I grew up WELS and am still a member of a WELS church. My boyfriend attends an EFCA church. We have had discussions on the differences in what we believe, and the largest areas we struggle with are Baptism and Communion. He believes that they are only symbols and not means of grace. I have been struggling with how we differ in these views. In another question (difference between WELS and EFCA), it was mentioned that "doctrinal errors—any errors—are serious and potentially destructive of saving faith." Would this be able to be further explained? Does that mean that believing in one way means you do not go to heaven? Also, as my boyfriend and I continue these discussions, are there any devotions that would assist us as we dive further into these topics? Thank you for your assistance.
Your boyfriend is accurately representing his church. The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) teaches: “The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.” What his church is not doing is accurately representing the Lord. The Bible teaches that God offers and gives forgiveness of sins, life and salvation through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Matthew 26:28).
The EFCA also teaches “the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus explained to Pontius Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).
From its Statement of Faith one can also observe that the EFCA embraces ecumenism, and confuses the invisible church and visible churches.
“Doctrinal errors—any errors—are serious and potentially destructive of saving faith (Galatians 5:9)” is how one response to a question similar to yours ended. What that sentence means is that it is always dangerous to deny what the Bible teaches. Jesus said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). He did not qualify the truthfulness of God’s word by saying that some of it or most of it is true; he said all of it is true. In addition, God warns people not to change his word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19).
When the Bible states that “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9), it means that one false doctrine can lead to others. Left unchecked, false doctrine in one area of the Bible can ultimately lead to false doctrine regarding Jesus Christ and salvation. That is why any false doctrine is important.
What could be a good Bible study for you and your boyfriend is going through your respective churches’ statements of faith. His is online. Yours is as well. This link will take you to This We Believe, a statement of belief of WELS. You will find many Bible passages in This We Believe that provide biblical support for what we believe. I encourage you both to look up those passages and discuss them. See what God says for himself in his word. God bless your study of his word!