Faith Related Q and A

» Is a "clique" within a congregation a problem? If we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, doesn't this destroy the fellowship we should share in a congregation? Should this person be confronted?
Cliques within congregations do war against the unity of the family of believers. Chapters 1 and 3 of 1 Corinthians address the divisions that existed among the believers in the congregation in Corinth. That part of Scripture would be good reading material in the context of your question. If an individual is sinning by destroying the unity of a congregation, by all means speak to that person in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-20. Ephesians 4:3 provides good encouragement for all Christians: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

» Should a Freemason and a Boy Scout leader be spiritual leaders (elders) of a church?
The answer is “no.” If you have knowledge of this, you want your course of action to be guided by Matthew 18:15-20.

» Can a lay person hold the pastor and leaders of a church accountable for overlooking open sin in the congregation?
Certainly. Following the example of the Christians in Berea (Acts 17:11), Christians have the responsibility of examining the teaching they receive from their spiritual leaders with the message of the Bible. As God instructs the leaders of his church to watch their life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16), it follows that Christians will speak to those leaders when there are problems with their life and doctrine. When Christians think of having those conversations, they will follow the direction of Matthew 18:15-20. Seeking to restore the wandering is vitally important (James 5:19). Finally, your question about accountability serves as a reminder that God himself holds pastors accountable for their work (Ezekiel chapters 3 and 34).

» Hello, I am interested in your thoughts regarding Rosa Parks. Do you believe she should have given up her seat? Also, what are your thoughts regarding civil disobedience in general? God's blessings.
As I refrain from offering personal opinions and speculation in these responses, I will direct my remarks to the general subject matter that is referenced in your second question. In the Bible God tells us to submit to his representatives in government (Romans 13). We are to give them honor and respect and obedience. There can be exceptional behavior on our part if we face conflicting directives from God and the government. In cases like that, we obey God (Acts 5:29). That passage from Acts guides our actions if the government compels us to go against God’s word, but what if the government enacts laws that are unjust but do not force sinful actions on our part? There are peaceful options available to us. First of all, we pray. We pray that God would bless his representatives in government with wisdom and love, to rule with justice and impartiality (1 Timothy 2:1-4). If we disagree with legislation, we are able to contact our legislators and relay our disagreement to those people who represent us. Is there a place for civil disobedience? An answer you will hear in our circles is that, within limits and reason, there might be occasion for passive civil disobedience. That disobedience does not consist of violent resistance but peaceful inaction. The motive for that course of (in)action would be important. A noble motive could be one that seeks to protect other people from suffering injustice. While Scripture is our guide in matters like this, we can benefit from God’s people who explain and apply Scripture, and so you might be interested in reading Martin Luther’s thoughts on civil disobedience in his work: “Can Soldiers Too Be Saved?” Living as members of God’s kingdom and citizens of an earthly kingdom definitely presents challenges to us. While we have our eyes on God’s fourth commandment, honoring his representatives in all areas of life, we have our sights even higher—on God’s first commandment, loving him more than anyone or anything else. And as Christians, our greatest motive for doing that is to thank him for his forgiving love in Christ.

» In 1st Timothy, Paul explains the roles of men and woman. Men are head of the church and of their families. The man is supposed to guide and lead, but what about single females who live far away from their fathers? Who is supposed to guide and care for them? Also, Paul continues and states that woman are saved through childbirth. I know that only through Christ is one saved through faith in him. What does Paul mean by that? Not all woman can have children. What does that mean for them?
The principle of loving head and loving helper (1 Corinthians 11:3ff) has application in different ways to different people. In your current home situation, you have the responsibility of providing for your material needs and seeing to it that your spiritual needs are met. The fourth commandment is always in place, but the scope of application changes as parents and children grow older. When it comes to women being saved “through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15), you are correct in stating that salvation comes about only through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Giving birth to children is not another means to salvation. So what does that expression mean? Let me pass along these thoughts from the People’s Bible Series for 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus: “Paul has been speaking about the woman’s specific role as given in creation. She had stepped out of that role, had been deceived by Satan and become a sinner. She need not, however, feel deprived or inferior as man’s helper. Salvation is hers, living in the role God had assigned to her. Unique and special in that role is bearing children and the mothering that goes with it. Living according to her God-given role will not in any way deprive her of the salvation that we all have alone through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian woman will find genuine fulfillment as she conducts herself according to God’s plan.” (pages 44-45) That clear explanation illustrates why the People’s Bible Series is such a popular resource for Christians. So, continue living your life in the joy and confidence that, through faith in Jesus, you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26-29)!

» When will the new hymnal be out? Also, as far as psalm singing is concerned, is there a new version of the accompaniment available? I winter in the south and attend a WELS church. It seems they use something different, which I really liked.
The April 4, 2017 WELS “Together” newsletter includes this update: “The current hope is that the hymnal and accompanying resources would be available for purchase during the second half of 2021.” Since I do not know what you may have experienced in singing the psalms in your southern home church, I can only guess what the accompaniment might have been. I am wondering if it could have been the Wittenberg Psalter. This link will take you to the WELS Resource Center where you can find more information about it. It is also possible that the congregation was field testing new psalm settings. For the best answer, you will want to contact the pastor where you worshiped in winter.

