These three very important words summarize who we are and what we believe. We could also use the word “Catholic” in place of “Confessional,” but be careful that you don’t think we are Roman Catholic. Instead, we are catholic in the sense that we believe, teach, and confess the faith once delivered to the saints, taught by the prophets and apostles, and confessed by the one, holy Christian church throughout the ages. Let us dig deeper into what this means…
As Confessional Lutherans, we not only believe with our hearts in Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Son of God, but we confess with our lips the unchanging truth of salvation through faith in Him alone. And we confess this truth in written statements of belief called creeds and confessions.
“Ecumenical” means that these Creeds are faithful and true to the Holy Scripture and every Christian Church throughout the world should confess them boldly.
Though the creeds confess the faith consistently, due to great turmoil and much false teaching and unbiblical practices in the church over the centuries, and particularly during the time of the Reformation, the Lutheran Church also confesses the one true Christian faith by way of a collection of articles and statements of faith called The Book of Concord. While certainly not equal to the Scripture or divinely inspired, we believe that what is confessed in the Lutheran Confessions is true to the Scripture and provides another bold and faithful way of confessing the one true Christian faith.
As Sacramental Lutherans, we confess that God not only came to us two thousand years ago in the person of Jesus Christ, but He continues to come to us today, washing us in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, forgiving us in the words of Absolution, and feeding us with His Holy Supper in the Sacrament of the Altar. By these means, God works faith in the hearts of His people, saving them, forgiving them, and strengthening them for lives of service to their neighbors.
As we study the Scripture, we learn early on that God chooses to work through physical agency in order to deliver His divine and good gifts and promises.
The Holy Scripture is a means by which God communicates His will to us. God established the Office of Holy Ministry so that pastors might preach faith into our hearts. God communicates through words and symbols — means by which He gives His assurances. He also chooses to use simple elements like water, bread, and wine to communicate heavenly things.
These are His chosen means! He doesn’t just “zap” knowledge into us or make us Christian apart from these means, but He uses them, both Word and Sacrament, to make, grow, and strengthen faith. And where these means are rightly administered by His pastors, there you have another of His gifts – the Holy Christian Church!
As Confessional Lutherans, our faith and life is centered on the Good News (the Gospel) that Christ Jesus is the only Savior of the world from sin, death, and the devil. And we declare this Good News to all the world, for the only way to receive this salvation is through the Gospel, and God wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth!