Lutheran history began with the teachings of Martin Luther. Luther was a German monk. During his own personal Bible study, Luther came across the passage that says, "the just shall live by faith." From his study of this verse, he came to the realization that the teachings of the Catholic church went against this teaching. Luther did not wish to leave the Catholic church, but rather reform it, and he nailed a document called the 95 Theses to the church door in his town. Instead of being willing to discuss the Theses, the Catholic church declared Luther a heretic, and thus forced him to leave the Catholic Church. Lutheran history had begun.
Lutheran and his followers left the catholic church, and thus began the Protestant Reformation. Today, the Lutheran Church comprises about four percent of the Christian denominations. The fundamental teaching of the Lutheran Church is the teaching called Sola Scriptura, which means "Scripture alone." The Lutheran Church believes that the Bible is the final authority on all maters of the Church. The Lutheran Church teaches that the teachings of the Bible are interpreted by the Book of Concord, which is a series of confessions compiled by sixteenth century Lutherans.
Luther apposed all teachings of the Catholic Church that contradicted Scriptural teachings. However, he readily embraced teachings and traditions that were not against the Scripture's teachings. Therefore, Lutheran Churches tend to highly resemble Catholic churches in their forms of worship and the atmosphere of their churches. Luther highly supported education, and that is why there are so many Lutheran schools, colleges, and seminaries throughout the world.
Many people in the Lutheran Church emphasize a liturgical approach to services, which means they follow a prescribed routine in their services. Lutherans sing chorales, some of which were composed by Martin Luther himself. Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of the Lutheran Church, and composed some of the music that Lutherans use today.
Lutherans treat the act of communion as a central part of their worship services. They do no believe, as the Catholics do, that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, but rather that they represent such. Children in the Lutheran Church are taught catechism in their Sunday Schools and nursery and elementary schools. These catechisms teach the fundamental doctrines of the church.
It is interesting to note that Martin Luther did not want the denomination to be named after him. He readily admitted to his own flaws and mistakes. He was concerned that the people would transfer their worship to him and away from God. Lutheranism, however, does bear the name of the founder of the denomination, despite his protests.