The Lutheran and the Methodist churches are both products of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Both groups accept that the primary sacraments are baptism and Eucharist, because these are the two in which Jesus participated. Methodists and Lutherans practice these two sacraments in very similar ways, but there are differences.
Lutherans and Methodists believe that participation in the two sacraments is how Christians receive God's grace. Baptism is a sign of new birth and the method by which one receives eternal salvation from God. Lutherans and Methodists both practice infant baptism, but this is controversial among other Protestant denominations. Their belief is that baptism should be open to all people of any age. Lutherans and Methodists likewise believe that baptism replaces the ancient Jewish rite of circumcision following the teachings of Paul in the New Testament. Since circumcision is performed on infants, baptism should likewise be performed on infants of both sexes.
Eucharist, or communion, is a symbol of Christian redemption through Jesus' sacrifice. It is practiced by Methodists and Lutherans alike, but there are differences in its meaning. Methodists believe that the bread and wine of Eucharist are meant to. symbolize the body of Jesus as seen in the Last Supper. In contrast, Lutherans believe that the bread and wine literally become the body of Jesus during the sacrament. Methodists will invite anyone to partake in communion, but some Lutherans will not invite non-members to receive communion owing to different beliefs.
Private confession among Lutherans is no longer common, and Lutherans are not in agreement about whether communion can be considered a sacrament as it is among Roman Catholics. The Augsburg Confession of 1530 is a primary foundation of the Lutheran Church, and the first 21 articles of the Confession are a specific listing of Lutheran beliefs. Article XI states that private confession is to be kept as a church practice, but members are not required to enumerate their sins. While private confession is used among some Lutherans because of its inclusion in the Augsburg Confession, it is not practiced among Methodists.
Since 1977, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The United Methodist Church (UMC) have been in close dialogue about the significance of sacraments within their respective denominations. The relationship forged between the ELCA and UMC outlines their shared beliefs about the sacraments and mutual respect for theological differences. The two are in agreement about the meaning of baptism and acceptance of infant baptism. The ELCA and UMC are also in agreement about the meaning of communion, but acknowledge their differences over whether the body of Jesus is truly present during Eucharist.
- Lutheran Confirmation On-Line: The Sacraments: God's Means Of Grace
- The United Methodist Church: Article XVI -- Of the Sacraments
- Our Redeemer Lutheran Church: Why We Baptize Babies
- The United Methodist Church: I am not a member of The United Methodist Church. Can I still take Communion?
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: On distribution of Holy Communion
- Peace Lutheran Church: On Private Confession and Absolution
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: ELCA-UMC Frequently Asked Questions
- Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod: Communion -- Both "Close" and "Closed"
- Lutheran Church Canada: Confessing our Sins and Forgiveness
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