17.05.2018 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

The Roman Catholic Church appeared in 1054 as a result of a split.

The Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople anathematized each other, which was the beginning of the Catholicism separation.

Over time, the Catholic Church began to neglect spiritual values and elevate material goods. Those who disagreed with the abuses committed by Catholics rebelled and united in a new Christian denomination—Lutheranism.

The concept of lutheranism and its brief history

Lutheranism is one of the branches of Protestantism, which was one of the first to become established in the history of Christianity. Lutheranism in Europe evolved as a result of the reformist movement in Germany in the 16th century and continued to develop in Scandinavian countries. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the catholic church of europe became dissatisfied with indulgence trading — absolution for a payment. The desire to change the existing order was so strong that it led, in the 16th century, to the formation of a new movement headed by a german catholic priest martin luther – the founder of lutheranism. At first, luther did not plan to create a new denomination, but because he touched upon the theological aspects of catholicism in his theses, he was supported by most of the german political elite.


In 1520, Luther published “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation”, which undermined the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. In response, the Pope declared Luther a heretic. In 1521, the status of heretic was confirmed by the Diet of Worms, signed by Emperor Charles. According to the document, the publication, distribution and reading of the works of the German priest were forbidden. Lutheranism as a doctrine was not recognized by the authorities.

For many years, even after the death of Martin Luther, reformers fought to cleanse the church of abuse and preserve the unity of Western Christianity. A series of persecutions and violence against Protestants by the Pope and the Emperor of Germany ended after the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1648. During this time, the religious map of Europe changed dramatically.

The Lutheran Church became a leader in the Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, and Latvia. In Germany, Lutheranism spread to the north, northeast and southwest. Supporters were also found in other states, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and France.

Lutheran churches were considered state churches in the countries where the rulers were sympathetic. Lutheranism is distinctive because each church is considered independent, but is in unity with the others.

Ideas of lutheranism

The doctrine is fully described in the Book of Concord, a collection of Lutheran religious texts collated in 1580. Lutherans worship the Holy Trinity and consider themselves to be Trinitarians. The essence of Lutheranism is the belief in Jesus Christ as a godly creature who passed the stages of crucifixion, visiting hell, resurrection, and entering heaven. His mission is to return to judge the living and the dead.

Original sin, the idea of which is significant within Lutheranism, can be overcome through the mercy of the Lord, which can be achieved only by strong faith.

Other basic teachings of Lutheranism:

  • denying the role of freedom in salvation and God’s complete predestination of man’s fate
  • the Bible is the main and only criterion of the truth of faith
  • the authority of the Sacred Tradition written by the Fathers of the Church and other traditional sources, but only in instances that do not contradict the Bible
  • recognition of two sacraments — baptism and communion

Priests are only pastors (preachers) who perform their professional duties. They do not dominate over the believers and do not have any advantage before God.

Lutherans do not consider confirmation, marriage, funerals, and ordinations to be sacraments.

Liturgy has the highest divine meaning for Lutherans. This includes confession, absolution, the blessing of the sign of the holy cross and traditional liturgical chants.

Modern associations

Even though more than 85 million people in the world consider themselves to be Lutheran, there is still little unity in this denomination. Large church associations have power, but their views on the church in many respects do not coincide:

  • The Lutheran World Federation is the world’s largest organization of national and regional Lutheran churches, with headquarters in Geneva
  • There is an international Lutheran Council which aims to unite conservative churches
  • The Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference exists, whose members recognize the Book of Concord, 1580, as the pure source of the Word of God
  • Other groups of Lutheran followers are also established who are not members of any association

The Church of Sweden is the largest denomination with almost 7 million members.

Lutheranism in russia

In the 18th century, German settlers brought the ideas of Lutheranism to Russia. In 1832, all movements of the religion united in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia. Only Finland and Poland were on the sidelines.

During the Soviet period, the Lutheran Church was persecuted. In 1948, Latvian followers registered an Evangelical Lutheran congregation, which became the first in the USSR after persecution. Soon after an association appeared in the Republic of Estonia. By 1980, there were about 80 independent congregations, but they were not united into a common church.

During the period of Perestroika, the Russian state recreated the government structure. Harald Kalnins, ordained by the Bishop of Riga, became the head of the new church. The association became known as the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in the USSR.

In 1990, Consistory, the governing body of the church, was established.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many region-based Lutheran churches have been established in Russia (e.g. Karelian or Siberian).

Lutheranism in russia

Lutherans attach great importance to architecture — their churches are built in the classical or baroque styles. They actively use choral singing and organ music during services. They do not reject paintings but do not attach any sacred meaning to them. They welcome graphic images of biblical scenes.

Lutheranism is a significant stage in the development of the Christian church. Followers of this Protestant teaching were the first to oppose the Catholic Church’s abuse, allowing humanist values to spread across northern Europe.