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Difference Between Lutheranism and Calvinism

calvinismLutheranism vs Calvinism

Broadly speaking, Calvinism can be thought of as virtually synonymous with reformed theology or ‘reformed Protestantism’, comprising of the entire body of doctrine that’s taught by the reformed churches and represented in different reformed confessions like the Belgic confession of faith (1561) and the Westminster confession of faith (1647).

The theology of Calvinism was developed and advanced by John Calvin and further advanced by his followers, becoming the foundation of the reformed church as well as Presbyterianism. Calvin’s successor was Theodore Beza, who is credited for spear heading the emphasis on Calvinism’s core doctrine of predestination which affirms that God extends grace and gives salvation only to the chosen. It emphasizes the Bible’s literal truth and takes the church as a Christian community headed by Christ with all members under him equal. It does not agree with the Episcopal form of church government in favor of an organization in which church officers are elected. Calvinism strongly influenced the Presbyterian Church in Scotland and was the basis for Puritanism as well as theocracies in Geneva. The ‘doctrines of grace’, commonly known by the acronym ‘TULIP’ basically summarize the doctrine of Calvinism. These are; total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

Lutheranism is another of the major protestant denominations, begun in the sixteenth century as a movement led by Martin Luther, who was a German Augustinian monk and theology professor at the University of Wittenberg in Saxony. Luther’s intent originally was to reform the western Christian church but because of being excommunicated by the Pope, Lutheranism started to develop in various national and territorial churches effectively leading to the disintegration of the organizational unity of western Christendom.

Lutheran theology stresses that salvation is independent of merit and worthiness, arguing that it is a gift of God’s sovereign grace. All human beings alike are sinners and the ‘original sin’ keeps them in bondage to the evil powers, rendering them unable to aid their liberation. Lutherans believe that the only way to respond to God’s saving initiative is through trust in Him (faith). Thus, the controversial slogan of Lutheranism became ‘salvation by faith alone’; with opponents arguing that the Christian responsibility of doing good works was not being done justice. Lutherans claimed in reply that good works follow from faith as faith must be active in love.

Summary:
1.  Calvinism was started by John Calvin (1509-1564) while Lutheranism was the brainchild of Martin Luther (1483-1546).
2. Calvinism salvation belief is that of predestination (chosen few) whereas Lutheranism believes any one can attain salvation through faith.
3. Calvinism stresses the absolute sovereignty of God whereas Lutheranism believes man has some control over certain aspects in his life.


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25 Comments

  1. This article is horrendously wrong in several areas, I would advice the reader to search elsewhere.

    1. Luther most definitely believed and taught predestination, contrary to what this article says.
    2. Calvinists do believe that anyone can be saved through faith, but would said it is entirely achieved by the work of Christ and that God has already predetermined it.
    3. The main difference at the beginning was that Luther taught that the body and blood of Christ was present locally in the bread and wine, whereas Calvin taught that it was a spiritual real presence.
    4. Some differences now include the doctrine of particular atonement (Calvinist believe that Christ died only for the elect, whereas Lutheran’s believe that Christ died for all, but it is only effective for the elect.), and the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints (Some Lutheran’s believe that it is possible to fall out of God’s grace)
    5. It is important to note that difference also that Luther’s theology was Christ centered and heavily influenced by his view and experience of soiterology and justification by faith. Calvin’s theology was more systematic and sought to cover a wide range of topics. Calvin was also influenced heavily by the Humanist movement (though in a smaller sense, Luther probably undoubtedly was at well).

    Overview:
    1. Luther and Calvin both affirmed predestination and justification by faith, and therefore rejected the Roman Catholic church.
    2. Luther believed that the body and blood of Christ really was in bread and wine, Calvin believed Christ was present spiritually.

    • Aaron,

      Both Luther and Calvin believed in faith in the Sacraments to save them. See Luthers Catechism and Calvin’s Institutes Book Fourth, Chapters XIV-XVII. Unless they changed their minds they are in flames as we speak.

      pchet@gnmc.us

      • really holy roller? Why don’t you read John 6:53. Bet they don’t touch that in your pew jumping shack of a church.

