yes. But we also believe we are not the only ones who hold it.

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