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Lutheran vs. Catholic: Itemized differences?

Discussion in 'Theologia Crucis - Lutherans' started by ZeroTX, May 3, 2004.

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  1. ZeroTX

    ZeroTX New Member

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    Hi guys,

    In another thread I discussed the fact that I am a Protestant who is presently dating a Catholic. It is my very limited-knowledge understanding that Lutherans and Catholics share many beliefs (more so than say a Baptist and a Catholic), and I was curious if someone could tell me in very brief "listed out" terms the things off the top of their head...

    for instance..

    Eucharist/Communion/Lord's Supper -- "real presence" or "symbolic gesture of faith"? Provided every week, or what frequency? Requirements to take communion? Protestants who are NOT Lutheran allowed to partake?

    Papacy -- Is there an "infallible" Lutheran authority, or is it like most other Faiths and we are just human beings who accept guidance from the Holy Spirit? (The Papacy is the #1 reason I can never accept Catholicism.... I'm a History nut with a Bachelor's degree in History, and study of the History of the Papacy is enough to make you never believe in the papacy, not even for a minute)

    Baptism -- immersion or sprinkle? Infant baptism or upon making a conscious choice and commitment?

    Scripture -- Sole authority or not?

    Worship style -- singing, music? What kind? Solemn adoration or joyful praise? Hand waving, dancing, etc? Physical gestures? Statues or other physical objects (i.e. rosary?)... Is there a "sermon" that allows you to get a real message out of it (perhaps thematic??) or is it like the Homily, rather dry?? What percentage of the church service is worship ritual (singing, communion, "other" ritual) vs. the actual message from the Minister?... Are the messages usually relevant with specific examples for life and heavy use of Scriptural support?

    I guess, what I'm really looking for is to find out the big similarities and big differences. I'm want us both (me and the girl I'm dating) to write down the "my church MUST believe this" and "my church MUST do this ritual" etc so that we can see if we will EVER be compatible religiously... as it is, I'm not too happy about the idea of marrying and having my children forced to become Catholic or else risk an Ecclesiastical Curse upon us (Anathema) as indicated by the RCC!!! Fear is such a horrible way to convince people to follow the church's rules.

    Thanks guys,

    Michael
     
  2. JVAC

    JVAC Baptized into His name

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    All Lutherans believe in the Real Pressence (Christ is present in the Bread and Wine), and how that Pressence is manifested is not defined by the Church (though I don't know if you can find a Lutheran who believes in Transubstantiation). Many Lutheran Churches celebrate the Eucharist (Holy Communion) every Sunday, yet there are also quite a few that do it every other week or once a month. In the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America www.elca.org )there is open communion that is, all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour and that recognize Him as truly pressent in the Eucharist are invited to share the meal, with the reasoning that Christ is the Host of the meal and He wishes all to come unto him. LCMS and WELS all have closed communion (there might be a few congregations that celbrate an open Eucharist). Usually in a closed communion church you must confess the teachings of the Church before you can recieve the Holy Sacrament of the Altar (that is the Small Catechism usually).

    The only infallible Lutheran authority is Scripture alone. The heirarchy of most Lutheran churches is a democratic one, usually ran by either a president or Presiding Bishop, which is always elected to a term. The ELCA uses Bishops as executive heads of Synods (local churches united in a region, sub-national). The Bishops are responsible to the Synod Council. Basically the national church and the World Church (either LWF [Lutheran World Federation] or ILC depending on your perspective) are all ran the same way a congregation is ran.

    Now we also have the Book of Concord which are the confessions of the Church, that is, they are our guidelines of how the Church has traditionally understood Scripture; such documents are: Three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostle's, Nicene, Athanasian) Augsburg Confession and its Apology, Schmalcald Articles, Formula of Concord, the Large and Small Catechisms. ( www.bookofconcord.org )

    Baptism is traditionally practiced upon infants with a confirmation of that baptism performed in about 8th grade. Baptism is a time which God claims a child unto himself, and the time for confession of the faith is reserved for the "Rite of Confirmation" which is done later after the Child is educated in the faith. Of Baptism we believe "Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. " (Augsburg Confession)



    Yes. We believe Scripture is the Sole infallable authority, and we rely on tradition also, but only tradition that is not contrary to scripture, ex: papal infallability.

