Denomination Differences

Lutheran vs. Methodist Beliefs

Lutheranism and Methodism are two of the largest Protestant denominations. Both have had large historical importance. Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation and led to the creation of most other Protestant denominations; while Methodists have evangelized around the globe, led numerous revivals, established many charities, and have led to other denominations growing out of them as well.

Both denominations are traditionally high church for Protestants, but both also have massive variation in within them. As such, both denominations are split into very different branches. They have some of the most liberal of Christian denominations like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church, which are the two largest mainline Protestant churches; but they also have traditional, conservative denominations like the Lutheran Church⁠—⁠Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Global Methodist Church, and the Free Methodist Church. These differences make it hard to ascribe any one belief to either denomination on contentious issues such as homosexuality, the ordination of women, abortion, or euthanasia since each subdenomination will have its own view.

On more theological disagreements, they have more clear, united disagreement. Lutherans place a strong emphasis on the sacraments. They believe baptism is a means of grace through which God imparts the gift of salvation. Methodists practice the sacraments, but they believe salvation is by faith alone for anyone and emphasize holy living.

Belief Table

LutheranMethodist
a.k.a.
  • Wesleyan
  • Nazarene
Number of Members77,000,000[1]80,000,000[2][3]
How does one get saved?Repent of your sins, believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, and be baptized.Sola fide: Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection alone to save you.
Who gets saved?Those who God chooses to call will be saved and no one else.Anyone who chooses by his own free will to believe and accept God's gift of grace will be saved.
Can one lose his salvation?Yes, a Christian can lose his salvation by apostasy.Yes, a Christian can lose his salvation by apostasy.
Who gets baptized and why?The unsaved, typically as infants, get baptized as the first sacrament of Christian initiation, cleansing them of all sins.Saved people and their infant children get baptized by as the first sacrament of Christian initiation, cleansing them of all sins.
How should baptism be done?Baptism should be by pouring water on the head.Baptism should be by sprinkling water on the head.
When does one receive the Holy Spirit?The Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation.The Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation.
What is the trinity?The Trinity is God existing as one god in three equal, eternal, cosubstantial persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.The Trinity is God existing as one god in three equal, eternal, cosubstantial persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.
What is the human nature?Bondage of the will: Human nature is corrupt, naturally inclined to evil, and incapable of choosing God on his own.Total depravity: Human nature is corrupt, naturally inclined to evil, and incapable of choosing God on his own.
Are we guilty of Adam's original sin?Federalism: Yes, Adam represented all of the human race, and all are guilty of his sin.No, we are not guilty of Adam's sin, but we did inherit the consequences and a corrupt human nature from him, causing us all to sin.
Are Christians required to keep the Old Testament ceremonial laws?No, the ceremonial laws of Judaism were fulfilled and done away with by Jesus.No, the ceremonial laws of Judaism were fulfilled and done away with by Jesus.
Can Christians become sinless in this earthly life?No, although Christians can and should sin less, they can never become sinless in this life.Yes, Christians can become evangelically perfect through sanctification.
Do the elements of communion become the body and blood of Christ?Sacramental union: No, the elements do not become the body and blood of Christ, but Christ's body and blood are non-physically joined to the elements.No, the elements do not become the body and blood of Christ, but Christ is present in an unknown way.
Can one be baptized of behalf of someone who has died?No, the dead cannot be baptized.No, the dead cannot be baptized.
What happens if a saved person dies without being perfect?Once Christians leave their sinful bodies, nothing else is needed to receive glorified, sinless bodies.[4][5][6]Once Christians leave their sinful bodies, nothing else is needed to receive glorified, sinless bodies.[7]
Did Mary ever sin?Most believe that, yes, Mary sinned like all other humans except Jesus.Yes, Mary sinned like all other humans except Jesus.
What spiritual gifts are available today?Most believe cessationism: Spiritual gifts used for serving are available today, while gifts used as signs have ceased.[8]
What framework has God used in dealing with man?Covenant theology: God acts either within the covenant of works or the covenant of grace.
What is the gift of tongues?The gift of tongues is the ability to speak foreign human languages without knowing how.[9][10]
What are the requirements for clergy?Varies widelyVaries widely
How many church ordinances/​sacraments are there?The church has two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion.The church has two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion.[11]
To whom do Christians need to confess their sins?General sinfulness should be confessed to a priest. This is usually done as a group during a service.Confession should be made directly to God, but confession to another believer is beneficial for some sins. A general confession of sinfulness is usually done as a group during a service.
How should a church be structured?Varies widelyConnectionalism: Churches are governed by conferences of representatives. How respresentatives and pastors are chosen varies widely.
What day of the week should Christians worship?Christians worship on Sunday.Christians worship on Sunday.
How does God's revelation come to us today?Sola scriptura: The Bible is the only infallible source of God's revelation, sufficient for all faith and practice.Prima scriptura: There are many sources of God's revelation, although none can contradict the Bible.
How was the Bible written?Varies widely[12][13]
How many books are in the Bible?There are 66 canonical books of the Bible: 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.There are 66 canonical books of the Bible: 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.
Is the Bible inerrant?Varies widely[14][15]No, the Bible is not inerrant in any respect.[16]
Who can speak with God's authority today?The church as a whole speaks with God's authority at ecumenical councils.[17]
What is marriage?Varies widely[18][19][20]Varies widely[21][22][23][24]
Is sex permissible outside marriage?No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.[25][26]Varies widely[21][22][23][24]
When is divorce permissible?Divorce is permissible for adultery or desertion.[27][28]Varies widely[29][30]
May a Christian remarry while his former spouse is still alive?The innocent party to the adultery may remarry.Varies widely[29][30]
When does a fetus become human?Most have no established doctrine. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod believes life begins at conception.[31][32][33]No established doctrine[34][35]
Is contraception permissible?Yes, contraceptives are permissible.[25][36]Yes, contraceptives are permissible.
Are blood transfusions permissible?Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.
Should women cover their heads?No, head coverings are no longer required due to cultural changes.[37][38][39]No, head coverings are no longer required due to cultural changes.[40]
Should Christians drink alcohol?Yes, drinking alcohol is fine as long as one does not get drunk.Most believe that yes, drinking alcohol is fine as long as one does not get drunk.[41][42]
Should Christians fight in wars?Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.[43][44]Most believe that no, Christians should never fight.[45][46]
Whom does the Holy Spirit come from?The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[47][48]The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[49]
Where does a Christian's soul go after death?Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.[4]No established doctrine[50]