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After the death of Martin Luther in , the Schmalkaldic War started out as a conflict between two German Lutheran rulers in Soon, Holy Roman Imperial forces joined the battle and conquered the members of the Schmalkaldic League , oppressing and exiling many German Lutherans as they enforced the terms of the Augsburg Interim. Religious freedom was secured for Lutherans through the Peace of Passau in , and under the Cuius regio, eius religio the religion of the ruler was to dictate the religion of those ruled and Declaratio Ferdinandei limited religious tolerance clauses of the Peace of Augsburg in Religious disputes between the Crypto-Calvinists , Philippists , Sacramentarians , Ubiquitarians and Gnesio-Lutherans raged within Lutheranism during the middle of the 16th century.

This finally ended with the resolution of the issues in the Formula of Concord. Large numbers of politically and religiously influential leaders met together, debated, and resolved these topics on the basis of Scripture, resulting in the Formula, which over 8, leaders signed. The Book of Concord replaced earlier, incomplete collections of doctrine , unifying all German Lutherans with identical doctrine and beginning the period of Lutheran Orthodoxy. The historical period of Lutheran Orthodoxy is divided into three sections: Lutheran scholasticism developed gradually especially for the purpose of arguing with the Jesuits , and it was finally established by Johann Gerhard.

Abraham Calovius represents the climax of the scholastic paradigm in orthodox Lutheranism.

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Near the end of the Thirty Years' War , the compromising spirit seen in Philip Melanchthon rose up again in Helmstedt School and especially in theology of Georgius Calixtus , causing the syncretistic controversy. Another theological issue that arose was the Crypto-Kenotic controversy. Late orthodoxy was torn by influences from rationalism , philosophy based on reason, and Pietism , a revival movement in Lutheranism. After a century of vitality, the Pietist theologians Philipp Jakob Spener and August Hermann Francke warned that orthodoxy had degenerated into meaningless intellectualism and Formalism , while orthodox theologians found the emotional and subjective focuses of Pietism to be vulnerable to Rationalist propaganda.

Rationalist philosophers from France and England had an enormous impact during the 18th century, along with the German Rationalists Christian Wolff , Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant. Their work led to an increase in rationalist beliefs, "at the expense of faith in God and agreement with the Bible". Instead of considering the authority of divine revelation, he explained, Rationalists relied solely on their personal understanding when searching for truth. Johann Melchior Goeze — , pastor of St.

Catherine's Church, Hamburg , wrote apologetical works against Rationalists, including a theological and historical defence against the historical criticism of the Bible. Dissenting Lutheran pastors were often reprimanded by the government bureaucracy overseeing them, for example, when they tried to correct Rationalist influences in the parish school. A layman, Luther scholar Johann Georg Hamann — , became famous for countering Rationalism and striving to advance a revival known as the Erweckung , or Awakening.

Those associated with this Awakening held that reason was insufficient and pointed out the importance of emotional religious experiences. Small groups sprang up, often in universities, which devoted themselves to Bible study, reading devotional writings, and revival meetings. Although the beginning of this Awakening tended heavily toward Romanticism, patriotism , and experience, the emphasis of the Awakening shifted around to restoring the traditional liturgy, doctrine, and confessions of the Lutheran church in the Neo-Lutheran movement.

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This Awakening swept through all of Scandinavia though not Iceland. Danish pastor and philosopher N. Grundtvig reshaped church life throughout Denmark through a reform movement beginning in In Norway, Hans Nielsen Hauge , a lay street preacher, emphasized spiritual discipline and sparked the Haugean movement [29] , which was followed by the Johnsonian Awakening within the state-church.

Many Lutherans, called " Old Lutherans ", chose to leave the state churches despite imprisonment and military force. A similar legislated merger in Silesia prompted thousands to join the Old Lutheran movement. The dispute over ecumenism overshadowed other controversies within German Lutheranism. Despite political meddling in church life, local and national leaders sought to restore and renew Christianity.

Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg , though raised Reformed, became convinced of the truth of historic Lutheranism as a young man. Although he received a large amount of slander and ridicule during his forty years at the head of revival, he never gave up his positions. The theological faculty at the University of Erlangen in Bavaria became another force for reform. Though raised a Jew, he was baptized as a Christian at the age of 19 through the influence of the Lutheran school he attended.

As the leader of a neofeudal Prussian political party, he campaigned for the divine right of kings , the power of the nobility , and episcopal polity for the church. Along with Theodor Kliefoth and August Friedrich Christian Vilmar , he promoted agreement with the Roman Catholic Church with regard to the authority of the institutional church , ex opere operato effectiveness of the sacraments, and the divine authority of clergy. Unlike Catholics, however, they also urged complete agreement with the Book of Concord.

The Neo-Lutheran movement managed to slow secularism and counter atheistic Marxism , but it did not fully succeed in Europe. The Neo-Lutheran call to renewal failed to achieve widespread popular acceptance because it both began and continued with a lofty, idealistic Romanticism that did not connect with an increasingly industrialized and secularized Europe. The Repristination school and Old Lutherans tended towards Kantianism, while the Erlangen school promoted a conservative Hegelian perspective.

