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Faith Related Q and A


» Is child abuse sinful? Lately the Turpin Case has been in the news a lot, and I witnessed a Baptist completely justifying their child abuse. He said that the Turpin family did a good thing chaining up their children because that was protecting them from sin. He said that the police who intervened were wrong and that the parenting tactics the Turpin family used were good Christian parenting tactics. I personally feel very shocked and disgusted that someone who professes to be a Christian would justify such horrific child abuse.
Child abuse is sinful and indefensible. Parents who are guilty of child abuse have failed to carry out their God-given parental responsibilities and have not represented God well to their children (cf. the fourth commandment). Parents who are guilty of child abuse need to be called to repentance.

» Joyce Meyer TV Ministry - I find her interesting. What is your opinion on her teachings? I have not found anything against the Bible in her sermons.
Our synod does not have an official evaluation of ministries like Joyce Meyer Ministries. Information that I found on her website reveals some basic Christian teachings, but also includes errors such as decision theology, emphasis on charismatic gifts like spiritual healing and a prosperity gospel that is placed in the context of helping others. Errors like these call for the implementation of biblical instructions like Romans 16:17 and 2 John 9-11.

» Does Act 59 of the Wisconsin school choice program cross the line of separation of church and state ?
Let me pass along responses from previous, similar questions. “God has established government so that people may live in some degree of peace in a sin-filled world. The government’s responsibility is to preserve the greatest possible peace and order in the world by punishing evil-doers, rewarding those who do good, and protecting the rights of the law-abiding…The mission and tools of the church are quite different. God has established the church so that people may live with him in peace forever. The church’s responsibility is to preach the gospel and to administer the sacraments through which saving faith is created and nourished. The church does not wage its battles with the sword of the state, but with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Matthew 28:19-20, John 18:36-37, also 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, Ephesians 6:3-17). The church is not responsible for disciplining those outside the church (1 Corinthians 5:12). Since God has assigned to both the church and the state their own distinct purposes and distinct tools, these should not become mixed or confused. Neither church nor state should try to do the work of the other. Neither should ask the other to do its work. Neither should seek to accomplish its ends by using the tools of the other. Observing these distinctions of purposes and tools is what we mean by ‘the separation of church and state.’ “In dealing with issues of church and state and Christian education we have to distinguish between three questions: 1) Is this activity scriptural? This, of course, is determined by the Bible. 2) Is this legal? This is determined by the courts. 3) Is this cooperation with the state wise or might this entangle our school in government controls? Finally, this judgment rests with the responsible governing body of the school.” By making financial aid available, government is not establishing or supporting a specific faith (cf. the First Amendment).

» Hello, recently my wife and I have started attending a WELS church. We quickly felt at home there and decided to look into membership and have our son baptized. He is a little older at just under 2 years. As he is a little older than a traditional infant baptism, he was a little difficult to handle, so during the baptism the pastor dipped his hands in the water and wiped it out sons head three times instead of pouring it over his head. Is this method still a legitimate way to baptize? I am still trying to learn more and make sure our son was properly baptized while we on our path to membership. I was too embarrassed to ask our pastor, as we are still learning. Thank you for your time.
A valid Baptism is the application of water and God’s word (Matthew 28:19). The Bible does not prescribe how to apply water in Baptism. The Greek word for “baptize” can mean the application of water in various ways (Mark 7:3-4; Luke 11:38). The Baptism of your son was legitimate, proper and valid. Don’t be afraid to ask the pastor who baptized your son questions like this. He will be happy to address them. Conversations like that can help build a relationship with him. God bless you and your family as you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

