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Question & Answer
Faith Related Q and A

» Why did Jesus have to suffer such an horrendous death to forgive us our sins if it was he who forgave us our sins to begin with, assuming he is God? Why didn’t he just forgive us?
Jesus is God. Our Catechism teaches us that Jesus has divine names (Luke 2:11), he has divine attributes (John 1:2), he is responsible for divine works (cf. his many miracles) and he is to be given divine honor (John 5:22-23). God explains in the Bible that he is a just and loving God. His justice demands that sin be punished (Ezekiel 18; Romans 6:23). His love moved him to provide a substitute to live and die in the place of sinners (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible teaches that the forgiveness of sins is God’s free gift to people through faith in Jesus his Son. While forgiveness of sins is free to you and me, it came at a great cost to God. For that we praise God (2 Corinthians 5:15).

» What are the differences between the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod? And, as a follow-up, is it true that Lutherans from different synods cannot take Communion in a Wisconsin Synod church?
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 essays on the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File that provide a history of the relationship between the two synods. This link will take you to those essays. You might also be interested in A Tale of Two Synods, a book that is available from Northwestern Publishing House. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod enjoys fellowship with 31 Lutheran church bodies throughout the world. That fellowship includes the privilege of receiving the Lord’s Supper together. This link will take you to a listing of those churches.

» Is it the will of God that the Jews would reject Jesus Christ in order for the gentiles to have salvation? Will the Jews go to hell for rejecting Christ?
God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God wants “everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). It is people who reject God (Matthew 23:37). The apostle Paul explained that the Jews’ rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ resulted in the expansion of his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-47). It was not God’s will that the Jews reject Jesus Christ. Anyone—Jew or Gentile—who rejects Jesus Christ as Savior will be condemned eternally in hell (Mark 16:16). Your question underscores the urgency in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with all people. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

» Hi, long time believer, first-time writer. I am dating a gentleman, and things are looking towards marriage. It's great, but he is Baptist. He is in line with most of WELS doctrine minus the baptism. As a couple, this has come up on what to do with the children, and we came to an agreement that the children would be raised Lutheran until 18. However, I wasn't going to force him to convert and he is OK coming to a Lutheran church. He wouldn't be able to take Communion, and he understands that. My question is: would a WELS pastor be willing to marry us given the circumstances, or will they reject it outright because he is a different denomination of Christian?
Yes, our pastors can officiate at a wedding in the scenario you described. Our pastors especially look forward to offering pre-marital counseling to the individuals planning to be married, involving them in discussions on, among other topics, the challenges that their different church affiliations can bring to their marriage. If you have more specific questions, please contact one of our pastors.

» What is "heaven"?
While Bible writers use “heavens” to refer to the sky and the earth’s surrounding atmosphere (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 21:1), the Bible ordinarily speaks of heaven as that place where God reveals himself in all his glory and where his children can see him face-to-face.

» I have noticed that some Catholic families utilize a "holy water font" (i.e. a hanging vessel on the wall near the front door containing holy water to bless oneself with upon entering the home) in their homes. I am wondering if this is something Martin Luther did, and if the current leadership of the WELS church has any opinions about it. The concept of it seems appealing to me but I also don't want to be taking part in anything that is not biblical. I'd like some direction on this; thank you!
Water can certainly remind Christians of the waters of baptism, but the Roman Catholic Church’s understanding and usage of “holy water” goes far beyond that. The Roman Catholic Church considers holy water to be a “sacramental.” That church’s Catechism defines sacramentals as “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.” Their Catechism goes on to say: “Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it.” Martin Luther wrote that “The pope invented holy water, extreme unction, and many similar things to which he has ascribed forgiveness of sins.”

» In one of the creeds I remember saying in school and church that Jesus, after he died, descended into hell. Could you please reference some Bible verses so I can understand this better?
In the Apostles’ Creed we confess about Jesus: “He descended into hell.” The scriptural basis for Jesus’ descent into hell is 1 Peter 3:18-20: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” Many also see Colossians 2:15 as alluding to Jesus’ descent into hell: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” After Jesus’ body and soul were reunited in the grave and before he appeared to people on earth, the Lord descended into hell. By his descent into hell, Jesus declared his victory over Satan and the forces of evil.

» What are your thoughts on the book called “Two Books Against the Papacy” written by Nicolas Hunnius and Balthasar Meisner? I noticed that Northwestern Publishing House or Concordia Publishing House didn’t have this book. Is there a theological reason to this?
I am sorry, but this question and answer forum does not have the capability of providing book reviews. I cannot speak for Concordia Publishing House, but Northwestern Publishing House has a review process that involves individuals who read books from other publishers and then pass along recommendations on whether or not such books can be offered for sale.

» Does WELS have any policies or guidelines for how its congregations or affiliated organizations are supposed to handle personal data of their members or people whom they are in regular contact with? There are especially a couple of practices I've noticed in some congregation (not necessarily WELS) that some people find objectionable: 1) Demanding that people who participate in certain activities as a prerequisite accept to have their photos etc. appearing in various "promotional material" on social media or church websites. 2) Revealing personal information on individuals in prayers or prayer requests that are broadcast in video or audio, and thus accessible to a larger audience.
There are no synodical guidelines or policies to which I can point you. Church insurers do make available to churches information on risk management and privacy issues. It is important for churches to review that information and follow procedures that are outlined. In addition, it is wise for churches to retain legal counsel to assist with these and other matters. You might be interested in a recent blog by WELS’ Chief Technology Officer that addressed questions about the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations. This link will take you to that blog.

» I am a conservative Episcopalian in an ever-liberal leaning church. I recently attended a WELS service and was deeply impressed by the pastor and my familiarity with the service. If I decided to change my affiliation (after 78 years), what would be the necessary steps? What would be the major (intellectual) changes I would have to make? Thank you for your attention and anticipated response.
You will want to talk to the pastor of the WELS church you visited. He will explain the route to membership. A very common route is attending a Bible Information Class. The class will offer an explanation of the Bible’s main teachings. Upon completion of the class, you would be given the opportunity to acknowledge your acceptance of the teachings you have learned via the rite of Confirmation. I can imagine that the class might challenge your thinking when it comes to subjects like the church and ministry, the Lord’s Supper, and the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture—to name a few. You might find value in reading A Lutheran Looks at Episcopalians. Among other things, it will explain why the WELS worship service you attended had a ring of familiarity to it. God’s blessings to you as explore your affiliation with our church body!