Defining Religion

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Apostles' Creed

A statement of the basic beliefs of Christianity. Trinitarian in nature, this creed developed in the early church as a baptismal creed and reached its present form about the seventh century. There is no historical evidence to support the tradition that it was composed by the 12 apostles with each contributing an article. We commonly recite the Apostles' Creed in non-communion services.


An ancient heresy named after Arius, the fourth-century priest who promoted it. Arianism denies the full divinity and eternity of God the Son, claiming that the Son had a beginning and is subordinate to the Father. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach a similar error today. The Nicene Creed was formulated in response to this heresy.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent occurring forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays). It received its name from the ancient custom of Christians putting ashes (from the previous year's Palm Sunday palms) on their foreheads as a sign of penitence.

Athanasian Creed

A statement of Christian teaching concerning the Trinity and the person of Christ. This creed was probably written in the early sixth century in Gaul by an unknown author. An early tradition falsely ascribes it to Athanasius, the fourth-century defender of the deity of Christ. It is often recited on Trinity Sunday.


A person who believes that there is no God. The Bible calls such a person a fool (Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1).

Augsburg Confession

The statement of Lutheran beliefs written by Philip Melanchthon and delivered by the Lutheran princes to emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg on June 25, 1530. The reading of this confession marked the birth of the Lutheran Church. Its teachings remain authoritative for Lutherans today because the confession is a correct exposition of scriptural truth.



to have a moral lapse, to turn away from previously held religious beliefs and practice, to turn from the truth, or to fall from faith

Baptism: Institution

The instituiton of Baptism is the establishment of this act of applying water in the name of the Triune God by Christ for the church to do according to his command and promise. Our Savior instituted baptism when he commanded his followers to baptize (Matthew 28:19).

Baptism: Sacrament

The sacrament of Baptism is the act of applying water to a person in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit according to Christ's command (Matthew 28:19). The Bible promises that through Baptism, we receive the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation (John 3:5, Acts 2:38, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 5:25-26, Colossians 2:12, 1 Peter 3:21).


to wash or apply water. Jesus commanded us to baptize in the name of the Triune God (Matthew 28:19). Because God's Word is joined to the water in Christian baptism the Holy Spirit works through this sacrament to create faith (Titus 3:5-7). In baptism we have forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38,39), life (John 3:3-6), and salvation (1 Peter 3:21).

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