The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Lutherans, Methodists

Learning from each other

U.S. Lutherans and United Methodists have shared church softball fields and potluck suppers for decades. Now they are being asked to share the Lord’s Supper and clergy (June, "UMC: 'Yes' to full communion"), as the ELCA already does with five denominations—and Lutherans elsewhere in the world already share with Methodists.

But this relationship brings unique features. Both are rooted in single founders: Martin Luther and John Wesley, respectively. Both began as renewal movements: Lutheranism within 16th-century Roman Catholicism and Methodism within 18th-century Anglicanism. Both hear the proclamation of grace as the gospel’s heart. Both claim catholicity in the ancient creeds. Both love music.

Wesley declared that no one “wrote more ably than Martin Luther on justification by faith alone.” He reiterated Luther’s insistence that sinners are justified by grace through faith, apart from good works. But he disagreed with Luther on the nature of Christian life, saying: “And who was more ignorant of the doctrine of sanctification, or more confused in his conceptions of it [than Luther]?”

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