As Lutherans we honor the name and memory of Martin Luther, the 16th century monk who defied Pope and Empire for the sake of the Scriptural teaching of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. By the grace of Almighty God, Luther’s examination of the Scriptures freed the Church from the bondage of works righteousness and a theology of glory that made man the center of his own salvation. Lutherans maintain that Gospel in all aspects of their lives.
So why do we maintain the use of Luther’s name in defining who we are? Unlike a cult, which focuses on the man, Lutherans focus on what the man taught. Luther never wanted his name attached to anything of a movement. Rather, his desire was that the Church maintain the name Christian. Reform, not replacement, was his goal. Unfortunately his enemies would not let it drop.
With the resulting protestant splinter groups that came out of the original Reformation, the name eventually stuck, and has been used to identify those churches that still hold to the Scriptural teachings of justification. True Lutherans find their ultimate identity in Jesus Christ alone. To be Lutheran means to follow Jesus Christ.