ELCA

What We Believe


These are our church's beliefs, according to the official text as it appears in the Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:



This church confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.

The proclamation of God's message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world. This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.

This church accepts the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church.

This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.

This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.

This church confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God's mission in the world.



The Apostles' Creed


This Creed is used in Western Christianity in daily prayer and worship, and serves as a Baptismal Symbol; that is, it describes the faith into which we are baptized. Martin Luther (1483-1546) included a brief explanation of this Creed in his Small Catechism, and a fuller explanation in his Large Catechism.

 

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.


The Nicene Creed (or Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed)

The Nicene Creed was written by the early Church and adopted (in a slightly different version) by the Church Council at Nica in AD 325 and appears in its present form by the Council at Chalcedon in AD 451. It has remained in use since that time. It is an essential part of the doctrine and liturgy of the Lutheran and Episcopal Churches. The Episcopal Church requires its usage at every Eucharist on Sundays and Major Feasts (except when the Apostles' Creed is used as the Baptismal Creed). The Lutheran Church gives the option of the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed, suggesting the Nicene Creed as the more festive or solemn of the two.

The translation below was recently done by the ecumenical English Language Liturgical Commission (ELLC), and is truer to Greek original than the older translation. The words, ``and the Son'' (filioque in Latin), later added in the West, are included in brackets.

The Episcopal Church, in its 1994 General Convention, has approved the omission of the filioque beginning with the publication of a new Book of Common Prayer, which will likely take place sometime in the 21st Century (no sooner than 2006). The Lutheran and Episcopal churches currently use the Creed with the filioque, the form in which they inherited it from the Western Catholic tradition. The (Eastern) Orthodox Church has never used the filioque.

 

The Nicene Creed, ELLC Translation

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Other documents describing Lutheran beliefs, along with information about the church and its and historical documents
may be accessed at "About the ELCA" on the ELCA web page.