        Baptism? Jesus did this himself to show us the EXAMPLE
        His Body and Blood? “This cup is the new cup shed for the FORGIVENESS OF SINS”. WOW……what a concept.

        Altar calls in the NT? NOPE!
        Boogieing and dancing in the ailes in the NT? NOPE!

        Lutheranism, well except the liberal ELCA, is about as NT church as you can get.

        • Lutheran a NT church huh? Luther never strayed very far from the Pope and Hitler didn’t stray very far from Luther. Check your new Testament again…..I guess unless you’re reading from an NIV, NLT, GNT, or whatever liberal junk you’re reading. You are right about the dancing though…..although maybe you should read the Psalms?

      • Aaron, I’m a Calvinist, and I have been since the day God called me into saving faith. In no way did Calvin believe in faith in the sacraments for salvation.

        If it is the sacraments that save the lost, then tell me, why did Christ have to die?

        Does it not say in God’s Word that salvation is through Christ alone? (Ephesians 2:8 ; Isaiah 43:11 ; Hosea 3:4).

        Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

        There is a reason this verse doesn’t say “No one comes to the Father except through me and the sacraments”.

    • Richard, just curious about where you got your information. Im researching both men for a project and need some info on each men. Thanks

    • No, you are wrong. If you read books and do research it says John Calvin made up predestination and Martin Luther said that you only find salvation through faith.

  2. GAY
    GIVE
    SOME
    REAL
    INFORMATION
    .

  3. trololol
    cheese s delicous eat it and perish

  4. first off i am lutheran and we do not adhere to the 5 points of calvin and we believe in many things that calvin rejected and i am getting sick and tired of hearing this anti semite claims of people that luther helped fuel nazism because hitler read some things luther wrote as a lutheran we do not endorse and never have endorsed any of the writtings that luther wrote about that were anti jewish and the church also said their were luthers personal opinion and never accepted them just because a few idiots took what he said literal and acted on those writtings is not a reflectionan on the whole lutheran church and hitler was a nut and even if he had not read luthers anti semite writings he would have still killed 6 million jews and i will leave it at that

    • Joseph, Luther and Calvin have almost identical belief systems.

      Modern day “Lutherans” have added many subjects that mar the name of this saint and brother in Christ.

      I am absolutely certain that Luther roles over in his grave for the topics of Absolution, and salvation through baptism and the sacraments, because there is nothing biblical about them. Saying that these things save a human soul form Damnation is to say that what Christ paid on the cross wasn’t enough for our salvation. This, to further the issue, discredits the Bible (the very word of God) and all of its prophecies about Christ, thus discrediting God Himself.

      Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” John 14:6

      You will notice that this verse and many others like it have not a trace in them about needing baptism or the sacraments for salvation.

      Luther, contrary to the “politically correct” beliefs, was actually very reformed in his theology. He wasn’t stuck in petty tradition.

      “Luther’s Small Catechism” speaks on numerous issues that Luther himself never even addressed.

      My suggestion to you, Joseph, and the author of this article is to do your research about these men, because neither of you are doing then either of them any justice whatsoever.

      • Concerning the necessity of baptism or sacraments, the bottom line is to OBEY GOD. Jesus was baptized (even though John the Baptist did not feel worthy to baptize Him) so that “all righteousness would be fulfilled” (Matthew 3:13-15). Also Peter and “all the apostles standing with him” in Acts 2:36 – 38 commanded the listening Jews to repent, “and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” If you read these verses, you will notice the crowd asked Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do?”
        They wanted salvation and Peter included being baptized in his response to their question about what to do. And we should listen to Peter and the other apostles because Jesus gave them the command to make disciples of the world and to baptize (See Matthew 28 and Mark 16 and Acts 1.

        Carmen
        (To see others getting saved after Jesus returned to Heaven, see Acts 8, Acts 10, Acts 19. In each case people were baptized — even in the middle of the desert — so that they could “OBEY” what they were commanded.

        Think of the Father of Faith, Abraham, from the Old Testament. He was told to “circumcise” all males. Even though his “faith” brought him righteousness, God’s covenant with him required this act of obedience. (See how God was about to kill Moses because he did not do this act of obedience on his sons in Exodus (Exodus 4: 24-26). Thus, God can do what He wants, and if Jesus said during the “last supper,” “This do in remembrance of me” we should OBEY the commandment. We can debate and debate what the sacraments mean in relation to Jesus body; just let’s make sure we are obeying all God’s commands — like the one about baptism.

    • TAKE A SHOWER FROM MOJOJO

    • I hate luthers they are fakes

    • joe doesn’t know what hes talking about he only thinks he does grow up

  5. Luther and Calvin were sacramental salvationists. Any one who disagrees has not read Calvin’s Institutes or his commentaries. Nor have they read Luthers 55 volumes. Talk is cheap, do your homework.

  6. This is one of the reasons I kept delaying my decision on whether to go to theology school. I see people agruing over every detail of everything in the Bible and the non-believers also chime in acting like they know God. The truth is we are all sinners. Total depravity, original sin….whatever you call it, but do you believe it as you so strongly agrue about? If you really believe you are sinners, then should you be putting others down and correcting others when you, merely human, could never know the whole of Christ’s mind? If you insist you do, you are saying you are as wise as God. And then you say you are depraved? What is the truth here? Are we not at war with God by arguing proudly while dismissing others? We need to repent, or else we are worst than non-believers and bring shame to God. As it is already, Satan has been using many mockers posing as Christians to invoke uselesss debate and harm to the body of Christ, while in the process make Christians look bad. His intentio is so that we devide. A kingdom devided cannot stand. Now, some are biting the bait. Repent, my friends.

    “I am a Lutheran” or “I am a Calvinist” is a degrace to Christ. You are either a follower of Christ, or a follower of others (people, Satan, yourself, money, rule, theories, knowledge, efforts…) which are all idols. Why must you define a boundary and exclude others. This is not a party or a clicque. You are making many fall and stumble because of you accusingo thers. Christ saves. Theology does not. So why don’t we spend more time coming to Christ in submission, instead of going to people and picking fights?

    The point is if you believe in Christ, you will follow the Bible and the God’s Holy Spirit leads you. Even if we fail or misunderstand parts, Christ is mighty to convict our hearts or forgive us. He will not hold us accountable for the things we fail to understand. But he certain will hold us accountable for the thing we know and do not obey: love one another. Christ died for you. Understand this. Try to grasp this. What do you do in the dark? Have you repented? As Paul says we should not engage in fruitless debates that cause dissension. He also ways we should confirm our salvations, making sure we do not fall from grace. Whatever God decides to do with us if we do is HIS job. But we still should daily confirm our relationship with him is growing, not backsliding.

    Praise God. May those who have come to Christ do not ever fall away on accounts of Satan’s schemes.

    • Amen Tracy !<)

      • Tracy,

        Jesus taught in Matt. 7:16 & 20 that His true followers “will KNOW them,” the false Christians. Paul knew them, Gal. 2:4. Peter knew them, II Pet. 2:1. John knew them I John 2:19-20. The Ephesian church knew them. Rev. 2:2

