Difference between Methodist and Lutheran

Both Methodist and Lutheran are two denominations of the Protestant movement. There are differences between the teachings and beliefs of the two, and we will discuss these differences in this article.


Methodist vs Lutheran
A portrait of John Wesley, a founder of the Methodist movement, by Frank O. Salisbury

Methodism refers to several branches of Protestant Christianity. The beliefs of the Methodists are derived from the series of teachings of John Wesley, an Anglican minister and theologian who founded the new evangelical movement in the 18th century. Initially designed to reform the current Church of England, the Methodist movement quickly became widespread in England. The Methodist movement opposed the official apathy of the Church by conducting regular open-air preaching meetings and creating sub-branches wherever the Methodists went to promote a new denomination. These sub-branches were known as classes, where people could confess their sins without going to a priest. Thus the tradition of shared testimonies was established, which distinguishes the Methodist movement. Preachers associated with Methodism were often accused of being fanatic, and at the beginning they were rejected by the mainstream Christian community. Some criticism of the Methodist movement touched on the core concept of the Methodist doctrine- sola fide, which emphasized the pure Faith as means for Salvation. Despite all of the opposition they faced, the Methodist movement gained popularity among people alongside with other Protestant denominations, and nowadays several million people all over the world consider themselves to be Methodist followers.

Martin Luther
Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran denomination and Protestant movement. A portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1529)

The Lutheran movement is synonymous with the Protestant movement. Founded in the 15th century, Lutheran denomination bears the name of its mastermind Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk and theology professor. The driving force behind creating a movement which was to go against the grain of the current dominant Roman Catholic Church was a strong disagreement of Martin Luther with what the Catholic officials were doing and how they were handling the Holy Scriptures. The Lutheran movement was the first to proclaim Faith as an ultimate goal of a devoted Christian. Lutherans claimed that the Scriptures and good deeds were all a believer needed in order to have Salvation.  Nowadays, there are estimated to be over eighty million people all over the world who consider themselves to be Lutherans.

Comparison chart

Methodist Lutheran
Sanctification is reached via Works Sanctification is given by the Holy Spirit
Baptism and Eucharist are spiritual Baptism and Eucharist are literal
The Bible is the only book of religious authority Besides the Bible, there are several authoritative religious texts

Methodist vs Lutheran

What is the difference between Methodist and Lutheran?

In this analysis we consider only traditional Methodism and traditional Lutheranism. There are a lot of sub-branches of each of these denominations, and some topics of this analysis may be inapplicable to some of them.

  • As far as sanctification, or the process of acquiring sanctity, is concerned, Methodist and Lutheran churches offer two different approaches. The Methodists’ doctrine teaches that a human being can become sanctified via the process of doing good works and bringing Love to the world. The Lutherans’ concept, on the other hand, teaches that Sanctification can only be given by the Holy Spirit via the Word of God.
  • The Methodist church sees the baptism and the Sacrament of Eucharist as a metaphor of the inner spiritual transformation of the believer. Martin Luther, on the other hand, taught that via celebrating the Sacrament of the Eucharist, a believer is literally subjected to Jesus by eating bread and drinking wine.
  • The Bible is the religious authority for both Methodist and Lutheran churches. However, for Lutherans there are other religious writings that are equally important. The collection of those writings is called Apocrypha. Apocrypha consists of twelve books that were not included in the original Bible. For Methodists, on the other hand, all necessary religious writings are confined solely to the Bible.