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Q: Luther vs. Calvin ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Luther vs. Calvin
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: jat-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 20 Dec 2003 11:22 PST
Expires: 19 Jan 2004 11:22 PST
Question ID: 289064
I'd like to read a good quantity of material which compares the
theology of Martin Luther with that of John Calvin.  Further, I'd like
to see side-by-side comparisons of the major symbols of Lutheran
theology (Augsburg Confession; Smalcald Articles; Small
Catechism/Large Catechism; Formula of Concord, etc.) with those of
Calvinist theology (Belgic Confession; Heidelberg Catechism; Second
Helvetic Confession; Canons of Dort; Westminster Confession of Faith;
Westminster Shorter/Larger Catechisms, etc.).  In addition to papers,
essays and the like, I would appreciate knowing if there are any books
written along these lines?  Again, I'm interested in reading the work
of those who have done the comparisons between these men and their
theologies.  I'd like to know the similarities as well as differences.
Subject: Re: Luther vs. Calvin
Answered By: nancylynn-ga on 21 Dec 2003 17:02 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello jat-ga:

I couldn't find side-by-side comparisons, but I did find essays that
discuss and compare the theologies of Calvin and Luther. I also found
links to many of the documents you listed.

Calvin & Luther -- Comparisons/ Writings:

Here's the best overall essay I found: "Confessing the Reformed Faith:
Our Identity in Unity and Diversity," at:
by Richard Muller, "the P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical
Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. This
address was given by Professor Muller at a meeting of the North
American Presbyterian and Reformed Council on November 9, 1993 and
appeared originally in the March and April numbers (1994) of New
Horizons, the publication of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church."

The above speech/essay does a superb job of comparing various
Reformation doctrines: "the Tetrapolitan Confession, the Gallican
Confession, the Belgic Confession, the First Confession of Base, the
First Helvetic Confession, the Second Helvetic Confession, the
Heidelberg Catechism, the Scots Confession, the Thirty-nine Articles,
and others."

I found that essay at this site "Reformed Confessions and Catechisms,"
which is maintained by R. Scott Clark,
Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at CA's
Westminster Seminary:

That page will link you to:

Belgic_Confession (1561)
Second Helvetic Confession (1561/1566)
Heidelberg_Catechism (1563)
Notes on the Heidelberg Catechism
A Synopsis of the Three Forms of Unity
Canons_of_Dort (1619)
Westminster_Confession_of_Faith (1647)
Westminster_Shorter_Catechism (1647)
Westminster_Larger_Catechism (1647)
Helvetic Consensus Formula  (1675

The Center For Reformed Theology and Apologetics also has some of the
historic documents you're seeking, archived at:

The Genesis 1-20 site compares Calvin to several other theologians,
including Luther:

The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne offers an overview of the
evolution of the Reformation, while comparing Luther and Calvin:
(There's lots of clickable links to subtopics that may interest you.)

"A Short Course in UCC [United Church of Christ] History -- Reformation Roots"
offers a good -- albeit, very short -- like the title says -- overview
of the chief reformers. has a good site "Doctrines of Men, Denominations," at:
Just click on Calvin's and Luther's names to bring up links to their
writings and commentaries about them.

Here's an interesting article I found at Worldwide Faith News
archives, "The Protestant Reformation: an Historical Idea Ready for a
Reform," written in March 2000 by Edmund Doogue of Ecumenical News

Fordham University's "Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Reformation
Europe," has an exhaustive section on Reformation history, including a
great deal of material on Calvin and Luther:

You may also be interested in the book "Luther and Calvin On Secular
Authority" (Cambridge University Press; Sept. 1991. Authors: Calving,
Luther. Editors: Hopfl, Geuss, Skinner):
(You can read sample pages from the book at this link.)

When you mentioned "symbols" in your question, given the context, I
took that to mean the documents you listed. In case you're also
looking for Calvin's and Luther's views on symbols, see:


The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America),"LET'S TALK:
WORSHIP," compares how Calvin and Luther viewed symbols of communion:

See the essay, "The Protestant Struggle With Image,"  (by David
Morgan) at Religion-Online:

Books, Essays, & Web Sites About John Calvin:

A directory of sites devoted to John Calvin can be found at:

The first site listed there:
contains extensive excerpts from Calvin's writings.

The University of Houston has an excellent site about John Calvin:

"What Presbyterians Believe":
(This essay also compares Calvin's and Luther's views on the "doctrine
of predestination.")

"Calvin: A Biography" (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Nov. 2000;
authors: Cottret, McDonald):

Books, Essays & Web Sites About Martin Luther:  

From the (ELCA) Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's site:

"Living the Faith: Session One: MATTERS OF MORALITY"

This series contains six lessons that do a good job of explaining how
the ELCA (the most dominant sect of Lutheranism in America) interprets
Luther's teachings. Session Four also offers some comparisons between
Lutheranism and Calvinism.

