Lutherans were the first significant group to emerge from the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. The Assemblies of God is part of the Pentecostal movement which began in the early 20th century as a result of Christians from a variety of denominational backgrounds seeking a return to the vibrant faith they saw modeled in the Book of Acts.
Lutheranism - and the Protestant Reformation in general - began when Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. His teachings challenged Catholic teachings regarding purgatory and the Catholic teaching that good works are required for salvation. The Pentecostal movement focused on the restoration of supernatural gifts which most Christians believe the early church practiced, such as divine healing, prophecy and - especially - speaking in tongues which, according to Pentecostal teaching, is speaking in an unknown language as the Holy Spirit enables. The largest fellowship formed from the Pentecostal movement is the Assemblies of God, which formed in 1914.
The Bible and Creeds
Both Lutheranism and the Assemblies of God hold the Bible to be the authoritative rule of faith and conduct for Christians. Lutherans also accept many of the ecumenical creeds, but they insist that any accepted creed must be based on Scripture rather than church tradition. The Assemblies of God does not recognize extra-biblical creeds, claiming the Bible is their "all sufficient rule for faith and practice." They do have a Statement of Faith, which they do not view as having the authority of Scripture. Instead, they believe the document's purpose is to define what they believe on a select list of biblical doctrines to ensure unity.
Most theologians and historians agree that Martin Luther's most significant contribution to Protestant thinking was his insistence that salvation was by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. His teaching that it was a person's faith and not their good works which allowed them to have eternal life in heaven contradicted the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Assemblies of God also believes in salvation by grace through faith, but they place more emphasis on an internal conversion experience, which they refer to as being "born again." Lutherans believe that people are born again when they are baptized.
The restoration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - speaking in tongues, prophecy, divine healing, etc. - are central to the Assemblies of God's teaching. The Assemblies of God encourages all believers to seek the "baptism in the Holy Spirit," in which the believer is filled to overflowing with God's Spirit. They believe the initial physical evidence of this experience is when the believer speaks in tongues. Lutherans believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit - often called "charismata" - ceased once the entirety of the Bible was given to people. They believe it is appropriate to pray for healing, but that prophecy and speaking in tongues are unnecessary because the Scriptures are sufficient to bring people to faith.
Sacraments / Ordinances
The Assemblies of God and Lutherans differ in their views of baptism and communion. Lutherans view these practices are sacraments, which actually convey the grace of God to believers. The Assemblies of God views these practices as ordinances, which are symbolic and designed to remind believers of grace which has already been bestowed. Lutherans generally baptize converts and children by sprinkling. The Assemblies of God baptizes converts by immersion.
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: What Do Lutherans Believe?
- Assemblies of God: Assemblies of God Fundamental Truths
- Assemblies of God: Brief History of the Assemblies of God
- Xrysostom: A Brief Look at the Lutheran Church
- Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod: The Lutheran Church and the Charismatic Movement
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