Lutheranism is named for Martin Luther, who led a protest against the Roman Catholic Church. He began his protest in the 16th century. He was a German priest, theologian, and university professor in Wittenberg. He originally wanted to improve Catholic theology and practices, primarily by ending the pope's indulgences and abuses of power.
Lutheranism came to be a separate church by Luther and his followers being excommunicated by the pope. Luther’s ideas started a movement called the Protestant Reformation. Other Reformation leaders who separated from the Catholic Church agreed with Luther on some things but criticized him for keeping too much Catholic doctrine (see John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli).
Lutherans believe the Bible is the first and only authoritative source for Christian faith and teaching. Like other Christians, they believe in the Trinity, that Jesus Christ was both God and man, that all humans are sinful since Adam and Eve (see original sin), and that humans are saved by Jesus' death on the cross. Lutherans believe that the central idea to all of their beliefs is that humans are saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Jesus Christ alone (see Justification (theology)). The main points of Lutheran theology were summed up in 1530 by Philip Melanchthon in the writing called The Augsburg Confession.
Similarities with Catholicism include the liturgy and the doctrines of the real presence of the Eucharist, baptism, and original sin. Unlike Catholics, however, Lutheran pastors and bishops are allowed to marry, do not pray for intercession with the saints (including Mary), and reject the authority and the infallibility of the Pope and Catholic Magisterium.
Major American denominations include the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (LCMS), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), and the North American Lutheran Conference (NALC).
- "Martin Luther's 95 Theses". www.luther.de. Retrieved 2017-07-30.