Recent Questions

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I have a friend who is a Free Mason. I know there is a reason we are not to be. Could you please explain?

In short, Freemasonry teaches work righteousness; it denies the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. Anyone who tries to reach heaven by following the work righteous teachings of Freemasonry will fall short. The Bible teaches that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot be perfect as God demands (Matthew 5:48). We fall short of God’s demands of perfection (Romans 3:23). There is salvation through Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12).

Membership in a church or an organization implies that the person is committed to the teachings and practices of that church or organization. A person’s stated reason for joining Freemasonry might be business networking or friendship building, but membership still sends the signal to others that there is an acceptance of what the lodge stands for and teaches.

Having membership in a Christian congregation (where Jesus Christ is confessed as Savior) and having membership in a Masonic lodge (where Jesus Christ is denied) is contradictory.

Jesus’ words are so important in this regard: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). While a confession of Christian faith in the heart is connected to eternal joys, denial of Jesus has sad, tragic and eternal consequences.

Martin Luther College (MLC) has been teaching Critical Race Theory. Has this become an official position of WELS? I'm looking for a straight answer, not rationalization. I feel terrible about the Synod having been possibly compromised.

While I teach at the college you mention, I thought it would be best if the President of the college provided the response. Here is his response to your question and concern.

“Critical Race Theory is ‘taught’ at MLC only in regard to making students aware of its assumptions and presuppositions. In keeping with what Paul urges in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (‘Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ’), such study helps our students analyze this theory in light of Scripture. It is no different from how we ‘teach’ evolution at MLC. Our students need to be aware of such human theories so that they can analyze them thoughtfully and biblically in light of the gospel.”

I am a member of a WELS church. Can I be an associate member at another synod Lutheran Church while keeping my membership intact at my WELS church?

No. Such a situation is not workable. With church membership, people commit themselves to the doctrine and practice of that church. If multiple memberships were allowed, people would be committing themselves to different doctrines and practices.

Membership in more than one church presents many challenges. One of the most practical and serious deals with the spiritual care of the individual, especially if church discipline were involved (Matthew 18:15-20). Confusion and/or disagreement over which pastor is the primary shepherd of the individual would be a natural result.

I am looking for a Kindle version of Concordia Self-Study Bible. What is the best NIV option?

The Kindle version of that Bible is no longer available. Lacking other information about your situation and preferences, it is difficult to recommend an NIV option.

Northwestern Publishing House offers many different options. I invite you to see what is available and consider what might best meet your needs and interests.

Hello! I was wondering if Jesus did miracles by the Holy Spirit, by His divinity, or by both? Are there any verses that show the answer? I find verses that say it was by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:27-28; Acts 2:22), but was his divinity completely uninvolved?

Jesus is true man and true God, and we cannot separate those two natures. What he did—including miracles—he did as true man and true God.

The relationship of the Holy Spirit to the work of Christ (Matthew 12:27-28) comes as no surprise. Recall what happened at Jesus’ Baptism: “ As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him” (Matthew 3:16).

Because Jesus’ Baptism was his anointing into the offices of prophet, priest and king, Jesus could cite Isaiah 61:1-2 and state, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:18-21). Just as “Messiah” means “the anointed one,” so “Christ” means “the anointed one.”

Hi, My question is about something that I have heard said by lots of Roman Catholic laypeople and priests. When they talk about the Sacrament (and I think this is also part of their portion of their version of the Words of Institution), they say "Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ." I understand that their whole understanding of Communion differs greatly from ours with their dogma of Transubstantiation. I'm just so confused, why they would say "soul and divinity"? I guess I could understand the divinity portion, because if we are receiving Christ's Body and Blood, his flesh is perfect, so it would be human and divine at the same time. Is that correct? But his "soul"? Did Jesus have during his time on earth/currently have a soul? I think of that as something all of us human creatures on earth and in Heaven have...I don't think of God as having a "soul." I understand Him as being the one who creates our souls when we are conceived. Do we believe or is it ever talked about in Scripture that Jesus had/has a soul?

A human being has a body and a soul. When Jesus, the eternal Son of God, became true man by way of his miraculous conception and birth, that meant he now had a body and a soul (Matthew 26:38).

At death, a person’s body and soul separate (Ecclesiastes 12:7). When Jesus was about to die, he committed his soul/spirit into the hands of his heavenly Father (Luke 23:46).

