The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) is the second-largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. This church body is known for its traditional values and adhering strictly to both the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions as found in the Book of Concord.
Origins of LCMS
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is practiced throughout the United States. The term "synod" is a Greek word that means "walking together," and it refers to congregations voluntarily choosing this denomination. The LCMS was founded in Chicago in 1847, and through various mergers and name changes, it eventually became known as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The original name was "The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States." The church still maintains its oldest seminary, Concordia Seminary, in Missouri.
Basic Lutheran Beliefs
The LCMS operates within traditional Lutheran norms. According to the church's official website, the LCMS believes in the three traditional "alones" of Lutheranism: God loves people through Grace alone, people are saved through faith alone, and Christianity should be interpreted through scripture alone. This attitude contrasted with the Catholic beliefs during the Reformation, which included salvation partially through works and a belief in shaping normative Christianity through tradition as well as scripture.
Contrasts with ELCA
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S., and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's beliefs are often contrasted with the more liberal ELCA. The LCMS holds more conservative values when it comes to issues pertaining to the authority of scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, women's ordination and homosexuality. The ELCA, for example, ordains homosexuals, but the LCMS believes homosexuality is a sin -- whether one is ordained or not.
The Lutheran Confessions
The Book of Concord contains the confessional documents of the Reformation-era Lutheran Church, and the LCMS firmly upholds every word of the book. According to the official LCMS website, "The LCMS binds itself to the entire doctrinal content of the 16th-century Lutheran confessional writings." This contrasts with the ELCA, which prefers to read the Book of Concord within its 16th-century historical context. The two groups share similar disagreements about the Bible.
While the ELCA ordains women, the LCMS does not. The LCMS cites verses from the Bible as the reason it does not ordain women, and it lists several New Testament verses on its website regarding the subordinate role of women. The LCMS website quotes 1 Corinthians 4:33-34 and 37: "As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says ... what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord."
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