Thursday, March 4, 2010



No one has a strong opinion on prayer fellowship?

I thought I would have a lot of strong opinions.  If you don't that's cool- I'm just surprised.


  1. I have no problem with praying with other Christians. It is true we have not thought through the implications of this in a formal setting. Perhaps that is a blessing. A lack of an official position gives us a lot of freedom.

  2. Not sure where the discussion will end up, so I'll copy my comment to the original post here:

    To refuse to pray with another person is to deny that they he is a Christian. To acknowledge another person as a Christian is to acknowledge that he, too, confesses Christ and is His disciple.

    Faithfulness to Christ and love for the neighbour demands that no false confession of unanimity is made where none exists. But by the same token, faithfulness to Christ and love for the neighbour demands that Christ is confessed where He is found: that is, in other Christians, even when those Christians are in error.

    To turn prayer into a fellowship issue on a par with preaching and the Sacraments confuses the nature of prayer. Preaching and the Sacraments are God's speech to us; prayer is our speech to God (not ignoring the fact that He gives us the words to speak). Therefore, in prayer we are not addressing one another but God. If we do address one another in prayer, thereby turning it into a confessing situation, something's gone awry with our praying.

    It is for precisely the same reasons that prayer with non-Christians is not possible.


  3. On what basis does Hoenecke (WELS) hold to a multi-tiered view of church fellowship?

    Also, I wonder: how frequently did WELS actually celebrate the Eucharist at that point in time? Was the idea of "prayer fellowship" necessary because communion fellowship would only make a difference four times a year? Did they see other Christians as excommunicated?

  4. Dr. Kilcrease,

    I am enjoying your blog immensely.

    Phil, in answer to your question "Did [Old WELS] see other Christians as excommunicated?" I am not certain about Hoenecke and those of that era, but I suspect they didn't. When I was in the WELS (out since 2004) it was generally the practice not to excommunicate those guilty of false doctrine and I was not taught to do so at seminary.

    However, in writing an article on the subject for the Gottesdienst journal (subscribe now!) I came across this quote from a current and very influential WELS seminary professor, John Brug, which expresses that view which on occasion I heard wondered aloud.

    "I believe this puts us in a position contrary to our own principles. We say, 'It is impenitence which is the ground of excommunication, not the sin which first called forth admonition, for had he repented he would have been forgiven. We cannot therefore make a distinction between sins which lead to excommunication or those which will not. Impenitence is a refusal to obey God and calls for action by the church no matter what the sin may be of which the person refuses to repent.' (Shepherd Under Christ, p. 174). If this is true, are we justified in exempting an impenitent adherent of false doctrine from excommunication? Can we put false doctrine in a class all by itself and say 'You will be excommunicated for impenitence in any sin but false doctrine, That’s different.' I do not believe this is right." (The Terminology of Church Discipline: Excommunication, Suspension, Removal, Etc. By John F. Brug, Presented to the Ohio Pastoral Conference at Beautiful Savior, Grove City, Ohio, 1976)

    Frightening, eh? I was taught that I could not address non-WELS people as a Christian "brother" - one of many things that got me in trouble.

    For me the so called Galesburg Rule, properly understood, sums up the issue nicely.

    Rev. John W. Berg (LCMS)

  5. If Lutherans had not welcomed me into their bible study and prayed with me, I might never have learned the futility of works-based "theology" taught in the Protestant churches I had attended for over two decades. I was failing at enlarging my own faith because I was supposed to fail! I struggled with sin because I am a sinner, still! If Lutherans had not prayed with me, I might never have discovered the unalloyed joy of the freedom of Objective Grace.

    If, as a new Lutheran, I had refused to pray with my best friend, a Baptist, sharing with her the wonder of the Book of Concord, the riches of Lutheran hymnody, and grace of Lutheran Liturgy, she would not now be searching for a confessional Lutheran church in her area.

    Do you want to know the power of prayer? Despite her initial skepticism and even offense at the new "theology" in my life, a few months ago my dear, dear friend started reading Lutheran Liturgy with me, praying Lutheran prayers with me, and even learning Lutheran hymns to sing to me because I am pretty much alone in this world and she knew how much I craved such an opportunity between Sundays.

    The Spirit has worked in her, drawing her away from her distrust of a doctrine that kept her from joining me at the alter to appreciating the necessity of the practice and hungering for the alter herself. Slowly she, too, is learning the futility of works, discontent with the sermons given to her at her church. She's not even half way through the Book of Concord with me and is already craving the proper division of Law and Gospel!

    And, now, her husband is open to having a confessional Lutheran Pastor who offered to come teach them visit their home and to have her teach their children the Small Catechism.

    Because Lutherans prayed with a non-Lutheran, five lives have been changed by the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of our Savior.

  6. Myrtle, Its excellent to hear that you've found a home in the Lutheran Church. I think that what I've found here is that there is a general consensus on prayer fellowship. I thorough agree that prayer possesses a different status than other act of fellowship.

  7. An Eastern Orthodox priest friend of mine explained that as a priest he could not pray publically with other Christians while vested. So as he could not be vested and say read one of the lessons during the Lutheran liturgy, nor could I do that in an Orthodox liturgy. I think that's right: such a public liturgical action states that we are yoked doctrinally which is simply not the case.

    But my priest friend has attended Holy Communion many times and he is praying(he even keeps the eucharistic fast even though he does not receive). So as to the non-public praying with other Christians in a Bible study and catechesis, I would add my hearty Amen to Myrtle's posting.

  8. I've not read all the comments here, but I agree that this topic needs to be thought through more, including on my part. In my miscellaneous occasional thoughts on the topic in the past few years I've come to more and more respect the WELS position. I should study and think more on this.