Martin Luther, the namesake of the Lutheran faith, was a rebel of his day. Born Nov. 10, 1483, Luther grew to become a Catholic priest, a German professor of theology, composer, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.
As a priest, Luther came to reject several teaching and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, which led to the Reformation from which not only borne Lutheranism but other Christian faiths that ultimately sprang forth from the Reformation.
Luther came to strongly dispute the Catholic view of indulgences, whereby a person of means could purchase indulgences and improve their standing with the Catholic Church and thereby be in good graces with God. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his 95 Theses of 1517, which were not will received by Pope Leo X, who in 1520 demanded Luther renounce his writing. Luther's unwillingness to renounce those works made him a rebel outlaw, and in 1520 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521resulted in Luther's excommunication by the Pope and Emperor.
Luther believed that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are neither earned nor purchased by good deeds or wealth, but are received as the free gift of God's grace through the believer's faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin.
It was Luther's theology that challenged the very authority and office of the Pope by teaching the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God. Luther opposed sacerdotalism, by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. Those who identify with these same beliefs, and all of Luther's wider teachings, are called Lutherans, Luther professed.
As Europeans flooded into the New World with the promise of Freedom of Religion without persecution, Lutherans gathered for worship.
Three-hundred, fifty seven years after Luther offered his 9 Theses, The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod was formed in America, when Saxon and other German immigrants established a new church body in America, seeking the freedom to practice and follow confessional Lutheranism.
Initial members, which included 12 pastors representing 14 congregations from Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, New York and Ohio, signed the church body's constitutions on April 26, 1847, at First Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Chicago.
Originally named the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other States, the name was shortened to The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in 1947 on the occasion of our 100th anniversary.
The Rev. Dr. C.F.W. Walther served as the first president of the church body. As a young pastor, Walther joined the Saxon Germans who immigrated to the United States in 1839, and at only 27 years old, he was the leader of the group that settled in Perry County, Mo.