What Makes Lutheranism Unique from Other Churches?

Theologically, Lutheranism is a form of Protestantism that emphasizes the importance of the Bible (sola Scriptura) and rejects five of the seven traditional sacraments affirmed by the Catholic Church. All Lutheran churches consider worship and Holy Communion to be essential parts of their religion. Each synod has formed statements of belief about sharing worship and communion with other Christians. Members of ELCA churches are encouraged to worship with Christians from other denominations, and Communion is open to all who have been baptized.

The LCMS, the TAALC and the WELS practice closed communion; only people who belong to those synods or to churches that are recognized members can receive Communion. In their belief, closed communion is necessary to protect the integrity of the sacrament. The Lutheran confessions, however, reject the Reformed position on the presence of Christ in the Sacrament. Lutherans have a wonderful opportunity to explore what it means to be a confessional Lutheran church today.

In addition to their Intralutheran agreements, some member churches of the FLM have also declared full communion with non-Lutheran Protestant churches. While it's not a problem in most Lutheran ecclesiastical bodies, some of them prohibit membership in Freemasonry. From a Lutheran perspective, what some consider to be non-essential or acceptable positions may, in fact, directly affect the biblical Gospel or biblical truth. The WEL theses on the Church and ministry expressly deny that the pastoral ministry was specifically instituted by the Lord, unlike other forms of public ministry.

Laestadians from certain European state churches maintain close ties with other Laestadians, often called Apostolic Lutherans. This contrasts with the Lutheran Confessions, which affirm certain doctrines and sometimes “reject and condemn” other positions because they consider them “incorrect” and contrary to the Word of God. The doctrinal positions of Lutheran churches are not uniform because the Book of Concord does not hold the same position in all Lutheran churches. While it is recognized that this common understanding does not cover everything that either church teaches about justification, this statement states that the remaining differences in their explanation are no longer a cause for doctrinal condemnation.

Unlike Calvinism, Lutheranism conserves many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the Western Church before the Reformation, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist or Lord's Supper, although Eastern Lutheranism uses the Byzantine rite. Johann Sebastian Bach, a devout Lutheran, composed an enormous amount of sacred music for the Lutheran church.