Whether you are new to the area, just passing through or in need of a new church home... we welcome you to join us each Sunday at 9:00 am.
We are located in Fruitport Township, just minutes from the Lakes Mall area. Click here to contact us.
Hello! Many churches stress or partake in baptism by immersion. Please help me to understand why they come to the conclusion that baptism by immersion is necessary. Answer: It is incorrect biblical interpretation that leads some to conclude that baptism by immersion is necessary. Such people will point to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22) and the Ethiopian eunuch’s baptism in water alongside a road (Acts 8:36-39) as supposed proof for the necessity of baptism by immersion. While the accounts speak of Jesus coming up out of the water after his baptism, we are never told how far into the water he went. Did the water cover his ankles, his knees, hip, shoulders, head? We are not told because that information is not important. Similarly, Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch “went down into the water” for baptism and “came up out of the water” after baptism. We are not told how far into the water they went because that information is not essential. Baptism is the application of water—with no amount of water prescribed—and the word of God. People who stress the necessity of baptism by immersion also wrongly claim that the Greek word the New Testament writers used for “baptize” had the exclusive meaning of “to immerse.” At the time the New Testament books were written, the word meant to apply water in any number of ways. And so while we may baptize by immersion, there is no divine command to do so. Baptizing by sprinkling demonstrates our Christian freedom in carrying out Jesus’ command to baptize.It is truly unfortunate and regrettable that many individuals and churches that mandate a specific application of water in baptism also downplay the blessings of baptism and turn it into an act that people perform for God. Baptism is the Holy Spirit’s gracious working in our hearts (Titus 3:5-6). Baptism joins us to Jesus and clothes us in the garments of salvation he won (Galatians 3:26-27). Grateful for our own salvation and mindful of the Lord’s directive, we baptize and teach (Matthew 28:18-20), without being bound to a specific mode of applying water.Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.
What is the WELS' view on Alcoholics Anonymous? I have heard in various circles that alcoholism is a disease and also that it is not. I read off some religious Q&A website that alcoholism is not a disease, but that it is a type of sin, it's real name is drunkenness and that only by repenting of it you can have total victory of it. I'm confused. I went thru AA many years ago and totally overcame alcoholism through its 12 steps. Answer: Alcoholics Anonymous is one of a number of resources available to individuals who struggle with alcoholism. As a church body, we have concerns about the religious aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In step number 2 of The Twelve Steps, there is acknowledgement of a “Power greater than ourselves.” Participants in AA are free to define who or what that Power is. In step number 3 there is reference to “God as we understood him.” Participants in AA are free to define God however they understand him.Step number 11 uses the same wording: “God, as we understood him.” Once again, participants in AA are free to understand God however they like.As Christians, we know that understanding God is not like selecting an answer for a multiple choice question where all the choices are equally valid. In the Bible God explains clearly who he is. He is a Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AA certainly fails to provide clear testimony to the truth of God’s Word. And while AA provides opportunities for Christians to state their beliefs, circumstances can be such where Christian witness is absent much more than present.Joint prayer at AA meetings is another concern. Scripture directs us to refrain from activities like prayer when we are with others who do not share a common belief (Romans 16:17).In light of all this, WELS members like yourself have been able to participate in AA by not taking part in joint prayer. In addition, they have recognized the concerns in the three steps mentioned previously and have not, by their words and actions, endorsed the idea that people may define God however they want.Regarding the “disease” or “sin” view of alcoholism, allow me to reference this passage from a helpful resource: “Some people call it a disease—and it is. Alcoholism has both defined symptoms and a well-marked progression. Alcoholism affects a person physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Some people call it sin—and it is. Clearly the person displays sinful acts in his life. Drunkenness is always sin. Ignoring family obligations and misusing God’s gifts are sins. “Neither label excludes the other. Calling alcoholism a disease no more excuses the sin than calling alcoholism a sin eliminates the disease concept.” John K. Cook, ed., "Conquerors through Christ" (Milwaukee: Wisconsin Lutheran Child and Family Service, 1993), 23. How wonderful to hear of your successful journey in recovery. God be praised! And may God continue to bless you. Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.
Pastor Timothy J. Winkel
2651 Shettler Road
Muskegon, MI 49444
Telephone: 231 777 3011