» Hello. I was just confirmed last Sunday and was wondering where I should start with my offerings. How should I figure out what to give?
What a great question! Congratulations, first of all, on becoming a communicant member of your congregation. That membership status provides you with privileges and responsibilities. It is very encouraging to read of your desire to be a faithful manager of God’s possessions. The June 2017 “Light for our path” column in Forward in Christ will address a question like yours, but let me give you a little preview. This whole subject matter begins with the recognition that God is the owner of all things (Psalm 24:1; Haggai 2:8). God entrusts his possessions to people, who are to manage them faithfully. Old Testament ceremonial laws gave God’s people specific instructions on what to give back to him. There were laws dealing with tithes (10% of income). New Testament followers of the Lord like us are free from those ceremonial laws (Colossians 2:16-17). While we welcome Christian freedom, we also welcome some guidance—as evidenced by your question. God provides guidance. The application of the words in 1 Corinthians 16:2 is that we plan our offerings and we do so with a proportionate view toward our income. And so I would encourage you to give back to God first (the “firstfruits” principle in the Old Testament) and to plan your offerings based on a percentage of whatever income you might have. What percentage? That’s where your Christian freedom enters the picture. For discussion’s sake, let’s say you earn money from babysitting or a newspaper delivery route. What would 5% of that money be? That could be your offering. What would 7% be? 10%? You get the idea. Nobody can tell another Christian what to give back to God. Essentially, the guidance from Scripture for our offerings is giving ___% of our income. You have freedom in filling in the blank. Recognizing how blessed we are through Christ provides every reason for filling in that blank with higher, rather than lower, numbers (Romans 12:1). Again, congratulations on your Confirmation. I would say you are starting out well with the responsibilities and privileges that your communicant membership has given you. The apostle Paul’s sentiment toward the Christians in Philippi is mine for you—that God “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

» For many years WELS has had concerns with Scouting, especially with the former handbook promoting work righteousness, and rightly so. When did that change? Spare the details, but at a congregation meeting the church president talked about picking up his son from Boy Scouts. After talking to the pastor privately, he said the handbook we were always concerned with has since been replaced and Scouting has become a totally secular organization. Aren't there still other concerns? Is WELS now officially OK with Scouting?
Our web site contains the following response to a previous question about our synod’s position on Scouting. Because Scouting has not changed its oath or law, our position remains the same. “The Boy Scouts are among the most respected organizations in this country, and the skills, activities, and companionship which they offer could be a benefit to any child. Yet for more than 70 years the Wisconsin Synod has warned its members that their children should not participate in the Scouting program. “Our basic objection to Scouting was that the required promise and law contain religious elements which imply that the Scout can do his duty to God regardless of what religion he belongs to. This contradicts the clear statements of Scripture that no one can perform works pleasing to God without faith in Christ. “Over the years the wording of the Scout Law and its explanation have become vaguer and less offensive, but the religious principles have been maintained. All members of the Scouts must accept the Scout Oath and Law, but they may interpret them in their own way. For example, an atheist boy who refused to promise to do his duty to God was denied membership, but when he took the oath with the understanding that ‘god’ was not a personal being, he was permitted to join. This is certainly a very offensive interpretation of the concept of ‘duty to God.’ “Recognition of the religious basis of Scouting is not limited to the WELS. Advocates of strong separation of church and state have objected to the promotion of Scouting in public schools because of its religious requirements. “Because the religious requirements of Scouting remain unchanged, our WELS congregations cannot make use of the Scouting organizations. We have a better option in the Lutheran Pioneers, which provide many of the same benefits as Scouting, without the objectionable religious requirements. “The religious principles of Scouting remain unchanged, but there has been one notable development. The increased vagueness of the Scouting literature and the fact that some Scout troops may make little use of the religious features make it more difficult for pastors and teachers to convincingly demonstrate from the Scout Handbook the false religious principles which underlie Scouting. This makes it more difficult to convince parents that their children should not belong to the Scouts. The Girl Scouts are a separate organization, but the same principles and observations apply to that group also.”

» We are starting a praise band in our church. Does the synod have any guidelines to the question of paying the members or expecting them to use their talents to provide a service to the worship service? Thanks. We are working on our ministry plan for 2017-2018.
To my knowledge, there are no such guidelines. It is a congregational matter whether service of any kind by members is compensated or is voluntary. You would probably do best to speak to the leaders of congregations who oversee such musical ministries.

» When a couple is living together and wants to be married in a WELS church, what should a pastor do?
A pastor will be interested in meeting with the individuals to apply God’s word to their situation. He will be interested in encouraging repentant attitudes toward sin, delivering the gospel message to penitent sinners and working with them to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A pastor will be interested in having the couple recognize the offense their situation can cause others and address how to remove that offense (1 Corinthians 10:32). A pastor is interested in having a man and a woman follow God’s word and the laws of the state before they begin living as husband and wife. When two people of the opposite sex live together without the benefit of marriage, they put themselves into tempting situations where they can break the sixth commandment. The Bible tells Christians to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). God explains that he “will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). If a man and a woman living together without being married claim to be refraining from sexual activity, they are still in a position of causing offense to others (Matthew 18:6-7) and emboldening them to sin. In addition, their lives are not in line with what God says: that “among you, there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3). The proliferation of couples living together before marriage definitely presents pastors with ongoing challenges in addressing sin and interacting with the family and friends of those involved. So, pray for pastors. Theirs is a weighty responsibility to warn people about sin (Ezekiel 33:7-9) and to watch over their souls (Acts 20:28).

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.

Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 5:1