- Lutheran and Lutheranism
- General Information
- What is the Lutheran Church, and what do Lutherans Believe?
- Doctrine and Practices
- Some Interesting Facts About Martin Luther, the Originator of Lutheranism
- 25,000 Different non-Catholic Denominations – Doctrinal Chaos is the bad Fruit of Man-Made Religion
- How Old Is Your Lutheran Man-Made Church?
- Lutheranism Unbiblical
Lutheranism is a major Protestant denomination, which originated as a 16th-century movement led by Martin Luther. Luther, a German Augustinian monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg in Saxony (Sachsen), originally had as his goal the reformation of the Western Christian church. Because Luther and his followers were excommunicated by the pope, however, Lutheranism developed in a number of separate national and territorial churches, thus initiating the breakup of the organizational unity of Western Christendom. Before he died (18 Feb., 1546), his teachings had been propagated in many states of Germany in Poland, in the Baltic Provinces, in Hungary, transylvania, the Netherlands, Denmark and Scandinavia. From these European countries Lutheranism has been carried by emigration to the New World, and in the United States it ranks among the leading Protestant denominations.
The name "Lutheran" originated as a derogatory term used against Luther by Johann Eck during the Leipzig Debate in July 1519. Eck and other Roman Catholics followed the traditional practice of naming a heresy after its leader, thus labeling all who identified with the theology of Martin Luther as Lutherans. The term was deplored by Luther, and the church originally called itself the "Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession" or simply the "Evangelical Church". Lutherans themselves began to use the term in the middle of the 16th century in order to distinguish themselves from other groups, such as Philippists and Calvinists. In 1597, theologians in Wittenberg used the title "Lutheran" to describe their church. Scandinavian Lutherans adopted the names of their countries for their churches (for example, the Church of Sweden).
As a result of the Protestant missionary movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, Lutheranism has become a worldwide communion of so-called Christians and the largest Protestant denomination in the world, with about 80 million members.
The Lutheran Church is actually many different bodies, all of which base their teachings and practice to some degree on the work of Martin Luther. There is such a wide variance in their particular beliefs that it would be difficult to address them all, but this article will attempt to outline those most commonly held.
Though there are quite a few organized Lutheran groups around the world, the two main bodies in America are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). The ELCA has roughly 5 million members in 10,500 churches, and the LCMS has roughly 2.3 million members in 6,167 churches. The ELCA was formed in 1988 by a merger of the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America. The LCMS was formed in 1847 by Saxon (German) Lutherans who came to America to escape persecution and the detrimental effects of German Rationalism on their faith. Both churches hold to the Augsburg Confession, which teaches that all men are born in sin, and therefore need to be justified through faith in Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Along with faith in Christ, baptism is "necessary for salvation" and therefore "children should be baptized, for being offered to God through baptism they are received into his grace" (Art. IX). The church teaches that all men have some measure of freedom of the will—which is ironic considering Luther comes to the opposite conclusion in one of his most famous books, The Bondage of the Will. Lutherans also believe that, without God's grace and help, given by the Holy Spirit, man is incapable of fearing or believing in God.
Many of the ceremonies and liturgies of the Catholic Church have been carried over into the Lutheran Church, with modifications to reflect their distinct doctrines. Some of the differences between the ELCA and LCMS stem from their divergent views on the Bible. While the LCMS affirms that the Bible is infallible in all areas (Psalm 19:7; 2 Timothy 3:16), the ELCA states that it is possible for the Bible to be in error concerning some areas, like science or history. In general, all Lutheran churches teach salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, but the manner in which that faith is lived out can vary from an empty participation in ceremonies to a very personal relationship with God.
Lutheranism affirms the ultimate authority of the Word of God (as found in the Bible) in matters of faith and Christian life and emphasizes Christ as the key to the understanding of the Bible.
Salvation, according to Lutheran teaching, does not depend on worthiness or merit but is a gift of God's sovereign grace. All human beings are considered sinners and, because of original sin, are in bondage to the powers of evil and thus unable to contribute to their liberation. Lutherans believe that faith, understood as trust in God's steadfast love, is the only appropriate way for human beings to respond to God's saving initiative. Thus, "salvation by faith alone" became the distinctive and controversial slogan of Lutheranism.
