Differences between Anglicanism and Lutheranism

So this past weekend, some buddies and I were hanging out grabbing some beers, and the topic of my buddy attending a new church came up. He was raised Lutheran, but has attended a non-denom church for a while, because some of his friends went there (popular among young evangelicals these days). Realizing just how much he dislikes it, he’s asked about attending Church with me (I attend an Anglican Church). He then proceeded to ask me, “What’s the difference between Anglican and Lutheran?” To be honest, I couldn’t come up with a sufficient answer. Other than it’s historical differences (Luther and King Henry), I couldn’t come up with a lot of doctrinal differences. So naturally, I’m coming to CAF to discuss. I understand Anglicanism well, but not quite sure about the differences to Lutheranism.

Before starting, I would ask that we steer clear of the “Protestants like to church hop” criticism. With that said, what are some doctrinal differences between Lutheranism and Anglicanism? I realize this will be tough, because we Anglicans are not easy to put in a box…


Well on the Motley Scale ®, if Anglicans are a 10, Lutherans would range between 3 (Low Motliness) to a 9 (much Motliness).

Hope that helps.

As humorous as that was, I’m not sure that it helps my cause. We are quite "motley,"and I find it amusing that this has become the adjective of choice for Anglicans on this forum.

Actually, it will depend on which Lutheran synod he identifies with. The ELCA is in communion with the Episcopal church in the USA so they are pretty close doctrinally. The LCMS and the ACNA have been in talks since 2010, but I’m not sure about their progress. The WELS Lutherans hold hands with the ELS and pretty much nobody else.

Liturgically, the traditional Lutheran liturgy should be pretty compatible with traditional Anglican services - he should feel pretty comfortable.

All of this is pretty superficial, but it’s a starting point for you.

Thank you. I’m not sure which branch of Lutheranism he attended during his youth. I figured much of the appearance of both liturgies on a surface level would be similar, I didn’t know if there was any large theological differences, and from what I’ve heard there doesn’t seem to be many.

The liturgical similarities are no coincidence, at least in English-speaking countries. I’m not just referring to the shared Catholic heritage, either (though that’s certainly a good reason in itself).

It starts back when the first Lutherans migrated to America. They worshiped in German, Norwegian, Swedish, etc. When the people began to speak more English, that changed (slowly, as is customary of Lutherans when faced with terrible concepts like “change.” :D). There was need of an English liturgy, and nothing was better than the rubric used by the English-speaking American Anglicans. Look in any Lutheran hymnal and you’ll find some bits are lifted nearly word-for-word from the Book of Common Prayer. The 1941 Lutheran Hymnal is perhaps the most obvious example, though every Lutheran hymnal since has maintained the “Anglican Chant Setting.” Today, it can be found in the LCMS’s current hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (Page 44 in this link), Setting III. It’s my favorite.

The similarities aren’t just liturgical. I remember reading somewhere that one of the old, eastern American Lutheran synods (Buffalo, maybe?) commonly exchanged ministers with some Anglican bodies when pastors were in short supply.

Would this suggest, that the majority differences are more cultural than doctrinal?

Both cultural and doctrinal - the ELCA Lutheran Churches have an episcopal form of church governance, but the LCMS and WELS have more of a congregational polity. There are differences in how “church” is defined and that has an impact on fellowship between Lutheran communities. Separation of church and state is a big part of Lutheran heritage, yet perhaps not so much in the Anglican church.

The WELS and LCMS reject female priests/pastors, but the ELCA allows them.

No, for the simple reason that Anglicans theology tends to be… I’m thinking of a fellow poster’s favorite word, here.

In its pure form, Anglicanism can be called a via media or “middle way” between Lutheranism and Calvinism.

“Predictable”, is surely the word you are looking for.

I always heard the term “via media” in the context of being between Protestantism and Catholicism. We are oh so predictable.

Historically, that is a fiction. The Church of England was certainly considered by the English Reformers and Puritans of the 16th and 17th centuries to be a Reformed church, and before the Arminian doctrines were introduced by Archbishop Laud, the Thirty Nine Articles were considered to be a Reformed confession of faith.

Motley is a good term.

There’s at least 2 reasons for that.


If we are talking about differences between traditional/classical Anglicans and confessional Lutherans, then I would say very little. In fact, I will be leaving my dying Episcopal parish at the end of this year for an LCMS parish.

The 1941 Lutheran Hymnal is perhaps the most obvious example, though every Lutheran hymnal since has maintained the “Anglican Chant Setting.” Today, it can be found in the LCMS’s current hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (Page 44 in this link), Setting III. It’s my favorite.

As a current WELS member/organist, this is my favorite, as well. I did not know it was the “Anglican Chant Setting”. Thanks for enlightening me. :thumbsup:

Sounds like a good move to me.

A major historical doctrinal division would be the Lord’s supper, historically the Church of England holds to the spiritual presence whereas Lutherans hold to the physical presence views

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