Called to “Test all things”
by Mr. Vernon Kneprath
The intent and agreement among those who chose to leave our WELS congregation was to leave peacefully and quietly. Concerns had already been expressed to the appropriate individuals over months and years, regarding what was being preached, taught and practiced throughout the synod. Most of those resigning their membership had stopped attending our local congregation weeks or months prior. When our common goal to return to confessional Lutheranism was realized, and a road to that end became available, it was determined to be prudent to resign our membership in our WELS congregation before working toward organizing a new congregation.
A simple, one sentence letter indicated the undersigned were resigning their membership. The letter was sent by certified mail to the pastor and president of the congregation. It was considered by our group to be more kind and considerate to send one letter rather than many, so that those receiving it would not be in a position of wondering when the next letter would arrive.
For nearly two months we generally avoided initiating dialogue. Some of us were contacted by various members and leaders of our local congregation. We listened carefully, and responded respectfully. Out of the communications that occurred during that time, there was a single individual who approached many of us in a respectful manner, and showed genuine care and concern for us.
The previous Intrepid post gave one individual’s reasons for leaving the WELS. While each of us had our own specific reasons for leaving, there were many shared concerns. Therefore, some of what follows may seem redundant. Unlike the author of the previous post, I had been a lifelong member of the WELS. I was instructed and confirmed with the Gausewitz edition of Luther’s Small Catechism, and remain convinced that it properly represents and teaches the truths of Scripture. But it had become increasingly clear in recent years that I was a confessional Lutheran in a Lutheran church body that seemed to no longer appreciate or desire to be confessional Lutheran.
The Bible teaches that we are to point out error where it exists, and to defend the truth of God’s Word at every opportunity.
- ”Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)
New Bible translations that glorify man and his wisdom rather than honoring God’s unchanging Word do not need to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that recognizes the potent efficacy of God’s Word in teaching AND in practice.
Contemporary worship, or blended worship, or whatever the latest worship fad, does not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that unabashedly uses the historic liturgy without change or reservation.
An obsession with money, and a link to Thrivent and Planned Parenthood does not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that focuses on teaching and preaching Law and Gospel, leaving it up to God to determine how and when the saints will be blessed.
Man-made gimmicks to fill the pews and the offering plates do not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that preaches the Means of Grace, and only the Means of Grace, as the way in which God grows the church.
Decisions to remove “Lutheran” from a church name, school or website, or other efforts to distance a church from the Lutheran Confessions need not be accepted or tolerated. There is a Lutheran church body that eagerly teaches the contents of the Book of Concord to its members.
The teaching of objective justification, which proclaims that “everyone has been justified, everyone has been forgiven, everyone has been saved,” does not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that preaches, without hesitation or contradiction, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31 NKJV)
There is an alternative to a Lutheran church that no longer desires to be confessional Lutheran. The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America, (ELDoNA) is the Lutheran church that I have found to be unapologetically confessional Lutheran, in teaching AND in practice.
The Lutheran Hymnal - Hymn 260 verse 2 (verse omitted from the WELS hymnal, Christian Worship)
- With fraud which they themselves invent
Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent
On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show,
They lead the people to and fro,
In error's maze astounded.