Similarities, Differences, And FAQs

In an attempt to unify the two churches, the leaders agreed to sign a document called the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) in 1999.

Even though the leaders and some adherents may not agree, Catholicism and Lutheranism still have differences that are worthy of discussion.

Despite being branches of Christianity and sharing the same history at one point, Lutherans and Catholics differ when it comes to some of their social teachings, doctrinal teachings, and other religious aspects that form the basis of certain beliefs.

While Lutherans believe that Catholics are too reliant on tradition, the papacy, and the church, Catholics believe that Lutherans are too liberal. 

This has caused friction between the two, and the fact each group believes it is the source of divine truth made everything worse, especially in the past.

Most of the differences came about when a few members of the Roman Catholic Church felt that the church had wrong ideas about certain scriptural teachings.

What Is Lutheranism, And How Was It Founded?

Founded by an Augustinian monk called Martin Luther, Lutheranism is a branch of the Protestant denomination that was formed when the aforementioned theologian questioned certain doctrines in Catholicism.

The period in which these events occurred is known as the reformation because Luther intended to reform the early Roman Catholic Church, but things did not go as planned.

As a result of his actions, Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church, causing him to protest against the church and what it stands for in society. And thus the term Protestants was coined.

The doctrines of the Lutheran church are mainly based on the teachings and ideas that Martin Luther penned down in his Theses.

That being said, Lutherans reject most of the teachings in Catholicism because they believe some of the doctrines have no scriptural basis or explanation.

In addition to this, there are other things that Luther did not like about Roman Catholicism. For instance, he questioned the authority of the pope and other leaders in the church.

Aside from that, Lutherans believed that Catholicism came up with rules that only favored the church and not the adherents.

Consequently, this gave Protestantism large followership since most of the people in the society agreed with Luther’s arguments.

However, Lutheranism retained some of the customs that it got from Roman Catholicism. And since Lutheranism is one of the oldest branches of Protestantism, it has many adherents who still follow the teachings of Martin Luther.

What Do Catholics Believe?

Catholicism vs. LutheranismAs the oldest denomination under the umbrella of Christianity, Catholics believe and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In addition to this, they also profess to follow the spiritual teachings provided by the Pope and the church as a whole.

Since its founding, Catholicism has led to the formation of many Christian churches in different parts of the world. 

Most of these churches came to be as a result of religious misunderstandings between Roman Catholicism and those who opposed its teachings.

According to Catholics, Catholicism is the only true church that provides its adherents with scriptural truth. 

Several things make Catholicism unique compared to other Christian denominations. And that is one of the reasons why it has the highest number of adherents in the world.

Catholics believe in the saints and also commemorate them on holy days to show honor and appreciation for what they did in regards to the formation of the early church.

Catholicism teaches that St. Peter was appointed head of the church by Jesus Christ. As such, Catholics consider Peter as the first Pope in the Roman Catholic Church, meaning all the popes are his successors. 

Also, Catholics believe that all moral actions taken by the church have a religious significance and should be embraced by all adherents who profess belief in Catholicism.

This not only applies to scriptural accounts but also teachings of the church that have been passed down through tradition.

Catholicism vs. Lutheranism: Similarities

  • Both Are Christians

-Catholics and Lutherans are guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ and also live according to his ways. Moreover, Lutheranism came from Catholicism, meaning they share the same religious origins. All Christians believe that Jesus Christ was sent by God to save mankind from sin.

  • Trinitarian Teachings

-Both Catholicism and Lutheranism teach about the trinity of God, meaning He is three persons in one. That is God (the Father), God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.

  • Holly Communion

-Lutherans and Catholics partake in the Holy Communion and also attend mass to show honor for this day. However, their beliefs about the elements of the communion may differ depending on how each group understands the scripture. 

  • Reverence to Scripture

-According to Catholicism and Lutheranism teachings, the Bible is God-inspired, meaning the adherents should follow the spiritual counsel that it provides.

Theological Differences Between Catholicism and Lutheranism

While the two religious groups share some similarities, Lutheranism and Catholicism differ when it comes to certain theological ideas.

