What Christians are closest to the Roman Catholic Church among Lutherans?

Several weeks ago a question on CAF asked what Protestants are closest to the Catholic Church. Predictably Anglicans followed by Lutherans was the consensus.

Now, the question is specific to Lutherans. What Lutherans [synods. national churches] are the most similar to Catholics?

My guess is that the Provoo Christians of European Lutherans most represent the “catholic” faith and are actively involved in Dialogue/ Declarations/ Intercommunions.

The ELCA and ELCC [Canada] are under the episcopal umbrella of the Lutheran World Federation and Anglican Communion.

The Commission for Unity that produced the document “From Conflict to Communion” of Lutherans and Catholics represent the entire Roman Catholic Church and nearly all Lutherans.

The Church of Sweden has been the impetus.

Depends. On social issues, the LCMS and WELS and confessional Lutherans are much closer to the Roman Catholic Church. We reject gay “marriage”, abortion, women pastors, openly gay bishops etc.

On doctrine I suppose the ELCA is closer having been willing to sign the Joint Declaration.

Because of this I believe us Confessional Lutherans are much more able to have meaningful dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. At least we agree where the rubber meets the road in our society.

When you mention abortion, do you mean that a woman who has been raped should be forced to have the baby? And when the life of the baby and/ or mother is at high risk for death that the delivery should be forced on the family anyway? Those are the only exceptions for abortion that the ELCA allows.

The ELCA also allows for abortion for little babies with severe abnormalities.

This and the circumstances you name plus some other things put the ELCA out of communion with confessional Lutherans and definitely out of communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Bingo. Or as one observer put it:

The ELCA backs up its philosophical endorsement of abortion with an extremely permissive health care policy. That is, its employee health benefits plan is willing to pay for all abortion procedures performed during the first five months of pregnancy, no questions asked.

Unlike other Lutherans and Roman Catholics, the ELCA is not opposed to the HHS Mandate.

Question: why would we as Lutherans feel the need to evaluate ourselves in relation to the Catholic Church, those in communion with the Bishop of Rome? While our goal should continue to be reconciliation with the See of Rome, as we are western Christians, we have our own barometer of the faith called the confessions. It seems to me that before we approach dialogue with our Catholic siblings, we need to be sure that we are solid in our following of our own teachings found in the BofC. Being solid in those teachings, we then have a firm foundation from which to dialogue.

I might also mention that, since dialogue is so important with the Vatican, it seems counterproductive for Lutheran synods to move further away from the mutually held historic teachings of the Church Catholic, in response to modern, secular, progressive pressure, particularly in the areas of morals, and ecclesiology.


Mormons also agree with the Roman Catholic Church on these ethical and anthropological issues; does that may them close to Catholics?

If we view the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue and it’s conclusion ‘From Conflict to Communion’] as a statement of faith than all these Lutherans are in agreement with the Catholic Church on unity.

I provided a video of a Mass in Sweden; there are plenty more. The churches look full of Lutherans worshiping in a manner a Roman Catholics would find quite familiar. Europe is the center of the Lutheran Communion.

Its true that high church worship is making a comeback. I think that’s a good thing.

However, as long as the ELCA continues to get more and more liberal on these social issues, the best we can hope for is separation. Sure we can all play nice, and I support that.

But the Catholic Church has deemed most of these issues as “non negotiable” this is to their credit. Confessional Lutherans are similarly unwilling to budge on most of them. I know my own denomination can’t even agree with the LCMS on women voting in the church, allowing women and openly gay pastors and bishops is simply beyond the pale for us.

Hi EC,
You regularly refer to these as anthropological issues. I would contend that they are not, because they are not related to the cultural development of human beings. They are, instead, Biblical and I believe doctrinal issues. Biblical truths transcend changing cultural or social mores. In fact, for the Christian, social and cultural mores are only acceptable if compatible with the word of God, and the traditions and teachings of the Church.


But it has always been “high church” in Europe. Lutherans in the U.S/ Canada took a wrong turn toward Protestantism more than a century ago. I still can’t figure how that happened :shrug:

The ‘agenda’ of the ELCA is to follow the lead of the Church of Sweden even though Uppsala does not have full communion with Reformed. But Reformed in Germany are basically Lutherans and active in direct visits to the Pope.

The Lutherans in Europe\ LWF are seeking reunion with Rome.

The mother has a difficult choice indeed, but the Cristian response would be that it’s better to be a victim of sin than a victim and perpetrator of sin.

House Harkonnen

Appreciate the talk. I have never known a WELS Lutheran even though I was educated in the Midwest. You have some beautiful churches.


Francis spoke of anthropological and ethical divides:

In light of this decades-long journey and of the many examples of fraternal communion between Lutherans and Catholics which we have witnessed, and encouraged by faith in the grace given to us in the Lord Jesus Christ, I am certain that we will continue our journey of dialogue and of communion, addressing fundamental questions as well as differences in the fields of anthropology and ethics. Certainly, there is no lack of difficulties, and none will lack in the future.

And I think Catholics and Lutherans alike can rest easy that Pope Francis will not change the teachings regarding human sexuality, and eligibility for the clergy.

This is an issue that the ELCA/LWF must face in terms of any future unity with Rome. To be sure, LCMS/ILC Lutherans, too, must be willing to respond to the teaching of the whole Church Catholic and the Lutheran confessions on AS. My guess is that the latter is a far easier road than the former.


Entirely agree that we leave this issue with Pope Francis, a saint in our midst.

2 reasons I posted this:

1] To show Lutherans in the U.S./ Canada that the “mother” Church is Europe; equal Sees from Iceland to Estonia that many of us can trace our direct ancestry.

2] And to ask the question: Why are we separate?

The irony that a fellow poster can worship in an ELCA synod and still express anger with the Church, is only human. Lutherans on this forum all appreciate our Catholic roots together as we should come together in the Mass each Sunday.

Interestingly, the upcoming talks between the Catholic Church and the ILC, of which the LCMS is a member, also had its catalyst in local talks in Canada. Sometimes missed in the apologetics is the real progress being made between Catholic and Lutheran** leaders**.

Even with the hopes that go with these discussions, we still have this fact in front of use: we differ on doctrines, doctrines that are still Church-dividing. Pray the Spirit intervenes to bring our beliefs together.


Yes, all the avenues of prayerful dialogue strengthen the urgency that we come together. I am perfectly comfortable that Francis lead us in addressing ethical/ anthropological issues.

This is where the ILC can prepare Lutherans for reunion with the Pope since all significant differences per Dialogue/ Declaration are not church dividing.

My pastor asked me to chair the Board of Christian Education (Sunday School, VBS etc) - and my first response was “are you kidding me? I still haven’t been able to bring myself to vote in congregational meetings!”

My WELS indoctrination was thoroughly done :slight_smile:

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