Confusion Among Lutherans

My friend who is a cradle Lutheran, LCMS, during a conversation with her, I asked if she was Catholic/catholic and she said no she was a protestant.

Than I asked if her Pastor was a priest or a minister and her answer was that he was a minister.

My question is if some some Lutherans on CAF claim to be catholic, why do some Lutherans claim they are not, but protestant. This also goes for Anglicans. Either their church is Catholic or it is not.

No Catholic would say they were not Catholic but protestant if asked.

I also recall growing up in a typical Episcopal parish that they claimed to be protestant, and until the last 20 years or so, both Anglicans and Lutherans state they are Catholic, not protestant.

Also if one were to read the history of the changes in the Episcopal church, until 1979 they changed their liturgy to be much closer to the OF/ VII liturgy and this was years after the Catholic Church changed their liturgy in 1964. I now wonder it the Episcopal church will now change their liturgy to conform more to the newest translation of the Catholic Mass.

The only parishes that claimed to be Catholic in TEC were Anglo Catholic parishes, how can a church be protestant for centuries and then all of a sudden decide they are Catholic.

Just wondering.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


I know a lot of LCMS Lutherans and they call themselves Lutherans and do not define themselves as Evangelical Catholics. They do not claim to be Protestant but Lutheran and in the local Church here they do not like to be called Protestant.

That said terms like evangelical Catholics and Lutherans stating they are reformed Catholics is new to me on this forum alone and it seems to be by those who are more open to dialogue with Catholics and some acceptance of Catholic Theology. That is not reflective in the LCMS here in my City where they emphasize the grave differences between the two Churches, Justification, the Papacy, Purgatory ,Mary, Saints, Priestly Celibacy, proper understanding of works etc.

I enjoy the dialogue with the LCMS Lutherans on this board; it’s refreshing from what I have heard in this Church which in theology remains very anti Catholic.


If someone had explained the lutheran view of the word Catholic to this woman she probably would have said she was catholic but not roman catholic. Something I as an orthodox also like to say, but for the sake of convenience will often resort to “Eastern orthodox.”

I think its just easier for certain groups to associate with certain names so as to avoid any confusion in our age in which people are seemingly becoming increasingly ignorant of all things Christian.

Hi Mary, I was quite surprised when I landed at CAF to see so many really thoughtful Lutherans here - and it seems like the number is growing. I am just responding as best as I can to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we are being used as bridge-builders to bring about understanding and true unity. Certainly we are learning from each other!

I came here to try and understand why, after 500 years of separation, we are still apart.

:thumbsup: This.

Op, I wouldn’t take the word of one [seemingly poorly-catechized] individual. Nor would I rely on a group of Lutherans who live in a relatively culturally-insulated area where it was historically necessary not to appear ‘too Catholic.’

Instead, I’d look at what Lutherans historically have taught. The Lutheran reformers called themselves Evangelical Catholics. Does that mean that they consider themselves catholic? Yes, and some would even claim to be more so than the Roman Church. Can they, by some definitions, also be considered protestant? Yes, but they bristle at being lumped with the run-of-the-mill first-free-church-of-whatever lead by a man with an online degree.

This article is one of my favorites, and it outlines the Lutheran situation, particularly in America, fairly well:

Lutherans have a growing High Church movement. While the Apostolic succession got lost in widespread lutheran parts, the movement emphasizes that it is essantial for the priesthood. They are also rediscovering the faith of Eucharist and the other sacraments. In my environment we pray the rosary and we trust to the help of all saints.

Well, the understanding of the pope keeps Lutherans and Romans still separate. But “catholic” lutherans do not deny that there can be a pope.

An interesting topic is about the Apostles’ Creed. In some parishes they pray “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,” others - which is the majority emphasizes a Holy Christian Church.

So, Apostles’ Creed says a lot about themselves. And it should bother believers to reflect about the word “catholic”. I wonder why still so much Lutherans don’t know about their roots.

I grew up saying “the holy catholic Church” and if I say it from memory that is likely the way it comes out. When I was little I thought it was confusing because after all, why would I be talking about the catholic church that way when we weren’t part of it? What a difference capitalization can make - but to a child it was still reason to ponder.