Opponents claimed that this position failed to do justice to the Christian responsibility to do good works, but Lutherans have replied that faith must be active in love and that good works follow from faith as a good tree produces good fruit.
Catholics believe in saved by grace. But it is a faith that is not separated from works (per James). Faith inherently includes these works. But we're not saved by faith alone (that's where Lutheranism and Protestantism errs); we're saved by grace alone. That is the Catholic teaching. Grace is primary in the whole process, so in that very real sense we can say "saved by grace alone" (i.e., without separating works of course) -- whereas we can never say "saved by faith alone" (i.e., with works playing no part at all) -- which is classic Lutheran and Protestant heresy, or "saved by works alone" (i.e., without grace) -- which is the Pelagian heresy. The true Catholic position will always include the works alongside grace and faith.
The majority of Protestants not only believe in faith alone, but also in eternal security, which means that according to them, a true believer cannot lose his salvation. These doctrines contradict both the natural law and reason which says that every man shall be rewarded or punished for his deeds. It also contradicts, word for word, the teaching of James 2 in scripture, which teach that faith without works is dead, and that man is not saved by faith alone. A person who believes in faith alone or eternal security is a heretic, because he rejects a truth he knows to be true from the natural law, that God is a rewarder and a punisher of our actions, and that faith alone does not justify a man only, but our deeds also.
Galatians 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God."
How clear does it have to get? You can lose your salvation if you do certain things.
The Lutheran church defines itself as "the assembly of believers among which the Gospel is preached and the Holy Sacraments are administered according to the Gospel" (Augsburg Confession, VII). From the beginning, therefore, the Bible was central to Lutheran worship, and the sacraments were reduced from the traditional seven to baptism and the Lord's Supper (Eucharist), because, according to the Lutheran reading of the Scriptures, only these two were instituted by Christ. Worship was conducted in the language of the people (not in Latin as had been the Roman Catholic tradition), and preaching was stressed in the divine service. Lutheranism did not radically change the structure of the medieval mass, but its use of vernacular language enhanced the importance of the sermons, which were based on the exposition of the Scriptures, and encouraged congregational participation in worship, especially through the singing of the liturgy and of hymns. Luther himself contributed to this development by writing popular hymns (for instance, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God").
In the Lutheran celebration of the Eucharist, the elements of bread and wine are given to all communicants, whereas Roman Catholics had allowed the wine only to priests. In contrast to other Protestants, particularly the Anabaptists, however, Lutherans affirm the real bodily presence of Christ "in, with, and under" the elements of bread and wine at the Lord's Supper. Christ is sacramentally present for the communicant in the bread and the wine because of the promise he gave at the institution of Holy Communion, when he said, "This is my body" and "This is my blood" (Matthew 26:26-28).
However Luther explicitly rejected transubstantiation, believing that the bread and wine remained fully bread and fully wine while also being fully the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Luther instead emphasized the sacramental union (not exactly the consubstantiation, as it is often claimed). Lutherans believe that within the Eucharistic celebration the body and blood of Jesus Christ are objectively present "in, with, and under the forms" of bread and wine (cf. Book of Concord). They place great stress on Jesus' instructions to "take and eat", and "take and drink", holding that this is the proper, divinely ordained use of the sacrament, and, while giving it due reverence, scrupulously avoid any actions that might indicate or lead to superstition or unworthy fear of the sacrament (see The Bible teaches that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist).
Lutheranism affirms the traditional practice of infant baptism as a sacrament in which God's grace reaches out to newborn children. For Lutherans, baptism signifies God's unconditional love, which is independent of any intellectual, moral, or emotional achievements on the part of human beings.
Although Lutherans accept the canonical books of the Bible as "the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be judged" (Formula of Concord), they also recommend the books which the Protestant calls the Apocrypha (and which Catholics call the Deuterocanonical books and which is part of the true Biblical Canon) of the Old Testament for Christian edification and have traditionally included them in vernacular versions of the Bible. Lutherans accept the authority of the three ecumenical creeds (Apostles', Nicene, Athanasian) and use the first two regularly in worship services. The special doctrinal statements of Lutheranism are Luther's Schmalkald Articles (1537), Small Catechism (1529), and Large Catechism (1529); Melanchthon's Augsburg Confession (1530), Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531), and Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1529); and the Formula of Concord (1577), which was written by a commission of theologians after the deaths of the original reformers. Together with the creeds, these documents constitute The Book of Concord, adopted by Lutheran princes and cities in 1580. Only the creeds, the Augsburg Confession, and Luther's two catechisms, however, have been recognized by all Lutheran churches.
