Difference Between Lutheran and Baptist

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 21, 2023

       

Difference Between Lutheran and Baptist

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Introduction

In Christian doctrine, the church is the religious community of Christians as a whole. Christians have a strong belief in God through the salvation of Jesus Christ's sacrifice and resurrection. However, the Christian community has been divided into many parts. These parts of communities have their ways of teaching, ceremonials, and beliefs. There are two major branches of Christianity- Protestants and Catholics. These two branches have different beliefs and faith in God. Protestants include various denominations under it. Some of them are- Baptist, Methodist, Nondenominational, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and many more. Two of the major denominations that are often miscued are Lutheran and Baptist.

  Lutherans are the Christians who believe in the Triune God revealed by Jesus. Lutheranism is the protestant movement founded on Martin Luther’s [a 16th-century German monk and reformer] principles. It is not a single entity, unlike the Roman Catholic Church. Lutheran's initial purpose was to reform Christianity with the teaching of justification by grace through faith alone. They believe that God is three in one and exists as a trinity. According to their beliefs, all people are born sinful and Jesus Christ will return to the earth at an unknown time. Lutheran church beliefs are enclosed in Luther’s two fundamental principles- “Sola Fide” and “Sola Scriptura” which means faith alone and scripture alone respectively.

On the contrary, Baptists are the members of a group of protestant Christians who insist that only believers should be baptized by immersion rather than by the sprinkling or pouring of water. They also share the basic beliefs of Protestants. The Baptist church originated with the initiatives of English separatist, John Smyth. Their campaign is to reject baptism of the infants and institute it only in believing adults. Baptists believe in the authority of the Bible, the trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, and the second coming historically. These groups were primarily influenced by Calvinist beliefs. Baptists consider the bread and wine in the Last Supper as the only symbolic representation of the blood and body of Jesus Christ.

Lutheran vs Baptist

Lutheranism traces its origins and Christian religion interpretation to Martin Luther's 16th-century teachings. His reforms led to the rise of this movement. Martin Luther's teachings, writings, and preaching about the structure, his take on God, the world and its people are all crucial cornerstones of Lutheran Theology. Lutherans believe that Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and conversion are written, taught, and spread by the gospel and these could be things done for man by God.  They also believe that believers must be baptized in water rather than through or of the Holy Spirit. Lutherans are taught that the body and the blood of Christ are present in the 'In, With, and Under' elements as mentioned in Matthew 26:26-29. Lutheran church has a slightly different structure from the churches in Scandinavia, Germany, and the United States run by bishops. It recognizes the church and state as vital organs instituted by God.

  The Baptist church is one of the largest branches of the protestant denominations dating back to the 17th century. Baptists believe that any human is seen to be doing something great for God whenever they accept salvation. They believe firmly in the bible's authority, the trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, and Christ's second coming. According to Baptists, baptism is an essential doctrine for the church, and all believers must be fully immersed in water to be deemed baptized. They prefer ordinance and believe that the elements don't change and that bread and cups are only memorials. Baptist church runs on a highly democratic church structure featuring congregational-led churches rather than being led by a bishop. It rejects the involvement of the state in its affairs, especially regarding the church's leadership.

Lutheran and Baptist are the two of the most influential protestant denominations in the history of Christianity. Although there are many similarities between these denominations, churches, and believers, there are still significant differences that make them different from each other.

Difference Between Lutheran and Baptist in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonLutheranBaptist
DefinitionLutheran is the prime branch of Protestantism in Christianity that focuses on the teachings of Martin Luther.A Baptist is a member of a Christian denomination that baptizes believers by immersion.                 
Age CriteriaThere is no proper age to be baptized for Lutherans.The person has to be of age to be baptized for Baptists.
Belief in FaithLutherans believe that faith itself is a gift of God’s grace.Baptists believe that faith is attained through a person’s choice or decision.
NatureLutherans are sacramentarian in theology and worship.Baptists are experiential and commemorative.
Stresses onLutherans follow the scriptural teaching that man is dead in sin and unable to participate in conversion.Baptists stress man’s cooperation in conversion.
Important DoctrinesEcclesiology is the most important doctrine of Lutherans.Premillennial and Amillennial are the most important doctrines of Baptists.
Church GovernmentLutherans follow the congregational form of government with the combination of Presbyterian church governing.Baptists follow the congregational form of government where all significant decisions are decided by a vote of the church members.

