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(The Scriptural Requirement for the Practice of Church Fellowship)


The Wisconsin Synod’s Confession–What Is It?

by Joel N. Krafft

From the editor: 

The following Review first appeared in the CLC's Journal of Theology,
June 2000, p. 55f. It is our feeling that our lay-people as well as our 
clergy should be made aware of the existence of this booklet which is so 
rich in original source material. 
We appreciate the review in all aspects; our fond hope, however, is that 
the reviewer is dead wrong when he remarks that "so few will take the time 
to read it, and . . . almost no one today seems to care."

Mr. Krafft, whose address and phone are given below, offers the book 
(about fifty 81/2X11 pages) for $5.00 plus postage.

The following is from the introduction to the booklet and helps to explain its intended purpose.

“As a former member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) who has family members and friends who are still members of the WELS, I am compelled to write this, my confession, as a witness and obligation to those who publicly accept WELS doctrine by virtue of their membership in that Synod…

“It is not my intention to twist or distort the historical record or doctrinal statements in any way. It would be the height of dishonesty to present an issue for anyone’s consideration using lies and half-truths or not to include pertinent facts which illuminate the situation. Having said that, I will also admit that the volume of material concerning the doctrinal controversy which led to the breakup of the Synodical Conference (SC) is large, and I will make no attempt to comment on all of it. The issue can be clearly delineated for honest, Christian consideration without being exhaustive.”

Herein lies what I believe to be the strength of this work by Joel Krafft. When Mr. Krafft left the WELS a little under a decade ago, he did so for all the right reasons. Nor was his decision made frivolously or with little consideration. He carefully documented all of the pertinent statements and documents that define the positions of WELS and the CLC, compared them with the Scriptures, and made his decision accordingly. He has now taken all of that material, distilled and organized it, and presents it in this booklet. He does so not as much as an attempt to justify his actions as to give a witness to those who remain in WELS. From an opening note to the reader he writes:

“Enclosed you will find a work that comes from the bottom of my heart….It deals with a matter which is very dear to me and which should be of the greatest concern to you also. It concerns the future of the Church and the very salvation of souls. I have made every attempt to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and hope that you will prayerfully read and consider what is presented.”

While it is most encouraging to see such devotion to the Word on the part of a Christian layman, and such zeal, honesty, and perseverance in searching out the truth, it is also very discouraging to predict that so many pastors and laymen alike will demonstrate disinterest in this work and the Scriptures on which it is based.

Several factors make this work a valuable addition to any library. The first is the careful, thorough, and forthright nature of the research that went into it. Mr. Krafft not only makes reference to all of the pertinant comments prepared before, during, and after the break-up of the Synodical Conference, he quotes them verbatim. Those references that are too long to be quoted meaningfully in the body of the booklet are quoted in full as appendices (including WELS Floor Committee Reports and Convention actions from 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1961, and the 1959 memorial “A Call for Decision”).

Secondly, Mr. Krafft’s motivation is thoroughly evangelical in nature. His motivation is love for our Lord Jesus and an appreciation for the danger posed by all false doctrine to the souls subjected to it. Some works of this kind can read more like a list of past grievances and a venting of pent-up frustration rather than a loving, gospel-motivated witness of love. This booklet certainly qualifies under the latter.

Finally, it becomes immediately clear to the reader that the evidence and testimony conveyed through this booklet are presented in a spirit of loving humility by the author. The final effect is a compelling and irrefutable indictment of the WELS false doctrine that has perpetuated the separation of the CLC from the Wisconsin Synod. The tragedy is that so few will take the time to read it, and that almost no one today seems to care.

Joel Krafft works as an airline pilot for American Airlines. He and his wife Janet live in Pilot Point, Texas and are members of St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dallas. Those interested in copies of his booklet are invited to contact the author directly. His address is 19929 Dane Road, Pilot Point, TX 76258. Phone: (940) 365-3130. E-Mail:

–Pastor Michael Roehl, Reviewer