1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email
Lutheran Church
<Back to Last Page >     <Glossary Index>

 Related Terms
Martin Luther
Reformed Tradition
denomination

 

Definition:
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.

Also Known As: none

Alternate Spellings: none

Common Misspellings: none

Related Resources:

What is Christianity?
What are the various Christian groups, denominations, sects and heresies? What are some key concepts in Christian theology? What are some of the most important events in Christian history? All of this and more are covered in the Christianity FAQ.

What is the Philosophy of Religion?
Sometimes confused with theology, the Philosophy of Religion is the philosophical study of religious beliefs, religious doctrines, religious arguments and religious history. The line between theology and the philosophy of religion isn't always sharp, but the primary difference is that theology tends to be apologetical in nature, committed to the defense of particular religious positions, whereas Philosophy of Religion is committed to the investigation of religion itself, rather than the truth of any particular religion.

What is Theism?
What is the difference between monotheism and monolatry? Between pantheism and panentheism? How about between animism and shamanism? Or theism and deism? What the heck is henotheism?

What is Religion?
A system of human beliefs, ideals and practices which is harder to define than it may at first appear. Read more about how dictionaries, scholars and others have tried to define and explain religion.

<Back to Last Page >     <Glossary Index>
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.