According to Luther, the Bible teaches that Scripture (the written word of God) is the only rule of faith for a Christian. Along with justification by faith alone (sola fide), Scripture alone (sola scriptura) was one of the central tenets of the Protestant reformation.
However, the truth is that the Bible does not teach that Scripture is the only rule of faith for a Christian. The Bible teaches that both Scripture and apostolic tradition are sources of Christ's revelation, and that one must accept both of them along with the Church. That's why the Catholic Church has always taught that there are two sources of divine revelation (Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition); and that the Church instituted by Jesus Christ was given authority to determine the authentic meaning of Scripture and Tradition.
If the Bible is the only rule of faith for a Christian, then logically the Church or tradition would not be a rule of faith for a Christian. However, the Bible clearly teaches that one must hear the Church and follow tradition.
Matthew 18:17 "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
2 Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
Luke 10:16 "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."
This teaching of Jesus, that one must hear the Church under pain of being considered a heathen, refutes the entire idea of Scripture alone.
Jesus' condemnation of the "tradition of men" (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:8, etc.) had nothing to do with the true apostolic tradition, which the Bible says we must accept. Jesus was condemning the man-made practices of the Pharisees.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
Further, the bible teaches that the church, not the bible, is the pillar and foundation of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:15 "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
As one former Protestant minister (who eventually saw the falsity of Protestantism) put it: "If I were writing that verse [1 Tim. 3:15] as a Protestant, I would have said that the Bible, not the Church, is the pillar and ground of the truth. But St. Paul says it's the Church. This means that the Church must be every bit as infallible as the Bible, and that it must present something unique by way of presenting the truth of Jesus Christ."
The unique role of the Church is that it sets forth the true meaning of Scripture and Tradition in precise terms and dogmas, something the Bible was not intended to do in all of its passages, which should be obvious to any honest person considering the issue. All the thousands of sects that has been created throughout the ages, and especially after the Protestant reformation, simply because they didn't knew how to interpret scripture correctly, undeniably proves this fact. Moreover, if the Church is infallible and the pillar of truth, there must obviously be a way of recognizing its infallible teaching by means of a continued succession of authority which would safeguard the truth and exercise its authority (see The Papacy in Scripture).
Martin Luther was born in 1483 and baptized as a Catholic the next day. He entered an Augustinian Catholic friary in 1505, and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1507. Therefore, as a young professing Catholic priest, Protestantism or Lutheranism was unknown to Martin Luther and indeed to the rest of the Christian world.
On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked his famous 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Most Protestants today cite this date as the beginning of the Protestant "reformation." They think this represented Luther's public stand for the Protestant faith, for "true and biblical Christianity." What they don't know is that Martin Luther's famous 95 Theses acknowledged the office of the pope more than 20 times. At the time of the posting of the Theses – and indeed before it and for some time afterwards – Luther claimed to be a Catholic priest and monk. In his 95 Theses, Luther clearly acknowledges the office of the Pope as instituted by Christ, although he detracts from its dignity and powers in the matter of Indulgences.
The formal title for his 95 Theses is the Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, Oct. 31, 1517. In addition to acknowledging the pope, numbers 25-29 of the Theses acknowledge Purgatory. Luther acknowledges the existence of Purgatory, although he departs from Catholic teaching in what he says about it. Luther also declares his belief in Indulgences, although he contradicts traditional Catholic doctrine on the issue. The following is typical of the contradictions exhibited by Luther.
#71 of Martin Luther's 95 Theses, Oct. 31, 1517: "Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences."
