Lutheranism’s Singular Objective

By Graham Glover

It’s about one thing. And only one thing.

Think that’s too limiting? Too simplistic? Hogwash.

To make it about something more is the problem. To suggest it’s about multiple things or more than one thing is the error that creates all other errors.

So, go ahead and say it with me: Lutheranism has a singular objective. At the end of the day, Lutheranism can be boiled down to one single teaching.

Seriously, when it’s all said and done, Lutheranism is only about one thing. For 500 years it has been about one thing – one single, solitary thing that defines our faith. It is the thing that supersedes everything else.

This isn’t to say other things aren’t important, that other teachings are insignificant or arbitrary. Lutheranism is a rich faith, with extremely deep teachings. And yet if it had to be described by one thing, there is no doubt what that one thing would be. Above all other teachings, traditions, and practices, Lutheranism is and always will be about the profound reality that we are justified by grace through faith.

Let that sink in for a moment. Lutheranism’s primary purpose – the reason the movement started and continues today – is to reaffirm the teaching that we are made righteous solely and exclusively by God’s grace, through the faith that He freely gives us.

That’s it. That’s Lutheranism’s objective: to teach and proclaim that we are justified by grace through faith.

It is, without question, the teaching on which the Christian faith stands or falls. If this one thing is distorted, so is everything else. If this one teaching is obscured, so are all others. It is Lutheranism’s singular objective.

Everything flows from it: our Biblical theology, our Liturgical theology, our Sacramental theology, our Confessional theology – everything.

This idea shouldn’t be difficult to grasp. It is the message our Lord proclaimed to our first parents and continues to proclaim to this day. It is the very essence of everything Christ Jesus taught, everything He did, everything He is. It is Christianity in every sense.

So yes, Lutheranism does have a singular objective. That objective is that we are sinners who are justified by a good and gracious God, because His grace, through the faith He gives us.

This is our faith. This is Christ. This is us. It is everything.

6 thoughts on “Lutheranism’s Singular Objective

  1. I wish Lutheranism’s singular focus was more aligned with what I see in the Scriptures, which might be encapsulated in the purpose statement given by the evangelist John:

    “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

    I would distinguish this statement from the focus given in the article by the reference to “life.” That leads into a fuller inquiry.

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    1. John 10:9 I am the gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. 11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.…

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  2. Jean, I appreciate that nuance and don’t think you and I are saying different things. The life we have is always on account of Christ and the grace He freely bestows.

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    1. Thanks Graham. I agree. I threw in the nuance as a signal that life leads to vocation. In other words, there’s more to justification than “so I can go to heaven when I die.”

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  3. I would suppose you are reducing things a bit there. The whole counsel of God has many more things in it than that. Certainly it the central principle that make everything else work, but there is so much more in Scripture than that. If there were not, there would not need to be any OT or a single letter from anyone. We would have no task or talent or spiritual gift or vocation – there would be no need. You get that, right?

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    1. Don, I agree the whole counsel of God has many more things (I think I conceded that point). But, I think the argument still stands that if we do not keep the singular objective of our faith that we are justified by grace through faith, everything else falls apart. I would also argue that the OT and every pastoral epistle speaks to this centrality.

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