The Bible and Lutheran faith
”For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ”The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
(The apostle Paul in Romans 1:16-17, quoted from the New Revised Standard Version)
These few lines from the Bible are loaded with meaning; they tell a lot about the faith of our church. They were written by an apostle who quotes words written in the Old Testament, but we find his writings in the New Testament. After almost fifteen centuries of church history a monk in Germany read these words – at that point translated into Latin – and found rest for his troubled conscience. This personal discovery led to a widespread religious revolution and – sadly – division in the church. Even today in Finland most Christians belong to the Evangelical Lutheran church. We are not Jews, so we count ourselves in the same group as the Greeks that Paul wrote about. The promises of God are also for us: through faith in Jesus Christ we can also be God's people. We are righteous without having to earn our righteousness, and that does not depend on any authority on earth or any saint, but only on God.
This discovery is the treasure of our church, and we want to pass it on. We call our church Evangelical, meaning that we put our trust in the gospel (euangelion in Greek, evankeliumi in Finnish) and that we are Protestants who have rejected the authority of the pope in Rome. We are also called Lutherans according to Martin Luther – he was that monk in Germany who became a reformer of the church almost five hundred years ago. (In America certain Protestant groups are called ”Evangelicals,” but there the meaning of the word is a bit different, so that ”Evangelical Lutherans” are not classified as ”Evangelicals” in that sense.)
Lutherans do not have an international leader, so Lutheran churches are national ones (and in some countries there is more than one Lutheran church). National Lutheran churches that recognize each other as sister churches have, however, formed an international communion called the Lutheran World Federation (LWF, or LML as a Finnish abbreviation). The LWF has 140 member churches with a total of more than 65 million members. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is a founding member of the LWF and also of the World Council of Churches (WCC, or KMN in Finnish). The WCC is an ecumenical organization that brings together hundreds of Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and independent churches and fellowships that have about 550 million members. (”Ecumenical” means something that unifies or seeks to unify Christians around the world; dialogue with people of other religions is another thing.)
The following pages on this website give more information on the faith of our church. The Bible is our holy book, but other books are also useful.