The point here is that even on Oct. 31, 1517, the Protestant "faith" was still unknown to Martin Luther and indeed to the rest of the Christian world. There was no statement about justification by faith alone or Scripture alone; there was as yet no repudiation of the papal office or many other Catholic dogmas which Protestants today would reject. What you have, at this point, is a confused and convoluted priest who, while claiming to be Catholic, was clearly falling from the traditional Catholic faith into his own wild version of it (especially with regard to Indulgences). He was no Protestant. Even at this point, the so-called biblical "faith" was unknown to its eventual founder.
In 1518, Luther published a Sermon on Indulgences and Grace, in which he attacked the traditional way of dividing Penance into contrition, confession and satisfaction (Dr. Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 7, pp. 355-356). Luther claimed it was not found in Holy Scripture. This, along with Luther's contradiction of traditional Catholic teaching on Indulgences, prompted the Church to summon him to Rome for an investigation. (It should be noted that there were indeed some abuses by Church men on Indulgences. Such abuses represented a departure from Catholic teaching on the matter. Indulgences cannot be bought. Occasional abuses in this area – which were committed by a few Church men of a world-wide Church – in no way justify repudiating the traditional teaching. This teaching on Indulgences is rooted in the treasury of the merits of Jesus Christ and the saints, and the power of the keys given to St. Peter. According to Catholic teaching, Indulgences are given for certain specified good works or pious actions (such as prayers, etc.). They remove only the temporal punishment of already forgiven sins. They are not, as Protestants would suggest, a means to buy one's way into Heaven.)
At the beginning of July 1518, Luther is presented with an official summons to appear in Rome and give an accounting of his doctrines. While maintaining his new (and heretical) views on Indulgences and Penance, Luther claims "that the Roman Church has always maintained the true faith, and that it is necessary for all Christians to be in unity of faith with her." (Dr. Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 7, p. 366) That means that, even after having been summoned to Rome to answer for his new ideas, Luther professes that the Roman Church (the Roman Catholic Church) has the true faith. At this point, Luther is undoubtedly drifting into his own personalized view of "Christianity"; but he is still no Protestant, as his statement about the Roman Church demonstrates. The so-called pure, simple and "biblical faith" was still unknown to its eventual founder in July of 1518.
As Luther's influence spread, and his commitment to new ideas hardened, the actions against him increased. Pope Leo X dispatched the learned Cardinal Cajetan to handle the case. Cajetan was to examine the situation and, if possible, get through to Luther. This occurred in the fall of 1518, but Luther remained obstinate. Despite his commitment to his new ideas, Luther declared the following at one of these interviews: "The notary read out a declaration on behalf of Luther, that as far as he could remember he [Luther] had never taught anything against Holy Scripture, the doctrines of the Church, the Papal decretals [decrees of the popes], or sound reason. But as he was a man subject to error, he submitted himself to the decisions of the Holy Church and to all who knew better than he did." (Dr. Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 7, p. 373.)
Once again, we see that Luther claims fidelity to papal teaching and to all of Catholic doctrine. He also appeals specifically to the pope, and expresses his willingness to retract if the pope decided against him (Ibid., pp. 375, 377). The so-called "biblical faith" (Protestantism) was still unknown to its eventual founder.
Not long after his meetings with Cajetan in November of 1518, Luther's views underwent another significant development. He came to the conclusion that the pope, to whose decrees he had just claimed submission, is the antichrist. He writes: "I send you my trifling work that you may see whether I am not right in supposing that, according to Paul, the real Antichrist holds sway over the Roman court." (De Wette, I., 192; Enders I., 317; Pastor, Vol. 7, pp. 378-379.) Numerous utterances from this time show that Luther had "fully formulated his proposition that the pope was antichrist."
Yet, at this very time that he was calling the pope "the Antichrist," Luther appealed to a general council from the pope (Luther's works, Weimar ed., II., 36 seq.). In other words, Luther considered the decisions of general councils to be definitive and authoritative. This of course contradicts one of the pillars of Protestantism: Scripture alone.
Therefore, even at the point that Luther had firmly set his face against the Papacy as "the Antichrist," he still hadn't discovered Protestantism. The so-called "biblical faith" was still unknown to its eventual founder. One should consider this fact deeply; for it demonstrates that whenever Luther did come up with Protestantism, it was nothing more than the creation of a confused mind.
