Lutheran vs. Catholic


  • Lutheran – Communion is a symbol or Jesus is only there if the person believes.  Bread and wine are blessed.
  • Catholic – Communion is the Real Presence of Jesus’ Body and Blood, is not a symbol.  Bread and wine are transubstantiated by the Holy Spirit, changed into Jesus and remains so forever.


  • Lutheran – (2) Baptism and Communion
  • Catholic – (7) Baptism, Holy Communion, Confession, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Anointing of the Sick


  • Lutheran – The Synod, or if labeled “Free”, they do not belong to the Synod.  Some have Bishops but there is no unifying authority.
  • Catholic – The Magistrate consisting of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests.  They are all connected by the Apostolic Succession down from St. Peter and Jesus.  They have the authority from Jesus to forgive sins, consecrate the Eucharist, serve Mass, administer Sacraments and interpret scripture.


  • Lutheran – Martin Luther started the Lutheran Church about 1517 when Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Catholic Church, revolted against the authority of the Church, and started his own church but changing doctrine and the Bible.
  • Catholic – Jesus started the Catholic Church in 33 AD by giving authority (the keys to the kingdom) to St. Peter.  The Catholic Church has remained consistent in teaching since.

Authority to Interpret Scripture:

  • Lutheran – Relies on personal interpretation resulting in thousands of different interpretations.  This gives no unity.
  • Catholic – Relies on the authority of the magistrate, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to interpret scripture producing a uniform interpretation.

Prayer to Heaven and Saints:

  • Lutheran – Believes in Jesus alone for prayer.  Does not believe in praying to saints.
  • Catholic – Believes in the Communion of Saints to pray for us as a family, like we ask for our loved ones to pray for us.  This does not leave Jesus out.  The Saints ask Jesus for us like our family would do.

In time of Death:

  • Lutheran – The Pastor offers prayers for the dying person.
  • Catholic – The Priest offers the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  This Sacrament offers sanctifying grace, forgiveness of sins, and prayers for the dying or sick person.


  • Lutheran – Forgiveness of sins (Original and personal sins) and the person becomes a child of God.  A Sacrament.
  • Catholic – Forgiveness of sins (Original and personal sins) and the person becomes a child of God.  A Sacrament.  This is one of the similarities between the two faiths.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

  • Lutheran – Martin Luther had a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary but currently the Lutheran Faith does not recognize the Virgin Mary as more than the Mother of Jesus. Does not pray to the Virgin Mary.
  • Catholic – The Virgin Mary is honored as the Mother of God and is prayed to asking for Her intercession for us.  This is not bypassing Jesus, it is asking Her to ask Jesus for us because He would listen to His Mother.  She is our Mother because Jesus is our Brother so therefore; the Virgin Mother is also our Mother.  Jesus gave us the Virgin Mary as our Mother when He was on the Cross, when He gave Her to John.  When Catholics say the rosary, it is said in request of intercession and in meditation of Jesus’ life.  Catholics do not worship Mary.


  • Lutheran – King James Version, (7) books removed, contains 66 books, some scripture has been changed by Martin Luther.  Much of the Bible is similar to the Catholic Bible.
  • Catholic – New American Bible, Catholics put together the Bible, contains 73 books.

What’s done with leftover Communion?

  • Lutheran – leftovers are put back in the cellophane pack, cooked with, disposed of in the garbage.  A plate of bread can be placed anywhere, including on a seat or whatever is available.
  • Catholic – leftovers are reserved reverently in the Tabernacle to give to the sick, those in need of the Blessed Sacrament, or reserved for Adoration.  The Tabernacle is either in the center of the Church or in a prayer chapel for veneration.  The Eucharist is only placed on the altar, in a pyx (gold holder for the Eucharist), or in the Tabernacle.  The Eucharist is treated reverently because it is Jesus.


  • Lutheran – do not believe in Purgatory.  Martin Luther removed the book of Maccabees from the Bible because he didn’t believe in Purgatory.
  • Catholic – Believe in Purgatory as a place of purification before Heaven, based on scripture, once a person is in Purgatory they go to heaven for sure after purification.  Catholics pray for the dead so that they will get to heaven sooner from Purgatory.  Purgatory is Biblical.


  • Lutheran – don’t believe in statues.  Many Lutheran churches have a picture of Jesus or a cross but no statues.
  • Catholic – Statues are holy reminders of the saints and Jesus.  It is like having pictures of family in your wallet.  Catholics do not worship statues. Statues teach about the lives of the saints.

Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament:

  • Lutheran – Churches do not contain the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  Contains the symbol of Jesus in Communion or blessed bread.
  • Catholic – All Catholic Churches contain the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in every Tabernacle all over the world.

These are some of the similarities and differences between the Lutheran and Catholic faiths.  Much of the good in the Lutheran faith comes from the Catholic faith; however, there is much that is not the same.  The Catholic Church has the fullness of the faith and all are called to communion with the Catholic Church.

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