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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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14 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

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  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.

  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.

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