        Hebrews 5:13–14 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

        pchet@gnmc.us

  7. dear johnathan and tracy and all
    luther did believe in the sacrements as a means of gods grace not that he believed that we are saved by them but that god uses them as a channel of his grace to man also luther had a great devotion to the mother of god and believed in her being ever virgin her whole life which i agree with and my pastor and some in the pastors in the lcms hold to this is why luther and the thelogian zwinlgi had a meeting encounter where luther persisted that the body and blood of christ was present in the form of bread and wine on the altar and carved the word real presents in the table and keep hitting his first over the word when the exact time it becomes his body and blood and when it no longer it is the true body and blood is present in the bread and wine we do not believe any man can know nor do we believe in a physical change as does the roman catholics nor do we know when the exact time the change takes place zwingli was very much opposed and atributed that jesus was spiritualy present in the gifts of the bread and wine at the altar and their are facts that are mixed up in some responds to my post the fact is it was 200 years after luthers death that piestistism and rationalism thelogy creep into the lutheran church this is why you see in the wisconsin synod and the lutheran brethen churches many piestistics attributes and much lax in worship style and use of comtempory music at their services and anti clercalism feeling by their pastors and also the lutheran brethen i think allow women pastors which is very much against what luther taught as is rationalism held to by some luthers and you have the 360 degree opposite direction when we see systemactic thelogy a form of calvinist thelogy creeping into some smalled lutheran mirco synods as for me i belong to lutheran church missouri synod we are confessional lutherans and have always been but lately the comtempory worship style and piestist belief mixed with some using the chrismactic styles of worship have invaded some of our congregation and allowing women to hold to the office of elder all of these things are very much against our lutheran faith and i hope that those of us in the conservative wing will either try to push back this trend or their will come a point when the need to separate ourselves from those in the lcms that are going down a stray path away from biblical lutheran thelogy

  8. Joseph Godleski has apparently NOT read Luther’s works or he would not make the erroneous statements he just made . DO your HOMEWORK!!!

    Quoted from LUTHER’S SMALL CATECHISM, Concordia Publishing, 1971 (emphasis added),

    I. THE NATURE OF BAPTISM (p.170)

    251 Infants, too, are to be baptized (p.173)

    B. Because Holy Baptism is the only means whereby infants, who, too, must be born again, can ordinarily be regenerated and brought to faith;
    C. Because infants, too, can believe.

    II. THE BLESSINGS OF BAPTISM (p.174)

    What does Baptism give or profit? It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

    254 …By His suffering and death Christ has indeed earned these blessings for us; Baptism, however, is a means by which the Holy Ghost makes these blessings our own. (Baptism is a means of grace.). (p.175)

    257 …The word of God places these great blessings into Baptism; and through faith, which trusts this word of promise, we accept the forgiveness, life, and salvation offered in Baptism and make these blessings our own. (p.177)

    II. THE BENEFITS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER (p.200)

    What is the benefit of such eating and drinking? That is shown us by these words, “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins”; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

    III. THE POWER OF THE LORD’S SUPPER (p.201)

    How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? It is not the eating and drinking indeed that does them, but the words here written, “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins”; which words, besides the bodily eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

    317. How, then, does the Sacrament impart such forgiveness of sins? By His words “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins” Christ has placed the forgiveness of sins into the Sacrament, and there He offers, gives, and seals it to all communicants. These words, therefore, are the chief thing in the Sacrament.
    HOLY SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
    11. Now if this covenant did not exist, and God were not so merciful as to wink at our sins, there could be no sin so small but it would condemn us. For the judgment of God can endure no sin. Therefore there is no greater comfort on earth than baptism. For it is through baptism that we come under the judgment of grace and mercy, which does not condemn our sins but drives them out by many trials. There is a fine sentence of St. Augustine which says, “Sin is altogether forgiven in baptism; not in such a manner that it is no longer present, but such a manner that it is not imputed.” It is as if he were to say, “Sin remains in our flesh even until death and works without ceasing. But so long as we do not give our consent to it or desire to remain in it, sin is so overruled by our baptism that it does not condemn us and is not harmful to us. Rather it is daily being more and more destroyed in us until our death.”

    BLESSED SACRAMENT OF BODY OF CHRIST
    We have, therefore, two principal sacraments in the church, baptism and the bread. Baptism leads us to a new life on earth; the bread guides us through death into eternal life. . . . So entirely is this sacrament intended and instituted for a strengthening against death and an entrance into eternal life.
    LUTHER’S WORKS, Vol. 35, Word And Sacrament, I, (Fortress Press, 1981) (p. 67, emphasis added)

    . . . and I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, . . .
    The LARGE CATECHISM by Martin Luther (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921) (p. 565, emphasis added)

    Pastor Chet

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