Martin Luther

Several weeks ago, Your Worship began a series which will attempt to clarify the differences between the many different religious denominations which maintain places of worship in Santa Barbara. This week, we’ll try to define what sets Lutheran churches apart from other Protestant groups.

The Protestant Reformation officially began in 1517, when Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, famously nailed ninety-five protestations against the church’s practice of offering indulgences to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany. Indulgences were the church’s way of making money by forgiving sin; rather than offering true repentance, sinners could simply make a cash donation and have their offenses forgiven. Luther objected, in ninety-five different ways; and the Protestant Reformation of the church had begun. Lutherans, as their name suggests, are those Protestants who have adhered most closely to the vision of Christianity Martin Luther himself wrote down. They’re quite similar to the Catholic church in many ways – since Luther’s beliefs were almost entirely Catholic, it makes a great deal of sense. A great difference between Lutheran and Catholic services is the former’s use of colloquial language, rather than Latin. One of Luther’s greatest disagreements with the Catholic church was their use of language that was inaccessible to the public.

Understandably, since remission of sins through money was Luther’s major issue with the Catholic church, the Lutherans also believe that sins may be forgiven through grace alone. Practically, this means that the only way to be forgiven by God is simply to be forgiven by God – there’s no shortcut. Trust and faith are the only ways a Christian, for the Lutherans, can prosper.

In many ways, the Lutheran faith seems to be both a moderated version of Catholicism and also a more traditional version of Protestantism. For anyone who’s looking for a type of worship which mixes the two intelligently, the Lutheran church may be the answer. Below is a list of Lutheran churches in the Santa Barbara area.

(To invite The Independent to your place of worship, email

Lutheran Brotherhood, at 4990 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara. Call 692-1122.

Lutheran Campus Ministries, at 777 Camino Pescadero, Goleta. Call 968-3164.


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