Scriptures, Creeds, Confessions
Scripture is the cradle that holds the infant Jesus. Lutherans often use is well-known metaphors from Martin Luther to describe the Christian
Scriptures and their importance. Scriptures foster and nurture faith. Simply stated, the Scriptures tell about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit uses the Scripture to present Jesus to all who listen to
or read them. Scriptures are the “source and norm” of Lutheran teaching and practice. As the Gospel writer John wrote, “these things are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the
Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Therefore, Lutheran Christians believe that the story of God’s steadfast love and mercy in Jesus is
the heart and center of what the Scriptures have to say.
Creeds Like the Scriptures, the three ecumenical creeds — the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed — are written
documents. They originate from the earliest centuries of the Christian church’s history, a time when theological and philosophical questions about the identity of Jesus were widely debated among
Christians. All three creeds affirm that God is fully present in Jesus, that Jesus Christ is both God and human. These three creeds are called ecumenical because they are all accepted and used by the
overwhelming majority of the world’s Christians.
On many occasions in the 16th century, Martin Luther and other evangelical reformers were asked to give an account of
their teaching and practice. In response Philip Melanchthon, one of Luther’s colleagues, wrote, “We must see what Scripture attributes to the law and what it attributes to the promises. For it
praises and teaches good works in such a way as not to abolish the free promise and not to eliminate Christ.” The Book of Concord includes seven writings composed by Luther and others. Lutheran
churches around the world have affirmed these writings, and the ELCA affirms them in its governing documents.
Faithful participation in society is integral and vital to the mission of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA is a church that believes God is calling us into the world — together. As part of this call, we seek the common good for society, provide moral vision
and are committed to addressing social and cultural injustices and issues. The ELCA participates in God’s just and loving purpose for all of creation in many different ways, from the daily actions of
members as citizens, to efforts in social service, to public witness for justice. In response to God’s gracious love that seeks justice, the ELCA equips and nurtures us for our callings in the world,
fosters social service and ministries of mercy, encourages learning and moral deliberation around social and cultural concerns, enacts social teaching and policy documents, interprets and applies
social policy, and partners with agencies, organizations and institutions dedicated to service and justice. Resources and opportunities for participation in addressing social concerns are found on
many ELCA Web pages.