Traditional lutheranism


Good morning,

I’m curious, do traditional Lutherans nowadays interpret the Bible litterally, or they interpret it as generally catholics do?
I mean the traditional Lutherans, not calvinists or other protestant sects.



Well, you probably need to hear from a traditional/confessional Lutheran to answer that. My sense is that these days many confessional Lutherans do tend to a more fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. This is not because of Luther. It is the result of osmosis and co-existing with reformed Protestants/Calvinists in the US for several centuries. I believe these confessional Lutheran and Calvinist communities often have more in common than, say, confessional Lutherans and Catholics or Anglicans. I could be wrong - would be happy to learn I am. I guess my point is this is American - Lutherans in Europe may be very different on this. Perhaps there are ‘higher’ confessional Lutherans who are more careful about the fundamentalist influence, rejecting it in the name of traditional Lutheran teaching. I don’t know. Fundamentalism as we know it from Protestants today is new, dating only back to the 19th century or so. Catholics and classic Protestants did not take the whole Bible literally ever in history, and I would include Martin Luther. In the past, parts of the Bible were taken literally, spiritually, metaphorically, historically, something like that, I forget the categories. As for evolution specifically I think the Missouri Synod rejects it, at least formally. Some Lutherans likely believe in it all the same, just as they probably don’t think the Pope is the Anti-Christ.


Confessional Lutheran here.

I’m not sure I understand your question. Can you rephrase it?

Some parts of the Bible are literal, some are figurative, others more poetic, while still others are apocalyptic. What we know as the bible is made up of many different books with different styles of writing, which require different methods of interpretation. Confessional Lutherans have never changed in their understanding of Scripture, in this sense. We have always approached the books of Scripture in a reverent, academic way, seeking to understand God’s Word through the clearest texts, and using those to help understand less-clear texts.


Ew. I hope not! This has not been my experience as a lifelong Confessional Lutheran.

Correct. The LCMS accepts Genesis 1 and 2 as the historical account of creation, though not an exhaustive textbook-style explanation of it. Macro/Cosmic Evolution is generally rejected, as it would require at least animal death prior to the Fall, which wouldn’t particularly square with the Christian understanding of Original Sin and Death entering a perfect world through Adam. However, the LCMS does not attempt to speak where Scripture does not, so there is some small gray area with regard to Day/Age Theories - but it should be noted that the prevailing view is decidedly in favor more-or-less 24-hour days of creation. You can bet that LCMS members occupy every space along that gray spectrum, but the line is firmly drawn at an historical Adam and Eve.


Pretty much how the Catholic Church reads Scripture.


I suggest avoid using the word “fundamentalist”. It was very well defined, for a specific purpose, about a century ago, and it once had neither positive nor negative connotations. In recent years the media has exploited that term and applied it to attack any religious idea they don’t like. So you are labelled that if you think abortion or same sex marriage are wrong, or if you still believe in any kind of inspiration of the bible.

So better to avoid that (formerly useful) term, as its use has become uncharitable and confusing.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit