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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
Lutheranism is a major branch of Protestant Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German friar, ecclesiastical reformer, and theologian.
Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Catholic Church launched the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking territories of the Holy
Roman Empire. Beginning with the Ninety-Five Theses, first published in 1517, Luther's writings were disseminated internationally, spreading the early ideas
of the Reformation beyond the influence and control of the Roman Curia and the Holy Roman Emperor. The split between the Lutherans and the Catholics
was made clear and open with the 1521 Edict of Worms: the edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire
from defending or propagating his ideas, subjecting advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all property, specifying half of any seized property forfeit to
the Imperial government and the remaining half forfeit to the party who brought the accusation. The divide centered primarily on two points: the proper
source of authority in the church, often called the formal principle of the Reformation; and the doctrine of justification.
Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone", the doctrine that scripture is the final
authority on all matters of faith, denying the belief of the Catholic Church defined at the Council of Trent concerning authority coming from both the
Scriptures and Tradition.In addition, Lutheranism accepts the teachings of the first four ecumenical councils of the undivided Christian Church.
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 differs from Reformed theology in Christology, the purpose of God's Law, the divine grace,
the concept of perseverance of the saints, and predestination.
Today, Lutheranism is one of the largest denominations of Protestantism and Christianity overall, with approximately 80 million adherents] making it the third
most common Protestant denomination after historically pentecostal denominations and Anglicanism. The Lutheran World Federation, the largest global
communion of Lutheran churches represents over 72 million people Additionally, there are also many smaller bodies such as the International Lutheran
Council and the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, as well as independent churches.
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