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Protestant Reformation
Lutheran Orthodoxy


Martin Luther · Philipp Melanchthon
Martin Chemnitz · Johann Gerhard
Paul Gerhardt
Johann Sebastian Bach
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg
Lars Levi Læstadius
C. F. W. Walther

Book of Concord

Augsburg Confession
Apology of the Augsburg Confession
Smalcald Articles
Treatise on the Power and
Primacy of the Pope

Luther's Large Catechism
Luther's Small Catechism
Formula of Concord

Theology and Sacraments

Evangelical Catholic · Law and Gospel
Sola scriptura · Sola gratia · Sola fide
Holy Baptism · Confession
The Eucharist · Sacramental union

Liturgy and Worship

Agenda · Divine Service
Lutheran Liturgical Calendar


Lutheran World Federation
International Lutheran Council
Evangelical Lutheran Free Church
Old Lutheran Church
Confessional Evangelical Conference
List of Lutheran Denominations

Lutheran orthodoxy was an era in the history of Lutheranism, which began in 1580 from the writing of the Book of Concord and ended at the Age of Enlightenment. Lutheran orthodoxy was parallelled by similar eras in Calvinism and tridentine Roman Catholicism after the Counter-Reformation.


The Book of Concord gave inner unity to Lutheranism, which had many controversies, mostly between Gnesio-Lutherans and Philippists in Roman Catholic outward pressure and in alleged "crypto-Calvinistic" influence. Theology became now more like stable theoretical defining. Scholastic paradigm was gradually adopted again for theological argumentation against Jesuits and it was finally established by Johann Gerhard. Abraham Calovius represents the climax of Lutheran scholasticism. Other orthodox Lutheran theologians were e.g. Martin Chemnitz, Leonhard Hutter, Nicolaus Hunnius, Jesper Rasmussen Brochmand, Salomo Glassius, Johann Conrad Dannhauer, Johannes Andreas Quenstedt, Johann Friedrich König and Johann Wilhelm Baier. Theological heritage of Philip Melanchthon rose up again in Helmstedt School and especially in theology of Georgius Calixtus, which caused Syncretistic Strife. Other theological issue was Crypto-Kenotic Controversy.[1] The last famous orthodox Lutheran theologian before Enlightenment and Neology was David Hollatz. Late orthodox Valentin Ernst Löscher took part in controversy against Pietism.

Worship and spirituality

Congregations maintained the full Mass rituals in their normal worship as suggested by Luther. In his Hauptgottesdienst (Main Service of Worship), Holy Communion was celebrated on each Sunday and festival. The traditional parts of the service were retained. Services were conducted in vernacular language, but in Germany, Latin was also present in both the Ordinary and Proper parts of the service. This helped students maintain their familiarity with the language.[2] As late as the time of Johann Sebastian Bach, churches in Leipzig still heard Polyphonic motets in Latin, Latin Glorias, chanted Latin collects and The Creed sung in Latin by the choir[3]

Church music flourished and this era is considered as a "golden age" of Lutheran hymnody [1]. Some hymnwriters include Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, Johann von Rist and Benjamin Schmolck in Germany, Haquin Spegel in Sweden, Thomas Hansen Kingo in Denmark, Petter Dass in Norway, Hallgrímur Pétursson in Iceland and Hemminki Maskulainen in Finland. The most famous orthodox Lutheran hymnwriter is Paul Gerhardt. Prominent church musicians and composers include Michael Praetorius, Melchior Vulpius, Johann Hermann Schein, Heinrich Schütz, Johann Crüger, Dieterich Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach[4][5]

Orthodoxy produced numerous postils, which were important devotional reading and with hymns conserved orthodox Lutheran spirituality later in age of Pietism and Neology. E.g. Johann Gerhard, Heinrich Müller and Christian Scriver wrote also other kind of devotional literature [2]. Mediaeval mystical tradition continued in works of Martin Moller, Johann Arndt and Joachim Lütkemann. Pietism became rival of orthodoxy but adopted some orthodox devotional literature like Arndt's, Scriver's and Prätorius' which have later often been mixed with pietistic literature. Generally 17th century was more difficult age than the age of reformation, e.g. due to Thirty Years' War. This can be seen often also in hymns and devotional writings.

Evaluation of Lutheran orthodoxy

The era of Lutheran orthodoxy is not well known, and it has been very often looked at only through the view of neo-protestantic Liberal theology and Pietism and thus underestimated. Also the wide gap between theology of orthodoxy and rationalism has sometimes more or less limited later theological neo-Lutheran and confessional Lutheran attempts to understand and restore Lutheran orthodoxy. Most significant theologians of orthodoxy can be said to be Martin Chemnitz and Johann Gerhard. Lutheran orthodoxy can also be reflected in such rulers as Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Altenburg and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.


  1. Lutheran Theology after 1580 article in Christian Cyclopedia
  2. Worship and Liturgy in the 17th century Lutheran Music, accessed November 7, 2006
  3. Worship and Liturgy in the 16th century Lutheran Music, accessed November 7, 2006
  4. Composers of the 17th century Lutheran Music, accessed November 7, 2006
  5. Composers of the 18th century Lutheran Music, accessed November 7, 2006

See also

External links

Lutheran Orthodoxy: "Churches" of the Augsburg Confession refers to trans-parish entities, i.e. territorial churches. Contemporary Lutheranism: "Churches" refers to congregations, but not to trans-parish entities.
The true body and blood of Christ are present under the bread and wine. Grape juice is offered in many places as an alternative.
Luther excommunicates a pastor who mixes consecrated wine with unconsecrated following the service. Plastic disposable cups are used widely, tossed out unwashed after the service.
Private confession ought to be retained. Practiced as the norm. No one is admitted to the Sacrament unless he is first examined and absolved. Private confession scarcely exists; in most parishes, not at all, in some parishes, just barely. Open communion the norm.
Only those rightly/ritely called should administer the sacraments and preach. Unordained laity does both.
The traditional usages of the Church *ought* to be observed, which may be observed without sin. Uniformity of liturgy within territorial churches (i.e. not merely a parish-by-parish decision). The traditional usages of the Church *need not* be observed (NB: "ought" and "need not" are logically contradictory).
The Mass (i.e. the historic liturgy) is maintained, observed with greatest reverence, and ceremonies exist to teach the unlearned. The Mass is not maintained, reverence is discouraged by creative services (See, for example,, and ceremonies are instituted to entertain the bored.
The right to excommunicate belongs by divine right (a very strong phrase!) to the pastoral office, and the people are bound by divine right to follow them. (AC 28) The right to excommunicate belongs by divine right to the congregation, and the pastors are bound by divine right to announce such excommunications. (Blue Catechism)
Mary is and remains a virgin after Christ's birth (FCSD 8.24, added by Chemnitz to reject the Reformed Peter Martyr Vermigli's denial of the semper virgo). The semper virgo is at best a pious opinion.
Prayers for the dead are not forbidden, and are not useless. (Apology) We must not pray for the souls of the dead (Blue Catechism).
The Scripture principle ("The Word of God alone shall establish articles of faith") is maintained in tension with the catholic principle ("In doctrine and ceremonies, we have received nothing new against Scripture OR the catholic church"). These two principles are not, of course, two "sources" of doctrine. The catholic principle is gone.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Lutheran Orthodoxy. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.