See the essay: "Luther's Deathbed Confession -- The Smalcald Articles"
by Carleton A. Toppe:

Here's a lengthy review of the book "The Book of Concord: The
Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church" (Fortress: 2000.
Edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert), from "Currents In
Theology and Mission Magazine," Dec. 2002 issue:
The review notes that this book "is a collection of creeds,
confessions, and teachings that provide the normative doctrines of the
Lutheran Church. The collection of 10 documents (The Three Ecumenical
Creeds, The Augsburg Confession, Apology of the Augsburg Confession,
The Smalcald Articles, Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,
The Small Catechism, The Large Catechism, and Formula of Concord)."

Read more about the book at Amazon:

My mother, a lifelong Lutheran who minored in theology, emphatically
recommends the Martin Luther biography "Here I Stand," by Roland
Herbert Bainton: customer "rp4pr. a Catholic Presbyterian," has assembled a
list of recommended books by, and about, Luther and Calvin:

Search Strings:

"'John Calvin' AND Luther AND comparison'"
"'John Calvin' AND Luther AND contrast'"
"'Augsburg Confession' AND 'Belgic Confession' AND comparison"
" 'John Calvin' 'Martin Luther' differences"
"compare Calvin Luther symbols"
"compare Calvin Luther beliefs"

I hope my research is of help to you. Please post a "Request For
Clarification" if you need help navigating any of the above links, or
if you need me to clarify any of the information I've given you, prior
to rating my answer.


Clarification of Answer by nancylynn-ga on 22 Dec 2003 07:03 PST
Hello again jat-ga:

I found some additional resources for you: "The Reformation Era":

History of the Doctrine of Justification:

"Justification in the Lutheran confessions and John Calvin," by
Geoffrey J. Paxton, from "Present Truth Magazine, Volume 36:

"Calvin & The Law-Gospel Hermeneutic" By Michael Horton,,PTID307086%7CCHID560462%7CCIID1415604,00.html


Clarification of Answer by nancylynn-ga on 26 Dec 2003 13:58 PST
Hello jat-ga: 

I'm sorry you're not happy with the resources I gave you. 

You'd asked for "a good quantity of material which compares the
theology of Martin Luther with that of John Calvin."

I felt I'd given you the best resources available online, and some
good books regarding Luther's and Calvin's theologies.

You also asked for "side-by-side comparisons of the major symbols of Lutheran
theology (Augsburg Confession; Smalcald Articles; Small
Catechism/Large Catechism; Formula of Concord, etc.) with those of
Calvinist theology (Belgic Confession; Heidelberg Catechism; Second
Helvetic Confession; Canons of Dort; Westminster Confession of Faith;
Westminster Shorter/Larger Catechisms, etc."

As I noted in my answer, I couldn't find "side-by-side" comparisons of
those documents, but I did provide you with links to many of those
documents. (Many of those texts can be read online.)

If you're dissatisfied with my answer, I can have my answer removed,
which would allow another researcher to tackle the question for you.

I was raised Lutheran, so have some understanding of Lutheran
theology. But my goal was to gather as many helpful resources re:
Calvin and Luther as I possibly could. I thought that was what you
were looking for! That you wanted essays that discussed and compared
Lutheranism and Calvinism.

If after checking out some of the essays and other documents I've
provided for you, you still feel that this information is
insufficient, or that I misunderstood what you wanted, I will gladly
ask the editors to pull my answer and allow another researcher to try
answering the question to your satisfaction.


Request for Answer Clarification by jat-ga on 26 Dec 2003 14:34 PST
Thanks for your reply.  It's not as though I'm unhappy with the
resources you provided.  It's just that I'd like another set of "eyes"
to look at this one and tackle it.  A "second opinion", of sorts. 
Hopefully, from the perspective of one having a good working and
experiential acquaintance with the theologies of Luther and Calvin. 
What I'd like to do is pay you for the good work completed on your
part.  And then, I'd like to resubmit the question and see what
another researcher comes up with.  Besides, it will be an interesting
experiment to see what kinds of answers you get from Google
researchers when asked the same question.  Thanks for your help...

Clarification of Answer by nancylynn-ga on 26 Dec 2003 16:02 PST
Thanks, Jat. Yes, just re-post your question and note that it's a
duplicate of the question at (so that no
one thinks you accidentially double-posted the question), and explain
that you are seeking another researcher's perspective on the same

jat-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
It was hard for me to rate this.  As for giving it a good effort, you
deserve the four stars.  But the research really needs to be done by
someone who is quite familiar with (and, hopefully, sympathetic with)
the theological viewpoints, their history, development, etc.  So, in a
way, you seem to be a bit out of your element here.  Not faulting you
in this, just an observation.  I'd like to pay you for your work and
then re-submit this question to see what someone else comes up with. 
Could you do that for me?  Thanks...

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