Good works are necessary as an exercise of faith, and are rewarded, not by justification (which they presuppose), but by the fulfilment of the Divine promises (Apology Aug. Other distinctive doctrines of the Lutheran Church are: Since the official formulæ of faith claim no decisive authority for themselves, and on many points are far from harmonious, the utmost diversity of opinion prevails among Lutherans.
Every shade of belief may be found among them, from the orthodox, who hold fast to the confessions, to the semi-infidel theologians, who deny the authority of the Scriptures.
After the Diet of Speyer (1526) the Elector of Saxony and other princes established Lutheran state Churches.
Original sin is explained as a positive and total depravity of human nature, which renders all the acts of the unjustified, even those of civil righteousness, sinful and displeasing to God.
Justification, which is not an internal change, but an external, forensic declaration by which God imputes to the creature the righteousness of Christ, comes only by faith, which is the confidence that one is reconciled to God through Christ.
The Sacramentarian strife was renewed in 1549 when the Zwinglians accepted Calvin's view of the Real Presence.
The followers of Melanchthon, who favoured Calvin's doctrine (Philippists, Crypto-Calvinists), were also furiously denounced by the orthodox Lutherans.
Luther preferred the designation "Evangelical", and today the usual title of the sect is "Evangelical Lutheran Church ".
In Germany, where the Lutherans and the Reformed have united (since 1817), the name Lutheran has been abandoned, and the state Church is styled the Evangelical or the Evangelical United.
They had reference to the questions of sin and grace, justification by faith, the use of good works, the Lord's Supper, and the Person and work of Christ.
The bitterest controversy was the Crypto-Calvinistic. To effect harmony the Form of Concord, the last of the Lutheran symbols, was drawn up in 1577, and accepted by the majority of the state Churches.
Lutheranism dates from 31 October, 1517, when Luther affixed his theses to the church door of the castle of Wittenberg.