Denomination Differences

Reformed vs. Lutheran Beliefs

ReformedLutheran
a.k.a.Calvinist
Number of Members75,000,00077,000,000[1]
How does one get saved?Sola fide: Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection alone to save you.Repent of your sins, believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, and be baptized.
Who gets saved?Those who God chooses to call will be saved and no one else.Those who God chooses to call will be saved and no one else.
Can one lose his salvation?Eternal security: No, once a Christian is saved, he is always saved.Yes, a Christian can lose his salvation by apostasy.
Who gets baptized and why?Saved people and their infant children get baptized as a sign of God's grace.[2]The unsaved, typically as infants, get baptized as the first sacrament of Christian initiation, cleansing them of all sins.
How should baptism be done?Baptism can be by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling.Baptism should be by pouring water on the head.
When does one receive the Holy Spirit?The Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation.[3]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?Total depravity: Human nature is corrupt, naturally inclined to evil, and incapable of choosing God on his own.Bondage of the will: 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.Federalism: Yes, Adam represented all of the human race, and all are guilty of his 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.No, although Christians can and should sin less, they can never become sinless in this life.
Do the elements of communion become the body and blood of Christ?No, the elements do not become the body and blood of Christ, but Christ is present in an unknown way.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.
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]Once Christians leave their sinful bodies, nothing else is needed to receive glorified, sinless bodies.[6][7][8]
Did Mary ever sin?Yes, Mary sinned like all other humans except Jesus.Most believe that, yes, Mary sinned like all other humans except Jesus.
What spiritual gifts are available today?Cessationism: Spiritual gifts used for serving are available today, while gifts used as signs have ceased.[9]Most believe cessationism: Spiritual gifts used for serving are available today, while gifts used as signs have ceased.[10]
What framework has God used in dealing with man?Covenant theology: God acts either within the covenant of works or the covenant of grace.[11]
What is the gift of tongues?The gift of tongues is the ability to speak foreign human languages without knowing how.[12]The gift of tongues is the ability to speak foreign human languages without knowing how.[13][14]
What are the requirements for clergy?Experienced men above reproach, faithful to their wives and with with obedient children if applicable, and able to teach are to be appointed as pastors.Varies widely
How many church ordinances/​sacraments are there?The church has two ordinances: Baptism and Holy Communion.The church has two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion.
To whom do Christians need to confess their sins?Confession should be made directly to God, but confession to another believer is beneficial for some sins.General sinfulness should be confessed to a priest. This is usually done as a group during a service.
How should a church be structured?Varies widelyVaries 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?Prima scriptura: There are many sources of God's revelation, although none can contradict the Bible.Sola scriptura: The Bible is the only infallible source of God's revelation, sufficient for all faith and practice.
How was the Bible written?Verbal plenary inspiration: The Bible was written by men who had every word supernaturaly inspired by God.[15]Varies widely[16][17]
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?Yes, the Bible was written without any error.[15]Varies widely[18][19]
Who can speak with God's authority today?Nobody today can speak for God.The church as a whole speaks with God's authority at ecumenical councils.[20]
How was the earth created?Creationism: The earth was spoken into existence by God.
What is marriage?Marriage is a covenant before God between one man and one woman.[21]Varies widely[22][23][24]
Is sex permissible outside marriage?No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.[25][26]No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.[27][28]
When is divorce permissible?Divorce is permissible for adultery or desertion.[29][30]Divorce is permissible for adultery or desertion.[31][32]
May a Christian remarry while his former spouse is still alive?The innocent party to the adultery may remarry.[33]The innocent party to the adultery may remarry.
When does a fetus become human?Humanity begins at conception.[34][35]Most have no established doctrine. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod believes life begins at conception.[36][37][38]
Is contraception permissible?Yes, contraceptives are permissible.[39]Yes, contraceptives are permissible.[27][40]
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.[41][42][43]
Should Christians drink alcohol?Varies widelyYes, drinking alcohol is fine as long as one does not get drunk.
Should Christians fight in wars?Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.[44]Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.[45][46]
Whom does the Holy Spirit come from?The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[47]The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[48][49]
Who can be demon-possessed?Demons can possess unbelievers but not Christians.
Do icons glorify God?Most believe no, icons violate the Second Commandment against graven images. Icons of Christ are especially prohibited.[50][51][52]
Where does a Christian's soul go after death?Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.[4][53]Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.[6]