I'm a Free Lutheran
How do you explain being Lutheran? And what is a Free Lutheran anyway? These labels are precious when their underlying biblical basis is uncovered. I serve Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (AFLC) in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and I wrote this article for our newsletter as an informal summary of our beliefs.
What kind of church is our congregation?
A Christian one! We believe that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, was crucified for our sins and rose on the third day for our justification (Romans 4:25). Only through believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins may one be saved and enter eternal life (John 14:6).
In agreement with Christ, we hold that both the Old Testament (Matthew 5:18) and the New Testament (John 17:14–20) are God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word. We agree with the old summaries of the faith (the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds) which summarize the person and work of the one true God who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
What kind of Christian church is our congregation?
We believe that God speaks words of Law and words of Gospel throughout the Scriptures. His Law both reveals God’s holy will for us and reveals our sin. His Gospel forgives our sins and reveals what God has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ. When we are comfortable in our sin we need God’s law to convict us. When we are sorry for our sin we need God’s Gospel to forgive us.
We believe that God uses means to do His gracious work in our lives, and His means of grace are: 1) His Gospel Word of forgiveness on account of Jesus Christ; 2) the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion (through which that same Gospel Word of forgiveness is active).
We believe that it is possible to overemphasize doctrine to the detriment of actually living out the life for which the truth has set us free. Equally dangerous is the temptation to overemphasize spiritual life and diminish the right teachings of the truth which set us free in the first place. Doctrine and life go hand in hand and must be kept in balance.
What kind of Lutheran church is our congregation?
A Free Lutheran one! Our congregation is affiliated with the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations. We are a theologically conservative Lutheran body organized in a bottom-up structure. The AFLC is not a synod, but a free association of free congregations.
“Free” has a dual meaning: spiritually free and congregationally free. We are spiritually free because Christ has freed the Church, His body and bride, from sin, death, and the devil through faith in Him. Our congregational polity (church governance) is free from a majority of congregations passing binding resolutions over a minority of congregations.
We do not despise authority, rather we submit to the authority of the Word and Spirit of God. This congregational freedom is beautiful because it is a fruit of our spiritual freedom. This congregational freedom is also risky because our judgment is tainted by sin on this side of eternity. By freely associating with like-minded congregations we are trusting the Spirit of God and His Word to admonish and comfort us as we navigate our freedom.
We believe that the Fundamental Principles of the AFLC are true summaries of the nature and work of the congregation in this world. We support the joint works of Free Lutheran congregations such as our Bible School and Seminary, World and Home Missions, Ambassador Publications, and many other joint works mentioned at www.aflc.org.
In Christ, Pastor Amiot