I have been told, “There’s no difference between the Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church…right”? There are many similarities between them…however there are many differences too. (Sorry if this is long. There’s a lot of material to cover.)
ORIGIN-Who started the Catholic Church = Jesus in 33 A.D. Who started the Lutheran Church = Martin Luther 1517 A.D.
REASON FOR BEING-Why was the Catholic Church started = Jesus wanted salvation for our souls. Why was the Lutheran Church started = Martin wanted to break away from the Catholic Church and protest against the Pope and many teachings of the Catholic Church.
COMMUNION-What is the Catholic communion = The real presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ instituted by Jesus, regardless of the person’s belief, it is still Jesus. What is the Lutheran communion= A symbol or taught that it’s the body and blood of Jesus; however in the Lutheran Catechism it states “It is not eating and drinking that (forgives sins), but the words “given and shed for you for the remission of sins” that have the power and it requires the belief in these words to receive the benefit“. The Lutheran Communion is not a valid sacrament in the Catholic Church because of their lack of validly ordained priests in the Apostolic Succession, so they do not have the authority, to consecrate the communion, which then makes it the Body and Blood of Jesus. This means it is not the Body and Blood of Jesus. It would be blessed like saying the blessing over your meal.
What is done with the communion bread after church in the Catholic Church=The remainder of the Hosts (wafers) are stored reverently in a Tabernacle kept in the Church. They are not mixed with the unconsecrated ones. Any remaining wine is consumed. The vessels are carefully cleansed and anything left is consumed so as not to allow any particle of Jesus to go down the sewer or be disrespected. What is done with the communion bread after church in the Lutheran Church=If it is home cooked bread, some bring it back home to cook with or sometimes it is thrown away in the garbage. There is no tabernacle. If it is wafers, then the “blessed” wafers are put back into the cellophane bag with the “unblessed” ones and kept for next time. Any remaining grape juice/wine is poured back into the bottle.
SACRAMENTS-A sacrament is an outward sign of God’s grace given as a gift to us for our salvation. How many sacraments does the Catholic Church have = 7, Baptism, Holy Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick. How many sacraments does the Lutheran Church have = 2, Baptism and Holy Communion. They are Baptized but are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.
AUTHORITY/OFFICE OF KEYS-What the Catholic Church teaches=Jesus gave the authority to the apostles. They were to form the Church and pass on this authority as Apostolic Succession in an unbroken line. Jesus said “So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus gave only Peter the keys to His Church, Heaven giving him authority. He did not give this authority to the public to forgive sins or have authority to interpret scripture. What the Lutheran Church teaches=They go by the scripture John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18 and teaches “to forgive the sins of those who repent and to declare to those who do not repent that their sins are not forgiven”. Since Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church, he broke the apostolic succession and any successive pastors in the church lost the Jesus-given authority to forgive sins, consecrate the Eucharist, interpret scripture and head the church. When Martin Luther broke away he became someone from the public again, so he refused any and all authority that was given to him as a priest in the Catholic Church.
CONFESSION OF SINS-What the Catholic Church teaches=This is a sacrament. For mortal (large) sins it is required to go to Confession for forgiveness and receive grace to resist sin in the future. Through the priest Jesus gives us absolution. This teaching comes from scripture John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18, but Jesus only gave this authority through the Pope and validly ordained priests. What the Lutheran Church believes about confession of sins=This is not a sacrament. They believe that you can do private confession to the pastor and get absolution. They teach that the pastor may offer absolution by saying “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. (This sounds great however Jesus didn’t give the pastor the authority to absolve people of sin.9 This is only an authority given in the Catholic Church passed down through the Popes.)
Comparing the two churches shows some of the differences between them, and if you are searching, then you already know that it’s important to be in the one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic church that Jesus founded.
Sources: The Small Catechism by Martin Luther, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible.