A couple travels down different paths to discover the truth: Salvation is God’s gift to us through his Son.
Julie K. Wietzke
David and Meredith Moseley came from different ends of the religious spectrum—she from a strict Roman Catholic upbringing and he from the charismatic Assemblies of God. She grew up with the rosary, praying to the saints, and being “all about Mary.” His church emphasized the gifts of the Spirit, the laying on of hands, millennialism, and speaking in tongues.
Both denominations lacked the distinctly Lutheran message: Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone.
“Although [our religious upbringings] might be different on the outside, in the end it’s the same bag of tricks,” says Meredith. “It’s all in the end a works-based religion.”
David and Meredith traveled down different paths to discover the truth: Salvation is God’s gift to us through his Son.
Meredith’s journey to Lutheranism didn’t start until she went to college. She grew up in a devout Catholic family, attended Catholic high school, and served as a cantor for the weekly mass at church.
It wasn’t until she met a friend at UW–La Crosse that she stepped back to look at what she really believed. “My friend was an evangelical, born-again believer type and she was really outspoken about her faith,” says Meredith. “It made me think about myself and where I was in my beliefs.”
She says her friend encouraged her to read the Bible—something she hadn’t done much in the past. So Meredith started casually reading the Bible, and the Holy Spirit begin his work.
After finding a book about the virgin Mary at home and reading it, Meredith began questioning her upbringing even more. “The book was saying the secret to heaven is to become a slave of Mary,” she says. “I had the weirdest feeling that this isn’t right; this isn’t what the Bible is telling me.”
This became a turning point for her. “I realized I always just accepted what the Catholic church said as true, but if they’re accepting these teachings that aren’t right, it had me questioning everything they teach,” she says.
She began visiting other churches and more regularly attending an Evangelical Free church, although she wasn’t always comfortable with the more contemporary worship. A WELS friend invited her to his church, and she decided to take the Bible information class to learn more about Lutheranism. “It was a good representation of what the Bible teaches,” she says. Being a musician, she also appreciated the historical liturgy and reading the music directly from the hymnal. She joined Immanuel, La Crosse, Wis., in 2009.
Now came the hard part—telling her parents. She wrote them a letter and gave it to them when she was home for Christmas vacation. “I put all the Scripture verses and reasons why I chose not to be Catholic anymore,” she says. “I felt like [my parents] were put off by the Scriptures; I guess the Word is offensive to people.”
But for Meredith, the Word brought the true meaning of grace—not by works, but through faith in her Savior from sin.
David grew up in an Assembly of God church. The largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, the Assemblies of God emphasize speaking in tongues, the laying on of hands for healing, millennialism, and the need to accept Jesus as your Savior.
Being moved by the Spirit was common in worship services David attended in Tomah, Wis., while growing up. He says often someone spoke in tongues during worship and people were “slain by the Spirit,” in which they would fall to the ground after the laying on of hands for healing. “The whole emphasis on worship is to let the Spirit move so the emotions of people were affected,” he says. David says he was zealous for the faith as a teen, even being part of the worship team.
But the congregation had internal problems, and his father, a former Lutheran, began to question the charismatic gifts emphasized at the church.
The Lord also placed other influences in David’s religious life. His dad’s parents were WELS, and his grandmother introduced him to a WELS pastor’s wife who gave him piano lessons. This gave David a chance to know someone who was Lutheran besides his grandparents. “She was very vocal about her faith,” he says.
David joined the army in 2006 and before leaving for basic training, he decided he wanted to attend a service at St. Paul, Tomah, with his grandma and grandpa. “I was getting curious,” he says. He attended a Christmas Eve candlelight service when he returned after basic training and Ash Wednesday church when he was back on leave.
Then, while serving at Fort Eustis in Virginia, getting to an Assembly of God church for church was difficult, so he began attending the chapel at the fort. “I discovered you don’t have to be Assembly of God,” he says. “There were wonderful believers here at the chapel.” He also began listening to a confessional online Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod radio program, which helped him understand how Lutherans viewed the sacraments. “It took care of a lot of issues for me because it pointed me back to Scripture,” he says. He began reading and learning more.
When David returned to Tomah in 2010 after he completed his active duty, he started visiting St. Paul more regularly. But he also still kept attending the Assembly of God church—partly because his parents were still members and he was living at home and partly because “I was not ready to say that it was heretical,” he says.
In 2011 he met his wife, Meredith, who then was a member at another WELS church in town. She and David began attending St. Paul’s together and she decided to become a member there. They got engaged, and David started taking Bible information class.
The class further clarified his understanding of the Lutheran faith, including the definitions of words like faith and grace. “Most American evangelicals view faith as something I drum up in my heart instead of being the gift of the Holy Spirit to us,” David says. “It’s about having to look inside me and I can make the decision—I can believe in Jesus—vs. it’s the Holy Spirit through the Word that causes us to believe.”
In June 2013, David was finally ready to make a complete break from the church of his childhood and join St. Paul. It wasn’t easy—David says his mom, though she accepted it, never really got over it.
David and Meredith continue to be faithful members of St. Paul and participate in the music ministry of the congregation. David also served as a delegate to this summer’s synod convention. With raising one daughter and another child on the way, they say that sometimes it is difficult not to have a close family heritage with the confessional Lutheran church and its teachings. But, according to Meredith, their broader understanding of what other denominations teach helps them appreciate the distinct Lutheran truths of Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone all the more.
Says David, “We have our salvation—it’s all God’s gift to us. . . . Just go back to the Word of God—that’s all you need.”
Julie Wietzke is managing editor of Forward in Christ magazine.
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Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 104, Number 11
Issue: November 2017
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