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We are a Bible-based Christian Church located in Neenah, WI, and we would love to share what we have with you! 
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We are a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).  For more information about our Synod, click here
Today's Devotion
Through My Bible In 3 Years
Faith Related Q and A
So, I have been studying church history lately, and it is quite obvious that the Catholic Church was the first church that Jesus established. So, since that is the case, in Matthew 16:18 it says that the gates of hell will not overcome the church. Well, we Lutherans would say that the devil deceived the Catholic Church, but if he did, then wouldn’t that make Jesus a liar? I know he isn’t a liar, by the way, but this is just kind of making me think of joining the Catholic faith. I mean Jesus did establish the Catholic Church on Peter, and Protestants were established by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli, etc. Can you please help with this?

The best help I can offer is correcting some of the information in the text of your question. Jesus did not establish the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18 make it very clear that he was building his church on the confession of faith that he is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and not on a person like the apostle Peter. Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18 do make it very clear that Satan and his forces will not be able to overthrow Christ and his Church. Revelation 20:7-10 describes Satan’s final and eternal defeat. Was the origin of the Lutheran Church connected to Martin Luther? Certainly. But it was not Luther’s intent to start a new church named after him. When the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated Luther, the reformer had no other church with which to affiliate. The establishment of another church was inevitable. Keep in mind that, as Lutheran Christians, we do not regard Martin Luther or his writings as foundational to our faith. Scripture alone is the source of our faith and doctrine. The recent 500th anniversary celebration of the Lutheran Reformation highlighted that truth again and again. Luther’s Protest could be a good read for you. It explains the Reformation very well and keeps Luther in proper perspective. The book is available in print and digital versions. Most of all, hold on—in faith—to the Bible’s teaching that salvation is God’s free gift to people through Spirit-worked faith (Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6).

Do you have any online sources or advice for someone trying to learn more about the WELS Church? I was raised in the ELCA, but did not go to church very often growing up or during college. My boyfriend is WELS, grew up in a very faith based household, and went to a WELS college. Definitely more “religious” than me. I’m working on my own faith and making that a bigger part of my life, but talking about marriage scares me because I feel like we have vast religious differences despite both being Lutheran. I’m a strong-willed, liberal woman and there are some fundamental beliefs that I hold that are inconsistent with certain WELS beliefs. I’m open minded and understand the rationale behind certain WELS beliefs, but I know I will never share certain beliefs. I’m looking for some resources perhaps to help me get a better grasp on how drastic the divide between ELCA and WELS is. Thank you in advance!

There are some good resources from Northwestern Publishing House I can recommend to you: WELS and Other Lutherans and What’s Going on Among the Lutherans? The first book is available in print and digital versions; the second is available only in print. The online Essay File of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary has numerous papers that sort out the differences among Lutheran church bodies. Searching the subject of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can get you started. Finally, I encourage you to speak to your boyfriend’s pastor. He is in a position to respond to other questions you might have. I wish you both well as you discuss some very important items in your relationship.