What is Christianity?
Christianity is the teaching and response to “the love of Triune God:
- the Father, creator of all that exists;
- Jesus Christ, the Son, who became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in the ultimate victory over death and Satan; and
- the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments.
The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God” (LCMS).
What is Lutheranism?
As Lutherans, we “accept and preach the Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther that inspired the reformation of the Christian Church in the 16th century. The teaching of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three phrases: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone” (LCMS).
What is LCMS?
LCMS stands for Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Bethlehem is a member congregation of the LCMS.
What is baptism?
“[We] believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (another is God’s Word as it is written or spoken), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12.13)” (LCMS).
What is the Bible?
“As sheep precious to the Savior, we recognize the Bible to be what Jesus did: the very Word of God. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1) (How Shall We Regard the Bible? by Matthew Harrison).
What is confirmation?
“Confirmation is a time-honored church tradition (not required by God’s Word, but we believe useful nonetheless) in which [one] is given the opportunity to confess for himself or herself the faith that he or she was unable to confess [at baptism].
Faith is not “created” at confirmation, but it is rather confessed for all to hear so that the church can join and rejoice in this public confession, which has its roots in the faith which God Himself created in Baptism” (LCMS).
What is Holy Communion?
We believe “Scripture teaches the Lord’s Supper is a precious gift of God in which Christ gives us His true body and blood (in a miraculous way), together with the bread and wine, for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith.” We also believe that in Holy Communion “we receive in, with, and under the bread and wine the true body and blood of Christ shed on the cross (LCMS).”
Can anyone participate in Holy Communion?
Saint Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian congregation, admonished them for partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, and therefore received God’s judgement rather than a blessing. This is what he wrote:
So then, whoever eats the blood or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink wihtout discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment upon themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 11:27-30
It is for this reason that our church observes Closed Communion. We take Paul’s admonition seriously, and we do not want anyone to receive God’s judgement if she or he receives the Body and Blood of our Lord in an unworthy manner. Everyone is welcome to come to the Lord’s Table to receive a Blessing by crossing your arms, but only those who are confirmed and active members, (and under no church discipline), of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), or churches in fellowship with the LCMS, may receive the Sacrament. Please talk to pastor if you have any questions. Thank you for respecting our scriptural practice.
My question isn’t on this page
There are more FAQs about Christianity, Lutheranism, and the LCMS available on the LCMS website. In addition, you may find useful the “What About?” series of pamphlets. If your question is still unanswered, please contact us.