Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation in 1517.

Lutheranism is a major branch of Protestant Christianity which identifies with the theology of Martin Luther (1483–1546), a German friar, ecclesiastical reformer and theologian.

Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Catholic Church launched the Protestant Reformation in the German-speaking territories of the Holy Roman Empire. Beginning with the Ninety-Five Theses, first published in 1517, Luther's writings were disseminated internationally, spreading the early ideas of the Reformation beyond the influence and control of the Roman Curia and the Holy Roman Emperor.[1] The split between the Lutherans and the Catholics was made public and clear with the 1521 Edict of Worms: the edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas, subjecting advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all property, half of the seized property to be forfeit to the imperial government and the remaining half forfeit to the party who brought the accusation.[2] The divide centered primarily on two points: the proper source of authority in the church, often called the formal principle of the Reformation, and the doctrine of justification, often called the material principle.[a]

Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone", the doctrine that scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith. This is in contrast to the belief of the Catholic Church, defined at the Council of Trent, concerning authority coming from both the Scriptures and Tradition.[3] In addition, Lutheranism accepts the teachings of the first seven ecumenical councils of the Christian Church.[4][5] The Augsburg Confession, a Lutheran statement of belief contained in the Book of Concord, teaches that "the faith as confessed by Luther and his followers is nothing new, but the true catholic faith, and that their churches represent the true catholic or universal church".[6] When the Lutherans presented the Augsburg Confession to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, they believe to have "showed that each article of faith and practice was true first of all to Holy Scripture, and then also to the teaching of the church fathers and the councils".[6]

Unlike Calvinism, Lutherans retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation Church, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper. The predominant rite used by the Lutheran Churches is a Western one based on the Formula missae although other Lutheran liturgies are also in use, such as those used in the Byzantine Rite Lutheran Churches. Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in Christology, the purpose of God's Law, the divine grace, the concept of perseverance of the saints, and predestination.

Today, Lutheranism is one of the largest denominations of Protestantism. With approximately 80 million adherents,[7] it constitutes the third most common Protestant denomination after historically Pentecostal denominations and Anglicanism.[8][b] The Lutheran World Federation, the largest communion of Lutheran churches, represents over 74 million people.[9] Other Lutheran organizations include the International Lutheran Council and the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, as well as independent churches.


Luther's rose seal, a symbol of Lutheranism

The name Lutheran originated as a derogatory term used against Luther by German Scholastic theologian Dr. Johann Maier von Eck during the Leipzig Debate in July 1519.[10] Eck and other Catholics followed the traditional practice of naming a heresy after its leader, thus labeling all who identified with the theology of Martin Luther as Lutherans.[2]

Martin Luther always disliked the term Lutheran, preferring the term Evangelical, which was derived from euangelion, a Greek word meaning "good news", i.e. "Gospel".[10] The followers of John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other theologians linked to the Reformed tradition also began to use that term. To distinguish the two evangelical groups, others began to refer to the two groups as Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed. As time passed by, the word Evangelical was dropped. Lutherans themselves began to use the term Lutheran in the middle of the 16th century, in order to distinguish themselves from other groups such as the Philippists and Calvinists.

In 1597, theologians in Wittenberg defined the title Lutheran as referring to the true church.[2]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Lutheranisme
العربية: لوثرية
arpetan: Lutèranismo
asturianu: Luteranismu
azərbaycanca: Lüteranlıq
Bân-lâm-gú: Luther-phài
беларуская: Лютэранства
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Лютэранства
български: Лутеранство
bosanski: Luteranizam
brezhoneg: Luteriegezh
català: Luteranisme
čeština: Luteránství
eesti: Luterlus
Ελληνικά: Λουθηρανισμός
español: Luteranismo
Esperanto: Luteranismo
euskara: Luteranismo
føroyskt: Lutheranisma
français: Luthéranisme
furlan: Luteranisim
Gaeilge: Liútarachas
galego: Luteranismo
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Luther kau-phai
한국어: 루터교
हिन्दी: लूथरवाद
hrvatski: Luterani
Ilokano: Luteranismo
Bahasa Indonesia: Gereja Lutheran
interlingua: Lutheranismo
italiano: Luteranesimo
עברית: לותרניזם
Basa Jawa: Gréja Lutheran
ქართული: ლუთერანობა
kaszëbsczi: Lëtërstwò
Kiswahili: Walutheri
kurdî: Luterîtî
Кыргызча: Лютерчилик
لۊری شومالی: لوتریانیسم
latviešu: Luterisms
lietuvių: Liuteronybė
Limburgs: Lutheranisme
lumbaart: Lüteranesim
македонски: Лутеранство
Malagasy: Loteranisma
മലയാളം: ലൂഥറനിസം
მარგალური: ლუთერანობა
Mirandés: Luteranismo
Nederlands: Lutheranisme
polski: Luteranizm
português: Luteranismo
română: Luteranism
русский: Лютеранство
Simple English: Lutheranism
slovenščina: Luteranstvo
српски / srpski: Лутеранизам
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Luteranizam
svenska: Lutherdom
Tagalog: Luteranismo
Türkçe: Lütercilik
українська: Лютеранство
اردو: لوتھریت
Tiếng Việt: Giáo hội Luther
Winaray: Luteranismo
粵語: 路德會
Zazaki: Lutheranizm
žemaitėška: Liuteruonībė
中文: 信義宗
Lingua Franca Nova: Luteranisme