Bible Class Curricula - Denominational Doctrines - Lutheran

  1. History of the Lutheran Religion
    1. When did this movement start? October 31, 1517
    2. Where did it start? Wittenberg, Germany
    3. Where is their official headquarters? The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois; formed in 1988 by the merging of three churches and having about 4 million members, it is the largest and most liberal of all the Lutheran denominations in the United States.123
    4. Who founded this movement? Martin Luther
    5. Origin of this movement. The history of this movement began with a reformation spirit:

      Luther observed that many people in Wittenberg were not coming to him for confession any more. They were going to towns in Brandenburg or Anhalt like Jüterbog or Zerbst to buy Indulgences (primarily the Peter’s Indulgence).

      The practice of buying indulgences, which quasi replaced confession and allowed people to buy their salvation, was completely repulsive to Luther. He strongly believed that one lived a life of humility in order to receive God’s grace.

      After 1507, trade in Indulgences took a steep climb because both the Papal Court and Bishop Albrecht von Brandenburg, Germany’s representative for the sale of indulgences were in great financial trouble.

      In addition, the Dominican monk, Johann Tetzel, sold indulgences in the region around Wittenberg in a very ostentatious manner. Many stories started poping up about him such as, that Tetzel could redeem the sins of the deceased.

      Further sayings of Tetzel, such as, "When the money clangs in the box, the souls spring up to heaven," also brought protests from Luther.4

    6. What is their authority? The Bible is claimed to be the only source. However, one must learn the creeds and catechism of Martin Luther in order to be a Lutheran.
  2. Reviewing Some of Luther’s 95 Theses
    1. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.5

    2. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Matthew 13:25).6

    3. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.7

    4. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.8

    5. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers, is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.9

    6. Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.10

  3. False Doctrines of the Lutheran Denomination
    1. Sola Gratia – "God forgives, loves and saves us completely apart from anything we do or do not do."11
    2. The phrase grace alone never occurs in the Bible – nor does the concept of salvation by grace alone. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
    3. Sola Fide – "[T]o our ‘sola fide’ (by faith alone) Lutheran ears, the idea that our Lord would draw a line separating the damned from the saved based on works should be troubling."12
    4. The phrase faith only occurs only one time in the Bible (James 2:24), and it is the exact opposite of what Lutherans teach. Incidentally, don’t sola gratia and sola fide contradict each other? Is it possible to have both?
    5. Sola Scriptura – "The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life."13 While this certainly is a correct biblical principle (Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 4:6), it is not one that Lutherans today actually follow.
    6. Luther has a checkered history in relation to the Canon of the Bible. "Luther was also frustrated by the works-emphasis of the book of James, calling it the Epistle of Straw," and questioning its canonicity. Also irritated with the complex symbolism of the Book of Revelation, he once said that it, too, was not canon, and that it should be thrown into the river!"14 
    7. Lutherans believe in sprinkling babies�a practice that is in violation of both of the mode and meaning of baptism as found within Scripture (Mark 1:9-11; John 3:23; Romans 6:1-4; Acts 8:37ff.).
    8. Lutherans use instrumental music in their worship even though it is an unscriptural practice (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17) and one against which Martin Luther himself cautioned. Luther said, "The organ in the worship is the insignia of Baal. The Roman Catholics borrowed it from the Jews."15
  4. Reasons Why I Cannot be a Lutheran
    1. The Lutheran Church has a human founder, Martin Luther, rather than Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18).
    2. The Lutheran Church began at the wrong time and place to be the Christ’s church (Acts 2).
    3. Lutherans follow such things as the Augsburg Confession, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Smalcald Articles of Faith, and the Formula of Concord instead of the Bible alone (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
    4. Members of the Lutheran Church refer to themselves as "Lutherans" rather than "Christians" (Acts 4:12; 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Luther himself pleaded, "I pray you leave my name alone and do not call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians" (Michelet, Life of Luther, p. 262).
    5. Lutherans also have the wrong name for the church (see Matthew 16:18; Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2; John 10:30).
    6. Lutherans hold that the Ten Commandments are binding today, even though those commandments were "nailed to the cross" (Colossians 2:14-17; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Galatians 5:1-4; Romans 7:1-4).
    7. Lutherans teach that Sunday is the “Christian Sabbath” and observe numerous “holy days” such as “Lent,” “Easter,” “Christmas,” etc. (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 22:18-19; Exodus 20:8-11).

Study Questions

  1. Who founded the Lutheran church? What is wrong with Martin Luther founding a church?
  2. When was the Lutheran church started? Is that when the New Testament church started?
  3. Where was the Lutheran church started? Where was the New Testament church started?
  4. Did Martin Luther have good motives in his reformation movement? Did he go far enough?
  5. Is salvation available by grace alone (See Titus 2:11-13)? Is salvation attainable by grace alone (see Ephesians 2:8-9)?
  6. The phrase faith only occurs one time in the Bible. Where is that phrase located in Scripture, and what does the passage actually teach?
  7. Incidentally, can one have sola gratia (saved by grace alone) and sola fide (saved by faith alone) at the same time? Aren’t these two ideas in conflict?
  8. How did Martin Luther view the books of James and Revelation? Why did he view them this way?
  9. Is sprinkling an acceptable mode of baptism? Support your answer from Scripture.
  10. Did Martin Luther approve of instrumental music?
  11. Did Martin Luther want people to be called "Lutherans" today?


  1. 1Online: (, retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
  2. 2Online: (, retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
  3. 3Online: (, retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
  4. 4Online: (
  5. 5Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, (Wittenberg, Germany, 1517), theses 5 and 6.
  6. 6Ibid., theses 10 and 11.
  7. 7Ibid., theses 27 and 28.
  8. 8Ibid., theses 32 and 33.
  9. 9Ibid., theses 79 and 80.
  10. 10Ibid., thesis 82.
  11. 11Online: (, retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
  12. 12Online: (, retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
  13. 13Online: (, retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
  14. 14Online: (, retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
  15. 15Martin Luther, McClintock and Strong’s Encyclopedia, Volume VI, p. 762. 
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