Lutheranism vs Roman Catholicism: Similarities & Differences

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
Exploring what sets Lutherans and Catholics apartLutheranism and Roman Catholicism are two of the most well-known branches of Christianity. While they share some similarities, the Lutheran and Catholic churches both hold varying opinions...
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Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism are two of the most well-known branches of Christianity. While they share some similarities, the Lutheran and Catholic churches both hold varying opinions when it comes to their beliefs and teachings. Keep reading to learn about the most significant differences and similarities between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism and how these two religions came to be.

Things You Should Know

  • Lutherans and Roman Catholics differ in their views on the authority of the Scripture, how individuals achieve salvation, and the observance of certain sacraments.
  • Both Lutherans and Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity, use the Bible as their holy text, and gather together to worship in the form of Mass.
  • Roman Catholicism traces its roots back to the times of Jesus, while Lutheranism was founded in 1517 by Martin Luther, who split from the Catholic Church.
Section 1 of 3:

Differences Between Lutherans & Catholics

  1. Step 1 Authority of Scripture
    Lutherans believe that the Scripture alone holds the sole authority within the Lutheran Church. This is one of the defining principles that sets Lutheranism apart from Catholicism. On the other hand, Catholics believe in 3 sources of authority within the Church: Scripture, tradition, and magisterium.[1]
    • Tradition refers to understandings and teachings that have been handed down since the time of the Apostles. Catholics believe that their understanding of Scripture and faith is heavily rooted in these traditions.
    • The term “magisterium” refers to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church as an institution led by figures such as bishops, cardinals, and the Pope.
  2. Step 2 Salvation
    The Lutheran faith states that a person’s faith in Christ is enough for them to achieve salvation. As long as they believe that their sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ, they’ll be given salvation. Catholics also believe that a person’s faith in God is extremely important in salvation, but they also state that a person must do good deeds as well.[2]
    • The Roman Catholic path to salvation is a lifelong process. It starts with a person’s baptism and is strengthened as they participate in each of the remaining sacraments (Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, anointing of the sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony).
    • Along with having faith in Christ, Catholics often encourage people do good deeds, such as doing service for the Church or greater community, to practice good faith.
  3. Step 3 The Pope
    Within the Catholic Church, the Pope is an authoritative figure that leads the Church. They are recognized as a chief pastor of the church on a global scale, and the Church regards them as a person without fault. Lutherans, on the other hand, do not generally believe that the Pope has any kind of divine authority.[3]
    • Lutherans believe that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know in order to achieve salvation, so they generally don’t give authority to pronouncements by the Pope or follow their declarations.
  4. Step 4 Sacraments
    The Catholic Church has 7 sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, anointing of the sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.[4] Lutherans only have 2 major sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (communion).[5]
  5. Step 5 Baptism
    The views Lutherans and Catholics hold in regard to the sacrament of Baptism differ slightly. Catholics view Baptism as the forgiveness of sins and an important step in moving forward toward salvation with God. Lutherans generally view Baptism more as the act of giving an infant or adult the faith they need that will give them salvation and see it less as the forgiving of sins.[6]
  6. Step 6 Transubstantiation
    Transubstantiation is the belief that the substances used during the Eucharist (bread and wine) transform into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is a major belief within the Catholic Church. Lutherans, on the other hand, believe that Christ is present during communion, but the bread and wine are simply bread and wine, nothing more.[7]
  7. Step 7 Saints
    While Lutherans believe in and remember saints, they generally do not pray to them as Catholics might. This is because many Lutherans believe that praying to saints makes them seem more benevolent or accessible than Christ.[8]
  8. Step 8 Mary
    Catholics hold beliefs in 4 dogmas when it comes to the Virgin Mary. They believe that she is the Mother of God, that she is without original sin (the Immaculate Conception), that she remained a perpetual virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus, and that she was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven. Lutherans acknowledge Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ on Earth, but they believe she was born with sins just like everyone else.[9]
    • In the Lutheran faith, Mary is regarded more as an exceptional example that others should follow in their journey towards salvation, rather than a divine being.
  9. Step 9 Purgatory
    Both Lutherans and Catholics believe in life after death, however, they are split over the concept of Purgatory. According to Catholic teachings, Purgatory is a place where people go to have their souls cleansed before entering Heaven. In the Lutheran faith, those who have faith in Christ will automatically receive salvation and go to Heaven and reject the notion of Purgatory.[10]
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Section 2 of 3:

