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WELS Lutherans..... Denomination or cult???

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by bodyofchrist32, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. bodyofchrist32

    bodyofchrist32 New Member

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    My in'laws are WELS Lutherans. I have attended my mother-in-laws church with her a few times, and have seen some things that really disturbed me. The first thing that bothered me was the manner in which The Lord's Supper was given. There is no warning given against partaking unworthily. In fact, the only requirement for partaking is that you must be a member of a WELS Lutheran church. I have watched unsaved people take communion, and leave church believing they are in right standing with God simply because they have done so. They believe in forgiveness of sins through the sacraments(baptism, communion), and also believe that forgiveness of sins can be recieved simply through the recitation of the words in The Lord's Prayer. But the thing that really blew me away is when I learned that they believe that forgiveness of sins can be achieved by confession to the pastor. They call this the use of "The keys", and several times throughout each service they mechanically recite different prayers and creeds, and at each ones closing the pastor will state "Your sins be forgiven you". My question is, with these unscriptural practices, which in essence deny the need for repentance and the blood of Christ, why are the WELS Lutherans accepted as a Christian denomination, and not classified as a cult?
     
  2. FriendofSpurgeon

    FriendofSpurgeon Well-Known Member
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    The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) is a conservative Lutheran denomination and is the 3rd largest Lutheran denomination in the country. Here's a link to their beliefs -- http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2601&collectionID=783

    It's hardly a cult. I don't think they really believe that they are saved by confessing their sins to a pastor (see salvation by grace through faith in the link). I think you are misreading their liturgy., which is easy to do if you are not used to it. If it is really bothering you, set up a meeting with the pastor and ask. I'm sure he will explain.
     
  3. drfuss

    drfuss New Member

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    Here is the Lutheran liturgy you are probably talking about.

    Most merciful God, We confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We just deserve your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us and lead us so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the Glory of your Holy Name. Amen.

    The Pastor replies.

    Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ and by His authority I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    The below is one Lutheran's further explanation of the above.

    Notice: "called and ordained servant of Christ and by His authority". He forgives sins by the authority of Christ, not instead of Christ. It's like what a Lawyer does when he reads someone's last will and testament. The Lawyer only does so by the authority of the person whom the will belonged to.
     
  4. matt wade

    matt wade Well-Known Member

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    The lawyer analogy doesn't work so well. The deceased presumably gave permission to the lawyer to execute his will. When did Jesus give us the authority to execute his will and forgive people's sin?
     
  5. drfuss

    drfuss New Member

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    drfuss: The lawyer analogy is not mine. The analogy is by a Lutheran from another forum.
     
  6. BobRyan

    BobRyan Active Member

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    The elements you describe are all very "Catholic" in origin. Are you calling the Catholic church "a cult"?

    If so - then you may have an argument that can be made.

    But most people would not go there.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  7. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    The denomination has an extensive "Dear Abby"-style feature on its website.

    Here, concerned WELS college freshman is instructed not to pray with his Missouri Synod Lutheran roomate.
     
  8. drfuss

    drfuss New Member

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    WOW. I had no idea that the Lutherans separated themselves into different groups like the "dear Abby" style feature suggests.
     
  9. THEOLDMAN

    THEOLDMAN New Member

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    Yeah, they are kinda "crazy"... but i'll love'em anyway !
     
  10. bodyofchrist32

    bodyofchrist32 New Member

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    Yes, actually, I am calling Catholics a cult. In my opinion, anyone who teaches that you must go some route other than directly to Christ, such as catholics, should be classified as a cult.
     
  11. BaptistBob

    BaptistBob New Member

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    WELS pastors in my area will not pray with other pastors (from other denominations) unless they are leading the prayer. If another is leading the prayer, they will either leave the room or pray a prayer independent of the rest of the group.

    As for other practices, including confession, those who follow Luther see "faith" as including baptismal regeneration and various other things similar to the Catholic faith. When Luther said "faith alone," he meant something different than what other later protestants believed. It's an historical snafu.

    Read an online version of his small catechism for examples. His commentaries also support what I just said.
     
  12. MrJim

    MrJim New Member

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    They are a very conservative group~we have some on another christian site I frequent; tend to be very well versed in the scriptures and basically rebelling against the liberalism in the ELCA and evangelical church at large.
     
  13. bodyofchrist32

    bodyofchrist32 New Member

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    Yes, they consider it unscriptural to fellowship in any form with any denomination who do not agree with them 100 percent in belief and practice, and in most cases consider other denominations, particularly Baptists, to be detrimental to the gospel because they believe that, while we hold scripture in very high regard, we "lack a clear understanding of salvation and the sacraments". I have read several of their articles of faith, including Luther's small and large catechisms, and the Augsberg confession. I have also looked at the "WELS Dictionary, which can be found on their website, and it is clear to me that there are some major doctrinal issues within the WELS, which in my opinion lfool many lost people into believing that they are saved, and I just cannot understand why they are accepted as a Christian denomination.
     
  14. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz New Member

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    WELS is hardly a cult. They are a highly conservative branch of the Lutheran Church. There was no explanation concerning Communion because the Pastor knows his flock and will not be communing anybody who is not a member of his congregation (I will have to check if they still do this, but membership in one congregation did not necessarily mean you can commune at another).

    They are very serious about not confusing the public concerning agreement in doctrine hence they will not pray with others nor worship with others. They used to be in fellowship with the LC-MS, of which I am member, until sometime in the 60's or 70's, memory is a little hazy on the date.
     
  15. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz New Member

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    Nobody has asked this question, but somebody has to ask, How do you know that these people are not saved? Can you see into the hearts of man?

    To understand them you need to read more than the few things you have claimed to have read. Don't get me wrong they are a good start, but there is more to the confessional underpinnings of WELS or any other branch of the Lutheran Church (excepting ELCA). For starters you also need to read the Apology to the Augusburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, and the Formula of Concord (short and long versions). Edward Koehler's A Summary of Christian Doctrine would also be a good resource.

    The doctrine of the Keys that you have railed against is rooted in the words of Christ.
    Lutheran's believe based on those passages that what ever a christian forgives is forgiven in the eyes of God. Any christian can forgive anyone, but for the public functions of the church the pastor has been delegated this responsiblity. He is merely a steward acting to make sure the gifts of God are given to those in need.

    Also no Lutheran believes that prayer forgives. We pray to be forgiven but the prayer is not what forgives
     
  16. bodyofchrist32

    bodyofchrist32 New Member

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    No, I cannot see into the hearts of men, nor do I need to to know that the people i'm referring to are unsaved, because they are my family members, and I know them, and also know their lifestyles.
     
  17. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz New Member

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    Lifestyles are a poor way to judge the salvation of people. Every person struggles with sin even if they are saved, look at Paul. So, unless you can see into their hearts you cannot go about claiming they are unsaved.
     
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