For a relatively small religious denomination that believes salvation is found in faith rather than deed, Lutherans will certainly be busy doing good deeds this week preparing free Thanksgiving dinners throughout the state. Then again, perhaps it is a proper role for these religious pilgrims.
Even though Lutherans built churches in Oklahoma before statehood, even though one of the oldest churches in Oklahoma, formed among Cherokee Indians in the former Indian Territory, is a Lutheran Church, and even though Lutherans were well represented in the land runs, the Lutheran Church is not exactly the largest Protestant family in Oklahoma. Yet, Lutheran churches ranging from small to large, rural to urban are found in most parts of the state.
Of course most people realize Lutherans originated from one of the most successful religious protesters, a Catholic priest named Martin Luther. Successful not only because he initiated the Protestant Reformation, but that he lived to talk about it.
Martin Luther was not the first to challenge the Catholic Church. But he was the first to do so without being burned at the stake for heresy.
Luther benefited from something that all of us can appreciate.
He also had a lot of help in spreading his ideas from Gutenburg’s movable type printing press which allowed documents to be mass-produced and distributed with a speed that was never seen before.
And then, for Catholics, all hell broke loose.
It was not very long before there came to be divisions among the Protestants. Differences in interpretation of the Scriptures developed, especially in the matter of the sacraments. Those who agreed with Luther’s interpretations came to be called Lutherans. (This name was first used by the enemies of Luther.) The other Protestants have come to bear the general name, Reformed. Among the Reformed there are various denominations, such as Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Episcopal, and Methodist.
The vast majority of Oklahoma Lutherans belong to one of two factions – the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Missouri Synod. Major differences being that the Missouri Synod believes the Bible is without error and rejects women pastors and homosexuality.
But most Lutherans, who make up approximately 5% of U.S. population, can be flexible on some things.
…Sunday Services are a bit shorter during the NFL season
…you wonder why bread and wine are used for Communion instead of coffee and donuts
…you carry silverware in your pocket to church just in case there’s a potluck
Don’t fret, utensils are to be provided at this year’s Thanksgiving dinners.
Lutheran links –
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
The Lutheran magazine
Lutheran World Relief
This day in Lutheran history