Similarities Between Lutherans & Catholics

  1. Step 1 Belief in the Holy Trinity
    Both Lutherans and Catholics believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that one God eternally exists as 3 persons: God the Father, Jesus Christ (the Son), and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).[11] Both branches of Christianity affirm this belief by reciting the Nicene Creed, which is a profession of faith that succinctly lists out what followers of Christianity believe in.[12]
    • Faiths that believe in the Holy Trinity are known as Trinitarians.
  2. Step 2 The Bible
    The Bible is the holy text used by both Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The Bible consists of two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Both religions follow the same 27 books in the New Testament, however, they have different versions of the Old Testament. Lutherans, who use Protestant Bibles, only observe 39 books in the Old Testament, while Catholics have 46.[13]
    • The Catholic Bible has 7 additional books in the Old Testament: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus/Sirach/Ben Sira, 1–2 Maccabees, and Baruch. They also have additional passages in the books Daniel and Esther.
  3. Step 3 The Ten Commandments
    Lutherans and Catholics both believe in the Ten Commandments and view them as laws directly given by God. Both Catholics and Lutherans acknowledge these commandments in their catechisms, or a summary of their faiths written in the form of questions and answers.[14]
    • The Lutheran catechism, written by Martin Luther himself, is divided into the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism. The Ten Commandments are mentioned in the Small Catechism.
    • The Catechism of the Catholic Church, promogulated by Pope John Paul II in 1992, is divided into 4 major parts: the Profession of Faith, the Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Life in Christ (including the Ten Commandments), and Christian Prayer.
  4. Step 4 Liturgy
    Both Lutherans and Catholics have public gatherings for worship, also called liturgy or Mass.[15] Both liturgies contain similar elements, such as prayers, hymns, readings of the Scripture, a sermon, and the Eucharist.[16]
    • Both Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism also follow a similar calendar during the liturgical year and observe many of the same holidays, such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.[17]
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Section 3 of 3:

Foundings of the Lutheran and Catholic Churches

  1. Step 1 Catholicism is believed to be founded by Jesus.
    Roman Catholicism is thought to be traced all the way back to the early 30s of the Common Era. Jesus’ disciples and followers went to spread the Word, and Christianity went on to become the official religion of the Roman Empire in 313 CE.[18] Peter, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, is believed to have been chosen by Jesus as the first Pope.[19]
  2. Step 2 Lutheranism is the product of a split from the Catholic Church in 1517.
    A German man named Martin Luther ended up bringing about the Protestant Reformation when he challenged the Catholic Church’s teachings. He didn’t believe that the Church’s teachings accurately reflected what was written in the Bible. What started out as a debate ended in the separation of Luther’s followers (Lutherans) from the Church to establish their own branch of Christianity.[20]
    • Martin Luther was troubled by the practice of indulgence within the Catholic Church, which essentially allowed people to pay a donation to the Church in order to have their sins forgiven. He asserted that a person’s faith was enough to grant them salvation.[21]
    • Along the same line, Luther also argued that there was no such line in the Bible that gave the Pope the authority to free a person of their sins and that this was a power only God was capable of.
    • Luther then went on to publish his “95 Theses” which centered around two major themes: the Bible is the central authority in Christianity, and people need only faith to earn salvation. The “95 Theses” is what went on to spark the Protestant Reformation.
    • Lutheranism is one of the 5 major branches of Protestantism along with Anglicanism, the Reformed and Presbyterian (Calvinist) churches, the Baptist churches, and Methodism.
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