Shiloh Free Lutheran Church belongs to a larger group called the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (www.aflc.org). The AFLC family consists of about 270 congregations across the United States and Canada. Our fellowship springs out of the revivals that swept Scandinavia after 1795. As such, we uphold the Bible as true, Jesus as the only way to salvation, and the call to wholesome Christian living.
Perhaps the first question that we are asked is “what does Free Lutheran mean?”
By “free” we speak first and foremost of our freedom in Christ. We celebrate that we are free from the condemnation of our sin through Christ’s work on the cross. We celebrate our freedom to live, worship and serve Christ directed by the Holy Spirit through the Word.
Secondarily, we speak of freedom in regards to our church structure. Shiloh does not belong to a top-down structure. We do not have a bishop or a man-made authority over us. Shiloh is a free and independent congregation who gladly submits to the authority of God’s error-free Word. We believe that this form of freedom provides the greatest opportunity for spiritual life and growth. This freedom under Christ also allows us to partner with other Word and Christ centered churches to accomplish mission.
Occasionally, people ask us “does this mean you are “free” to teach anything you want?” The simple answer is no. Freedom does not mean absence of authority. We are not free to teach or practice whatever we want. Our church fellowship aims to be directed by the Holy Spirit through the Word. We call ourselves “free Lutherans,” and our identity as Lutherans put parameters around our belief and practice.
The word Lutheran can mean so many things to different people. Perhaps you might think it is synonymous with “liberalism,” which unfortunately is justifiable due to the choices of many Lutheran churches in America. Perhaps you might simply think of old-fashioned traditions, liturgy and forms. While Lutheran churches through the years have in general kept many historic forms of worship, being Lutheran is far more than forms.
We believe that being Lutheran is first and foremost about knowing Christ as our crucified and risen Savior. We believe that being Lutheran is about the Gospel and its proclamation to sinners through God’s Word and his Sacraments. We believe that being Lutheran is about recognizing and submitting to the authority of God’s word regarding all matters of theology and life.
We are thankful that our early church leaders have written documents which summarize the teachings of Holy Scripture. These are called Lutheran confessions. These documents help us stay true and focused on Christ and his work in our lives. These confessions, written during and after the Reformation, have been collected into one book known as the Book of Concord. While many Lutheran churches have required their membership to be familiar with the entire Book of Concord, Shiloh falls into the Lutheran tradition that focuses primarily on Luther’s Small Catechism, as well as the unaltered Augsburg confession. We believe that these documents are a faithful summary of the entire collection, as well as very accessible for believers. Joining with the church throughout history, Shiloh also accepts the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed as faithful expressions of true biblical doctrine.