Methodism sprung up in the 18th century. Ir originally began as a movement in the Church of England under the leadership of John Wesley with his brother Charles Wesley who were trying to revive spiritual fervor as well as deal with some social issues in the church. The Wesleys emphasized the importance of having a personal experience with God, living a life of holiness, and pursuing social justice. Methodism gained traction quickly and eventually separated from the Church of England to become a distinct denomination.
Lutheranism originated two centuries earlier than Methodism during the Reformation movement led by Martin Luther. Luther led a reformation movement that sought to correct doctrinal and political issues he had identified in the catholic church and the movement led to the establishment of Lutheranism as well as other protestant denominations. Lutherans emphasize the authority of Scripture, justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers.
What are the differences between Methodists and Lutherans?
Methodists and Lutherans have many similarities but they differ in their primary focus. Methodists put a lot of emphasis on social justice, living a life of holiness, and having a personal experience with God. On the flip side, Lutherans focus on the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith, and the authority of scripture. Another important difference is the leadership structure. While methodists use a connectionism structure, Lutherans use the synod system of governance.
We will discuss these in more detail below.
Methodist Vs. Lutheran Church Structure
Methodists use a form of governance referred to as connectionism. This form of governance promotes the collaboration and interdependence of the individual congregations in the Methodist church. Local churches are organized into conferences which could be regional, national, or global in scope. The conferences are led by clergy and lay representatives who work together in governance and decision-making.
On the other hand, Ltuerhans use a synodical structure. This structure brings together various churches that are represented both by clergy and laity in different geographic areas. Synods provide an opportunity for cooperation and shared governance between the respective churches. Synods may include councils or assemblies that draw membership from clergy and laity and they participate in policy formulation as well as decision-making.
Methodist Doctrines and Beliefs
- Justification by Faith
The methodist doctrine of salvation is based on the principle of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Methodists believe that individuals are justified only by faith and not by any form of human effort. They believe that salvation is a free gift that God gives mankind and as such, it cannot be earned through good deeds.
- The Role of Scripture and Tradition
Methodists believe the Bible is God’s inspired word and uphold it as the final authority on doctrinal issues. They mostly rely on the holy spirit’s inspiration to interpret scripture but, they also give room to tradition and reason in the interpretation of the Bible. Methodists value the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which combines Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience as sources of theological revelation.
- Sacraments and Rituals
There are two main sacraments in Methodism: baptism and the Eucharist. Methodists believe that the sacraments are an avenue for obtaining God’s grace and that participants receive forgiveness and experience the presence of God. Additionally, Methodists may observe other rituals such as confirmation, marriage, and ordination.
Lutheran Doctrines and Beliefs
- Justification by Faith Alone
Lutherans agree with Methodists on the doctrine of salvation. They believe that salvation comes only by faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is viewed as a free gift that can not be earned through good deeds.
- The Authority of Scripture
Lutherans believe in the principle of sola scriptura, which emphasizes that the only source of authority and doctrine should be the Bible, which is God’s inspired word. Unlike methodists who also allow tradition and reason, Lutherans focus more on inspiration from the scriptures based on the Holy Spirit and reason.
- Sacraments and Rituals
Lutherans have a similar stand on sacraments as the Methodists. They believe that the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist are a means to God’s grace. However, unlike the methodists, Lutherans believe in the real presence of Christ during the administration of the Lord’s table.
Lutherans recognize two sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They believe that these sacraments are means of grace through which God’s forgiveness and presence are conveyed. Lutherans practice infant baptism and believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, though they may have different understandings of how Christ is present.
Methodist style of worship
Methodists have a predefined liturgy that they follow. Even though different congregations have variations that are mostly influenced by the culture of their region, the elements of their worship services are mostly similar. These include the reading of scriptures, prayers, hymns, the preaching of the sermon, and the administration of sacraments. The methodist worship service is intended to inspire a reflective experience in the life of the congregants.
Congregational singing plays a vital role in methodist worship services. Hymns are the de facto music style used to express their faith as well as worship and praise God. In addition to the rich traditional hymns, methodists also have room for the incorporation of contemporary music with instrumental accompaniments. Congregation participation in music is encouraged to foster a sense of corporate worship and unity.
The preaching of the sermon is the central focus of the methodist worship service. Through the sermon, clergy provide teaching by expounding on scripture and thereby offer spiritual guidance to the congregants. Methodist preachers typically emphasize personal transformation, a clarion call for love of others, and a response to social justice issues.
Lutheran Style of Worship
Lutherans also have a liturgical order of worship that may vary from congregation to congregation. Nonetheless, the worship service have similar components which are; prayers, scripture readings, hymns, a sermon, and the observance of sacraments. Lutherans rely on liturgical books that guide them on the choice of hymns amongst other directions e.g. administration of sacraments.
Just like the methodists, hymns are held in high regard in Lutheranism. Martin Luther composed a lot of hymns which are commonly used in worship but other composers are featured as well. The hymns typically reflect the Lutheran theological views and the human may be accompanied by an organ, a choir as well as several other contemporary instruments.
Hymnody and music hold a central place in Lutheran worship. Lutherans have a rich musical heritage, with hymns and chorales composed by Martin Luther and others. Congregational singing is highly valued, and Lutheran hymns often reflect strong theological themes and a rich expression of faith. Music in Lutheran worship may involve organ accompaniment, choirs, and various instrumental ensembles.
The sermons are delivered by ordained Lutheran ministers and the sermons typically focus on applying the scriptures in the day to day life. Lutherans believe in the proclamation of God’s word as well as the teaching of sound doctrine. Some of the main themes are justification by faith and God’s grace for salvation.
In summary, the most significant difference between Methodists and Lutherans is their leadership structure with methodists using connectionism while Lutherans use synods. From a doctrinal standpoint, they have a lot of similarities with the main difference being what they primarily focus on. For instance, methodists emphasize social justice which Lutherans do not necessarily emphasize. However, the beliefs and doctrines of the two denominations are somewhat similar.