Why Be A Lutheran?
Everyone knows about Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Mega Churches but fewer people have heard of Lutherans. It is not because we are so few - there are over 3 million of us in America and far more worldwide. We have had 500 years to spread what was once called "The Lutheran Movement."
500 years ago, the only church that existed in the world was the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, not only ruled the church but also could approve of or disapprove of kings and queens and even had the power to give away the New World once it was discovered.
Worst of all, the Roman Church had no restrictions. The priests could do as they pleased, preaching in Latin, confusing the people; the Bishops were bought and sold and a Cardinal position was always for sale. Some of the doctrines taught were not from the Bible: praying to Mary, paying for sins to be forgiven, forced private confession and salvation by works were all part of the false teachings that had crept into the Roman Catholic Church.
SOMEONE HAD TO DO IT....
Someone had to stand up to all the false and wicked things in the Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther was a Dr. of the church and was a professor in Germany. Through many personal struggles he realized he had believed false things all his life. He began teaching what the Bible said and not what he had been taught. Of course, the people loved it. They no longer were under the strong fist of the priests. They packed his classes and his church in Wittenburg and longed to hear more. The Pope ordered Luther to stop preaching and teaching against the church but Luther refused. He would have been assassinated but the Princes in Germany hid him away in a castle to keep him safe while his teachings spread all over Europe.
THE PEOPLE READ THE BIBLE...FINALLY
While Luther was hidden away he decided to translate the whole Bible into the language of the people: German. Since the printing press had finally been invented, the Bible was mass produced for the whole world and to the people. The people, because of this, read the Bible for themselves for the first time in history. They began to check the Bible for themselves and realized how falsely they had been taught. The Pope tried to stop the Bible getting to the people but that failed too. Finally, seeing Luther had opened the jar, England and France followed by putting the Bible in English and French. The Pope lost his hold on the world and now people can choose to be Roman Catholic if they please or join the Lutherans if they choose. To do so under the harsh reign of the Pope meant death - Luther was a champion not only for the truth but also for the people!
THE 500 YEARS OF HERITAGE ALL OVER THE WORLD
King Henry VIII broke the hold of the Pope forever by pulling away and forming the Church of England and made himself the head of it. The Dark Ages had passed; the tyranny of the Pope was crushed. Soon Switzerland and other countries did the same. Once the Germans arrived in America, they brought Lutheranism and the teachings of the German Princes were spread all over America. To this day, some Lutherans consider themselves "The Reformed Roman Catholic Church" which is what Luther wanted in the first place.
GOING DEEPER - HERE ARE EXCELLENT RESOURCES ON LUTHER, LUTHERANISM AND WHY WE LUTHERANS CARRY ON THE TRADITION OF FREE SPEECH, PURE DOCTRINE AND REFUSE TO CHANGE TO FIT THE LATEST BREEZE OF DOCTRINE.