Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the teaching of Martin Luther, a 16th century German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.
The split between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics arose mainly over the doctrine of Justification. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone" which went against the Roman view of "faith formed by love", or "faith and works". Unlike the Reformed Churches, Lutherans retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-reformation Church. Lutheran theology significantly differs from Reformed theology in Christology, the purpose of God's Law, divine grace, the concept of "once saved always saved", and predestination.
In the 1630s, Lutheranism was split between the highly orthodox "Flacians", followers of Matthias Flacius, and the somewhat less stringent followers of Philipp Melanchthon, known as "Philippists". The Ring of Fire not only brought back information about the up-time development of Lutheranism, but about a dozen members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Missouri Synod. However, there were no Lutheran churches in Grantville.
In the spring of 1633, Count Ludwig Günther opened St. Martin’s in the Fields on the Rudolstadt side of the Ring of Fire, intending it to serve Grantville's up-time Lutherans as well as the Lutheran refugees and immigrants who had come to the town. Disputes over the staffing of this church and who would be allowed to take communion there, as well as disputes among the various strains of Lutheranism in Grantville and the New United States, led to the Rudolstadt Colloquy of 1633, which was actually held in Jena because no place in Rudolstadt was large enough to hold all the people who wanted to attend.