Compare And Contrast Lutheranism And Calvinism Essay

Lutheranism 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.

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.

Kivumbi. "Difference Between Lutheranism and Calvinism." August 7, 2010 < >.

Predestination is the idea that regardless of what a person does, he or she is destined for either salvation or damnation. Calvinists and other religions who believe in predestination believe that God has already chosen their path and already willed for them to either live a good Christian life that leads to heaven or a poor Christian life that leads to hell. Calvin said that a person could tell if he or she were among one of God's chosen ones if, despite all of the bad things in the person's life, he or she kept following the saintly path.

The idea of supreme authority of religion was also Calvin's idea. Calvin believed that the secular government should not have any say over the church and he wanted a theocracy government. Luther, on the other hand, believed that the church should follow the secular laws to help keep the public order and to allow people the freedom to worship in their own way.

The transubstantiation rule is something that many Christian religions review. Luther, when breaking away from the Catholic Church, decided to keep transubstantiation. Calvin did not believe in the idea that God was physically present in communion and believed that God was only spiritually present, which is known as consubstantiation.

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