Difference Between Lutheran & Methodist Churches

Both Lutheran and Methodist faiths have roots in the Reformation.
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Both the Lutheran and Methodist faiths are Protestant religions. They have common origins in the Protestant Reformation of 16th-century Europe. The Reformation was the radical change within Christianity instigated by Martin Luther, a German monk, along with other early Protestants. But while Lutheranism has its roots at the beginning of the Reformation, Methodism developed more than 200 years later from a different branch of Protestantism. Lutherans and Methodists share Protestant Christian beliefs, but their two churches differ somewhat in history, doctrine and spiritual practice.

1 History of Lutheranism

Lutheranism is a Protestant denomination based on Luther's teachings. It arose from his objection to the Catholic Church’s abuses of power. In 1517, he nailed to a church door a list of 95 arguments, called the 95 Theses. In particular, he criticized the practice of selling indulgences, or official pardons for sins. He also questioned the clergy's exclusive right to save souls, believing that salvation depended only on faith. He regarded the Bible, not the clergy, as Christians' spiritual authority. Luther and other reformers offered an alternative view of Christian practice, which led to Protestantism and its denominations. Protestant Christianity began with Luther in Germany and spread quickly across Europe. In northern Europe, those who accepted Luther’s views were called Lutherans.

2 History of Methodism

Methodism is a Protestant movement that emerged from the Anglican branch of Protestantism, rather than the Lutheran branch. It originated with the teachings of John Wesley, an Anglican cleric and theologian in 18th-century England. Two hundred years earlier, during the Reformation, King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church to head up the Church of England, an Anglican faith. In the 1730s, Wesley founded the Methodist movement, based on his own views about the Church of England and Christian practice in general. His followers, who were called Methodists, went on to establish their own churches in England and America.

3 Doctrine of the Lutheran Church

Both Lutherans and Methodists embrace the core beliefs of all Christians. They believe in and worship Jesus Christ. They believe in the Holy Trinity. The sacred text for both Lutherans and Methodists is the Holy Bible. There are, however, some doctrinal differences between the two faiths. As members of the oldest Protestant religion, Lutherans still embrace Luther's theological teachings. The core values of Lutheranism are grace, faith and scripture. These values shape the doctrine of Lutheranism. Lutherans believe that souls are saved by God's grace, not by individual actions. They also hold that salvation comes through faith alone, by putting one's trust in God. They also believe in the Bible as the sole foundation of one's faith and life, against which all doctrine is judged.

4 Doctrine of the Methodist Church

Methodists founded their churches on a liturgy and proclamation of beliefs written by Wesley, known as the Articles of Religion. Comparable to the Church of England's primary tenets, these articles serve as the doctrine of Methodism. Whereas Lutherans place emphasis on faith alone, Methodists believe in faith-based actions. Wesley referred to this principle as "practical divinity." Methodists do not seek salvation or redemption through their actions; however, they value the importance of serving God in society and doing good works as a spiritual practice. All Christians can share the communion sacrament in the Methodist church. Methodists also believe that public worship, as in a church, is the duty and privilege of the faithful.

Shannon Leigh O'Neil, a New York City-based arts and culture writer, has been writing professionally since 2008. Her articles have appeared in "GO Magazine," "The New York Blade" and "HX Magazine," as well as online media. O'Neil holds a Master of Arts in modern art history from the City College of New York, where she also studied French and minored in classical languages.