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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Lutherans

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LUTHERANS, a designation originally applied by their adversaries to the Reformers of the 16th century, and afterward distinctively appropriated among Protestants themselves to those who took part with Martin Luther against the Swiss Reformers, particularly in the controversies regarding the Lord's Supper. It is so employed to this day as the designation of one of the two great sections into which the Protestant Church was soon unhappily divided, the other being known as the Reformed Church (q. v.). To the end of Luther's life perfect harmony subsisted between him and his friend Melanchthon; but already there were some who stood forth as more Lutheran than Luther, and by whom Melanchthon was denounced as a “crypto-Calvinist” and a traitor to evangelical truth. After Luther's death this party became more confident, and, holding by Luther's words, without having imbibed his spirit, changed his evangelical doctrine into a dry scholasticism and lifeless orthodoxy, while extreme heat and violence against their opponents were substituted in the pulpit itself for the zealous preaching of the Gospel. The principal seat of their strength was in the University of Jena, which was founded in 1557 for this very object, and maintained their cause against Wittenberg. Great intolerance was manifested by this party; and no controversy was ever conducted with more bitterness and ill-feeling than the Sacramentarian Controversy.

Lutheranism is the prevailing form of Protestantism in Germany; it is the national religion of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway; and there are Lutheran Churches in the Baltic provinces of Russia, in Holland, France, Poland, and the United States. In all there are about 30,000,000 Lutherans.

In its constitution the Lutheran Church is generally unepiscopal, without being properly presbyterian. It is consistorial, with the civil authorities so far in place of bishops.

In Denmark, Sweden, and Norway there are bishops, and in Sweden an archbishop (of Upsala), but their powers are very limited.

There were in the United States and Canada in 1919 3,652,010 baptized members and 2,451,997 confirmed members, with 9,829 ministers and 15,638 congregations. The Canadian membership was 64,490, with 237 ministers and 827 congregations. The denomination maintained missions, both domestic and foreign. Contributions for domestic missionary work in 1918 amounted to $6,383,103.