Lutheranism is one of the major branches of Protestant Christianity, tracing its origin to Martin Luther’s break with the Catholic Church in 1517. Luther’s ideas, originally encapsulated by his 95 Theses, were developed through the course of his career, especially after his final break with the Church in 1521, following the Edict of Worms.
Lutheranism has as its central idea the doctrine of justification through faith alone and that Scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith. Lutherans believe that the Bible contains the full authority of God, and that every word of it comes from Him. Lutheranism continues to incorporate many practices found in the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, including the Eucharist as the center of the service. However, unlike Catholics, Lutherans believe that the bread and wine are symbolic, and not the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. There is a great emphasis placed on the liturgy as the center of worship.
The term “Lutheranism” was originally a disparaging label, as the Church considered it to be a heresy. By the middle of the 16th century, Lutherans had adopted the term for themselves, in order to distinguish themselves from other Protestant groups, such as Calvinists. From its origins in Germany, Lutheranism spread north into Scandinavia, as the monarchs of Denmark-Norway and Sweden adopted it. Today, Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Christianity worldwide.