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Lutheran Church Beliefs and Practices

Lutheranisms Departure From Roman Catholicism

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As one of the oldest Protestant denominations, Lutheranism traces its core beliefs and practices back to the principles of Martin Luther, a German friar in the Augustinian order known as the "Father of the Reformation." Luther's major departures from Roman Catholic doctrine were based on these beliefs:

  • Baptism - Although Luther retained that Baptism was necessary for spiritual regeneration, no specific form was stipulated. Today Lutherans practice both infant baptism and baptism of believing adults.

  • Individual Access to God - Luther believed that each individual has the right to reach God through Scripture with responsibility to God alone. It is not necessary for a priest to mediate.

  • The Lord's Supper - Luther also retained the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, but the doctrine of transubstantiation was rejected.

  • Sacraments - Luther believed the sacraments were valid only as aids to faith (initiating and feeding faith), thus giving grace to those who participate in them.

  • Salvation by Grace through Faith - Luther maintained that salvation comes by grace through faith alone; not by works and sacraments.

  • Salvation for All - Luther believed that salvation is available to all humans through the redeeming work of Christ.

  • Scripture - Luther believed the Scriptures contained the one necessary guide to truth.

  • Worship - As to the manner of worship, Luther chose to retain altars and vestments and prepare an order of liturgical service, but with the understanding that no church was bound to follow any set order. As a result, there is today no uniform liturgy belonging to all branches of the Lutheran body. However, an important place is given to preaching and congregational singing.

To learn more about the Lutheran denomination visit LutheranWorld.org, the ELCA, or the LCMS.

(Sources: ReligiousTolerance.org, ReligionFacts.com, AllRefer.com, and the Religious Movements Web site of the University of Virginia.)

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