Lutheranism vs. Roman Catholic Churches: What is the big difference?

Roman Catholics and Lutherans are both Christian faiths. Lutheranism falls under Protestants, a branch of Christianity, Just like Roman Catholicism. The history of the split between Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism is the main reason why Christians would want to know the differences and similarities between both churches. So Lutheranism vs. Roman Catholic Churches: What is the big difference?

The most significant difference is the papacy and Mary’s place in Christianity. While Roman Catholicism believes in the authority of the Pope, for Lutherans, there is nothing like a person having authority over members. Secondly, Lutherans do not believe in place of Mary when it comes to salvation, while Roman Catholics believe that Mary has a role to play in Christian’s lives.

So, what is the difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism? What are the similarities between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism? Why did Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism split? What do Catholics think of Lutheranism? Is Lutheranism considered Catholic? Can Catholics attend Lutheranism? Read on to find out.

What Is The Difference Between Lutheranism And Roman Catholicism?

Although both Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism are Christian faiths, they have major differences regarding how they conduct their faith. Here are some of the differences between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism.


Lutheranism believes in the Scripture as the main authority that defines their doctrine. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism believes their authority lies in more than the Scripture. Roman Catholicism believes that the authority that defines their doctrine lies in the Scripture, the Pope, the Church, and Roman Catholicism traditions.

Way of Salvation

In Lutheranism, salvation is attained through faith by God’s grace alone. On the other hand, In Roman Catholicism, salvation is attained through faith, by God’s grace, acting in love, and doing some sort of Christian work; for Lutheranism to say that salvation is attained through faith and God’s grace alone does not imply that Christians are discouraged from doing good works of love and kindness. Doing good is not optional among Lutherans; it is just that faith is the only definition to them that can get them saved because faith welcomes Jesus’s holiness and forgiveness. In essence, faith is the most vital because faith alone saves a soul, but faith among believers can never be alone—other virtues always accompany it.

Authority of the Pope

In Lutheranism, there is no such thing as the office of the papacy. There is no member like the Pope who has authority over church members. In roman Catholicism, there is a papacy with a lot of authority. Believers can only be church members if they believe and submit to the Pope.

Number of sacraments

In Lutheranism, there are only two or three sacraments. On the other hand, In Roman Catholicism, they believe in up to seven sacraments.

Holy Trinity

Lutheranism believes in the holy Trinity in such a manner that God exists in three forms; father, son, and the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism believes that there is God who is the father, then God the son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Different beliefs about Jesus Christ

In Lutheranism, Jesus is the second one in the Holy Trinity. They believe that Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. He was born from a human being, a virgin. He died for the sake of humankind kind who we; sinful; he resurrected physically and ascended into heaven on the third day. On the other hand, in Roman Catholicism, Jesus is incarnated as the second person in the Holy Trinity. He was born sinless, died, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven.

The origin of name Lutheranism originates from Martin Luther. Martin Luther existed between 1483 and 1546. He was a German Monk who led the reformation of protestants during the 16th century. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism does not come from a single person but originates from the city of ‘Rome.’ ‘Catholic’ means universal. Therefore, the phrase Roman Catholic originates to mean the collection of churches all over the globe that operates under one tradition defined by Roman Catholicism.

Origin of the churches

Lutheranism is a protestant church believed to have stemmed from the church in the New Testament. Lutherans believe that Catholics did not heed the initial teachings in the first church as in the New Testament. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism traces its origin to the first century and believes that Peter was their first Pope and founder.

Main Contributors

Also, the contributors to Lutheranism include Phillip Melanchthon and Augustine. The doctrine attaches a lot of importance to the Augsburg Confession and the book of Concord. On the other hand, Contributors to Roman Catholicism include Peter, Paul, early apostles, and the first Bishop of Rome. The key influencers at the beginning of Roman Catholicism include Ignatius, who came from Antioch, and Irenaeus.


The population of Lutheranism is relatively smaller than that of Roman Catholicism. In Lutheranism, there are approximately 74 million believers, while in Roman Catholicism are approximately 1.3 billion in the world.

View of Social World

Lutheranism views the social world in a conservative and liberal manner, depending on the Synod. The most conservative Synod is the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, while the most liberal is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCS). The liberal state of ELCS depends on the size and type of congregation. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church is fully conservative about socio-political matters.

Holy Spirit

In Lutheranism, members believe that the Holy Spirit takes third place in the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit dwells in the Christians according to the beliefs of Lutheranism. Most members believe that the Holy Spirit grants people spiritual gifts. However, they believe that some gifts were granted only during the first-century church, gifts like speaking in tongues. Only a few church members believe in the gift of speaking in tongues amongst the current generation. Roman Catholics believe the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit gifts believers with spiritual gifts. Although few Catholics speak in tongues, they do not outright say that speaking in tongues was a gift solely for first-century Christians, like in Lutheranism.