Plus, each group has evidence that supports their claims and ideas, so it is only through faith that one can choose to become a Catholic or Lutheran.

1. The Number of Sacraments

  • It is important to note that both Lutherans and Catholics believe and respect the sacraments. However, they don’t share similar beliefs about some sacraments.
  • According to Lutherans, Baptism and the Eucharist are the only sacraments that are important to the church. They may also consider Confession, but the two are considered to have more authority. This also applies to most protestant denominations around the world.
  • Catholicism, on the other hand, teaches that members of the church should partake in seven sacraments in order to stay in a good relationship with God and the church. The seven sacraments include Eucharist, Penance, Baptism, Holy Orders, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage.

2. The Doctrine of Salvation

  • Catholicism teaches that a member can only attain salvation through good works and faith. As such, one may have faith in Jesus Christ and God, but can still fail to win God’s favor simply because they did not do any good deeds.
  • Nonetheless, Lutherans believe that faith alone can save a person. According to Lutheranism and most Protestant churches, all you have to do as a Christian is to have faith in God and Jesus Christ. This is one of the main ideas that Martin Luther brought out in his Theses.
  • Luther argued that the Roman Catholic Church included good works as a requirement for salvation as a way of exploiting the poor in society. He was particularly against the idea of the church encouraging members to help in building places of worship while the Roman Catholic Church had enough money to do all that was needed.

3. The Office of The Pope

  • The Pope, also known as the Vicar of Christ in Catholicism, has spiritual authority over the Catholic Church. As the successor of St. Peter, the Pope is considered supreme and is the head of Catholics from all over the world.
  • The office of the Pope has great religious significance to Catholicism since most of the spiritual directives that govern the church originate from there.
  • Contrarily, Lutherans don’t share the same beliefs, and neither do they believe in papal supremacy. According to Lutherans, the pope has no divine authority over the church.

4.  Scriptural Authority

  • The other thing that differentiates Catholics and Lutherans is their view on scriptural authority. Lutherans believe that all religious doctrines and practices should only be acquired from the Bible, meaning any teaching that does not have a scriptural basis should not be taught to members of the church.
  • Catholics also believe the same, but the only difference is that spiritual authority not only rests in the Bible but also with the Pope, Roman Catholic traditions, and the church. 
  • Moreover, it is the responsibility of the pope to interpret the scripture for members of the catholic church, so his understanding of what is written is what the church will use.

5. The Transubstantiation

  • Catholicism teaches that during the Holy Communion, the elements of the Eucharist (wine and bread) become the actual blood and body of Jesus Christ. 
  • Through this mystical manifestation of Christ, Catholics believe that the Eucharist allows them to share in Jesus’s sacrifice for the atonement of sins.
  • Lutherans commemorate the Eucharist, but they don’t embrace the idea of the elements becoming the actual blood and body of Christ. To Lutherans, the elements of the Eucharist are just but a representation of what is being commemorated.

Final Verdict

Catholicism and Lutheranism are both unique in their own ways. Still, they have common similarities mainly because they share the same religious history. Both are part of Christianity, but that does not mean that they don’t have differences.

The differences came about as a result of the teachings of Martin Luther during the Reformation. However, Lutherans still hold some of the doctrines that they got from Roman Catholics.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Lutheranism split from Catholicism?

As a branch of Protestantism, Lutheranism was founded in 1517 when Martin Luther questioned the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church through the 95 Theses.

How do Lutherans view the Saints?

Lutheranism teaches that the Saints don’t act as mediators between members of the church and God, meaning no prayer should be offered through or to them. 

Do Lutheran Churches allow the use of birth control?

Unlike Catholics, Lutherans and other Protestant denominations allow their members to use contraceptives.

Core Beliefs and Doctrines: A Comparative Analysis of Catholicism and Lutheranism

The theological differences between Catholicism and Lutheranism have been at the heart of religious discussions and debates since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. While both traditions share a Christian foundation, they diverge on several key doctrinal points. In this article, we will delve into some of the core beliefs and doctrines that distinguish these two Christian traditions.