Faith Related Q and A

» What is the difference between this synod and the Missouri Synod? Any theological variance, or just geographic? I was raised in the Missouri Synod and, due to relocation, am looking for a new church to call home.
The main differences fall in the categories of church and ministry, the application of fellowship principles, and the roles of men and women. There are many, many essays on the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File that document the history, theology and practices of the two synods, and their relationship to one another throughout the years. This link will take you to those essays. You will also find other questions about WELS and LCMS in the Church and Ministry category of the Q & A section of this website. You might also be interested in A Tale of Two Synods, a book that is available from Northwestern Publishing House. Finally, if there is a WELS church in your new community, do contact the pastor. He will be glad to provide further information and answer your questions. God’s blessings on your relocation!

» Do you have any online sources or advice for someone trying to learn more about the WELS Church? I was raised in the ELCA, but did not go to church very often growing up or during college. My boyfriend is WELS, grew up in a very faith based household, and went to a WELS college. Definitely more “religious” than me. I’m working on my own faith and making that a bigger part of my life, but talking about marriage scares me because I feel like we have vast religious differences despite both being Lutheran. I’m a strong-willed, liberal woman and there are some fundamental beliefs that I hold that are inconsistent with certain WELS beliefs. I’m open minded and understand the rationale behind certain WELS beliefs, but I know I will never share certain beliefs. I’m looking for some resources perhaps to help me get a better grasp on how drastic the divide between ELCA and WELS is. Thank you in advance!
There are some good resources from Northwestern Publishing House I can recommend to you: WELS and Other Lutherans and What’s Going on Among the Lutherans? The first book is available in print and digital versions; the second is available only in print. The online Essay File of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary has numerous papers that sort out the differences among Lutheran church bodies. Searching the subject of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can get you started. Finally, I encourage you to speak to your boyfriend’s pastor. He is in a position to respond to other questions you might have. I wish you both well as you discuss some very important items in your relationship.

» My question deals with the consumption of alcohol. I believe drinking is ok if done responsibly, but my friend believes any alcohol consumption is a sin. The friend believes that the word "wine" in the Bible has different meanings such as to be happy or joyful. The friend always uses the example that God would never say a little viewing of pornography is fine, just don't overdo it. He takes the case that the over- consumption of alcohol can lead to sinful acts. He also believes that Jesus wouldn't had wine at the Lord's Supper only juice. How do you address this train of thought?
I would encourage your friend to focus on clear passages of Scripture. The Bible does not condemn the use of alcohol (Psalm 104:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:23). It condemns the abuse of alcohol (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 5:18). If wine itself were sinful, Jesus would certainly not have miraculously changed water into wine at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Under the Old Testament ceremonial laws, God even commanded the use of wine with offerings (Exodus 29:40; Number 28:7).  Think of the implications of that. In biblical days in Palestine, people regularly mixed wine with water to purify the water. We know from history that wine was part of the celebration of the Passover meal. Since the institution of the Lord’s Supper took place during the celebration of the Passover meal, the “fruit of the vine” (Matthew 26:29) was a part of it. Any grapes that had been harvested in the previous fall and pressed into juice would most likely have been going through the fermentation process in the following spring (when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper). What your friend says about pornography is true: God does not approve of that in large or small amounts. Equating the moderate consumption of alcohol to pornography is where your friend’s argument collapses. Nowhere does the Bible say that any alcohol consumption is a sin. Christians are free not to consume alcohol or to consume it in moderation. They are not free to bind the consciences of others with their opinions. Ref. Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit  CtC on Facebook.

» I often give in to the sin of watching porn and feel bad and pray to God apologizing and get Communion, then end up falling into temptation again and repeating. I know if you ask for forgiveness but repeat it then it's not being truly repentant. I want to stop and feel super bad if I don't take Communion, but know I will sooner or later fall back into my old ways. What should I do? I don't feel right talking to my pastor about it either.
If you do not feel that you can talk to your pastor about this, I would encourage you to check out the resources, including counselors, available through Conquerors Through Christ, an agency within WELS. Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit  CtC on Facebook. As with any sin, we confess our sins to God, we receive in faith God’s forgiveness of our sins and we resolve to fight all the more against sin and temptation. Your words indicate you recognize this. Your words also reflect the ongoing battle that goes on within Christians (Romans 7:15-25). The website can provide you with practical resources to assist you in your battle against temptation. What follows is one of their FAQs: “OK – so maybe I am addicted. Now what do I do? 1.Pray. Tell God about what you have been doing. It shouldn’t be all that hard, after all, He already knows. He’s just waiting for you to come to him so he can tell you that he loves you and has forgiven you. 2.Watch our videos and explore the web site— they summarize the steps to follow to get porn out of your life. 3.Take the hardest step—tell someone—your pastor, a trusted friend, your spouse, or a Christian counselor. This is a sin we can almost guarantee you will not be able to ‘fix’ on your own. You will need help. But the good news is there IS help available. But you must seek it out. Satan will seek to keep you isolated and weak. Don’t let him. 4.Seek ongoing support in the form of counseling and accountability. This is a battle and Satan will not let his grip on you go without a tremendous struggle. 5.Thank God for the victories and cry for mercy for any failures along the way.” God bless all your efforts in saying “No” to sin and “Yes” to godly living (Titus 2:12).

