(W)ELS is not restricted to the Lutheran Confessions. Wayne Mueller states that appeals to the Lutheran Confessions did not resolve the UOJ controversy. He fails to explain that the reason the Lutheran Confessions did not end the controversies and why the Lutheran Confessions do not limit the (W)ELS in matters of doctrine and practice is because they reject the BOC as being the faithful expanation of God's chief articles of Christian faith which they as professing the Lutheran name have sworn and oath to uphold. There are far more quotes than these but this should help begin the discussion concerning the glory of the (W)ELS.
"We apply the Confessions as a limited standard to judge those doctrines which they directly or incidentally addresses."
"IV. Application of the Confessions to the Present Controversy
Appeal to the Lutheran symbols did not resolve the inspiration of Scriptures controversy. No, our confessions do not have the last word when it comes to determining what we are to teach. That belongs to Scripture. When, therefore, the matter of the inspiration of Scripture becomes a contested doctrine in the church, as it has, God expects us to state what Scripture states. It is not necessary to call a council of all Lutherans to determine what the Lutheran stand will be: Scripture has already determined that. We are not restricted to those doctrines laid down in our confessions. (Harold Wicks, Scripture is the Course and Norm for the Christian’s Faith and Life,’ Our Great Heritage, Vol. I, p84)"
"We are not restricted to those doctrines laid down in our confessions. This is the very procedure followed in the confessions themselves. The Augustana did not restrict itself to those points treated in the Apostles’ Creed. The Formula of Concord , in turn, did not restrict itself to those doctrinal statements found in the Augustana , the Apology , or the Smalcald articles . It went beyond them, because the framers of these documents considered it wise to do so. This is especially true of its Article on God’s Eternal Foreknowledge and Election. (Harold Wicks, "What is Doctrine According to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions,’ Our Great Heritage, Vol. I,p841"
"Appeal to the Lutheran symbols did not resolve the objective justification controversy.
(Note Vernon Harley’s use of the Confessions to limit exegetical conclusions in his "Exegetical Study of Scripture Passages Generally Used to Teach ‘Objective’ or ‘Universal’ Justification" 1984, p8) "This is basically why they contend so strongly for ‘objective’ justification and go a step further than our Lutheran Confessions insisting that Objective Justification is the Chief article of the Christian Faith, while our Confessions give that honor to justification by grace through faith" (Formula of Concord, S.D. III, 6, p. 540 in Tappert)."
GJ - Judging from LI's experience, I would say that the Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie does a better job than The Sausage Factory - when it comes to using the Book of Concord.
However, since UOJ Wisconsinites dominate both sects, the results are the same. The ELS pastors know Lutheran doctrine better, but the ELS leaders parrot the WELS line on everything.
John Shep wants people to know that he coined the line, "When Mischke drinks beer in Milwaukee, Orvick burps in Mankato."
First of all, WELS pastors do not know Lutheran doctrine at all. What they know, they despise. There are exceptions, but they have to stay under the WELSian radar, and away from the WELS KGB.
WELS does a poor job of teaching the Confessions, so no one has the capacity to read and teach the Confessions - not that they care to do so. Wayne Mueller, another advocate of UOJ and Church Growth, is typical in his snotty attitude about the Book of Concord.
Everyone must look at the claims of WELS and the reality. The gap is breathtaking, like looking across the Grand Canyon the first time. That is always the WELS approach - a boastful claim for the public, a snide and arrogant attitude for the brothers. Their quia subscription might as well be a Chia subscription to the Book of Concord.
But it will grow on you.