Lutheran vs Presbyterian (With Table)

The main difference between Lutheran and Presbyterian faith is that Lutherans believe that when Jesus Christ died he cleansed the sins of all humanity but Presbyterians believe that while Jesus died to offer salvation for everyone, he cleansed the sins of only some individuals who believed in him.

Christianity is one of the oldest and most widespread religions in the world. Throughout its history which spans several centuries, Christianity went from being a unified religion to having sections within the religion.

The three main sections of Christianity today are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism. Protestantism as a religious movement had its beginning in 16th century Europe against the strict doctrines of the Roman era. Lutheranism and Presbyterian faith are two denominations within Protestantism.

Comparison Table: Lutheran vs Presbyterian

Criteria Lutheran Presbyterian
OriginThe Lutheran faith is founded on the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th century German Monk.Presbyterian religious belief is based on Calvinism propounded by John Calvin.
PredestinationLutherans don’t believe in double predestination. They do, however, believe in the fact that God doesn’t damn any soul, it is our sins that damn us.Presbyterians believe in double predestination. Our destiny of eternal heaven or damnation is already predestined by God and humans can not do anything to change that.
Origin of the termThe term “Lutheran” is influenced by and in honor of the faith’s founder Martin Luther.The term Presbyterian has its origin in the Greek terminology “presbyteros” which means “having elders ruling”.
SalvationLutherans go by the belief that when Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross he earned salvation and forgiveness for humanity.Presbyterian faith believes that Christ through his sacrifice earned forgiveness for some who had faith.
Holy CommunionLutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ are truly present during Holy Communion.Presbyterians believe that bread and wine are just symbols of Jesus.
AlcoholLutherans don’t prohibit drinking alcohol. They though consider drunkenness as a sin. Presbyterians don’t believe that drinking alcohol is a sin but they don’t consider it good also. Drunkenness is strictly prohibited. In the USA, Presbyterians and alcohol don’t share a very cozy relationship.
Lutheran vs Presbyterian Table
Lutheran vs Presbyterian: Difference between Lutheran and Presbyterian
Difference between Lutheran and Presbyterian

About Lutherans

Lutheranism is one of the largest denominations of Protestantism, after Anglicanism and Pentecostals. It was founded by Martin Luther, a German monk, in the sixteenth century. He wanted to reform the theology and practices of the Christian Church and he start a reformation movement of the Christian religion, called the Protestant reformation.

Luther’s challengers first used the term “Lutheran” in 1519, he preferred the term “evangelical”, but since it began to be used by other factions of Christianity as well, the term “Lutheran” was officially adopted by followers in the middle of 16th century.

The Holy Bible is the one and all of the Lutherans. It is the only divinely inspired book of divine guidance and knowledge and teaching. Scriptures are the basis of their faith. Lutherans are of the belief that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross resulted in the forgiveness of all the sins of humanity, all those who put faith in him and those too who didn’t.

They further believe God has already decided which of the human souls will spend eternity in heaven and who all will be dammed for eternity. However, God did not damn any soul, if any soul is damned it is because of its own sins. God’s love is unconditional to everybody but our own actions have consequences. These are the basis on which the Lutheran faith is based.

It is estimated there are more than 80 million Lutheran members around the world.

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About Presbyterian

Presbyterian religious philosophy commonly underscores the power of God, the power of the Scriptures, and the need for grace through faith in Christ. The Presbyterian movement, like the Lutheran faith, had its beginning in the Reformation movement of the 16th Century.

This faith in particular roots back to John Calvin and his reformed theology who had a connection and the church of Scotland. The term “presbyterian” comes from the Greek word “presbyteros” which means “having elders ruling”. The church priests ordained for service are often referred to as elders in the Presbyterian Church.

Presbyterians believe that the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus earned forgiveness for their sins to only a select few, which is contrary to Lutheran belief. They also hold contrary beliefs when it comes to predestination. They believe the lord has already decided our faith. Some of us will spend eternity with him while others are in damnation.

They call it “double predestination”, which says the Lord has designated as a justified place in heaven or damnation regardless of our faith or belief. We, as humans, don’t get the chance to redeem our destiny.

There are almost 75 million Presbyterians in the world.

Difference Between Lutheran and Presbyterian

1) Origin

The Lutheran faith is founded on the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th century German Monk. Presbyterian religious belief is based on Calvinism propounded by John Calvin.

2) Predestination

Presbyterians believe in double predestination. But Lutherans don’t believe in double predestination. Both believe that God unconditionally elects people to salvation without prior knowledge of who would choose him. But Lutherans believe in the fact that God doesn’t damn any soul, it is our sins that damn us.

3) Origin of the term

The term “Lutheran” is influenced by and in honor of the faith’s founder Martin Luther. The term Presbyterian has its origin in the Greek terminology “presbyteros” which means “having elders ruling”.

4) Approach

Lutherans go by the belief that when Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross he earned forgiveness for all of humanity‘s sins. Quite contrary, the Presbyterian faith believes that Christ’s sacrifice only earned forgiveness for only faithful.

5) Holy Communion

Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord during Holy Communion. While Presbyterians believe that Jesus Christ is real in Holy Communion, but that the bread and wine are just symbols of Jesus.

6) Alcohol

Lutherans don’t prohibit drinking alcohol. They though consider drunkenness as a sin. Moderation is advocated. Presbyterians don’t believe that drinking alcohol is a sin as it is not mentioned as such in the Bible. Drunkenness is strictly prohibited. In the USA, Presbyterians have accepted moderate drinking but have historically opposed the consumption, sale, and manufacture of alcohol.

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Summary

Despite all these differences in beliefs, both Lutherans and Presbyterians believe in the Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Both their beliefs also say that Jesus was both a human and God born of a Virgin who died to atone for our sins and resurrected on the third day. Both denominations believe in two ordinances that they practice; baptism and Lord’s supper or Holy communion.

As far as organization goes, Lutheran Church exists in “synods”, that is conferences and districts. And Presbyterian Church is served by “Elders”. A group of elders from the same geographical area forms the “Presbyterians” and a group of Presbyterians form a synod in Presbyterian Church.

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