    Most Lutheran services are High Church. We traditionally follow the Ancient Western Mass, though modified of its abuses. The Lutheran Mass boasts of its combination between authoritative preaching and Sacramental emphasis. Also the Lutheran Church is aptly named "The singing church" for we sing a lot. Our pastors give Sermons, and Sermons are always based on readings from the Lectionary (the lectionary is an accountability tool) yet, the Pastor always makes it relevant to the Congregation. However there are "Contemporary Services" that more resemble the latest christian fad of Christian Rock, yet we retain dignity in the Church because of our Sacramental emphasis (Word and Sacrament Church, that is we emphasise both the Word (Bible/Sermon) and Sacraments (Communion/Baptism)). We usually don't have statues of Saints or Mary in Church, nor do we pray a Rosary, though it is not forbidden.

    This is all I can answer this quickly, but if you have more questions feel free to ask!!

    -James
     
  3. ChiRho

    ChiRho Confessional Lutheran Catholic

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    ZeroTx,

    Hopefully, Spirituality of the Cross, shows up soon to your address. When it comes, you will have a clear explanation of the faith of the first Evangelicals. While outwardly, it may appear that Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism are similiar, actually we differ as North differs from South. In truth, we are polar opposites. If you want a detailed explanation of the differences between Rome and us, then the Book of Concord outlines our definitive differences better than anything else. Luther concluded that the fundamental point of our dissent, was the article of Free Will. While Rome would profess that man is wounded from the Fall, Lutheranism boldly declares that man is completely broken and utterly ruined.

    SYNERGISM VS. MONERGISM

    Synergism is defined as the doctrine that individual salvation is achieved through a combination of human will and divine grace. Rome would profess that man is left in a state of neutrality and can, with a bit of help, choose God. Monergism is defined as the doctine that individual salvation is achieved solely through and because of God, with no contribution of man.When one adheres to Monergistic Justification but believes in Synergistic Sanctification, one takes from the left hand what is first offered in the right. If one claims Monergistic Justification, but believes that man can contribute, even in great weakness, to the sustenance of man's righteousness, in actuality, he is a believer in Synergistic Justification. Lutherans reject synergism completely and rightly proclaim Monergistic Jusification and Sanctification. God saves and keeps man...completely! Lutheranism confesses that man is evil and rebellious from conception to earthly death, and the only hope for salvation is God. Vicarious Atonement was achieved upon the Cross by Christ (His perfect Obedience and and Perfect Sacrifice) nearly 2000 years ago, His Righteousness is reckoned to us, miserable and undeserving sinners that we are. We believe that this saving faith comes to us, and that continually, by Word and Sacrament. All is contingent upon the Word of God.


    Lutheran Sanctification

    We receive faith, but only passively as Steve Parks meetly describes in his CR of TPDL,

    "The Lutheran Confessions, however, make it quite clear that such a [synergistic] view is unbiblical:

    From this, then, it follows that as soon as the Holy Ghost, as has been said, through the Word and holy Sacraments, has begun in us this His work of regeneration and renewal, it is certain that through the power of the Holy Ghost we can and should cooperate, although still in great weakness. But this [that we cooperate] does not occur from our carnal natural powers, but from the new powers and gifts which the Holy Ghost has begun in us in conversion, as St. Paul expressly and earnestly exhorts that as workers together with Him we receive not the grace of God in vain, 2 Cor. 6, 1. But this is to be understood in no other way than that the converted man does good to such an extent and so long as God by His Holy Spirit rules, guides, and leads him, and that as soon as God would withdraw His gracious hand from him, he could not for a moment persevere in obedience to God. But if this were understood thus [if any one would take the expression of St. Paul in this sense], that the converted man cooperates with the Holy Ghost in the manner as when two horses together draw a wagon, this could in no way be conceded without prejudice to the divine truth.

    Thus, man cooperates in his sanctification, but only insofar as he is involved in it. God begins, continues, and completes His work in the redeemed. We do not take the initiative, nor are we even equal partners in the endeavor. Instead, our cooperation is passive, inasmuch as “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

    Shift over and I am late for a lunch date! I gots to go. I will answer some of your specific questions later.

    Repent and trust you are forgiven according to the Promises of Christ!

    Pax Christi,

    ChiRho
     
  4. JVAC

    JVAC Baptized into His name

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    I didn't get a chance to reply to this part, the best part, because of my previous rush. However, I want to say that the Lutheran Church is a good middle ground for Protestant/Catholic couples. I compare it this way:

    I would like to encourage you all in this time, and if you could give me her name as well, I'd like to be praying for you guys!

