Patheos Watermark

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Early Developments

After an initial burst of enthusiasm about Luther's message of radical forgiveness, Lutheranism experienced periods of heated doctrinal debates, of engaging Enlightenment rationalism, and of efforts to reinvigorate the experiential side of faith through pietism.

Schisms and Sects

Lutheranism has experienced fewer schisms than some other Protestant groups because it has become the national or "folk" religion in the places it originally spread, many of which are relatively homogeneous.

Missions and Expansion

Until the late 19th century, Lutheranism spread mostly through emigration from northern European countries. Since then its missionaries have been effective in Africa and Asia.

Exploration and Conquest

Germany did not become a colonial power until after other European countries. Beginning in the 1880s, it tried to make up for lost ground, becoming a major power in Africa. Lutherans and Lutheran missionaries played a large role, with all the negative consequences of colonialism, in these enterprises.

Modern Age

Lutheranism is shrinking in Europe and North America, but growing in Africa and Asia.