Resurrection is the reuniting of body and soul. Jesus’ body and soul were reunited in the tomb early Easter Sunday morning.

The Bible teaches that Jesus had/has a soul.

I have seen false teachings being preached and growing in the WELS. This not in the official doctrines or on WELS website but online. This is from pastors, leaders, and laymen. I think some have gotten away from the Lutheran Confessions and allowed growing ministries in WELS and outside WELS be the leaders in our thinking. This is not a hell fire law judgement but an observation from a concerned member. I personally dislike confrontation so keep silent, but there are issues and I am not alone in this concern. The biggest concerns are role of men and women, church worship enthusiasm, piety, communion, ministry gender roles, and growth without losing truth in purity. What can be done to stay strong to the Confessions as being correct interpretation of Scripture, yet not being swayed by culture, because I think we are?

If you identify concerns and (potential) problems but keep silent, it is likely the status quo will continue: you will have a level of concern that could include frustration, and ministries will not receive appropriate feedback.

I understand that a dislike for confrontation can prevent you from speaking up, so I would encourage you to look upon such conversations with others in a less confrontational way. Here is what I mean. Accusatory statements and the phrasing of certain questions can put people on the defensive. How we engage others in conversation can lead to calm, productive dialogues.

It is important and necessary for you and your fellow Christians to speak up when there are questions and concerns about the public ministry of a called worker. That is a practical implication of having a Berean attitude (Acts 17:11). “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) describes the way in which these conversations are to take place. There is love for the messenger of God’s word, and there is love for the word of God. That word “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Some of Martin Luther’s words are appropriate at this point. “To recognize and judge doctrine behooves each and every Christian, so much so that he is accursed who infringes upon this right by as little as a hairsbreadth. For Christ Himself has established this right by various and unassailable statements, such as Matt. 6:15: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing.’ He is certainly speaking this word to the people in opposition to those who teach, and He commands them to avoid false teachings. But how can they avoid them if they do not recognize them? And how can they recognize them if they do not have the right to judge them? But now He gives them not only the right but also the command to judge…

“Once the right to judge doctrine is taken away from the hearers, what can or may a teacher not dare though (if that were possible) he were worse than Satan? Conversely, if judging doctrine is permitted, aye, commanded, what can or may a teacher dare though he were more than an angel from heaven? For if this were permitted, Paul would not only rebuke Peter but would also anathematize the angels of heaven.” (What Luther Says. Volume I. Page 418)

Conversations with called workers can help those workers stay true to biblical doctrines—and the Lutheran Confessions, which explain biblical doctrines.

Certainly, pray for those in public ministry positions. The apostle Paul invited prayers on his behalf: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:19-20).

As a congregational member, do what you can to ensure that your called workers have the time and resources to take advantage of continuing education opportunities. That is a way for them to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

I encourage you to follow through on these suggestions.

Does the doctrine of Universal Objective Justification mean that all people are justified before and apart from faith?

Justify means “to declare ‘not guilty.’” As a church body, we make this confession in This We Believe:

“We believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them righteous for the sake of Christ. This is the central message of Scripture upon which the very existence of the church depends. It is a message relevant to people of all times and places, of all races and social levels, for ‘the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men’ (Romans 5:18). All need forgiveness of sins before God, and Scripture proclaims that all have been justified, for ‘the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men’ (Romans 5:18).”

A person does not benefit from that gracious declaration of “not guilty” or enjoy the forgiveness of sins without faith in Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16; John 8:24; Romans 3:28; 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9).

What are your thoughts on Qanon? More importantly what about a WELS member who believes in Qanon?

As I strive to provide answers and responses based on Scripture—and not pass along personal opinions—I need to respectfully decline providing you with the kind of response you may have been seeking.

How do I explain to those who don't believe how the Bible was written? I recently tried to explain, but I did not do a very good job.

Picture this: the CEO of the company is dictating a letter to the secretary. As the CEO speaks, the secretary takes down every word. When the CEO is done, it’s clearly the CEO’s letter.

At the same time, the secretary’s abilities, skills, etc. are sure to show through. For example, if the secretary has poor eyesight, the letter will probably be typed in a larger font. Yet the letter remains the CEO’s.

Although simplistic, that basically illustrates how we got the Bible. God is the “CEO,” and various human writers are the “secretaries.” God gave the writers the exact words which He wanted them to use. The Bible describes it this way: “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Similarly, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Often in the Old Testament (written about 1400 – 400 B.C.) you’ll hear God say something like, “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you … ” (Jeremiah 36:2) These words are God’s Words.