    -James
     
  5. opus_dei

    opus_dei Ecce Panis Angelorum

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    if i remember correctly, i think that there were something on the order of 95 specific differences lutherans had with catholics. :wave:

    actually, i'd like to see the list that all y'all come up with. i was in a wedding of a good friend of mine in a lutheran church. nice service, much different than i thought (in a good way).

    congrats on your "own" forum. makes it hard to goto one place for my PRE goodness though.

    cheers.

    o.d.

    [edit] as per james' post, he is lutheran, she catholic. and it did seem to be a good fit, at least for them.
     
  6. JVAC

    JVAC Baptized into His name

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    Hello Opus!!

    Actually Martin Luther wrote the 95 thesis in deffense of the Pope against people like Johann Tetzel, who he thought were subverting the Pope's authority and burdening the Christian consciences. Only later did Luther find out that the Pope was the one behind indulgences.

    -James
     
  7. opus_dei

    opus_dei Ecce Panis Angelorum

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    oh, i know. i figured that i'd just act the ignorant catholic part. my buddy who was married came from a missouri synod family where the father was a minister and the mother was a teacher in a private lutheran school. i've heard many times what an incorrigible papist i am. heh.

    cheers.
     
  8. Phoebe

    Phoebe TwoBrickShyOfAFullLoad

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    That was funny. I was hoping you were playing "dumb." :D
     
  9. ChiRho

    ChiRho Confessional Lutheran Catholic

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    Much luck to you!

    If the issues are distilled to there very essence, a Baptist is more like a Roman Catholic, than a Lutheran and a Romanist!

    *SEE PREVIOUS POST (#3)

    Real Physical Presence, as we cannot argue with the clear words of Christ. Rome attempts to explain this Divine Mystery, while Lutherans do not. We take Christ at His words and believe.

    How often a Lutheran Church offers Holy Communion varies from church to church. Typically, a LCMS Church, will offer Communion every Sunday and some throughout the week as well.


    While Lutherans certainly appeal to their Fathers (Pastors) as authority, it is not with the understanding that any man is infallible. So long as my Pastor proclaims the truth of Scripture and stands in the stead of Christ, then I appeal. When a Pastor strayes from Scripture and the correct interpretation of the Book of Concord, then we rough him up a bit.


    Since there is never an amount of water instituted in Holy Scripture, the Lutherans refrain from adding a requirement that God has not.

    Holy Baptism for all. We think little of the conscious choice and the empty commitments of man. In Christ we trust.

    Sola Scriptura.

    Yes. Confession put to song.

    This should vary from church to church. I would hope there is no dancing and rolling in the aisles, but nothing would shock me.


    In a Lutheran Church, you will get a sermon or Homily that properly distinguishes Law and Gospel. The Homily usually ties in with the three readings each week (O.T., Epistle, Gospel). You will receive what you need- assurance of the Promises of Christ


    Depends on the individual church, but usually, less like the format or style of a modern evangelical church.

    Seriously, you should visit a local LCMS Pastor and speak with him about these issues.


    Lutheranism is unlike anything else!

    Pax Christi,

    ChiRho
     
  10. Proud Papist

    Proud Papist New Member

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    So is authority (for lack of a better word) vested in the general consensus of the congregation? How is the congregation sure that it right and the pastor may be wrong? Is it possible for the congregation to be wrong while a pastor tries valiantly to hold down the fort? Is there a final authority in church disputes?

    Thanks. I am very interested into looking deeper in Lutheranism and am finding this forum a real help.

    Regards,
    Douglas
     
  11. Celticflower

    Celticflower charity crocheter

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    Gee, and I thought that was the Methodists.


    Celtie
     
  12. JVAC

    JVAC Baptized into His name

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    Actually it is a title that has been thrown at just about everyone lately, however, it is quite specific to Lutherans because:

    Prior to Lutheranism, the Western Liturgy was performed entirely in Latin with a few chants here an there. However, after the Lutheran reformed Mass took effect, German Hymns were substituted for the Latin chants, and the Latin in other places was translated to German. So actually right after the reformation of the Mass, Germans could be heard singing hymns everywhere, and were labeled as the singing church because of the beautiful hymns they sung.

    -James
     
  13. JVAC

    JVAC Baptized into His name

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    By no means! Authority mostly rests in the Confessions of the Church, and the confessions are the proper interpretation of Scripture.

    This is where the Synod, all congregations in an area, comes into play. The Synod is usually controlled by either a Bishop (ELCA) or a President (LCMS) (I dont' know about the WELS). The ELCA is composed of many different Synods and has a council of Bishops, that ultimately "judge doctrine" as is the office of Bishop (Augsburg Confession). All judgements, however, are judged against Scripture with respect to the Confessions which are the accurate interpretation thereof.

