Thursday, 8/13, our Bible study topic is: comparing different denominations and faiths! Join us, 7:30-8:30pm, on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/703956236.
Below these discussion questions are some optional read-ahead resources, though obviously there's a whole world of beliefs and perspectives to explore.
Questions to center our discussion, and encourage personal reflection:
From the Lutheran Handbook, here's a very simplified (and slightly outdated (c.2000)) chart about some of the largest world religions:
Here's a fuller chart including many more world religions: The Big Religion Chart. Helpfully, this one includes practices, belief in the afterlife, etc.
The best source for up-to-date religious data in the US (how many people practice different faiths, what beliefs, and how it all breaks down against different factors) is the Pew Forum Religious Landscape Study - you can explore data by region, topic, and various data sets.
From the Lutheran Handbook, these following charts summarize the somewhat complicated family tree and comparisons of Christian denominations:
If you want to read ONE thing, I recommend Lutheran Pastor, illustrator, and theologian Daniel Erlander's It's All About Love. It's essentially a synthesis/summary of Lutheran theology and the catechisms, but it's written as a fold-out illustrated path - "journey" - so it is easiest to read if you print it out and lay the pages out - or just make sure you follow the path and read the boxes in order... Don't let the cartoon illustrations fool you - this is good, heavy theology!
Two scriptures to consider that are at the heart of Lutheran theology:
Two videos, which in the past I've sometimes shown in new member classes, that succinctly convey what it means to be Lutheran - watch again even if you've seen before! The most central thing in the Lutheran faith is belief in God's grace - that it's all God's doing, not ours, and God's rich forgiveness, love, and relationship is completely unearned on our part!
So here are two Lutheran pastors below, sharing central pieces of what it means and looks like to be Lutheran: former Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson on the question, "Why Lutheran," and Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber (whose books Accidental Saints, Shameless: a Sexual Reformation, and Pastrix, I recommend - in that order) from the 2013 youth gathering on how she became a Lutheran.
There's also this central text to start with:
Martin Luther's Small Catechism. Luther wrote this (almost 500 years ago) to be foundational set of questions and answers of the building blocks of faith, for home conversation and family reading. Also includes topics of the sacraments of baptism and communion, and some simple prayers for home.
Here's a simple pdf version to read, and Pastor would also be happy to get you a copy. We read this together in small group study once every year or two - speak up if interested!
OR - here's the free app version, which includes a couple extras (and I like because it's always handy)!
I also wrote this very similar intro/refresher to Lutheranism blog post which includes mostly the same info but a bit more, and further reading recommendations...
Here are some questions to consider and may guide a conversation:
As always, you're invited to join the group discussion - we love welcoming new folks and always have lively conversation! If you can't make it or just have individual questions, you're always invited to email me, Pastor Brett - and I'd be happy to find a time to talk one-on-one!