What is a Free Lutheran???
The term “Lutheran” means different things to different people. To some it denotes a certain kind of service or structure in a congregation or in a church body. In recent years, decisions by one prominent Lutheran church body have caused people to think that Lutherans don’t believe, teach or confess the Bible as the Word of God. That’s particularly unfortunate, for Lutherans have been known for being “people of the Book,” that is, the Bible. Most of the nearly forty Lutheran church bodies in the United States have a very high view of Scripture. These groups view God’s Word as the source of life, not a rule book for life.
Why “Free” Lutheran?
The “free” part raises some questions. It refers to church polity (structure and authority), as our church body serves, rather than rules, each local congregation. You can read more about how this works in the Fundamental Principles and Rules for Work, documents that have guided our body since the founding of its predecessor in 1897. These documents guide the manner of our working together with like-minded congregations, and provide both congregational authority and responsibility.
We are a “People of the Book.”
Along with other Christians, Stillwater Free Lutheran Church believes and confesses that the Bible, the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, are the Word of God, revealed for the salvation of men, and the only source for the faith, doctrine, and life of the congregation. We also hold to the three “ancient ecumenical creeds” as faithful expositions of Scripture.
Along with other Lutherans, Stillwater subscribes to the Lutheran Confessions, such as Luther’s Small Catechism and the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as faithful interpretations of Scripture. While there are others, these documents outline the content of our teaching, especially as it regards the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Word of God, the Sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or what some call “communion”), and the 10 Commandments.