What is Lutheran?

Along with Anglicanism, the reformed and Presbyterian churches, Methodism, and the Baptist churches, Lutheranism is one of the major branches of Protestantism, identified primarily with the theology of the 16th-century German monk and reformer Martin Luther. Martin Luther was formally an Augustinian Friar before becoming the leader and founder of Lutheranism. His efforts to reform the study of religion and practices of the Catholic Church launched the protestant reformation. Around the first quarter of the 21st century, there were more than 77 million Lutherans worldwide. After the Baptist churches, Lutheranism is the second largest protestant denomination.

  The term ‘Lutheran’ was first used by Luther’s opponents in 1519. But Luther preferred the term ‘evangelical’ rather than Lutheran. But the term also began to be used for those who followed the teachings of other reformers like Calvin and Zwingli. Later in the middle of the 16th century, Lutherans adopted the label for themselves. In simple words, a Lutheran is a person who believes, teaches, and confesses the truths of god's word as they are summarized and confessed in the Book of Concord. Lutherans show their faith in god's divinity, mercy, and supremacy by emphasizing their belief that god grants salvation entirely based on his will and judgment.

  In 1734, a group of forty-six Lutherans arrived in Georgia under the direction of German baron Philip Georg Friedrich von Reck. In 1736, the group eventually settled at a site located twenty miles northwest of Savannah which they named New Ebenezer. Approximately 1,000 Salzburger Lutherans came to Georgia over the next ten years. Lutheranism spread through Scandinavia as the monarch of Denmark-Norway during the 16th century. It also spread into Estonia and Latvia through Baltic-German and Swedish rule. Lutheranism also began to spread in Lithuania proper with all the members of the Lithuanian nobility converting to Lutheranism or Calvinism. Since 1520, Lutheran services have been held regularly in Copenhagen.

After the death of Martin Luther, the period of the Schmalkaldic war and disputes among crypto-Calvinists, philippists, and others came. The historical period of Lutheran orthodoxy is divided into three sections- Early Orthodoxy [1580-1600], High Orthodoxy [1600-1685], and Late Orthodoxy [1685-1730].

Some doctrines of Lutheranism are:-

  • Bible- Everything Lutherans believe comes from the bible. According to them, the Bible is the Written Word of God, handed down to us to show us the truth that we are saved from our sins and eternal death by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification 'by grace alone through faith alone based on scripture alone'. The doctrine states that scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith.
  • Inspiration-   Although many Lutherans hold less specific views of inspiration today, historically, they declare that the bible does not merely contain the word of god, but every word of it is the immediate word of god. They confess in the Formula of Concord, "We receive and embrace with our whole heart the prophetic and apostolic scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the pure, clear fountain of Israel."
  • Clarity- Lutherans hold that the bible presents all doctrines and commands of the Christian faith with clarity. God’s word is freely accessible to every hearer or reader of ordinary intelligence, without requiring any special education.
  • Sufficiency- The sufficiency of the bible is that perfection according to which the bible contains all that is necessary for the achievement of the end and aim of the Holy Scriptures.
  • Law and Gospel- The law teaches what we are to do and not to do. It shows us our sins and the wrath of god. While the gospel teaches what god has done, and still does, in Jesus, for our salvation. It shows us our savior and brings god's grace and favor.

In the Lutheran church, confession is the method given by Christ to the church by which individuals may receive the forgiveness of sins. For Lutherans justification is in no way dependent upon the words, thoughts, and deeds of those justified through faith alone in Christ. They believe in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.

Lutherans believe Jesus is the Christ, the savior promised in the Old Testament. According to them, he is both by nature god and by nature man in one person. Lutherans also believe in exemplifying that the bread and wine in the Last Supper are the blood and body of the almighty God.