By , Manfried Kober complained that "unbelief is rampant" even within German Lutheran parishes. Traditionally, Lutherans hold the Bible of the Old and New Testaments to be the only divinely inspired book, the only source of divinely revealed knowledge, and the only norm for Christian teaching. The authority of the Scriptures has been challenged during the history of Lutheranism. Martin Luther taught that the Bible was the written Word of God, and the only reliable guide for faith and practice.

He held that every passage of Scripture has one straightforward meaning, the literal sense as interpreted by other Scripture. Today, Lutherans disagree about the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Theological conservatives use the historical-grammatical method of Biblical interpretation, while theological liberals use the higher critical method. Although many Lutherans today hold less specific views of inspiration , historically, Lutherans affirm that the Bible does not merely contain the Word of God, but every word of it is, because of plenary, verbal inspiration, the direct, immediate word of God.

A correct translation of their writings is God's Word because it has the same meaning as the original Hebrew and Greek.

Historically, Lutherans understand the Bible to present all doctrines and commands of the Christian faith clearly. Lutherans confess that Scripture is united with the power of the Holy Spirit and with it, not only demands, but also creates the acceptance of its teaching. Holy Scripture is not a dead letter, but rather, the power of the Holy Spirit is inherent in it. Lutherans are confident that the Bible contains everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life. Lutherans understand the Bible as containing two distinct types of content, termed Law and Gospel or Law and Promises.

The Book of Concord , published in , contains ten documents which some Lutherans believe are faithful and authoritative explanations of Holy Scripture. Besides the three Ecumenical Creeds , which date to Roman times , the Book of Concord contains seven credal documents articulating Lutheran theology in the Reformation era. The doctrinal positions of Lutheran churches are not uniform because the Book of Concord does not hold the same position in all Lutheran churches. For example, the state churches in Scandinavia consider only the Augsburg Confession as a "summary of the faith" in addition to the three ecumenical Creeds.

Some Lutheran church bodies require this pledge to be unconditional because they believe the confessions correctly state what the Bible teaches. Others allow their congregations to do so "insofar as" the Confessions are in agreement with the Bible. In addition, Lutherans accept the teachings of the first seven ecumenical councils of the Christian Church.

The key doctrine, or material principle , of Lutheranism is the doctrine of justification. Lutherans believe that humans are saved from their sins by God's grace alone Sola Gratia , through faith alone Sola Fide , on the basis of Scripture alone Sola Scriptura. Orthodox Lutheran theology holds that God made the world, including humanity, perfect, holy and sinless.

However, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, trusting in their own strength, knowledge, and wisdom. Lutherans teach that sinners, while capable of doing works that are outwardly "good", are not capable of doing works that satisfy God's justice.


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To this end, "God sent his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, and to bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life, and salvation against sin, death, and an evil conscience," as Luther's Large Catechism explains. Thereby he covered all our disobedience, which is embedded in our nature and in its thoughts, words, and deeds, so that this disobedience is not reckoned to us as condemnation but is pardoned and forgiven by sheer grace, because of Christ alone.

Lutherans believe that individuals receive this gift of salvation through faith alone. Since the term grace has been defined differently by other Christian church bodies e. Roman Catholicism [92] it is important to note that Lutheranism defines grace as entirely limited to God's gifts to us. Justification comes as a pure gift, not something we merit by changed behavior or in which we cooperate. Grace is not about our response to God's gifts, but only His gifts. Lutherans reject the idea that the Father and God the Son are merely faces of the same person, stating that both the Old Testament and the New Testament show them to be two distinct persons.

Lutherans believe Jesus is the Christ , the savior promised in the Old Testament. They believe he is both by nature God and by nature man in one person , as they confess in Luther's Small Catechism that he is "true God begotten of the Father from eternity and also true man born of the Virgin Mary". The Augsburg Confession explains: Lutherans hold that sacraments are sacred acts of divine institution. Lutherans are not dogmatic about the number of the sacraments. Rather, it is expected before receiving the Eucharist for the first time. Lutherans hold that Baptism is a saving work of God, [] mandated and instituted by Jesus Christ.

Even though baptized infants cannot articulate that faith, Lutherans believe that it is present all the same. It is faith alone that receives these divine gifts, so Lutherans confess that baptism "works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. Lutherans hold that within the Eucharist , also referred to as the Sacrament of the Altar, the Mass, or the Lord's Supper, the true body and blood of Christ are truly present "in, with, and under the forms" of the consecrated bread and wine for all those who eat and drink it, [] a doctrine that the Formula of Concord calls the sacramental union.