The true faith of Jesus Christ is a deposit. It does not fall out of the sky to a man who lives 15 centuries after Christ. It was revealed by Jesus Christ to His Apostles 2,000 years ago, and it was passed on by the Apostles to the Church.
Jude 1:3 "… it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
The true faith thus has a historical link to the apostolic Church; and it can be shown to have been believed by those who came before in the Church. It is passed on from generation to generation. Martin Luther grew up with the Catholic faith. Protestantism was unknown to him as a child; it was unknown to him as a priest; it was unknown to him when he posted his 95 Theses, and even when he first called the pope the Antichrist and was appealing to a general council. At some point, indeed, Martin Luther came up with Protestantism, and his conclusions had no link with his predecessors or even with what he said or believed before. They were truly the inventions and "discoveries" of a man, Martin Luther.
Protestants have thus submitted themselves to a system which Martin Luther came up with among the rest of his contradictory and ever-changing views. These "discoveries" include the idea that man is justified by faith alone, which word for word contradicts the teaching of the Bible (James 2:24) – a contradiction so blatant that Luther felt compelled to criticize the book of James because it contradicted him. In fact, Luther wanted to throw James out of the Bible and into the stove (i.e., the fire), until his friends persuaded him that such a move would be too radical.
Martin Luther, The Licentiate Examination of Heinrich Schmedenstede, July 7, 1542: "That epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest. Up to this point I have been accustomed just to deal with and interpret it according to the sense of the rest of the Scriptures. For you will judge that none of it must be set forth contrary to manifest Holy Scripture. Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretations, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove, as the priest in Kalenberg did."
Martin Luther even added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 in his German translation of the Bible. He made it say "faith alone," when that is not in the text or what it means.
Martin Luther, Preface to the New Testament, 1522: "Therefore St. James' epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it."
Here we see the apostate priest, Martin Luther, denigrating the Book of James because it contradicts his new idea of justification by faith alone.
Martin Luther also said that a man could commit fornication and murder 1,000 times a day and would not lose his justification. He said this to express his doctrine of justification by faith alone: that is, no matter how much a person sins, he is still saved as long as he believes (by faith alone). In the same context, he declared: "be a sinner and sin boldly."
The authenticity of these quotes is not disputed, but openly admitted by Protestant defenders of Luther.
Martin Luther, Letter to Melanchthon, August 1, 1521: "If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God's glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner."
As mentioned previously, the true faith is a deposit. It doesn't fall out of the sky for the first time to a man who lives 1,500 years after Christ, and it doesn't come from the abyss below – as Martin Luther's teachings on justification, fornication and murder do.
Martin Luther also had a preoccupation with the Devil, with the bathroom, and with matters one can only call disgusting. Even Protestant scholars have noted that Luther's fascination with crude subjects is disquieting. He admittedly had much interaction with the Devil. "These [demons] would haunt the imagination of Martin Luther who had visions, which he believed to be actual physical occurrences, of the devil hurling [excrement] at him and his hurling it back. Indeed, in one of his many anal combats with the devil – in which Luther would challenge the devil to 'lick' his posterior – Luther thought the best tactic might be to 'throw him into my anus, where he belongs.'" (H.W. Crocker, Triumph, Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2001, p. 237.) After he had come to his position against the Papacy, Luther called the "Papal decretals the Devil's excretals." He also said that the pope and cardinals should be killed, and that he and his supporters should wash their "hands in their blood." (Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 7, p. 393.)
Luther claims that he came up with justification by faith alone while on the toilet. He claims that it came as "knowledge the Holy Spirit gave me on the privy in the tower." (Quoted in William Manchester, A World Lit only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Little Brown & Co., 1993, p. 140.) In fact, Luther's idea that people need to commit real and "honest" sins seems to have originated from a conversation with the Devil. This is from Luther's Table Talk.
"[Luther said:] When I awoke last night, the Devil came and wanted to debate with me; he rebuked and reproached me, arguing that I was a sinner. To this I replied: Tell me something new, Devil! I already know that perfectly well; I have committed many a solid and real sin. Indeed there must be good honest sins – not fabricated and invented ones – for God to forgive for God's beloved Son's sake, who took all of my sins upon Him so that now the sins I have committed are no longer mine but belong to Christ. This wonderful gift of God I am not prepared to deny, but want to acknowledge and confess."
