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Question & Answer
Faith Related Q and A

» Since there is no perfect church on earth or a church that can be 100% accurate this side of heaven, what would be areas of doctrine or teachings that WELS might possibly be wrong on?
Personally, I am not plagued with doubts about our church body’s doctrine or practice. As a church body, we do not pretend to be the only church whose teachings are entirely biblical; the kingdom of God is not limited to WELS. We believe we are holding to the truths of God’s word. If others accuse us of error in doctrine or practice, we are certainly willing and interested to listen, and see what Scripture says about their claims and our confession.

» Is the Shroud of Turin authentic? It seems very contested and disputed.
It looks to be a cloth from the Middle Ages. Even if it were from a much earlier age, one wonders how it could possibly be tied to one person: Jesus of Nazareth. Thankfully, we do not need artifacts like this to authenticate the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. Scripture is sufficient. Scripture reveals Jesus as our perfect and complete Savior (John 20:31).

» With Matthew 5:28 in mind, is it a sin to lust sexually after your spouse (if you are married)?
God designed sexual relations for the marriage bond (Hebrews 13:4). Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount speak of sinful thoughts toward someone who is not part of the marriage bond. With your question in mind, it could happen that a person’s thoughts of his/her spouse could distort God’s design for marriage, in that the person looks upon the spouse as a sex object. 1 Corinthians 7 tells husbands and wives how to view each other and themselves when it comes to their sexual lives.

» I have been reading through the Psalms and noticed that in the NIV2011, the word Selah is removed from the text and is now just a footnote. The word Selah was part of the text in the NIV1984 and many other Bible translations and is part of the Hebrew text. I have always been taught that God's word should never be changed. Why is the word Selah removed in the NIV2011?
Be assured that no one is changing God’s word. The differences in the translations reflect the challenge translators have in rendering that Hebrew term in English. It is thought that Selah refers to a musical instruction for the singing of the psalm, but translators are not entirely sure what that instruction was. For that reason, Bible translations can put the word in the verses or list it as a “footnote.”

» How many people in the WELS read the King James Version of the Bible?
I would not be able to provide a number for you. If people are using the King James Version, hopefully they are able to understand the message that is conveyed in language unlike our everyday communication today. More contemporary translations make it easier to understand the content.

» Why does the Book of Concord quote from the church fathers? I have always been told that the church fathers are Roman Catholic.
Many of the church fathers quoted lived at a time before we would recognize a “Roman Catholic Church” (approximately 400 A.D.). Because of that, they would not be Roman Catholic. Such quotations from church fathers, of course, are not presented as being of equal weight as Scripture. The quotations describe how the early church understood and taught biblical doctrines.

» At what point in history did the Church need a reformation? I have heard people say that the Church needed a reformation as early as the 2nd century because it had become Roman Catholic in its teaching. I have heard others say that the Church did not need a reformation until the 16th century, and these people support reading books such as The Imitation of Christ that are generally considered Roman Catholic. I have even seen some Lutheran Franciscans! At what point did the Church become corrupt and need to be reformed?
I suppose the answer can depend on what you see in the word “reformation.” If “reformation” is simply the church addressing doctrinal errors and removing them, then reformation was needed and implemented already in the first century. The church meeting in Jerusalem (Acts 15) addressed the error of the Judaizers. The Judaizers taught a way of salvation that combined faith in Jesus and the works of the law. The church rejected that and restated what all of Scripture teaches—that people enjoy salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. You might enjoy an article from the “Reformation issue” of Forward in Christ last October. The article speaks of “a constant need for reform.” This link will take you to that article.

» I have not seen many people in the WELS bring their Bibles with them to church. Does the WELS encourage people to bring their Bibles with them to church?
Nowadays, people might have their Bibles with them in ways you might not know: on their phones or other devices. When it comes to using Bibles in our worship services, there is generally not a great need for that. That is because the Scripture readings and sermon text are often printed for the worshiper (or there may be Bibles available in the pews or by chairs, or the words may be projected on a screen). In addition, the style of preaching that fits many of our pastors reduces the need for having Bibles. While pastors reference other parts of the Bible in their sermons, they often concentrate on the portion of Scripture that serves as the sermon text. For reasons like these, there may not be a great deal of encouragement for worshipers to bring Bibles with them to church. There is certainly no discouragement.

» There is a trend in the LCMS towards "confessionalism," which promotes a high view of the Book of Concord (which is nothing new) and elaborate ceremonialism while denigrating contemporary worship. It's also fashionable to ridicule the term "Protestant," downplaying evangelism in favor of an inward focus on liturgy, and an embarrassed silence on the topic of "the priesthood of all believers." Churches that don't have Communion every Sunday, or embrace chasubles and genuflection, or aspire to purchase a censer are perceived as backwards, misguided, and "Reformed." Recent blog articles even question whether it is necessary to be "distinctively Lutheran" at all. Is the WELS drifting in this direction as well?
From my perspective, I am not able to point to any widespread trends. You will find diversity of worship styles in our congregations. That is an expression of Christian freedom. You can find contemporary worship in mission settings and well-established congregations. You can find traditional and blended worship in well-established congregations. Might individual pastors and lay people have preferences for worship styles? Certainly, but I am not in a position to state that the Synod is “drifting” in any particular direction. I can say that we are not looking to hide our Lutheran identity.

» What book is placed on the altar in WELS churches?
If congregations are using Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal, it is likely that Christian Worship: Altar Book is the book you see on the altar. As there is no directive to use a certain book, pastors and their congregations enjoy freedom in this area.