The gap between Lutheranism and Calvinism


I know the difference between Lutherans and Calvinists on the Lord’s Supper is quite wide. Lutherans reject double predestination.
What about TULIP? I know Lutherans reject limited atonement but what about the other points. Some of the terminology are the same. The differences seem very subtle and I don’t recall any explicit rejection of those other points.
What about baptism? Both accept infant baptism. I think Lutherans accept baptismal regeneration but Calvinists don’t in the sense it’s an outward sign of something happening through the Holy Spirit. Are there any other differences?


When I was learning about Calvinism and Lutheranism, I found that it was generally not very helpful to compare them and contrast them to each other, or either to Catholicism. Same with other religions, like Islam or Buddhism. It’s best to learn them as free-standing entities on their own merit. You’ll only end up getting confused trying to compare apples and oranges.


For my purposes, I might be useful.


Some lutherans have sacred images in their churches, calvinists are iconoclasts.
Lutherans believe in the real presence in the Eucharist, although not in transubstantiation, but in consubstantiation; calvinists believe only in an spiritual presence.


Lutherans would dispute that. Apparently, Calvin applied that term onto Lutheranism.


That’s right, they use another term


Anothe important difference is that Lutherans usually have Marian devotion, calvinists abhor it


Calvin created the doctrine of predestination, which was a deviation from Luther’s teaching.


Not quite.

Luther believed that some were predestined to be saved (single predestination).

Calvin took it to “superelapsarian double-predestinarianism”; before the beginning of time, some were chosen for salvation, and others for damnation.



More than just another term.


Lutherans believe that all are predestined to salvation. “For God so loved the world…”. The world!


Luther never taught that some are predestined to eternal condemnation.


All are predestined to salvation? How is that? Why do some go to hell then? Do Lutherans believe we freely accept or reject Christ? What about bondage of the will?


I didn’t say all will go to Heaven. I said all are predestined for heaven, as in, no one is predestined to eternal condemnation. People often choose to reject grace.


Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin) - yes
Unconditional Election - no
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement) - no
Irresistible Grace - yes (?)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved) - no

This is my guess as to what Luther would say to TULIP. Even Catholics believe that human will is incapable of accepting Christ without God’s grace. I have never quite understood the horror and reticence they express against “Total Depravity” as a concept (on its own anyway). Along with original sin, Catholics believe rightly that man has a spark of divinity which is sullied by sin; maybe that is the real difference there. I don’t know where Luther would be on this. He follows Paul pretty closely. So if Paul says we are created in the image of God, then Luther will say that too. Which puts him between Catholics and Calvinists I think. But I think there is kind of a micro-macro-aggression thing going on against Calvin that I resent a little. I agree on predestination too - as did Luther and St Augustine (some argue; I could be wrong on that - Augustine is pretty big on free will).


Ok, so people freely choose to accept or reject grace according to Luther?

Luther’s response [to Erasmus] was to reason that sin incapacitates human beings from working out their own salvation, and that they are completely incapable of bringing themselves to God. As such, there is no free will for humanity because any will they might have is overwhelmed by the influence of sin. Central to his analysis, both of the doctrines under discussion and of Erasmus’ specific arguments, are Luther’s beliefs concerning the power and complete sovereignty of God.

Luther concluded that unredeemed human beings are dominated by obstructions; Satan, as the prince of the mortal world, never lets go of what he considers his own unless he is overpowered by a stronger power, i.e. God. When God redeems a person, he redeems the entire person, including the will, which then is liberated to serve God. No one can achieve salvation or redemption through their own willpower—people do not choose between good or evil, because they are naturally dominated by evil, and salvation is simply the product of God unilaterally changing a person’s heart and turning them to good ends. Were it not so, Luther contended, God would not be omnipotent and omniscient(citation needed) and would lack total sovereignty over creation, and Luther held that arguing otherwise was insulting to the glory of God. As such, Luther concluded that Erasmus was not actually a Christian.


Keep in mind Luther’s work and Lutheran teachings are not necessarily one in the same.
Either way, this portion is important. Christ’s redemptive Act on the cross was meant for everyone.


I’ve always wondered what Calvinists do with the Sermon on the Mount…


St Augustine did believe that Original Sin imperils the salvation of our souls. How, then, can the Soul achieve Salvation? Augustine, following St Paul, believed that this was possible only through the Grace of God. Because Man is so sinful, nobody deserves this Grace; it is therefore unmerited. But God had offered it to all mankind when He sent Jesus to take upon himself the sins of the world. It was an offer which, because men had free will, they could reject; and if they did so, they lost the chance of Salvation. The Latin word for loss is damnum; Damnation originally meant simply the loss of Salvation. That loss was terrible enough even if it was not accompanied by the eternal pains of hellfire. Salvation was impossible without the Grace of God: mired as he was in sin, Man could not achieve it by his own efforts.

But St Augustine went further than this: some men are predestined to exercise their Will to accept the offer of Grace and others are predestined to reject it. God, being omniscient, foresees, but does not determine who will accept His Grace and who will not.

Those who accept the help of Grace are helped in their struggle against Sin; those who decline it reject it and are enslaved by Sin.

Now why would anyone exercise his Free Will to reject Grace? The implication of Augustine’s teaching is that the capacity to use our Free Will to choose or to reject the offer of Grace, though very small in all of us, is smaller in some people than it is in others. He seems to suggest that some people are constitutionally capable of using the little Will they have to accept the Grace which then strengthens that Will further. The Will of others is so weak that they cannot even take that step.

An analogy would be of men in danger of drowning in the middle of the ocean. They can all swim a little; but none of them have the capacity to reach the far-off land by swimming. They see the captain of a distant liner launch a lifeboat which can take them to salvation. The current flows strongly in the opposite direction; even so, there are some swimmers who are constitutionally capable of reaching the lifeboat, whose crew will then help them to reach the liner. But there are some who, though they do try, are just too weak: the current sweeps them away. (Even the suggestion that constitutional strength or weakness are involved may sometimes be inappropriate: the strong swimmer may be strong because he has freely chosen to take a lot of exercise in the swimming pool; the weak swimmer may be weak because he has freely chosen to be a couch-potato instead.)

Interesting article - this is St. Augustine (according to this author anyway). Predestination.

And yes of course Christ dies for everyone. I don’t dispute that. But why do only some get saved. There is not that much daylight between Catholics/Lutherans/Calvinists on this when you get right down to it. Still, I am not a Calvinist for many reasons. :slightly_smiling_face:


Which parts?

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