With these facts in mind, it should be quite clear how those who followed Luther's eventual conclusions (the core of which are faith alone and Scripture alone) are simply following the machinations, inventions and discoveries of a man. They are following the inventions of a man who was guided and used by the Devil to create a false version of "Christianity" which would lead countless people astray.
2 Peter 2:1 "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be among you lying teachers, who shall bring in sects of perdition, and deny the Lord who bought them: bringing upon themselves swift destruction."
Following Martin Luther's excommunication from the Catholic Church in 1520, which marked the beginning of the Protestant movement, over 20,000 different denominations have been created in about 500 years. In 1980, David A. Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press) gave the number of different denominations as 20,780. He projected that there would be 22,190 denominations by 1985.
This would mean that there are approximately 25,000 (or possibly 30,000) different denominations today. Even if, for the sake of argument, one were to take a conservative estimate, and give the number as only 15,000 different denominations, this equates to more than one new sect having been created every two weeks.
When we consider the fact that the original founders of Protestantism didn't even agree with each other on major points of doctrine, such denominational chaos shouldn't be a surprise. Protestantism is man-made religion, in which each person ultimately determines for himself what he thinks the Bible teaches. Martin Luther (the initiator of Protestantism) condemned the doctrinal views of John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli, two other leading Protestant figures. They all claimed to follow the Bible.
Basically all of these thousands of non-Catholics sects purport to be Christian and claim to follow the Bible, even though they disagree with each other on crucial doctrinal matters, such as: the precise nature of justification; whether human works and sins are a part of salvation; whether men have free will; predestination; whether infants need baptism for salvation; what Communion is; whether it's necessary to confess to the Lord; which books of the New Testament apply to us today; the structure of the Church's hierarchy; the role of bishops and ministers; the Sabbath; the role of women in church; etc. ad nauseam. Most of these groups even claim that the individual "Christian" will be led by the Holy Spirit when privately reading the Bible. The disunity of these sects constitutes an irrefutable proof that their doctrine is not of the Spirit of Truth; and that their principle of operation (i.e., Scripture alone apart from the Church and Tradition) is not the doctrine of the Bible and the Apostles.
Ephesians 4:4-5 "One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism."
If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Catholic Church, in approximately 1520.
If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII (an ex-Catholic) in the year 1534. Henry VIII decided to create his own church when Pope Clement VII would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.
If you are a Mennonite, Menno Simons (an ex-Catholic) created your religion in 1536.
If you are a Presbyterian, John Knox (an ex-Catholic) founded your sect in Scotland in the year 1560.
If you are a Congregationalist, your religion began with Robert Brown in Holland in 1582.
If you are a Baptist, John Smyth created your sect in Amsterdam in 1605.
If you are of the Dutch Reformed church, your church began with Michaelis Jones in New York in 1628.
If you are a Quaker, your religion began with George Fox in 1652.
If you are a Protestant Episcopalian, Samuel Seabury created your sect in the American colonies in the 17th century, as an offshoot of the Church of England.
If you are Amish, Jacob Amman created your religion in 1693, as an offshoot of the Mennonites.
If you are a Methodist, your religion was launched by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.
If you are a Unitarian, Theophilus Lindley founded your sect in London in 1774.
If you are a Mormon ("Latter Day Saints"), your religion comes from Joseph Smith, who revealed it in Palmyra, N.Y. in 1829.
If you are a Seventh Day Adventist, your religion was created by Ellen White in 1860.
If you worship with the Salvation Army, William Booth started your sect in London in 1865.
If you are of the "Jehovah's Witnesses," your beliefs came from Charles Taze Russell in 1872.
If you are a "Christian Scientist," Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy devised your religion in 1879.
If you belong to one of the religious organizations known as "Church of the Nazarene," "Pentecostal Gospel," "Holiness Church," "Pilgrim Holiness Church," "Assemblies of God," "United Church of Christ," etc., your religion is one of the thousands of new sects founded by men in the last century.
If you are Catholic, you know that your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, true God and true man; and that this one Church, to which people must belong to be saved, will exist until the end of time.