Q: What do Lee Harvey Oswald and Johann Sebastian Bach have in common (apart from both having a middle name)?
A: They were both Lutherans.
As are (or were) Bruce Willis, Björk, Beau and Jeff Bridges, William Hurt, Liv Ullmann, and dozens of other famous people.
The most famous Lutheran is of course, Martin Luther, who began the earliest Protestant church in 1517. Unlike some of the later Reformed churches, Lutheranism has retained many of the liturgical rites and sacramental understandings of the Catholic Church. For the cross, however, rather than the Crucifix favoured by Roman Catholics, Lutherans generally prefer the simple Latin Cross (favoured by Protestants).
In terms of size, the church has about the same number of adherents as Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists. There are many Lutheran churches; the main ones being the Church of Sweden, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Church of Denmark, the Church of Norway, and the Protestant Church of Netherlands.
In Germany, the home of Lutheranism, the main churches are the Protestant Lutheran Church of Hanover, the Protestant Lutheran Church in Bavaria, the Evangelical State Church of Württemberg and the North Elbian Evangelical Church.
Many Lutheran churches, or churches with Lutheran roots, have their own logo and here, in alphabetical sequence, are some of the main ones:
The Lutheran Cross featured at the top of this page is adorned with the Luther Rose (or Luther Seal). Martin Luther himself was involved in the creation of this logo. He explained:
"Grace and peace from the Lord.
As you desire to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, I shall answer most amiably and tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology.
The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural colour, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. For one who believes from the heart will be justified" (Rom. 10:10). Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural colour. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17) but by faith in the crucified.
Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to how that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (Matt. 28:3 John 20:12).
Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed.
And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal.
This is my compendium theoligae ['summary of theology']. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation.
May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter.
Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa - Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa is another Indonesian church with Lutheran roots www.gmim.org
Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia - grew from a reformed movement of the Batak Protestant Christian Church (HKBP) www.gkpi.or.id
Church of Norway - until 2012,the state church of Norway www.kirken.no
Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil - (Igreja Evangelica de Confissao Luterana no Brasil) has bilateral dialogues with the predominant Catholic Church, as well as the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil. www.luteranos.com.br
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - the largest Lutheran denomination in the US www.elca.org
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia - serving approximately half of the Christians in Namibia. www.elcin.org.na
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil - Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil website www.ielb.org.br explains that the upper and right 'arms' of the central cross in the logo appear as "L", for Lutheran, and the upper arm forms the vertical stroke of a small "b", for Brazil
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland - In 2007, around 84.2% of Finns were members of the Lutheran Church. www.evl.fi
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea - according to their website www.elcpng.org/..., their logo shows "the hand of white man handing over the cross to a black man, the background image is the map of Papua New Guinea and they are inside the Luther's Rose".
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod - the second largest Lutheran denomination in the US. Their clever logo is three crosses in one, representing the Trinity, where each part of the design depends on the other two to complete the three-dimensional cross. www.lcms.org. (See also the 3-D cross.)
Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria - founded in 1913 and became independent in 1956 www.lccnigeria.org)
Lutheran Council of Great Britain - founded in 1913 and became independent in 1956 www.lutheran.org.uk)
Protestant Church in Netherlands - formed in 2004 from the merger of Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of Netherlands, the Dutch Reformed Church, and the Reformed Churches in Netherlands. The circular logo symbolizes unity and God's perfection. The cross represents Christ, and the dove in the centre is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. www.protestantchurch.nl (And whilst Netherlands might not have as many Lutherans as Sweden, they can claim to be probably the tallest Lutherans in the world! www.tallpages.com/uk)
Simalungun Protestant Christian Church - Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun (GKPS), concentrated mainly in North Sumatra where the indigenous language is Simalungun. www.gkps.or.id)
United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India - www.uelci.org
Here's a little story about the Red Rose
Martin Luther's letter to Lazarus Spengler, 8 July 1530. This translation appeared in the Lutheran Quarterly, Vol. XIV, Num. 4, Winter 2000, pages 409-410.