Lutheranism vs. Roman Catholic Churches
Are Lutheranism And Roman Catholicism similar? See below

What Are The Similarities Between Lutheranism And Roman Catholicism?

Christian Churches

Both Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism fall under Christianity. They believe in the word of God written in the Bible because, in both churches, God inspired the authors of the Bible to write the scriptures. They both use the Bible to guide them in their daily lives. Also, they believe that the Holy Spirit guides them in reading and interpreting the Bible.

Belief in the Holy Trinity

In both Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, they believe in the Holy Trinity. They define the Holy Trinity as the father, son, and Holy Spirit.

Second Coming of Jesus Christ

In both faiths, they believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ. They believe that the coming of Christ is A millennial. Amillenial means that the period between His first and second coming is 1000 years.

Infant Baptism

Just like Lutherans, Roman Catholics are baptized at a young age. Also, they both celebrate the last supper; they only do it differently. However, in both churches, they do it in remembrance of Christ.

Nicene and Apostles’ Creed

They both believe in the Apostles ‘ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Why Did Lutheranism And Roman Catholic Split?

First thing first, when the two churches split, it was not Martin Luther’s intention for the churches to split when he wrote the 95 Theses. Martin Luther questioned the way the church was indulging in 1957. Martin Luther’s intention was a reformation of Roman Catholicism theology and ecclesiastical reformation. As a result of the probing and controversial debate, Martin Luther and his followers were banned from the church. Their ban leads to them having to find a way of worshiping.

What Do Catholics Think Of Lutheranism?

Catholics think Lutherans are fellow Christians because there is more that keeps the two groups united and less that causes disagreements. In 2016, Catholic and Lutheran leaders signed an agreement that says that more unites them and less divides them. The Pope, who has authority in the Roman Catholic Church, preached an opportunity for Roman Catholicism and Lutherans to have a common path as Christians. Roman Catholics are positive about the Lutherans because, during the meeting of the Pope and Lutheran leaders, they prayed for peace and healing of the pain and hatred that the separation of the two churches caused.

Lutheranism vs. Roman Catholic Churches
Is Lutheranism Considered Catholic? See below

Is Lutheranism Considered Catholic?

No, Lutheranism is not considered Catholic but protestant. Martin Luther protested against the misconduct of the Roman Catholics, which led to the split of the Roman Catholics. Martin Luther believed in the Bible solely and was against the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic, including the papacy. Roman Catholics accord more authority to the Pope and their traditions, something that Lutheranism is against, which makes Lutheranism not fall under Roman Catholicism.

Although the churches have some similarities, their doctrines are pretty different. This stems from the fact that Martin Luther was a priest of the Roman Catholic and disagreed with a few things but still agreed with some other things in the Roman Catholic.

After he was excommunicated with his followers from the church, he formed a Lutheran church that cannot fall under Roman Catholic because the key disagreement, the Pope, is what makes Catholic different. Also, Lutherans cannot fall under Roman Catholicism because they do not believe in Purgatory. The main explanation is that Lutherans cannot find any scripture in the Bible to back up Purgatory. Bearing that Lutherans get their authority solely from the Bible, they cannot be Catholics because they imply that the Bible does not back up the authority of the Pope and Purgatory.

Can Catholics Attend Lutheranism?

There is no absolute answer to this question, but it depends on the Catholic individual and their view. However, Roman Catholics are advised to better not to attend Lutheran masses because they differ on key ingredients that help each individual from each church, respectively, to grow. Catholics fully accept that they cannot judge other faiths because God is the judge, but it is best to stick to one church and grow.

These churches have different teachings about sacraments, and swapping them can get a person confused and stagnate. Lutherans do not conduct their sacrament, Eucharist, and confession like Catholics. Moreover, they do not support the papacy, and for Catholic members, the Pope has authority over them. Furthermore, Lutherans do not have the seven deuterocanonical books, which are part of the Bible and are regarded as full of authority by Christians.

It does not mean Catholics deem Lutherans invalid Christians because of the disagreements. The fact that Lutherans left aside aspects that Catholics consider gifts from God essential for salvation makes it hard for Catholics to attend Lutheran churches. However, as the Pope and the Leaders of the Lutheran church agreed, there is more that makes Catholic and Lutheran one than what divides the two churches. Therefore, being a Catholic and attending Lutheran should be a personal decision, but it is not recommended.




Is Lutherans Catholic?

Catholics and Lutherans sign joint declaration ‘accepting common path.’


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