This is issued as a friendly warning to our brothers and sisters in the ELCA and to those in the LCMS who would have no problem communing with them or allowing them to commune with us.
We might ask, Do they not believe the same thing as us? Do they not confess the real, physical presence of Jesus’ Body and Blood, along with the bread and wine, in the Sacrament of the Altar? How can we refuse to share with them the Supper which they, too, confess? [“In Holy Communion — often called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist — those who come to the table receive in bread and wine the body and blood of their Lord.”]
It is true that they hold officially to the Lutheran confessional writings, especially the Augsburg Confession.
This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches [I wonder, have the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Moravians, and UCC accepted these?] that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid [but often wrong] interpretations of the faith of the Church.
However, they have denied in practice and action what they say they confess. They have entered into pulpit and altar fellowship with those who explicitly deny the physical presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper. This was reaffirmed at the most recent General Assembly when they confirmed their fellowship with the worldwide Moravian Provinces (having already entered fellowship with the Moravian Church in America). Let us not forget that they have already extended the right hand of fellowship to Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the ultra-apostate United Church of Christ. They have denied by these actions the Faith they claim to confess.
What if we were to ignore these actions and take them at their word? If we commune with them, we commune with all those with whom they commune. The table at which they commune, with all of the deniers of the physical reality of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Sacrament, would then be our table. It is this that we cannot allow to happen in our churches. Those who continue to hold membership in the ELCA must be informed of this, lest they continue to hold their membership in a church body that denies what they believe.
The practice has indeed affected the belief. The rule of belief has followed the rule of prayer. Heterodoxy follows heteropraxy. I spoke to an ELCA youth director who told her Jewish friend, “They believe Christ is really present while we believe that it’s just a symbol. So you couldn’t commune at their church, but you could commune at ours.” (Needless to say, her Jewish friend was not a Messianic Jew, nor was he even an orthodox Jew!) Regardless of the “official” teaching, this youth director, in a position of authority at an ELCA congregation, held the view espoused in the actions of her church body.
Besides the apostasy from the teaching of the Scriptures, of Luther and the Lutheran Confessions, and from thirteen hundred or so years of the Christian Church, the disunity caused by the actions of the ELCA, and the ecumenical movement in general, have deeper, possibly damning, consequences. The ELCA has joined in altar fellowship with those who, as our confessions recognize, do not even have the Lord’s Supper (see, e.g., Formula of Concord, SD, The Holy Supper, 32). By their explicit denial that they are doing what the Lord instituted, they do not have what He instituted. Jesus did not institute mere bread and wine as symbols of His absent body. Thus, the ELCA, which probably does retain the Lord’s Supper since it claims to do what the Lord instituted, is leading people belonging to those other confessions through disunity into judgment, and perhaps into damnation. They think that they can celebrate two contradictory suppers at the same altar, and they thereby confess two different Christs. Is Christ divided? Can one follow Luther, who followed Christ, and the other follow Calvin or Zwingli, and still be united? When Presbyterians or Methodists commune at ELCA altars, they are receiving what they think is mere bread and wine, and are thus receiving Christ’s Body and Blood to their judgment because of unbelief. Lord have mercy on those ELCA “pastors” who thus lead the sheep astray. They will answer to the Lord for their encouragement of such harmful disunity within the Body of Christ. May God lead them to repentance, before people are led to eternal damnation because of their false doctrine.