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THE STORY OF REDEEMER LUTHERAN CHURCH

Redeemer Lutheran Church is a member of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod denomination. We proudly confess the Holy Bible as the inspired Word of God, Jesus Christ as the only way to forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven and the Lutheran Confession contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 as faithful witnesses to the teachings of God’s Word.

Redeemer was founded in Owatonna, Minnesota in 1883 by a group of German Lutherans and was originally named First St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation's first house of worship was built in 1894 on State Avenue in Owatonna. Our current house of worship is located at the corner of Truman Avenue and Havana Road in southeast Owatonna and was dedicated to the glory of God in 1960.

In the 1980's Redeemer started a daughter congregation, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, in northeast Owatonna. In 2008 we celebrated our 125th Anniversary with the theme “Till now the Lord has helped us.” (I Samuel 7:12) The members of Redeemer continue to look for new ways to reach out to the community and the world with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.


What is a Lutheran?

A Lutheran is a person who believes, teaches and confesses the truths of God’s Word as they are summarized and confessed in the Book of Concord. The Book of Concord contains both the Ecumenical Creeds and the Lutheran confessions of faith.

A Lutheran pastor promises that he will perform the duties of his office in accord with the Lutheran Confessions. When lay persons are received into membership into a Lutheran congregation through confirmation they are asked if they confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as they have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true. These solemn promises indicate just how important the Lutheran Confessions are for our church.

What are the Ecumenical Creeds?

The three ecumenical creeds in the Book of Concord are the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. They are described as “ecumenical” [universal] because they are accepted by Christians worldwide as correct expressions of what God’s Word teaches.

What are the Lutheran Confessions of faith?

The Lutheran confessions of faith are:

The Augsburg Confession

The Apology (or explanation) of the Augsburg Confession

Martin Luther's Small & Large Catechisms

The Smalcald Articles

The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope

The Formula of Concord

What are The Augsburg Confession and the Apology of the Augsburg Confession?

In the year 1530, the Lutherans were required to present their beliefs before their rulers in Augsburg, Germany. The document they prepared for this presentation was presented on June 30, 1530 and named for the city in which it was presented. It immediately became the standard explanation of Lutheran beliefs. A year later they also presented the defense of the Augsburg Confession which became known as The Apology of the Augsburg Confession.

What are the Small and Large Catechisms?

Martin Luther realized early on how desperately ignorant the laity and clergy of his day were when it came to even the most basic truths of the Christian faith. Around 1530, he produced two small handbooks to help pastors and the heads of families teach the faith.

The Small Catechism and the Large Catechism are organized around six topics: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. So universally accepted were these magnificent doctrinal summaries by Luther, that they were included as part of the Book of Concord.

What are the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope?

In 1537, Martin Luther was asked to prepare a statement of Lutheran belief for use at a church council. It was presented to a group of Lutheran rulers meeting in the town of Smalcald. In the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Luther's friend, Philip Melanchthon, expands on the subject of the Roman pope.

What is the Formula of Concord?

After Luther’s death in 1546, significant controversies broke out in the Lutheran Church. After much debate and struggle, the Formula of Concord in 1577 put an end to these doctrinal controversies and the Lutheran Church was able to move ahead united in what it believed, taught and confessed. In 1580, all the confessional writings mentioned here were gathered into a single volume, the Book of Concord. Concord is a word that means, “harmony.”

What is the connection between the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions?

Lutherans confess that, “The Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine” (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9). What the Bible asserts, God asserts. What the Bible commands, God commands. The authority of the Scriptures is complete, certain and final. The Scriptures are accepted by the Lutheran Confessions as the actual Word of God. The Lutheran Confessions urge us to believe the Scriptures for “they will not lie to you” (LC, V, 76) and cannot be “false and deceitful” (FC SD, VII, 96). The Bible is God’s “pure, infallible, and unalterable Word” (Preface to the BOC).

The Lutheran Confessions are the “basis, rule, and norm indicating how all doctrines should be judged in conformity with the Word of God” (FC SD RN). Because the Confessions are in complete doctrinal agreement with the written Word of God, they serve as the standard in the Lutheran Church to determine what is faithful Biblical teaching, insofar as that teaching is addressed in the Confessions.

What is the main point of the Lutheran Confessions?

The Lutheran Reformation was not a “revolt,” but rather began as a sincere expression of concern with the false and misleading teachings, which, unfortunately, even to this very day, obscure the glory and work of Jesus Christ. What motivated Luther was a zealous concern about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is how the Lutheran Confessions explain what the Gospel is all about:

Human beings have not kept the law of God but have transgressed it. Their corrupted human nature, thoughts, words, and deeds battle against the law. For this reason they are subject to God’s wrath, to death and all temporal afflictions, and to the punishment of the fires of hell. As a result, the Gospel, in its strict sense, teaches what people should believe, namely, that they receive from God the forgiveness of sins; that is, that the Son of God, our Lord Christ, has taken upon Himself the curse of the law and borne it, atoned and paid for all our sins; that through Him alone we are restored to God’s grace, obtain the forgiveness of sins through faith and are delivered from death and all the punishments of our sins and are saved eternally. . . . It is good news, joyous news, that God does not want to punish sin but to forgive it for Christ’s sake (FC SD, V, 20).

Lutherans declare to the world their faith and most deeply held belief and conviction, in harmony with the documents contained in the Book of Concord. You will catch the spirit of confessional Lutheranism in these, the last words written in the Book of Concord:

Therefore, it is our intent to give witness before God and all Christendom, among those who are alive today and those who will come after us, that the explanation here set forth regarding all the controversial articles of faith which we have addressed and explained–and no other explanation–is our teaching, faith, and confession. In it we shall appear before the judgment throne of Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, with fearless hearts and thus give account of our faith, and we will neither secretly nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it. Instead, on the strength of God’s grace, we intend to abide by this confession (FC SD, XII, 40).

What is an “unconditional subscription” to the Confessions?

Confessional Lutheran pastors are required to “subscribe” unconditionally to the Lutheran Confessions because they are a pure exposition of the Word of God. This is the way our pastors, and every layman who confesses his belief in the Small Catechism, is able with great joy and without reservation or qualification to say what it is that he believes to be the truth of God’s Word.

So what is it to be a Lutheran?

Being a Lutheran is being a person who believes the truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, as they are correctly explained and taught in the Book of Concord. To do so is to confess the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Genuine Lutherans, confessional Lutherans, dare to insist that “All doctrines should conform to the standards [the Lutheran Confessions] set forth above. Whatever is contrary to them should be rejected and condemned as opposed to the unanimous declaration of our faith” (FC Ep. RN, 6).

Such a statement may strike some as boastful. But it is not; rather, it is an expression of the Spirit-led confidence that moves us to speak of our faith before the world.

Where can you purchase a copy of the Book of Concord? www.cph.org

This article was written by Rev. Paul McCain

Luther's SealThe seal at the left is known as Luther’s seal which he explains as follows: The black cross in the center reminds us that Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins. The red heart reminds us of the love God has for us in sending Jesus to be our Savior. The red of the heart is the color of the blood of Christ, shed for us and for our salvation. The white rose helps us remember the work of the Holy Spirit who makes us pure and holy in God’s sight by bringing us to faith in Jesus and by helping us to live our lives for Him. The sky blue background pictures the joy of the new life God gives to all who believe and trust in Him. Finally, the gold ring outlining the seal reminds us of our eternal inheritance – a hope in heaven where we will enjoy complete joy and happiness in our Savior’s presence

The three phrases in the gold ring, faith alone, grace alone, word alone while not part of Luther’s seal, summarize briefly what he taught.