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Lutheranism vs. Calvinism: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 19, 2024
Lutheranism emphasizes salvation through faith alone and the authority of scripture, while Calvinism focuses on the sovereignty of God and predestination.

Key Differences

Lutheranism was founded by Martin Luther, focusing on salvation through faith alone. Calvinism, founded by John Calvin, emphasizes God's absolute sovereignty and predestination.
In Lutheranism, the Bible is the sole source of religious authority, and every believer has the right to interpret it. Calvinism also values scripture but places strong emphasis on predestination and God's unchangeable will.
Lutheranism celebrates two sacraments – baptism and communion, as means of grace. In Calvinism, sacraments are symbolic, reflecting God's promises but not imparting grace themselves.
Lutheranism teaches that Christ is physically present in the Eucharist, a concept known as consubstantiation. Calvinism views the Eucharist symbolically, focusing on spiritual presence rather than physical.
Lutheranism allows for some flexibility in church practices and governance. Calvinism often promotes a more structured approach to church order and discipline.

Comparison Chart


Martin Luther
John Calvin

Key Doctrine

Salvation by Faith Alone

Scripture Authority

Central, with Personal Interpretation
Central, with Emphasis on God's Will


Means of Grace

Eucharist View

Symbolic/Spiritual Presence

Lutheranism and Calvinism Definitions


Lutheranism practices two sacraments: baptism and communion.
In Lutheranism, these sacraments are viewed as channels of divine grace.


Calvinism is a Protestant tradition focusing on God's sovereignty.
Calvinism's doctrine of predestination reflects God's absolute power.


Lutheranism is a Protestant branch emphasizing faith and scripture.
Lutheranism's focus on scripture empowered individuals to explore their faith.


Calvinism advocates for strict church discipline and governance.
Calvinism's approach to church order has influenced various Protestant denominations.


Lutheranism upholds the belief of justification by faith alone.
Lutheranism challenges the notion of earning salvation through deeds.


Calvinism strongly emphasizes the doctrine of predestination.
In Calvinism, the fate of souls is predetermined by God.


Lutheranism arose from Martin Luther's teachings in the 16th century.
The spread of Lutheranism was a major event of the Reformation.


Calvinism emerged from the teachings of John Calvin in the Reformation.
Calvinism played a key role in shaping Protestant theology.


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


Calvinism practices a symbolic interpretation of sacraments.
Calvinism views communion as a commemorative act rather than a sacramental one.


Of or relating to the Protestant denomination adhering to these doctrines.


The religious doctrines of John Calvin, emphasizing the omnipotence of God and the salvation of the elect by God's grace alone.


A member of the Lutheran Church.


The theological tenets or doctrines of John Calvin (a French theologian and reformer of the 16th century) and his followers, or of the so-called calvinistic churches.


The doctrines taught by Luther or held by the Lutheran Church.


The theological system of John Calvin and his followers emphasizing omnipotence of God and salvation by grace alone


Teachings of Martin Luther emphasizing the cardinal doctrine of justification by faith alone


Lutheranism allows for diverse liturgical practices among its followers.
Lutheranism's flexibility has led to a variety of worship styles.


Who founded Lutheranism?

Martin Luther, a German theologian, founded Lutheranism during the Reformation.

What are the sacraments in Lutheranism?

Lutheranism recognizes two sacraments: baptism and communion.

What is Calvinism?

Calvinism is a Protestant tradition focusing on God's sovereignty and predestination.

How does Calvinism view sacraments?

In Calvinism, sacraments are symbolic acts, not channels of grace.

Who founded Calvinism?

John Calvin, a French theologian, is credited with founding Calvinism.

How do Lutheranism and Calvinism view predestination?

Calvinism strongly emphasizes predestination, while Lutheranism focuses more on individual faith.

What is Lutheranism?

Lutheranism is a Protestant denomination emphasizing justification by faith and scripture.

How do Calvinists interpret the Eucharist?

Calvinists view the Eucharist as a symbolic remembrance of Christ's sacrifice.

What's the role of scripture in Calvinism?

Scripture in Calvinism is also central, viewed through the lens of God's sovereign will.

Can anyone interpret the Bible in Lutheranism?

Yes, Lutheranism encourages personal Bible interpretation.

How do Lutheranism and Calvinism differ in worship?

Lutheranism allows diverse worship practices, while Calvinism often has more structured services.

What is the Lutheran view of the Eucharist?

Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, where Christ is physically present in the Eucharist.

Is church discipline important in Calvinism?

Yes, Calvinism places a high value on strict church discipline and order.

Are there different branches within Lutheranism and Calvinism?

Both traditions have various branches and interpretations within their respective frameworks.

How have Lutheranism and Calvinism influenced Christianity?

Both have significantly shaped Protestant theology and practice globally.

Do Calvinists believe in saints?

Calvinism does not focus on sainthood in the same way as Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy.

What's the role of scripture in Lutheranism?

Scripture is central in Lutheranism, with an emphasis on personal interpretation.

Are Lutheranism and Calvinism monotheistic?

Yes, both traditions are monotheistic, focusing on the Christian understanding of God.

How do Lutheranism and Calvinism view salvation?

Lutheranism emphasizes faith alone for salvation, while Calvinism stresses predestination.

Do Lutherans believe in saints?

Lutheranism respects saints but does not emphasize intercession as in Catholicism.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
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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