The Lutheran Church is the Protestant denomination which led the way in the development of the Protestant Reformation. The doctrines of the Lutheran churches are derived directly from the teachings of Martin Luther, the originator of the Protestant Reformation.
Despite the name "Lutheran," members of this tradition do not worship Martin Luther. On the contrary, they readily acknowledge his many faults and he himself asked his followers not to call themselves Lutherans - this was a name applied to them by their opponents. The original name they adopted and which he approved of was "Evangelicals." This is the name still used by them in Germany.
Members base their beliefs on the Bible and the Augsburg Confession, written in 1530 and the Book of Concord, written in 1580. A strong emphasis is placed on the doctrine that a person is saved solely through their faith and not through any works they might perform.
Because Luther had always been a devout Catholic and because he was the first of the Protestants, the Lutheran doctrines did not stray from traditional Catholic doctrines. Most differences tend be in that Lutheranism simplifies Catholic practices. This may be part of the reason why the Lutheran churches tended to remain confined to northern Germany and Scandanavia while churches which counted themselves as part of the Reformed Tradition spread more widely throughout Europe.
The first Lutheran congregation in North America was created in 1638 in Wilmington, Delaware. The two largest synods (groups) in the United States are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.
This latter was founded in the 1830s by German immigrants who had grown dissatisfied with the cold rationalism, moral laxity, and state controls which characterized the Lutheran church in Germany. As a result, the church has remained consistently conservative in theological matters, adhering strictly to the 16th century formulations of Protestant beliefs.
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