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Church Fellowship a Bible study course for adults By Professor John F. Brug PowerPoint: Angi Kinsley, Pastor Mark A. Cordes New Life Evangelical Lutheran.

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Presentation on theme: "Church Fellowship a Bible study course for adults By Professor John F. Brug PowerPoint: Angi Kinsley, Pastor Mark A. Cordes New Life Evangelical Lutheran."— Presentation transcript:

1 Church Fellowship a Bible study course for adults By Professor John F. Brug PowerPoint: Angi Kinsley, Pastor Mark A. Cordes New Life Evangelical Lutheran Church Shoreview, Minnesota

2 The History of Fellowship: WELS and CLC Relations; The CELC Church Fellowship, pp. 87-102

3 Goals 1. To understand the break in fellowship between the Wisconsin Synod and CLC. 2. To understand the differences that still separate the WELS from the Church of the Lutheran Confession today. 3. To understand the process that led to the formation of the CELC.

4 Opening Prayer Lord, we sorrow over every division in the church and rejoice whenever true unity is established. Teach us to understand the recent history of the Wisconsin Synod that divided us from some Lutherans and united us with others. Help us heal the divisions of the church by working for true agreement based on your Word. Amen.

5 Scriptural Principles Romans 16:17  Separate from false teachers (“persistent errorists”) Galatians 6:1f  Help Christians who are trapped in sin.  Watch out for our own temptations. 2 Thessalonians 3:14f  “Do not associate with him.” (not listening)  “Warn him as a brother.”

6 What is the CLC? The Church of the Lutheran Confession is a small church body of mostly former WELS, ELS who say:  The Wisconsin Synod failed to break fellowship with Missouri Synod soon enough.  Due to false doctrine of church fellowship by the Wisconsin Synod.

7 WELS and CLC What difference of opinion existed in WI Synod concerning termination of fellowship with MO Synod?  Some thought WELS too slow in breaking fellowship with LCMS.  Others wanted more time to admonish LCMS.

8 Why did WELS have hard time deciding to break LCMS? 1. LCMS had strong reputation for orthodoxy, fine confessional documents, i.e., Brief Statement. 2. Many zigzags in Missouri’s course. 3. Many internal divisions in LCMS  much confusion re. LCMS position.

9 Hard time for WELS vs. LCMS? 3. Varying degrees of knowledge, understanding among members and delegates of Wisconsin Synod. 4. Seems Missouri Synod representatives strung WELS along, holding out hope with no intention of changing. 5. Dealing with large group more difficult than with individual, esp. with only rare meetings.

10 WELS Convention History First WELS convention to seriously consider break of fellowship with Missouri Synod?  Serious resolution to break: 1953. WELS convention which finally broke fellowship with Missouri Synod?  1961

11 WELS Convention History Basic reason for this delay?  WELS repeatedly persuaded that LCMS had not rejected admonition, might still solve problem.  In retrospect this hope was naïve or overly optimistic.  Good faith effort to do everything possible to preserve fellowship.

12 False Hopes Delayed Break 1. 1953 WELS convention hoped that the 1954 meeting of the Synodical Conference could solve the problem. – Hoped protesting fellowship would be a strong warning to the Missouri Synod.

13 False Hopes Delayed Break 2. 1955 WELS convention delayed because LCMS was triennial. – LCMS had not convened since our 1953 protest. – LCMS could not have acted on WELS warning.

14 False Hopes Delayed Break 3. 1956 WELS convention won over by overtures from Missouri – WELS placed hope in continued mediation by overseas sister churches. 4. 1957 WELS allowed more time for these efforts.

15 CLC Condemns WELS because… WELS “approved” a preamble which condemned Missouri’s error. CLC says WELS thus identified the MO Synod as persistent errorists. Thus CLC says WELS sinfully remained in fellowship with LCMS.

16 Another interpretation of WELS? WELS 1955 convention delayed vote on preamble.  Had not yet identified Missouri Synod as persistent errorists.  Majority of WELS delegates believed Missouri Synod had not yet rejected our admonition.

17 Interpretation of WELS’ delay?  WELS still hoped further admonition would help Missouri Synod turn away from their error.  WELS conventions accepted principle that we must break from persistent errorists, but majority were not yet convinced LCMS fell into that category (Brug, pp. 89f).

18 WELS judgment of early leavers? We do not condemn them for opinion that Wisconsin Synod was too slow in breaking with the Missouri Synod. Nor do we condemn following their consciences, not to keep fellowship with MO Synod longer (Brug p. 91).

19 Why not reunite WELS + CLC? CLC believed WELS’ failure to break with LCMS in 1955 and following years was not just faulty judgment, but erroneous doctrine of fellowship allowing fellowship with persistent errorists.

20 WELS sees weakness in CLC Many statements from CLC members on this doctrine do not seem to allow time for patient admonition of those who have fallen into error.  (Brug, pp. 91f).

21 Doctrinal Difference? Why does the Wisconsin Synod say there is no doctrinal difference between WELS and CLC?  WELS-CLC meetings have produced agreement on need for admonition and for separation from persistent errorists. (Brug, p. 92f)

22 1987-1990 Reconciliation Failed?  Seemed agreement on doctrinal principle had been reached  CLC rep’s insisted on preamble speaking of doctrinal difference.  WELS never received clear CLC statement about this difference.  CLC broke off discussions (Brug, pp. 94-96).

23 What main principle was WELS trying to uphold with CLC? Need for patient admonition before we break fellowship with brothers and sisters who have fallen into error. WELS fully supports corresponding principle that we are not to continue fellowship with persistent errorists.

24 What is the CELC? Organization of WELS, ELS, and world wide sister churches to preserve and strengthen our fellowship. The CELC replaced the former Synodical Conference – LCMS, WELS, ELS, and others (meeting of synods). Synodical Conference dissolved 1963.

25 WELS preserves and expands fellowship after 1961 break. Meet regularly with ELS in Confessional Forum. Holds “free conferences” to reach out to other confessional Lutherans.

26 WELS preserves, expands fellowship after 1961 break. Established fellowship with Federation for Authentic Lutheranism and Lutheran Confessional Church of Sweden and Norway. Meetings to preserve fellowship with sister churches in former Synodical Conference.

27 WELS problem after 1961 break with Missouri? Churches that had been in fellowship with both WELS and LCMS could no longer remain in fellowship with both since there was no longer doctrinal agreement between these churches. Such a triangular fellowship cannot hold with two contradictory doctrinal positions.

28 WELS attempts to solve this problem… …by patient efforts to explain our doctrinal position to overseas churches. Result: All sister churches except the ELFC of Germany chose to keep Missouri fellowship.  (Brug, pp. 101f)

29 THE CELC Locate member churches of the CELC on world map.


31 Summary Some congregation late 1950’s separated from WI Synod for not breaking with MO Synod soon enough. Saw error in WELS interpretation / application of Romans 16:17.  Church of the Lutheran Confession.  Restoration efforts have failed.

32 Summary A worldwide organization, the CELC, has recently been formed to extend fellowship among confessional Lutherans.  Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference

33 Closing Prayer Lord, we rejoice in our fellowship with sister churches in the CELC. Watch over these small churches struggling in a very hostile environment. Create in us the desire and ability to support and encourage them. Bless our fellowship together. Heal Lutheran divisions by bringing us to true agreement in the teachings of your Word. Amen.

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