Many Lutherans receive the sacrament of penance before receiving the Eucharist. Apart from this, Laestadian Lutherans have a practice of lay confession. In Lutheranism, conversion or regeneration in the strict sense of the term is the work of divine grace and power by which man, born of the flesh, and void of all power to think, to will, or to do any good thing, and dead in sin is, through the gospel and holy baptism, taken from a state of sin and spiritual death under God's wrath into a state of spiritual life of faith and grace, rendered able to will and to do what is spiritually good and, especially, made to trust in the benefits of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

During conversion, one is moved from impenitence to repentance. The Augsburg Confession divides repentance into two parts: Lutherans adhere to divine monergism , the teaching that salvation is by God's act alone, and therefore reject the idea that humans in their fallen state have a free will concerning spiritual matters. According to Lutheranism, the central final hope of the Christian is "the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting" as confessed in the Apostles' Creed rather than predestination.

Lutherans disagree with those who make predestination—rather than Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection—the source of salvation. Unlike some Calvinists , Lutherans do not believe in a predestination to damnation, [] usually referencing "God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" [] as contrary evidence to such a claim. Instead, Lutherans teach eternal damnation is a result of the unbeliever's sins, rejection of the forgiveness of sins, and unbelief.


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According to Lutherans, God preserves his creation, cooperates with everything that happens, and guides the universe. God concurs with an act's effect, but he does not cooperate in the corruption of an act or the evil of its effect. The explanation of the Apostles' Creed given in the Small Catechism declares that everything good that people have is given and preserved by God, either directly or through other people or things.

Instead people should honor others, no matter how lowly, as being the means God uses to work in the world. Lutherans believe that good works are the fruit of faith, [] always and in every instance. Good works are the natural result of faith, not the cause of salvation. Although Christians are no longer compelled to keep God's law, they freely and willingly serve God and their neighbors. Lutherans do not believe in any sort of earthly millennial kingdom of Christ either before or after his second coming on the last day.

Their souls will then be reunited with the same bodies they had before dying. Christ will publicly judge [] all people by the testimony of their deeds, [] the good works [] of the righteous in evidence of their faith, [] and the evil works of the wicked in evidence of their unbelief. Protestant beliefs about salvation vary. Lutherans place great emphasis on a liturgical approach to worship services; [] although there are substantial non-liturgical minorities, for example, the Haugean Lutherans from Norway.

Martin Luther was a great fan of music, and this is why it forms a large part of Lutheran services; in particular, Luther admired the composers Josquin des Prez and Ludwig Senfl and wanted singing in the church to move away from the ars perfecta Catholic Sacred Music of the late Renaissance and towards singing as a Gemeinschaft community. Lutheran hymnody is well known for its doctrinal, didactic , and musical richness. Most Lutheran churches are active musically with choirs, handbell choirs, children's choirs, and occasionally change ringing groups that ring bells in a bell tower.

Johann Sebastian Bach , a devout Lutheran, composed music for the Lutheran church.

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Lutherans believe that the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ are present in, with and under the bread and the wine. This belief is called Real Presence or sacramental union and is different from consubstantiation and transubstantiation. Additionally Lutherans reject the idea that communion is a mere symbol or memorial. They confess in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession:. Among us the Mass is celebrated every Lord's Day and on other festivals , when the Sacrament is made available to those who wish to partake of it, after they have been examined and absolved.

We also keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of readings, prayers, vestments, and other similar things. Besides the Holy Communion Divine Service , congregations also hold offices, which are worship services without communion. In the s, many Lutheran churches began holding contemporary worship services for the purpose of evangelistic outreach. These services were in a variety of styles, depending on the preferences of the congregation. Often they were held alongside a traditional service in order to cater to those who preferred contemporary worship music.

Today, few but some Lutheran congregations have contemporary worship as their sole form of worship. Outreach is no longer given as the primary motivation; rather this form of worship is seen as more in keeping with the desires of individual congregations. The Lutheran World Federation , in its Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture, recommended every effort be made to bring church services into a more sensitive position with regard to cultural context.

Along with these, the most widely used among English speaking congregations include: In the Lutheran Church of Australia , the official hymnal is the Lutheran Hymnal with Supplement of , which includes a supplement to the Lutheran Hymnal of , itself a replacement for the Australian Lutheran Hymn Book of Prior to this time, the two Lutheran church bodies in Australia which merged in used a bewildering variety of hymnals, usually in the German language.

Sizable Lutheran missions arose for the first time during the 19th century. Early missionary attempts during the century after the Reformation did not succeed. However, European traders brought Lutheranism to Africa beginning in the 17th century as they settled along the coasts. During the first half of the 19th century, missionary activity in Africa expanded, including preaching by missionaries, translation of the Bible, and education.

In the s, this church experienced a revival through the work of the Leipzig Mission, including Karl Graul. In recent years India has relaxed its anti-religious conversion laws, allowing a resurgence in missionary work. In Latin America, missions began to serve European immigrants of Lutheran background, both those who spoke German and those who no longer did. These churches in turn began to evangelize those in their areas who were not of European background, including indigenous peoples. In , the first Lutheran missionaries reached Japan.

Although work began slowly and a major setback occurred during the hardships of WWII.

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The Lutheran Mission in New Guinea , though founded only in , became the largest Lutheran mission in the world in only several decades. Through the work of native lay evangelists, many tribes of diverse languages were reached with the Gospel. Catechism instruction is considered foundational in most Lutheran churches.