Difference between Calvinism and Lutheranism

Both Calvinism and Lutheranism broke with the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century in Europe and became two major branches of Protestantism. There are some differences between the teachings and beliefs of the two branches and we will take a closer look at them in this article.


Calvinism vs Lutheranism
Gethsemane Lutheran Church ( Austin, Texas )

Lutheranism was founded by Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk and theology professor, in the middle of the 15th century. Martin Luther did not agree with what the Pope was doing and decided to start a new branch of Christianity. The movement of Protestantism was created and Lutheranism is synonymous with it, though there are several branches of Protestantism that do not share certain beliefs with Lutherans. The crucial point of the separation with Catholicism was a disagreement regarding the Truth in the religious sense. Catholicism teaches that everything the Pope says is truth. On the other hand, Lutheranism teaches that Truth is to be found only in the Bible and not in the interpretation of the Pope.

John Calvin, a founder of Calvinism

Calvinism is the branch of Protestantism that was founded by theologian John Calvin in the 15th century. The initial impulse of coming up with the reformed view of Christianity and founding a new tradition was a disagreement with the official Roman Catholic Church. Calvinism follows its own doctrine, known as “doctrines of grace’, which essentially states that God grants Salvation to anybody on whom he has Mercy, regardless of the righteousness of behavior of the chosen ones.

Comparison chart

Calvinism Lutheranism
Salvation is granted to only chosen ones Anybody can get Salvation if he has Faith
The only religious authority is the Bible There are “representatives” that have the authority
The blood and the body of Jesus Christ have only spiritual presence in bread and wine The blood and the body of Jesus Christ have physical presence in bread and wine
Sovereignty of God is important Sovereignty of God is not of utmost importance
A concept of Predestination Predestination is not important

Calvinism vs Lutheranism

What is the difference between Calvinism and Lutheranism?

  • The Doctrine of Martin Luther teaches that anybody can earn salvation if he has Faith. On the other hand, Calvinists teach that only some believers can attain salvation. That is, according to Calvinist doctrine, God chooses some people to be saved while the rest go unsaved.
  • Lutheranism has several sub-branches that are led by the actual bishops and priests who have a religious authority, in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. Calvinism, on the other hand, being a purer form of Protestantism, completely rejects the authority of the interpreters of God’s teachings, starting with the Pope’s.
  • As far as the blood and the body of Jesus are concerned, Lutheranism teaches that these were present in the actual bread and wine. That is, when celebrating the Sacrament of the Eucharist, one can be subjected to Jesus Christ physically by eating bread and drinking wine. Calvinism, on the other hand, teaches that the presence of the body and the blood has been only spiritual.
  •  Calvinism teaches the absolute sovereignty of God. The concept of sovereignty is of utmost importance. God accomplishes all things he has chosen to accomplish and never fails. This leaves very little for a man, since God knows better. For Lutherans, on the other hand, a concept of Sovereignty is not very important, similar to other abstract theological concepts. Martin Luther and his followers saw the primal point of theology in Jesus Christ being given to humanity in the form of Words and the Sacraments.
  • Predestination is a theological concept that views all the events in the Universe as having been foreseen by God. The two branches have different views on Predestination. For Calvinism predestination is of big importance. They state that men can do nothing to change the order of things as it was envisioned by God. The Calvinists’ view on predestination is the subject of many theological arguments and controversies. For Lutherans predestination, as well as other abstract concepts, is not in the focus of religious thinking. They see God as being represented by Jesus Christ and his teachings. Unknown and unthinkable concepts like predestination do not interest Lutherans that much.