The cardinal sins, according to the WELS

The cardinal sins of the WELS are well encapsulated in this bible study led by Rev. Jim Behringer, Directory of the WELS Special Ministries.

One Form of Worship

Two minutes in: "When I was growing up there were no service folders, and as a result you used the same liturgy every Sunday... there was one liturgy... now that you have a service folder, we can now be creative with liturgy."

Perhaps Rev. Behringer should consult the preface to the small catechism to revisit Luther's thoughts of various forms and creativity in worship. What makes creativity a virtue? Novelty in forms of worship is divisive. My grandfather had a stroke but knew the TLH liturgy by heart and a good core of hymns that were regularly sung. When CW was introduced in the mid-90's, he could no longer worship the new liturgy and novel hymns. Creativity was divisive.

Going on visits to members with Alzheimer's, they can seem comatose and unresponsive until you start quoting the liturgy or a sturdy Lutheran hymn, and then they become lucid. It is bordering on miraculous. But an innovative liturgy and modern hymns break that connection, where the young pastor can't relate to the Alzheimer patient 50 years his senior. 

The young mom in the pews can't react to an innovative liturgy while she is handling her kids. Performing the same liturgy week after week with a regular rotation of sturdy Lutheran hymns allows her to participate.

We are removing a common thread between our youngest and our oldest. They can't sing the same hymns together. Why our synod wants to divide us for modern Calvinist Getty songs, I do not understand. If we had a single form of liturgy and a regular complement of sturdy Lutheran hymns, our unity between ages and congregations would improve.

Church Discipline

20:50 "A woman at the church I belonged to out in California, she ran off an had an affair with someone else, a married woman, and the president of the congregation and the president of ladies' aide called the woman again and again and again, 'come back to us, we miss you here, this isn't really love'... I can't imagine too many places where someone who has very publicly fallen would come back... but she did. The reason why is because when she was straying, they weren't judging her, they weren't sending her letters saying they would get rid of you because you aren't living the Christian life they were saying come back, please, we love you. This is a key part of the culture of compassion." 

I hope this is a simplification of the situation, but if not, Rev Behringer apparently forgot about 1 Corinthians where Paul instructs the Corinthians, in the case of a man who slept with his mother-in-law, to "deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord."  So that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Instead, this pastor allowed winsomeness and loving and a non-judgmental "safe space" mentality to interfere with the godly discipline duties of the congregation, per Mt 18 and 1 Cor 5. 

Lack of Winsomeness

15:20 "I came on down for the food and a member of the church let me know that food was provided by people at the church every week. And so if I was to keep on coming I should be sure to bring some food" 

29:30 "We're going to show people how wonderful it is to have the Word of God at our church and how we have all these things going on. But they get to the door and the first thing that happens is someone comes up to them and says 'listen, we don't wear hats in church because that is disrespectful' This is a visitor and that is the first thing they heard out of hte mouth of a church member... I'm just saying what's the culture when they come into the church?" 

Clearly, neither of these are great things to have happen in a congregation. But the way they are related, one might be convinced Rev Behringer thinks these things could overshadow the doctrine of election! None can snatch them from Christs' hands, regardless of their apparent lack of winsomeness. God brings the increase!

34:45 "I was just chairman of the neighborhood event at our church. Every fall we have an event at the beginning of the school year. Part of that was I realized we will have different people doing various things, and I want to make sure that the role they are playing is to make sure all of our guests feel loved. And that could simply be someone watching the kids play on the bounce house, and you see the kids getting out of control, and now what do you do? Because you want the kids to love God's house, you want them to come here, so however you handle this it has to be handled with love not just with scolding..."

All love, but no mention of Jesus. Where is Jesus at this event? No Jesus, but lots of love. My home congregation has a similar event with plenty of activities, but Jesus is tucked away in a flier at the bottom of the goody bag.

Not Incorporating Business Methods

28:20 " 'Culture eats strategy for lunch' sent ripples through the Wisconsin synod."

Yes, this is a business strategy book sending 'ripples' through our synod. Business principles seem to be regularly parroted in our synod including 'Servant Leadership,' a 1970's business strategy, or "mission statements" that arent Mt 28.