Martin Luther and the Reformation

If you are unfamiliar with The Lutheran Church, this page is intended to provide a basic introduction. The namesake for Lutheran Christians is Martin Luther (1483-1546), a German Bible teacher and reformer. (Both Martin Luther King Jr. and his father were named in honor of Martin Luther.) Luther's writing and teaching sparked great change both in the church and in society, a time in history known as the Reformation. Luther especially challenged the ways in which salvation was taught as something to be purchased or earned through one's good works. Luther's ministry contributed to the development of Protestant Christianity (churches protesting against false teachings within the Catholic Church at the time). 

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted Ninety-Five Theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg German (pictured above). Luther intended to promote an academic debate, but to his surprise, his ideas quickly spread, contributing to widespread protest against the Pope and Catholic practices such as the sale of indulgences (by which the purchaser could supposedly lessen the punishment for their sins). Luther originally hoped to spark change within the Catholic Church, but within his lifetime, Protestant churches including Lutherans and various Reformed churches had distinguished themselves from Catholicism. 

A few more details about Lutherans are provided below.

Evangelical and Catholic

Lutherans can be described as both "evangelical" and "catholic." Lutheran Christians were among the first to be known as "Evangelicals." By calling themselves "evangelical," the early Lutherans made it clear that their faith was Gospel-based
In many ways, the Gospel (the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone) was hidden and overlooked in medieval Christianity. Lutherans helped to restore the Gospel to its rightful place at the heart of the church's life and teaching.
At the same time, Lutherans can also be called "catholic." In its simplest sense, this term means "universal." Lutherans have always understood themselves as members of the church catholic, that is the Christian church of all times and places. Like our fellow Christians around the world, Lutherans believe that the 66 books of the Bible are the inspired Word of God and the standard for our faith and practice. Lutheran teachings reflect those of early Christians who summarized their faith in such universal statements as the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.


Above all else, Lutheran faith and church practice is Christ-centered.
We believe that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, which includes every one of us. As true God, Jesus lived a holy and sinless life in our place. As true man, Jesus also suffered and died for us, enduring God the Father's wrath against our sin.
We also believe the testimony of the Scriptures that Jesus rose again to new life on the Sunday morning following His crucifixion. He appeared to His disciples over a period of 40 days and then ascended to His rightful place and heaven. According to His promise, we await His return on the Last Day when He will raise all people from their graves and judge the living and the dead.
Lutherans emphasize all that Christ has done and continues to do for us. Christianity is not centered on us, our efforts, or our performance. It centers on Christ, His cross, His resurrection, His coming return, and His free gifts of forgiveness, new life, and salvation for all who believe in Him.

The Missouri Synod

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod originated with a group of Lutheran immigrants who left the German territory of Saxony and settled in southeast Missouri. They came to America to practice their faith without government pressure to merge with other church bodies.

The Saxon Lutherans arrived in America in the late 1830s and soon began networking with other Lutherans throughout the midwest. In 1847, "The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States" was founded in Chicago, IL. Eventually the name was shortened to "The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod" (LCMS).

Today, the LCMS is composed of 5,900 congregations, totaling 1.8 million members. As a member congregation of the LCMS, St. Matthew continues to share the same Christ-centered, Gospel-based message that was proclaimed in the time of the Saxon immigration in the 1800s, the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, and in the early church.