The name “Lutheran” originates with a medieval monk who was eventually excommunicated from the Roman Papacy for his insistence that salvation in Christ could not be bought or sold, but was a free gift of God. The name “Lutheran” first was used as a derogatory term meant to brand Luther and his followers as heretics. They themselves, however, referred to themselves as “Evangelicals.”
Luther and the other writers of the Book of Concord did not want to be doctrinal innovators. They, together with their contemporary descendants, maintain that we believe and teach nothing more and nothing less than what the Scriptures themselves teach and what Christians through the ages have always believed. We therefore consider ourselves to be catholic (small "c"), which means "universal." At the same time, we have always thought of ourselves as evangelical (in some countries, the Lutheran Church is still today referred to as simply the Evangelical Church), since the evangel–the Gospel, the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world–is at the heart and core of everything we believe and teach. We Lutherans, therefore, can rightly be regarded as evangelical catholics. Standing firmly in the tradition of the trinitarian and Christological formulations of the 4th and 5th centuries, we believe that sinners are justified (declared right) with the Creator God by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), on the basis of Scripture alone (sola scriptura). These three great "Reformation solas" form a handy outline of what Missouri Synod Lutherans believe, teach, and confess. You can read more about this history here.
In this class we explore the foundations of the Christian faith. Briefly covered is how Lutherans believe in Jesus by means of the authoratitive witness of Scripture, talk about the Christian faith by its faithful exposition and exhibition in the Book of Concord, and practice their faith using the current hymnal The Lutheran Service Book. Lutherans believe that all of this is summarized in Dr. Luther's Small Catechism. Also covered in this first session is defining who God is and how He has revealed Himself to creation as contained in the Small Catechism.
God's Law, Will, and Character Formation
This class is focused on the first chief part of Luther's Small Catechism, the Ten Commandments. The discussion is focused on God's Law for creation and how humanity fits into creation, how the Law functions as a curb, mirror, and guide, as well as the Ten Commandments simply informing us of God's Will. From this point we turn to character formation, its history, where it is now, and how current generations are in desperate need of virtue education.
Apostles' Creed, Creedal Theology, and the Gospel
Our third class is centered on the second chief part of Luther's Small Catehcism, the Apostles' Creed. The class begins with Pastor Wade talking about the salvation narrative of Scripture - God making a people for himself - starting with the Old Testament and is fulfilled by Christ Jesus. From there we learn about the Three Ecumenical Creeds: the Athanasian Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Apostles' Creed. While many churches today no longer use the three creeds Lutherans emphasize them as a synopsis of Scripture, a guide on how to speak about God, and a perfect explanation of what Christ Jesus has done to attain salvation for all who believe. The important take away is that in Christ, God has made you his own.
Introduction to Stewardship and Vocation:
Member Angie Watt introduces St. John's Stewardship packet and the explains the reason why we use them. Within in the packet, you will find an inventory to help find your giftedness and where you are able to serve God's people.
The Lord's Prayer, Worship, and Vocation
This class is centered on the life of the Christian. Taking root in the third chief part of Dr. Luther's Small Catechism, a Christian is a person who has been made God's own and daily comes to God. Pastor Wade gives a brief exposition on the Lord's Prayer, explains the difference between proper worship and the living praise of Christians, and covers the unique roles and vocations that each person lives out.
Sacrament of Holy Baptism:
In this class, Pastor Kurt Taylor lays out the Christian understanding of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Baptism is the fourth chief part of Dr. Luther's Small Catechism and it is the first gracious gift that God the Father has given to us. The Christian can be certain that the Word and the water gives forgiveness, life, and salvation - not to mention the Holy Spirit.
Sacrament of Holy Absolution:
The fifth chief part of Dr. Luther's Small Catechism is focused on confession/absolution and in this class Pastor Wade goes on to address why Absolution is indeed a Sacrament and why it should be viewed so in the Church. Absolution teaches the Christian how they are to love one another - namely, by perpetually forgiving one another their sins and wrong-doings. Because Christians themselves are the visible element of this Sacrament, this Sacrament can be performed anywhere there is a Christian: in church, at home, in the car, in school, etc.
The Sacrament of the Altar is the sixth chief part of Dr. Luther's "Small Catechism". Dr. Taylor explains the nature of this sacrament, the reason why Lutherans practice "close" communion, and the wonderful gifts that it gives to those who receive it. For, the Lord's Supper is a miracle where the very Body and Blood of Jesus are present: in this meal, with the bread and wine, under the mystery of the Holy Spirit. The Lord's Supper gives forgiveness, strengthens faith, and is a foretaste of the feast to come on the Last Day.
In the final session on the Christian faith, Dr. Taylor gives a brief rundown of the history of Martin Luther, the events leading up to the Reformation, the formation of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and what continuing in the faith of our fathers means here at St. John's Waltz.