» For a variety of reasons, our congregation has lost many member families. As a result, the monthly tithe does not meet our "budgeted" expenses. Can we ask the pastor to take a lower salary? As we take funds from the savings account to cover his salary, the account will be depleted in 9 months and the church will have zero money. What happens to our church? I am a worried member.
When you mention “monthly tithe,” I have to wonder what that means. It would be wonderful if “monthly tithe” meant that your fellow members, in Christian freedom, were giving ten percent of their income back to God. As it is, the current estimate is that the average percentage of giving compared to income of all WELS communicant members is 2.5%. It goes without saying that if that number were higher, there would be far fewer financial difficulties in our synod. God willing, the level of giving on the part of your fellow church members is higher than the percentage listed. If expenses continue to outpace offerings in your church, the leadership of your congregation, along with your pastor, will need to explore different options. Because I am unaware of your congregation’s circumstances, I do not know if any of the following ideas might be applicable to your situation. Is it possible to combine your congregation’s ministries with those of another, nearby WELS congregation? Is a multi-site strategy one that your congregation would consider? Would your congregation be interested in the services of WELS Commission on Congregational Counseling? Reducing your pastor’s salary would be only a stopgap measure. Certainly, Christian love would call for your pastor’s input on any discussion of reducing his salary and benefits. Your congregation wants to be mindful of this biblical instruction: “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). I encourage you to cast this anxiety (1 Peter 5:7) on the Lord in prayer and dismiss your worries. Be concerned, yes, but don’t cross the line into worry. God can “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). God bless you and your congregation.

» I have forgiven a person, but because of a toxic situation, I don’t want anything to do with them. Is that wrong?
With limited information, I can offer only a general response. It is good that you forgave someone who sinned against you. That is what we are to do (Colossians 3:13). Managing potential conflicts with another person can be a wise course of action. Without knowing the situation, I would simply encourage anyone in a situation like yours to make sure that avoiding a person is not a substitute for resolving an issue. Scripture instructs us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). That is something we want and need to do—with or without interaction of other people. God bless your efforts to carry out God’s will: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

» Is it true that Catholics go to a separate place in heaven and those who are not Catholic will not see them?
All people who trust in Jesus Christ as their only Savior from sin, regardless of which visible church they were a part of during their earthly lives, will be in the presence of God in heaven and will see each other (Mark 16:16). The Bible teaches that there are only two places where people will spend eternity: heaven or hell. Revelation chapters 20 through 22 describe those places.

» I noticed a question on WELS Q&A with regard to the image of God being lost at the Fall of Man and restored in Christians. While I completely agree that the image of God referred to in Genesis 1:26 was lost in the fall and that man is now born dead in trespasses and sin with no righteousness of his own, I also see a different usage of the image of God used in Genesis 9:6, which I believe still sets humans apart from other life...one with intellect/will etc., though because of sin these are born without righteousness. I agree with Paul E. Kretzmann when he comments on this verse: "For in the image of God made He man: murder is a violation of the image of God in man, which the Lord intends to restore in all those that are renewed in faith, and which He wants all men to put on. In a wider sense, therefore, man bears even now the image of God, since he is a rational creature and has an immortal soul." Would I be allowed to hold to this view and still remain in fellowship with a WELS congregation as long as I recognized that some hold a different interpretation here and did not attempt to force my opinion on those who disagree? Thank you for your input.
The quotation you supplied illustrates a portion of an answer to a previous question on this subject: “While there are some Lutheran theologians who speak of people still being made, in a limited sense, in the image of God insofar as they have intellect and will, it is more consistent with Scripture to say that the image of God was lost through the fall into sin and is restored in Christians.” The attitude you described—holding to an interpretation like this, while not forcing it on others—would not be a barrier to membership in one of our congregations. Your concern to avoid divisiveness (Titus 3:10) is commendable.

» Is there really a heaven?
Yes, there is a heaven. We know that from God’s revelation of this information in the Bible. 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. The Bible tells us that Jesus is preparing for the time when he will meet all his followers in heaven (John 14:1-6), and that Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

» Would a religious commitment ceremony be accepted in God's eyes? Giving yourself before God just no legal paperwork?
While God established marriage (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:4-6), society regulates marriage through its government. As state governments regulate marriage through the issuance of marriage licenses, we render obedience to the government (Romans 13:1-7) by obtaining marriage licenses. A “religious commitment ceremony” needs the accompanying legal documentation required by our government.