» Hello. My question might be confusing but please bear with me. I have been a believer in Christ for some time now. I’m also a fan and avid watcher of Japanese anime. Yet I struggle with addiction to pornography, including lusting after the girls in anime, or I should say the sexually explicit form of the medium known as hentai. I strive to break free from the addiction and treat the girls in anime with love as I would girls in the real world. Further complicating matters, I suffer from OCD, which is a mental disorder that causes doubt and unwanted thoughts. The OCD has caused me bad ideas that anime girls will be cursed by God due to all of the time I lusted after them. So my question is: would God curse anime girls by changing them in any negative way for me as punishment for my sin? Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this question.
You do not need to be concerned about God cursing animated characters because of your actions. The characters are not real. The real concern is your addiction to pornography. I would encourage you to check out the helpful resources that are available from Conquerors Through Christ. Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit  CtC on Facebook. If you are interested in speaking with a Christian counselor, Christian Family Solutions offers in-person and video counseling. Both organizations are WELS-affiliated ministries. God’s blessings to you as you seek to do what Scripture says: “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

» Pastor, I have a question that has made me very confused and unworthy of being loved by God. I have long tried to get rid of the feelings towards the same gender, but they do not go away. I have prayed to God, but the feelings remain. I have not acted on these feelings and will never do so, but they never go away. They are a part of me, but that doesn’t mean I am not a follower of God. What should I do? I feel alone. I’m scared that I am not enough and will be left when he comes.
Facing temptation has been the human experience since the Garden of Eden. Jesus himself “has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The sources of Jesus’ temptations were Satan and the world. In addition to those sources, there is a third source of temptation for every person but Jesus; people possess a sinful nature, an ally of Satan. Being exposed to temptation does not make a person guilty of sin; giving in to temptation is sinful (James 1:14-15). By not acting on the feelings you have, I understand that you recognize these truths. The sad reality is that these sources of temptation are lifelong; they do not go away. That means the person who struggles with the temptation to abuse alcohol or the person who fights against the temptation to use pornography or the person who combats the temptation to lust after another person of the opposite sex or the same sex may have to do so for a lifetime. This is not a hopeless reality by any means. After the apostle Paul described his struggles in fighting temptation (Romans 7:15-24), he exclaimed, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25) There is forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. There is power through the gospel of Jesus Christ to live godly lives. What I can suggest is that you speak with your pastor or other trusted Christian counselor to develop strategies in combating the temptations you face. If you are not able to speak with your pastor about this, you might consider the resources of Christian Family Solutions, a WELS-affiliated ministry. The organization offers in-person and video counseling. Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit  CtC on Facebook. You understand your situation correctly: facing the temptations you do does not mean that you are not a follower of God. Christians enjoy the forgiveness of sins, yet they struggle against temptation. Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ lived perfectly in our place and that he took on himself the punishment our sins deserved. Thanks be to God for a Savior who “empathizes with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15) and “gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29). God’s blessings to you.

» If I'm reading the Athanasian Creed correctly, it says a belief in the Trinity is necessary for salvation. Could you please elaborate on this a little bit? How could a person be lost if they don't believe in the Trinity, which is a difficult concept for people to comprehend. I believe in the Trinity, but I've always found the Athanasian Creed a bit troubling because I do not fully understand how a belief in the Trinity relates to the Gospel. Maybe it is simply because the Athanasian Creed was written to combat heresies that said Jesus was only a man?
You are reading and understanding the Athanasian Creed correctly. The Bible teaches that there is salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). As you suggested, the Athanasian Creed was written to combat heresies that Jesus is inferior to God the Father. If Jesus is not God, then God is not triune; a denial of Jesus is a denial of the Father (John 5:22-23). The doctrine of the Trinity certainly “is a difficult concept for people to comprehend.” Thankfully, saving faith does not mean that people need to understand all the complexities of biblical doctrines. Saving faith is trust, acceptance and reliance on what God declares about himself and his works (Hebrews 11:1). Saving faith is trust in the God the Bible, who reveals himself in Scripture as a triune God. The Athanasian Creed does not condemn Christians who struggle to understand a God who is far superior to them in every way. The Athanasian Creed does condemn those who deny the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

» Does an adult have to be confirmed before they can be baptized?
Recognizing that the Bible does not command Confirmation, the answer is “no.” Because there is Christian freedom in this area, practices will vary. Some adults might want to wait until their course of Bible instruction is completed before they are baptized. Others might desire to be baptized as they learn about God’s love for them and the blessings of Baptism. Our pastors will work with adults and treat each situation individually.

» My granddaughter is 11 years old and is just going to be baptized. How do I explain to her what she all needs to know? She has had no religious teaching. Her parents are separated and so far has had a hard life. The only reason she is getting baptized now is because I said I would like to see her baptized before I pass away. Help.
You can count on your pastor to explain to your granddaughter what Baptism is all about. You can tell her that God works through Baptism to guarantee the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. You can share Bible passages like the following with her: Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27; Titus 3:5-7; and, 1 Peter 3:21. God’s blessings to you both!

» I was talking to someone who told me that the Bible says that people can put a curse on me. He also said that in the Bible there is a prayer that will remove a curse. How do I answer that? I have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation a number of times but never read this about curses. Can you give me some information about curses in the Bible?
According to the Bible, cursing is using God’s name to wish evil on someone or something. God’s Second Commandment forbids such speech and actions (Romans 12:14; James 3:10). A curse spoken against you, a child of God, amounts to idle words. God is not bound to carry out the whims and wishes of people who act contrary to his will (Psalm 109:28). Romans 8:31-39 describes God’s strong, enduring love for his children. I am not aware of the prayer that was mentioned to you.

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.

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! ~ Luke 24:5-6