Pennsylvania Dutch Lutheranism
is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with
the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's
efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church
launched the Protestant Reformation. Beginning with the 95
Theses, Luther's writings disseminated internationally,
spreading the ideas of the Reformation beyond the ability of
governmental and churchly authorities to control it.
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.
Martin Luther always disliked the term, preferring instead to
describe the reform movement with the term "Evangelical", which
was derived from a word meaning "Gospel."
Lutherans themselves began to use the term in the middle of
the 16th century in order to identify themselves from other
groups, such as Philippists and Calvinists. In 1597, theologians
in Wittenberg used the title "Lutheran" to describe the true
church based upon the true doctrine of the gospel.
The split between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics began
with the Edict of Worms in 1521, which officially excommunicated
Luther and all of his followers. The divide centered over the
doctrine of Justification. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of
justification "by grace alone through faith alone because of
Christ alone" which went against the Roman view of "faith formed
by love", or "faith and works".
Unlike the Reformed Churches, Lutherans retain many of the
liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the
pre-Reformation Church. Lutheran theology significantly differs
from Reformed theology in Christology, the purpose of God's Law,
divine grace, the concept of perseverance of the saints, and