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Lutherans vs. Methodists

Discussion in 'ELCA/ELCIC' started by fieryphoenix, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. fieryphoenix

    fieryphoenix Iconic Radical Scholar

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    Hi. I grew up Methodist but am interested in visiting Lutheran churches. Can anyone tell me what is the difference between the two denominations?

    All input is appreciated.
     
  2. AngelusSax

    AngelusSax Believe

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    Well, it may be easier if we break it down doctrine by doctrine. You have grown up Methodist, so you would know more of their teachings than I would (at least I think so). So, perhaps if you stated a doctrine, we could tell the Lutheran stance and you can compare to the Methodist stance.
     
  3. doulos_tou_kuriou

    doulos_tou_kuriou Located at the intersection of Forde and Giertz

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    Well, the closer you look the greater the differences.
    Here are a couple things:
    authority- Lutherans hold to the primacy of scripture in terms of authority over the "Weslyan Quadrilateral" which holds four modes of authority: scripture, tradition, experience, reason.
    faith- Lutherans hold that faith is a gift of the Spirit and belief in God is not our choice but something gifted to us by God. At least according to the the UMC website "We believe that humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God."
    Sacraments- the language of the sacraments (again I am going by the UMC website) are that of a more Reformed view of "sign" and "symbol". In the Lutheran Church God actively works within the elements and his body and blood are truly present "in, with, and under" the bread and wine.
    preaching- my experience with methodist preaching has seen a greater emphasis on doing works than the grace of God on the cross, which I would say is the foremost standard for a good Lutheran sermon. Although I am unsure how universal that preaching emphasis is in the methodist church, and not all Lutheran pastors give good lutheran sermons, so we may be closer here than I have experienced.
    creedal- the Lutheran Church confesses the three ancient creeds (Nicene, Apostles, Athenasian), it is my understanding that the methodist church is more about individual creeds than the formal creeds (but I confess I may be wrong about this).

    That is the first things that jump out in my mind. Hope it helps, and if I inaccurately have understood your tradition, being limited in my exposure to it forgive me.

    Pax
     
  4. Historicus

    Historicus Think and let think Supporter

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    We do not believe in "Sola Scriptura" this is true, but we do believe the Bible is the highest authority of the four, and our rule of "faith and practice and containteth all things necessary to salvation". Below this is "holy tradition", followed by experience, and reason.

    This is true. We believe however that God gives us his prevenent grace, so it is all from him. He gives us the ability to choose to believe, but it is up to us to accept or reject God's justifying grace.

    We also believe in the real presence, but do not define how God works. We call it a Holy Mystery (the Eastern Orthodox also hold this view). We view the Sacraments as means of grace.

    We also believe in Salvation by grace through faith. Works are the end result of faith, but have no saving merit.

    The United Methodist Church accepts the ancient creeds of the Church, the Nicene Creed, and the Apostles' Creed.
     
  5. AngelusSax

    AngelusSax Believe

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    Thank you for these clarifications. I was going to attempt some myself, but you've beaten me to it and done it better than I could have. One more point:
    Does the UMC accept the Athanasian creed? I know you did not list it, but I was wondering if that was an unintentional omission, or if the UMC only accepts the Nicene and Apostle's creeds.
     
  6. Historicus

    Historicus Think and let think Supporter

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    It is there technically from our Anglican roots, but John Wesley himself "disliked" its emphasis of "condemning people to hell". Thus you won't find it in the Book of Worship. The actual affirmations of the creed (belief in the Trinity and of the "catholic faith") is however affirmed.

    We also use other more modern affirmations of faith such as that of the United Church of Canada, as well as the Korean Methodist Church, various affirmations taken from Scripture especially the Epistles and the Social Creed, but these are not considered "creeds" because they do not come from the ecumenical councils of the Church.

    On a typical Sunday you will find a UMC congregation reciting the Apostles' or Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed is used a Baptism.
     
  7. AngelusSax

    AngelusSax Believe

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    Thanks for the info! (Learn something new every day... :) )
     
  8. doulos_tou_kuriou

    doulos_tou_kuriou Located at the intersection of Forde and Giertz

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    Thank you for your perspectives. Just a couple responses:
    In regards to choosing faith, Lutherans would in no way emphasize accepting, in fact, it might be better stated that the only choice we ever have is to reject. Accepting is itself the work of God, never our own choice/work.

    In regards to the sacraments: the language of sign and symbol does suggest a way in which it happens (spiritual presence), but if you say you believe in real presence, hard for me to claim you don't. The Orthodox understanding of mystery goes far deeper though, to the point of theosis.

    My point on the grace through faith part of preaching is that the central message and point of preaching is the gospel of salvation. I have never heard a Methodist sermon that emphasizes God's free grace over works and justice.

    But thank you for sharing your side. If you have more questions please feel free to ask.

    Pax
     
    Historicus likes this.
  9. AngelusSax

    AngelusSax Believe

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    Officially, this is true, but often this is an issue of semantics, as well. I, for one, have no trouble with someone saying they accept Jesus, because to me, I know that this acceptance is passive and not something sought after on our own apart from God's grace. To not reject is to accept, howevre passively. Perhaps this is much the same way the UMC believes, but I cannot speak for them on that directly. Perhaps svdbygrace would (pardon the pun) grace us with more clarification on this?

    I have, so this is probably just one of those things of "it depends on the pastor you listen to" kind of things.
     
  10. Historicus

    Historicus Think and let think Supporter

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    You are correct. The UMC also believes that God's grace isn't dependent on human actions. It is God who "actively seeks us".

    Article VIII of the Methodist Articles of Religion:
    The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to faith, and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.

    A more modern explanation can be found on the UMC's website here. Just scroll down to the section titled "Prevenient Grace".
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2010