  Some of the popular Lutheran churches across the world are:-

  1. Evangelical Lutheran Church [Lithuania]
  2. Vasteras Cathedral [Sweden]
  3. Kallio Church [Finland]
  4. Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen [Denmark]
  5. Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod [United States]
  6. Capernaum Church [Berlin]
  7. Church of Iceland [Iceland]

What is Baptism?

A Baptist is a Christian who believes that people should not be baptized until they are old enough to understand the meaning of baptism. Baptist churches follow the doctrines of soul competency [accountability of each person before god], sola fide [justification by faith alone], sola scriptura [by scripture alone], and Congregationalist church government. Baptists include two ordinances- baptism and communion. The earliest Baptist church can be traced back to 1609 in Amsterdam, Dutch Republic with English separatist John Smyth as its pastor. He rejected the baptism of infants and instituted the baptism of believing adults only.

In 1612, Thomas Helwys established a Baptist congregation in London, consisting of congregants from Smyth’s church. In 1639, Roger Williams established a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island and John Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1864 the first Baptist baptism in Ukraine took place on the river Inhul in the Yelizavetgrad region in a German settlement. In 1905 the Baptist World Alliance [BWA] was formed by 24 Baptist denominations from various countries.

Some of the important beliefs of Baptists are:-

  1. The Baptist church believes in baptism only after an individual has declared Christ as their savior. Most of these churches practice full immersion where the candidate is fully immersed in water.
  2. Baptists are traditionally strong believers in biblical authority. They believe that the Bible is the only authority for Christian faith and practice.
  3. Baptists have different beliefs about Calvinism and Arminianism. The major tenant of Calvinism is predestination and the teachings of Arminianism say that god has chosen us to bring salvation to all and people can decide for faith.
  4. In the Baptist church, the Lord’s Supper is a symbolic practice meant to honor the death of Jesus. The practice comes from Jesus’s last supper with his disciples where bread and wine were served. Bread symbolizes the purity of Christ and the wine symbolizes the blood of Christ.
  5. Many Baptists encourage missionary work and evangelism opportunities.

Worship service is part of the life of Baptist churches and includes praise, worship, sermons based on the bible, offerings, and the Lord's Supper periodically. The architecture of these churches is sober and the Latin Cross can be seen as a symbol on the buildings of them. Baptist churches also established elementary and secondary schools, bible colleges, and universities as early as the 1680s in England.

Some of the notable Baptists of all time are- John Smyth, Shubal Stearns, Luther Rice, John Clarke, William Carey, Roger Williams, and many more. Some of the famous Baptist Churches include:-

  1. Baptist City Tabernacle [Australia]
  2. Broadmead Baptist Church [United Kingdom]
  3. Monmouth Baptist Church [Wales]
  4. South Side Baptist Church [United States]
  5. Baptist Church, Troyeville [South Africa]

Main Differences Between Lutheran and Baptist (In Points)

  • Lutherans are Christians who accept the Bible as the source of doctrine and guidance. Baptists are the members of the group of protestant Christians with a particular emphasis on the local church.
  • Lutheran services are more formal and less interactive than the Baptists. On the other hand, the services of Baptists are less formal and more interactive.
  • The word ‘Lutheran’ is derived from the surname of German reformer Martin Luther. Whereas, the word ‘Baptist' is derived from the Greek word 'baptizein' which means to dip in water.
  • Lutherans believe in mediators like priests and clergy besides Jesus Christ. While Baptists believe that there can be no mediators between god and the believers.
  • Missions are essential for the church’s growth in Lutheranism. On the other hand, Baptists are known to support missions and have developed various missionaries historically.
  • Speaking in tongues is not a traditional part of Lutheran Christianity. Whereas, speaking in tongues is acceptable in Baptist churches.
  • Lutheran churches were established first in 1519. While Baptist churches were established in 1609.
  • In total, Lutherans consist of 5 denominations. On the other hand, Baptists have more denominations in the total of 10.

Conclusion

In short, Lutherans and Baptists have many features in common but there are significant areas where they disagree with each other. Both have their own beliefs based on denominations and churches. The predominant differences between Lutherans and Baptists rest on their doctrines of baptism and communion.

References

  • christianfaith.com
  • wikipedia.org

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"Difference Between Lutheran and Baptist." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 17 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-lutheran-and-baptist>.



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