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Doctrinal Differences Between the Baptists and Lutherans

I am a Southern Baptist. My daughter, who is 11, has a best friend who my daughter sometimes attends church with. Her friend is of the Lutheran faith. Can you please explain to me the differences between the two doctrines?

This is a difficult question, but I believe the answer is that the differences were once very pronounced but have with the passing of time have become less distinct.

Southern Baptists differ from Lutherans (among other things):

  1. In Church Liturgy (the form of worship)
  2. In Church Polity (the form of government)
  3. In Church Doctrine … especially in Eschatology (this simply means … the study of last things)

Let’s first start by finding the commonality between Lutherans and Southern Baptists. This will be concerning the “so great salvation” in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

Martin Luther struggled for years with the things he saw in the Bible that seemed to him to be at odds with his Catholicism. Where the Holy Spirit got him pinned down was with Romans 5:1.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Over and over it came down on Martin: that the only way a sinner could be justified was by FAITH ALONE (and not by works).

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

By the way, this is where all men stumble. This is where we all break our necks. The religions of this world all come back to some form of a WORKS SALVATION. Man is always trying to justify himself before God by his own WORKS, but God has commanded that man is to be justified by faith in the WORK of another … Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, and in his finished WORK at the Cross of Calvary.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Martin Luther was saved by grace through faith, I believe. Yet when Martin Luther came out of the Roman Catholic Church; he came only part of the way out with respect to most of the other doctrines in the Bible. The denominations that came part of the way out of the Roman Catholic Church are known as Protestants.

The Southern Baptists have a mix of Protestant and Baptist doctrine. They adopted the New Hampshire Baptist Confession (1833), which was in doctrine ... (including Eschatology or the study of last things) POST MILLENNIAL. This is another commonality where Southern Baptists with the Lutherans have historically have been in agreement. Both Baptists and Lutherans are AMILLENIAL or POST MILLENIAL in their “end times” view points. This next statement will sound harsh but it is true. The Post Millennial viewpoint (including the Amillenial viewpoint) erroneously spiritualizes and steals the promises for the Church that God has clearly has given to Israel.

Here follows… is the Bible-believing view. This third view of end time events is the Pre-millennial view point. The Pre-millennial view point sees the promises in the Bible of a one thousand year millennium or Kingdom of Heaven to be established by the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible always shows the Kingdom of Heaven as being primarily for Israel, and always a visible, physical (or natural), Davidic, one thousand year kingdom on this earth. The Bible-believing view also sees the promises in the Bible of a Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom, which is first inward, or moral (in the heart) and invisible (or supernatural), and is currently present in the age we live in, which is the Church age. It behooves us then, as believers of God’s word, to see that two things different are not the same.

Now I need to add here in all honesty that I have found that some Southern Baptists that are indeed Pre-millennial, but they are a minority! In the main the Southern Baptists tend to be more allegorical than literal in their eschatology. To it sum up. The Southern Baptist Convention as a movement has been drifting for years from its old foundation. They are today much closer to the Lutheran Church in doctrine and practice than one hundred years ago.

Richard St. James
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 23:18

For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.