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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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On being Lutheran

It matters to our lives of faith and to our witness in the world

Who are we as Lutherans? Does it matter that we are Lutherans? Does being Lutheran Christians shape who we are and how we live? Is being Lutheran an obstacle to being an evangelizing church engaged in God’s mission in the American context?

These questions of identity, mission and context are not unique to our day, but they are being asked throughout this church. Three years ago, more than 30,000 ELCA members said one of the priorities for this church was “tending to our Lutheran identity.” Five years ago, in an interdenominational research project, more than 80 percent of ELCA members said: “It is important for me to be a member of a Lutheran church.”

I am convinced that being Lutheran matters to our lives of faith and to our witness in the world. Rather than distancing ourselves from being Lutheran, let us draw from the wellspring of our confessional, theological, liturgical heritage with renewed commitment. We do so not to define ourselves apart from others in the body of Christ but to claim our identity as part of Christ’s church.

As Lutheran Christians, we are becoming an evangelizing church in a Lutheran key. We ask, “What gospel are we proclaiming?” and believe the good news is that we are saved by God’s grace through faith for Jesus’ sake. Any other gospel but this radical word of God’s grace must be challenged and finally rejected.


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