Why do lutherans call themselves evangelical catholics?

I have noticed some posters at CAF who put Evangelical Catholic as their religion but then in parentheses they clarify themselves as lutheran. So why not just identify as a lutheran? Why do you call yourself an evangelical catholic?

Though I don’t use the term myself, many want to emphasize our continuation with the ancient catholic faith described in the ecumenical creeds, along with what Luther himself originally referred to his reform as (evangelicals - emphasis on the gospel). Though we’ve adopted Lutheran, it was originally applied to us by Catholics.

I’m sorry if those who use that term are offended by this, but I have a problem with non-Catholics calling themselves Catholic. Doesn’t seem right.

It isn’t right but there is a guy who calls himself Pope Michael I and no amount of logical argument will convince him otherwise.


I’ve actually wondered this myself (so much so that I’ve done some Googling on it but was still confused by the terminology).

Obviously I have no skin in this game/dog in this fight/insert-your-favorite-saying-here, but it does pique my curiosity.

Said Lutherans probably explain it like follows:

“Lutherans don’t accept the catholic assertion that Jesus intended to found a monarchical church. We understand the ‘catholic church’ referred to in the creeds as the worldwide believers in Jesus and assert that the Roman Catholic church has for centuries attempted to arrogate that title to themselves alone. We reject this arrogant and unfounded assumption and claim our place as believers in Christ and members of his one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.”

They almost have to assert something like this even though the actual history of Christianity prior to Luther is a little bit, umm, inconvenient for this claim.

That title goes all the way back to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Catholics across Europe would originally call followers of Martin Luther’s teachings, Evangelicals. Yeah, they are far from what we would consider a Evangelical now. But that is what they called them. Followers of Luther adapted the term into Evangelical Catholic. Mainly because their whole purpose was not to separate from the Catholic Church but rather to reform it. They thought of themselves as Catholics with Protestant ideas. They didn’t want to be looked at as non-Catholics. Later the term Lutheran started getting applied to them rather than Evangelical, they didn’t disavow the term Lutheran, but many still preferred to be known as Evangelical Catholics. So that is why many Lutherans refer to themselves like that.

God bless :smiley:

I read it “Christian, belonging to the Evangelical tradition which is a branch of the world wide Church”.

merriam-webster.com/dictionary/catholic meaning 1b:
of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming historical continuity from it

I do see, though, how it can be seen as irritating at a place created for Roman Catholics, such as this one. Personally I find it skewed to call Roman rite “traditional Catholicism” and the Eastern rite “Eastern Catholicism”, as this website’s division into subforums does. Most often when people write Catholic, in my mind they should write Roman Catholic…

…but we all have our biases.

And here I thought the label is an effort to reconcile themselves with Catholics!


:thumbsup: This. We see ourselves (along with Roman Catholics, the Orthodox and any other communion that preaches the Words and administers the Sacraments) as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church founded by Christ.

Lutherans didn’t initially want to be called Lutherans. They didn’t pick the name for themselves, least of all Martin Luther in particular.

Some folks have the astounding skill of finding offense, even in an olive branch.

I’m not attacking your belief, but I’m just wondering why do you think that? In the four marks it says one, how could multiple churches be one universal church? Also it says apostolic yet you don’t believe in apostolic succession, and even if you did most churches with apostolic succession wouldn’t recognize your apostolic succession. Don’t take offense, I’m not attacking you… I’m just curious about your belief here.

Maybe. :slight_smile:

Growing up in the Lutheran church, I learned about my faith, but I had lots of gaps in understanding that weren’t filled in until I began to understand the origins of my beliefs which led me to study the “Capital C” Catholic church. The more I learn, the more reconciled I become.

Lutheran was not what we chose to call ourselves, and I don’t feel bound to call myself anything except Christian. Evangelical, because we are; catholic, because we are not American Evangelicals, but have our roots in the Catholic church.

Thank you. I am getting tired of some of the things I see as well and I do not think they should be allowed.

Can someone please tell me what a “catholic/protestant” is? This is what one new member put.

Perhaps this link will help explain why at least some “protestants” consider themselves to be both catholic and protestant: touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=11-03-014-f

I can imagine Martin Luther would be quite disappointed in all the Lutherans calling themselves Lutheran.

Even though the name caught on with the Catholics, I still am to this day baffled that the Lutherans adopted it.

Thank you for the link. What is the staunchest branch? Missouri synod? I am going to see if some of those Lutherans are in my area. They actually sound more Catholic than my local diocese. :thumbsup:

…interesting answers…

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