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Lutheranism


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While the views of Calvin were largely expounded in one treatise, his Institutes, those of Martin Luther (1483–1546) had to be gleaned from a number of tracts and sermons. Luther took the Bible as the ultimate authority for Christians and his main belief was justification by faith alone: it was therefore essential for Christians to understand the Bible and Luther made his own celebrated translation into German. He recognized three sacraments: baptism, the eucharist in both kinds, and penitence. He was as committed to predestination as Calvin, finding no freedom for the human will.

Lutheranism's greatest success was in north Germany and in Scandinavia. In England, his reputation was marred by a sharp theological exchange with Henry VIII, to whose Defence of the Seven Sacraments (1521), which had won from the papacy the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ for the king, Luther replied with Against Henry King of England (1522). Many English churchmen thought it wise to distance themselves from Luther and to insist that the English Reformation was autonomous and independent. After Luther's death, the influence of Calvin and Geneva on the English clergy, and certainly on the Scottish, was much greater than that of Lutheranism.

Subjects: History — Christianity.


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