    The main thing about LUtheranism, is one must accept the Confessions, and this is a pre-supposition in all Lutheran scriptural disputes. Lutherans also hold a high value for Church Tradition that doesn't conflict with Scriptural teachings.


    So Scripture is interpreted by three ways:

    Confessions: Book of Concord
    Tradition: Ways of the Early Church
    Logic: What we can reason from the three.

    And all this done by Bishops or people who are properly called, with the support of the Church.

    -James
     
  14. JVAC

    JVAC Baptized into His name

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    Ok after reading what I just wrote I have to add something:

    By support of the Church that usually means Church wide elections that happens throughout the particular synod or every synod. This holds the Bishops or President (Synod Councils) accountable to the entire Church.

    -James
     
  15. ChiRho

    ChiRho Confessional Lutheran Catholic

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    No, truth is not a "majority decides" situation. Authority is the clear word of God, Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture is the Judge. It is quite possible for a congregation to be wrong, while the Pastor defends what is true, just as it is possible for the reverse, but we have the clear, unwavering, infallible, and inerrant word of God to proclaim truth.

    Added:

    JVAC is correct to name the Book of Concord as the true interpretation of Scripture. So we may trust in the Lutheran Confessions in times of conflict, as they accurately confess truth.

    Pax Christi,

    ChiRho
     
  16. ZeroTX

    ZeroTX New Member

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    It sounds like the Lutheran Church is an excellent place for a Catholic to stay with many of their traditions while not sacrificing the Biblical principals that are so important to me... and while not giving excessive value to the words of clergy... The Papacy is something I have a *real* problem with...

    I thinik the denomination I associate myself most closely with is Southern Baptist. However, I am willing to consider the other options... Except Catholicism. I just do not think I can swallow their "infallible" pope theory or their belief that today's RCC is the original church. I believe neither. I think no human is infallible except for Jesus Christ when he was here on earth... and I believe that the original church split centuries ago, or simply ceased to exist in the Constantine era.

    -Michael
     
  17. BronxBriar

    BronxBriar Existentialism is a Humanism

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    I would agree. I was (still am officially) Catholic and the thing that first struck me when I began to attend Lutheran worship was the very real similarity with the Catholic Mass. I feel very much at home in the Lutheran environment, for that and many other reasons. More so than in the church I grew up in.

    -Henry
     
  18. ByzantineDixie

    ByzantineDixie Handmaid of God, Mary

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    I will second that...another former Catholic here. :wave: I know ChiRho stresses the differences...and theologically they can be considered signficant...but I think Lutherans tend to see the leap as far greater than Catholics who have become Lutheran see it.

    Lutheran theology is rich and can well be appreciated by Catholics seeking assurance of their salvation. I think it is the perfect compromise between Catholic and Protestant...at least it was for my husband and I.

    Peace

    Rose
     
  19. ChiRho

    ChiRho Confessional Lutheran Catholic

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    I wonder who is closer to the objective truth (actual length of leap)? :) This isnt ANOTHER implication accusing ChiRho of being the driving force behind dissention, is it? LOL!!


    Perhaps this should be the opening statement for our thread! Well said Rose, I doubt it could be expressed more clearly (these comforting words apply to anyone that is denied the pure Gospel!). :D :clap:



    Compromise?!...in what sense? :confused:

    Pax Christi,

    ChiRho
     
  20. ZeroTX

    ZeroTX New Member

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    ChiRo,

    A compromise is exactly how I'm seeing it as well.... The article in the back of The Spirituality of The Cross explains it exactly....

    It's almost like a "Best of" between Protestantism and Catholicism...

    From Protestantism:
    Bible-based, Salvation is a free gift, No "papacy"

    From Catholicism:
    Traditionally-organized church service, "real presence" communion, infant baptism

    That's just a few off the top of my head. I left the book in my truck, or I'd look and give you more, but it seems more "right" than Catholicism to me... I can be a Lutheran, I think. I cannot be a Catholic, and I think I would rather break up with this girl than ever become a Catholic. The papacy goes against everything spiritual that I believe, down to the core. I have a History degree from college, and all I can think about is the horrible people who held the office of the pope, and to whom all Catholics must submit authority. It makes me want to vomit.

    BTW, we're attending a Lutheran (LCMS) church this weekend.... I mentioned some questions in my PM to you.

    -Michael
     
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