Faith Related Q and A

» Can a home church celebrate Holy Communion?
I do not know how you might be defining home church, so what I can do is pass along a response to a similar question. The response contained information from the March 24, 2020 Together newsletter. “Since restrictions on gatherings vary from place to place, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper will in some places need to be modified, depending on government restrictions and medical guidelines. Some congregations, if allowed by state and local authorities, are gathering in small groups and taking great care to practice good hygiene and recommended ‘social distancing.’ “In other places, even small gatherings are not allowed. There have been questions about how we should proceed when it comes to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper when members cannot gather at church. “Regardless of the specific situation in which your congregation finds itself, here are a couple of things to remember. First, while Christians desire to be strengthened and comforted by the Lord’s Supper, we also recognize that there are times when the normal celebration of Communion is not possible. For Christians serving in a war zone, for church members who are in a medically induced coma, for believers who are home-bound because of sickness or infirmity, the normal celebration of the Lord’s Supper with other believers may not be an option. But in those cases we take comfort in knowing that we have the means of grace in two forms—Word and sacrament. The forgiveness conveyed and assured by the written or spoken Word of God is no less powerful and effective than the sacrament. In some cases, private Communion may certainly be available. “Second, we also recognize that there is no scriptural definition or requirement for how frequently Christians should celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Jesus simply encourages us to receive the Lord’s Supper regularly and often. There may be times such as this that, temporarily, the Lord’s Supper may not be available as often as we would like or desire. For that reason, the Conference of Presidents is urging patience with the following advice: “We encourage our congregations at this time to reserve the distribution of the Lord’s Supper for its regular and normal use within the gathering of the body of believers (realizing that some changes in procedure may be made) or distributed privately by the pastor to individuals in need, as is the customary practice. We urge congregations to refrain from initiating novel approaches for celebration of the sacrament.” Click here to subscribe to Together newsletters.

» 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.

WELS Q&A are topics that are submitted to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website.  The articles here are an automatic feed from the wels.net Q&A website.  Even though we may not have generated this contect, we are in fellowship with the WELS and generally subscribe to the beliefs of the breatheryn in the synod generating these answers.

...yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ... ~ Galatians 2:16