I was an Episcopalian for many years as a young man. My Father taught that we were catholic, but we were not Catholic. If you are lowercase c catholic, it means that you believe yourself to be part of the universal church of God, but that you shun the idea that the church has any apostolic authority. Capital C Catholic means you at least acknowledge this authority. What happens past this is up to each church’s authority structure, if they have one. That always perplexed me, because why would one need a structure if the Spirit speaks to everyone as individuals? Where do they get the authority? You see my point.

BernadettM – There are different strains of Lutheranism in how they react to “Catholic” or “catholic.” Regrettably, some have advanced little in the last 500 years from their perception of the Catholic Church as the enemy. I was introduced to this in my youth (quite a few years ago) and have seen it among some Lutherans in much more recent times. In the congregation I last served, as we discussed having communion more than once a month, one of the matriarchs of the congregation spoke up saying “if we have communion every week that’s a Catholic Mass and I’m not a Catholic!” And, she was not alone in her disdain for anything considered to be “Catholic.”

For many of us, though, we know longer see the Catholic Church as an adversary. We recognize that we are sisters and brothers in Christ, even if we aren’t in agreement with all articles of church dogma and/or doctrine. Given the antipathy toward Christian witness in the world, it is important that we continue to seek ways to proclaim the Gospel with one voice.

I personally don’t see catholic/Protestant as opposites.

Mine and all Lutheran denominations claim to be part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Ergo, I a catholic, and a Protestant.

Unfortunately many Lutherans are against Roman Catholic traditions, not realizing that most of our traditions are the same or similar. And Luther and Early Lutheran theologians certainly had no problems with communion every week, or referring to it as “the mass”.

We profess the holy catholic church in the creed every Sunday.

But what means “one voice”? The church has to be one. And that means to the Catholics a visible unity in one Church (with the Pope).

I guess that Lutherans have accepted that there are two churches and an invisible union seems to be enough for most of them. But is it really enough? I don’t think so.

Yes, I was baptized and confirmed in a Wisconsin Synod Ev Lutheran Church - I guess that verbiage stuck with me pretty well :slight_smile:

Same here! I’m a cradle LCMS-er, and I grew up with “catholic.” Several congregations I’ve attended also use “catholic” rather than “Christian.” It really depends upon the area and what the locals were/are used to. It means the same thing. :shrug:

What others have noted, and what I find entertaining, is that the LCMS hymnal alternates between “catholic” and “Christian” in the creeds. It uses “catholic” for the Athanasian, and “Christian*” for the Apostles’ and Nicene. The asterisk is included when “Christian” is used, and a note on the page states that, “The ancient text reads ‘catholic,’ meaning universal.”

I think that if suddenly none of us had words and could only demonstrate our beliefs through actions, we would all of us Christians look very much alike.

Yes, the Lutherans here are very thoughtful and it’s great to have all of you here!

This was a very interesting post. The LCMS Lutherans in this city say Holy Christian Church

I don’t think it’s enough either

From a Lutheran perspective I would say that being under the authority of the Pope is not a necessity. I would not say that there are two churches but, rather, two (or more) expressions of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. To be sure, complete and visible unity is the ideal toward which we all should aim. We have to remember, however, that such unity has been only a dream, at least since 1054 AD.

You know, Pastor, I try not to laugh when I hear a Lutheran say this, but instead point them to the Lutheran confessions, and tell them at this is what Lutheranism teaches and believes and even promises to its members:

At the outset we must again make the preliminary statement that we 1] do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things.

It isn’t that people are obliged to receive every week. It is that the Church is obligated to provide the sacraments - Absolution and the Eucharist every week!


I, too, have been on the losing end of a number of discussions of weekly Communion at various congregations I have been a part of. Here in ND, the three largest religious groups are ELCA Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and LCMS Lutherans. The former two dwarf the latter by many thousands of people. At any rate, anything that looks too “Catholic” is immediately resisted by many. For example, I started changing the altar paraments at one of the congregations I serve, which hasn’t been done for some number of years. One old woman took it upon herself to label me a Catholic sympathizer.

As for Evangelical Catholic, I understand it to be a fluid but (mostly) clearly defined movement within Lutheranism calling for greater fidelity to our catholic and Confessional roots in a time of much rapid change in practice and doctrine.

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