Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Roman Catholic Church launched the Protestant Reformation. Beginning with the 95 Theses, Luther's writings were disseminated internationally, spreading the ideas of the Reformation beyond the ability of governmental and churchly authorities to control it.
The split between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics began with the Edict of Worms in 1521, which officially excommunicated Luther and all of his followers. The divide centered over the doctrine of Justification. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone," which went against the Roman view of "faith formed by love", or "faith and works". Unlike the Reformed Churches, Lutherans retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation Church, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper. Lutheran theology significantly differs from Reformed theology in Christology, the purpose of God's Law, the divine grace, the concept of perseverance of the saints, and predestination.
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“The law of God is a law of change, and ... when the Churches set themselves against change as such, they are setting themselves against the law of God.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)