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Difference between Baptists and Lutherans QUESTION from Jutta Speck October 3, 2000 Hi, I would like to know what the difference is between a Baptist and a Lutheran. I was with a friend in a Baptist church and there was no Cross. I am a protestant from Germany which you would call here Lutheran protestant and we do have a Cross in our church. Please tell me what the difference is. Thanks, Jutta.
ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on October 7, 2000 Dear Jutta
The differences between Lutherans and Baptists may not seem obvious at first. Both believe the Bible is the sole authority in matters of faith, and that salvation can only be obtained through faith alone.
However, there are some notable distinctions. The Lutheran Church was established in the 1520's when German nobles began to adopt the ideas of Martin Luther and moved to replace Catholic bishops with Lutheran ones. This was how the hierarchy was established in Germany and Scandinavia in the 16th century.
The Baptist Church originated in England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. They were set apart from other Protestants because they reject infant baptism, believe in the strict separation of Church and state, and do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Lutherans accept infant baptism, allow for state interference in Church affairs, and believe in consubstantiation, that is, that Christ is substantially present within the communion bread. Alo, Baptists do not have bishops or priests: they have pastors or elders.
You will find many shades of belief within each denomination. Since the Bible is the sole rule of faith for both churches, and they believe in the individual interpretation of the Bible, there exists a wide variety of theological positions. In the United States, the Southern Baptists are associated with the most conservative form of Christianity, whereas Lutherans are considered mainstream.
It's difficult to say exactly why your friend's Baptist church doesn't have a cross, as I don't know what kind of Baptist he is. I do not know what objection a Baptist would have to a plain cross, until he considered it a type of idol, a material object that represents God. I would understand if your friend's church did not have a crucifix, that is, a cross with Jesus depicted on it. Catholics believe that Christ, in a supernatural way, continues to die for us because we are always sinning, and our sins are the reason why He must suffer. Baptists sharply disagree with this interpretation, and consider that Jesus' death is over, and that there is no need to fixate on the past.
Thank you for your question.
God Bless, Suzanne Fortin
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