Does Jesus agree? Yes! One time Jesus quoted a passage from the book of Psalms. After He did, He made a parenthetical, yet important, remark: “–and the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). He was saying, “These words are God’s words.”

The New Testament makes the same claim. One example is found in 1 Thessalonians: “… when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God . . .” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) Again, these words are God’s words.

And yet God in mercy chose to work through human writers, more than 35 of them. God used people like Moses, Isaiah, Luke, John, and Paul to write down His words, to be His “secretaries,” and indeed their personality/talents shine through. For example, Luke was a physician. In his books, we see lots of details, as you might expect from a physician. Paul was a learned man, so the books he wrote are often quite deep, even a bit more difficult to understand.

To summarize, God gave the Bible through human writers; we can learn a few things about them by reading their books. Yet they remained merely the “secretaries.” The words, finally, are God’s.

The preceding information is from the What About Jesus? website, a resource maintained by WELS Commission on Evangelism. The website has many other valuable resources for you and the people with whom you are sharing your faith.

Don’t let this experience discourage you. Keep taking advantage of the opportunities you have to point people to Jesus, the world’s only Savior.

Is it unchristian to not want to have children?

When it comes to children, we want to make sure that we view them as God intended: as his blessings (Psalm 127:3-5). If a Christian husband and wife are physically able to have children and choose not to have children, they will need to examine their motives and methods to see how those line up with God’s word. Reasons for not wanting to have children might include concerns for the physical, emotional or mental state of one or both spouses.

Christian Life Resources, a WELS-affiliated ministry, has good resources on this subject. I encourage you to read especially the three-part series on birth control. God’s blessings to you.

What are the differences between WELS and the Presbyterian Church?

I can point you to the answer of a very similar question. The answer follows.

“Just as all churches that bear the name ‘Lutheran’ do not teach the same as other ‘Lutherans,’ so not all churches that bear the name ‘Presbyterian’ teach exactly the same. We can, however, speak of what Presbyterians believed historically and compare it with what confessional Lutherans believe.

“Historically, as strict Calvinists, Presbyterians taught that from eternity God elected some to be saved and some to be damned (double predestination). By no means do all Presbyterians believe this today. Confessional Lutherans believe that from eternity God chose those whom he would convert through the gospel and preserve in faith to eternal life. See Ephesians 1:4-6; Romans 8:29,30). Confessional Lutherans reject the notion that unbelievers were predestined to damnation, for ‘God does not will that any should perish’ (see 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9).

“Historically, and as a corollary of the Calvinist belief in double predestination, Presbyterians taught that Christ atoned for the sins only of those predestined for life in heaven. Confessional Lutherans believe that Jesus Christ, the God-man, was sent by the Father to atone for the sins of all people, and that he did so. See Romans 5:18,19; Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:19; and John 1:29.

“Historically, Presbyterians believed that it is impossible for a believer to fall from the faith. Confessional Lutherans believe that it is possible for believers to fall from faith. See 1 Corinthians 10:12.

“Historically, Presbyterians have believed that Sunday has replaced Saturday as the Sabbath, to be observed in a way similar to the Old Testament regulations. Confessional Lutherans believe that New Testament believers are free to gather for worship on Sunday (or any other day), without special rules regarding work or recreation. See Colossians 2:16,17: ‘Do not let anyone judge you . . . with regard to a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.’

“The name ‘Presbyterian’ means ‘having elders (teaching and ruling or presiding),’ as the only form of church government that has God’s approval. Confessional Lutherans believe that the Lord has instituted and provides for the gospel ministry, but that there are no commands in the New Testament as to forms of organization.

“Like other Protestant (non-Lutheran) churches, Presbyterians do not believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means of grace—forms of the gospel through which the Holy Spirit gives and strengthens faith. Confessional Lutherans believe that Baptism gives new life (Titus 3:5) and cleanses from all sin (Acts 2:38). Confessional Lutherans believe that as believers receive Christ’s body and blood under the bread and wine they also receive the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 10:16). Presbyterians do not believe communicants receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in his Supper.”

Individual Presbyterians today may have different personal beliefs than what was stated in the previous paragraphs. The key is recognizing that the beliefs stated in the answer are “what Presbyterians believed historically.” You will also want to keep in mind that there is more than one Presbyterian church body in our country.

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