Question:

You addressed other denominations and contrasted their doctrines to the Church of Christ's teachings. Could you please address your differences with the Lutheran faith (I can see the issues of infant baptism and original sin in reading your articles).

I am a member of the WELS and we take our doctrine seriously and I would appreciate any critical analysis you might have as to any of our beliefs being scripturally unsound.


Answer:

I hope that what you find on La Vista's web site is teachings regarding the Bible. There are no doctrines of the churches of Christ; that is, there are no doctrines that churches of Christ have created on their own authority. Our aim is to teach God's doctrine. Thus our only defining document of belief is the Bible itself.

I won't make an exhaustive review of Lutheran teaching, but let's start with the fact that the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod uses a statement of belief to distinguish itself from other Lutheran organizations and from other denominations. Since the statement of belief, though based on Scripture, is only a summary of what is found in the Bible -- since it is not the Bible itself -- it must by its very nature leave some of God's teaching out. But the Israelites were warned, "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32). Warnings similar to these go all the way through the Bible. "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19).

You see, if a person wants to be a Lutheran, he would have to subscribe to one of the several Lutheran statements of belief. If he wants to be a Baptist, well, there is another set of statements of beliefs to subscribe to. But what does it take to just be a Christian? "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10). I would argue that the one standard to make a person a Christian is the Bible with no additional documents.

Within the WELS statement of faith is this: "We believe that the three ecumenical creeds (the Apostles', the Nicene, the Athanasian) as well as the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 express the true doctrine of Scripture. Since the doctrines they confess are drawn from Scripture alone, we are bound to them in our faith and life. Therefore all preaching and teaching in our churches must be in harmony with these confessions, and we reject all the errors that they reject." All the documents listed were products of men. Whether they are accurate or not, the same flaw exists as with statements of faith. By their nature they are only a subset of what the Bible teaches and thus people are binding themselves to only a portion of what the Bible teaches. But being a product of man, they are liable to contain mistakes. Yet, men have elevated these documents to the same level as inspired Scriptures.

If I were to examine the documents and find a flaw in them (in that despite the writers' best efforts there was something in the document that did not match the Scriptures), the argument would be "but that is what we have accepted," instead of "this is what God said." Notice the phrase "we are bound to them" in the above statement.

It is this very thing of men "helping" God by creating commands that got the Pharisees into trouble. "Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" -- 'then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" (Matthew 15:1-9).

Glancing through the remainder of the statement of faith, it teaches the concept that people are born sinful (see Questions and Answers regarding Inherited Sins). It teaches that justification is based upon faith alone (contradicting James 2:24; see Questions and Answers regarding Faith Alone). It teaches that people cannot believe unless God gives them the ability to believe (contradicting the passages that says God is not a respecter of persons: Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; I Peter 1:17). It further says that faith is not a condition people must fulfill in order to be saved (contradicting Hebrews 11:6). It then says we are saved by grace alone (thus contradicting itself by having two "alone"s in one document. By the way, "grace alone" does not appear in the Bible). It teaches the predestination of who is saved (see Questions and Answers regarding Predestination). While teaching that a person cannot in any way contribute to their salvation, it then says that a person can fall from God's grace, which is technically a contradiction. It wants to say that only the saved are predestined to be saved, but that the lost are not predestined to be lost, which is another contradiction since if the save are chosen and only the chosen are saved then the non-chosen have no choice but to be lost, thus their condition is predetermined.

I could go on, but this should be enough to document why I am not a Lutheran.