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Lutheran vs. Christian: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 1, 2024
Lutheranism is a branch of Christianity focusing on Martin Luther's teachings, while Christianity is a broader religion encompassing all who believe in Jesus Christ.

Key Differences

Lutheranism is a denomination within Christianity, founded on the teachings and reforms of Martin Luther in the 16th century. It emphasizes justification by faith alone and the authority of Scripture. Christians, in a broader sense, include anyone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, encompassing a wide range of beliefs and practices across various denominations, including Lutheranism. This distinction highlights the specific theological stance of Lutherans within the wider Christian community.
All Lutherans are Christians, not all Christians are Lutherans. Lutheranism specifically adheres to the principles laid out by Martin Luther, such as sola scriptura (Scripture alone) and sola fide (faith alone). Christianity, however, is the umbrella term for all followers of Christ, including numerous denominations like Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, with each group having its own interpretations and traditions.
The historical context differentiates Lutheranism and Christianity as well. Lutheranism originated during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century as a movement against certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Christianity, however, traces its roots back to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ approximately 2,000 years ago, encompassing the entire Christian faith and its evolution over the centuries.
Lutheranism's unique practices, such as the emphasis on the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist as means of grace, set it apart within Christianity. While these sacraments are celebrated across many Christian denominations, Lutherans hold a specific understanding of their efficacy and significance based on Luther's teachings. Christianity at large incorporates a diverse range of sacramental theologies and worship practices.
Doctrine is another area of difference; Lutheranism is characterized by its adherence to the Augsburg Confession and other Lutheran Confessional writings as doctrinal standards. Christianity, as a whole, does not have a single doctrinal standard but is characterized by the Nicene Creed among others, which is accepted by many but interpreted differently across various denominations. This diversity within Christianity showcases the range of beliefs and practices that define the faith beyond the specific contours of Lutheranism.

Comparison Chart


Martin Luther
Jesus Christ

Key Principle

Justification by faith alone
Belief in Jesus Christ as Savior

Scriptural Authority

Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)
Varies; generally includes both Scripture and tradition


Baptism and Eucharist as primary sacraments
Ranges from two to seven sacraments

Denominational Status

A specific denomination within Protestantism
An umbrella term for all followers of Christ

Lutheran and Christian Definitions


A member of a Christian church adhering to Luther's doctrines.
Lutherans celebrate the Eucharist as a key part of their worship.


A person who believes in and follows Jesus Christ.
Christians around the world celebrate Christmas to mark the birth of Jesus.


Relating to the denomination originating from the Protestant Reformation.
Lutheran theology stresses the importance of faith for salvation.


Pertaining to the Christian religion and its teachings.
Christian values emphasize love, forgiveness, and compassion.


Pertaining to the teachings and reforms of Martin Luther.
The Lutheran church holds services that emphasize scripture and hymns.


A descriptor for ethical or moral behavior in line with Christian teachings.
Her Christian kindness was evident in all her dealings with others.


Characterized by belief in justification by faith alone.
Lutheran doctrine diverges from Catholic teaching on several key points.


Relating to the churches or doctrines of Christianity.
Christian denominations vary widely in their practices and beliefs.


Connected to or affiliated with a Lutheran church.
The Lutheran community organized a charity event for the local neighborhood.


Associated with or derived from the teachings of Christ.
Christian literature often explores themes of redemption and faith.


Of or relating to the religious doctrines of Martin Luther, especially the doctrine of justification by faith alone.


Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.


What are the key beliefs of Christians?

Christians believe in the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and salvation through faith in Christ.

Who was Martin Luther?

Martin Luther was a 16th-century monk and theologian who initiated the Protestant Reformation.

What differentiates Lutherans from other Christians?

Lutherans specifically adhere to Luther's teachings, especially justification by faith alone and the authority of Scripture.

Are all Lutherans Christians?

Yes, all Lutherans are Christians, as they follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

What is the Lutheran Church's stance on sacraments?

Lutherans recognize two sacraments as means of grace: Baptism and the Eucharist.

What scripture do Lutherans use?

Lutherans use the Bible, emphasizing its sole authority in matters of faith and practice (sola scriptura).

What is Lutheranism?

Lutheranism is a Christian denomination based on the teachings of Martin Luther.

How do Lutherans view salvation?

Lutherans believe in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by works.

How do Christian views on sacraments vary?

Christian views on sacraments vary, with some denominations recognizing up to seven sacraments.

What is the historical context of Lutheranism?

Lutheranism began during the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century.

How do Lutherans worship?

Lutheran worship typically includes readings from Scripture, hymns, prayers, and the sacraments.

How is Christian unity understood among different denominations?

Christian unity is often seen in shared beliefs in Jesus Christ, despite differences in doctrines and practices.

Can someone be Christian but not Lutheran?

Yes, there are many Christian denominations other than Lutheranism, such as Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

What is a Christian denomination?

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, with its own organization and doctrines.

What role do works play in Lutheran theology?

In Lutheran theology, good works are a response to salvation, not a means to achieve it.

What is the Christian perspective on the Bible?

Christians regard the Bible as sacred scripture, though interpretations and emphases vary among denominations.

What is the significance of the Reformation for Lutherans?

The Reformation is central to Lutheranism, marking its break from Roman Catholicism and emphasizing reform in church practices and beliefs.

What distinguishes Lutheran church services from other Christian services?

Lutheran services are distinguished by their focus on Luther's theology, including liturgy that emphasizes word and sacrament.

How do Christians view Jesus Christ?

Christians view Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of humanity.

Are the teachings of Lutheranism and other Christian denominations the same?

While they share core Christian beliefs, Lutheranism and other denominations have distinct doctrines and practices.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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