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Luther urged that Christians are justified only through God's grace, which is received through faith. Christians are not justified or made righteous through their works or merits that result from their works. The Christian can therefore be described as "at once justified and a sinner" (simul justus et peccator). The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by God and received by faith. We are thus justified by a righteousness that is extrinsic and alien to us personally. Although we are pronounced righteous by God in Christ, we continue to be sinners. Luther's theology of the cross (Theologia Crucis) held that the saving and merciful God is known only as hidden in Christ crucified (see 1 Cor 1:17-31). Luther upheld the priesthood of all believers. He rejected purgatory, the veneration of saints, relics, monasticism, celibacy of the clergy, and Masses for the dead. Lutheranism has included several confessional statements that provide written summaries of doctrine. Luther's Large and Small Catechisms appeared in 1529, and he prepared the Schmalkaldic Articles in 1536. Luther supported the Augsburg Confession (1530), which was drafted by Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560). Melanchthon also prepared the Apology for the Augsburg Confession (1531). Lutheranism may be summarized in terms of belief in justification by faith alone (sola fides), justification by God's grace alone (sola gratia), and the Bible as the only authoritative rule of faith (sola scriptura). Lutheran Churches in North America include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Lutheran Church-Wisconsin Synod. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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