Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.[1] During the Reformation, Lutheranism became the state religion of numerous states of Northern Europe, especially in northern Germany and the Nordic countries. Lutheran clergy became civil servants and the Lutheran churches became part of the state.[2]

The split between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics was made public and clear with the 1521 Edict of Worms: the edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas, subjecting advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all property, half of the seized property to be forfeited to the imperial government and the remaining half forfeit to the party who brought the accusation.[3]

The divide centered primarily on two points: the proper source of authority in the church, often called the formal principle of the Reformation, and the doctrine of justification, often called the material principle of Lutheran theology.[a] Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by Grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone", the doctrine that scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith. This is in contrast to the belief of the Roman Catholic Church, defined at the Council of Trent, concerning authority coming from both the Scriptures and Tradition.[4]

Unlike Calvinism, Lutherans retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation Western Church, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, though Eastern Lutheranism uses the Byzantine Rite.[5] Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in Christology, divine grace, the purpose of God's Law, the concept of perseverance of the saints, and predestination.

  1. ^ MSN Encarta, s.v. "Lutheranism" by George Wolfgang Forell; Christian Cyclopedia, s.v. "Reformation, Lutheran" by Lueker, E. et. al. Archived 2009-10-31. Lutherans believe that the Roman Catholic Church is not the same as the original Christian church.
  2. ^ Markkola, P (2015). "The Long History of Lutheranism in Scandinavia. From State Religion to the People's Church". Perichoresis. 13 (2): 3–15. doi:10.1515/perc-2015-0007.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference ENC3 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Fourth Session, Decree on Sacred Scripture (Denzinger 783 [1501]; Schaff 2:79–81). For a history of the discussion of various interpretations of the Tridentine decree, see Selby, Matthew L., The Relationship Between Scripture and Tradition according to the Council of Trent, unpublished Master's thesis, University of St Thomas, July 2013.
  5. ^ Webber, David Jay (1992). "Why is the Lutheran Church a Liturgical Church?". Bethany Lutheran College. Retrieved 18 September 2018. In the Byzantine world, however, this pattern of worship would not be informed by the liturgical history of the Latin church, as with the Reformation-era church orders, but by the liturgical history of the Byzantine church. (This was in fact what occurred with the Ukrainian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, which published in its 1933 Ukrainian Evangelical Service Book the first ever Lutheran liturgical order derived from the historic Eastern Rite.) CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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