A Different Supper

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.

Timotheos

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7 thoughts on “A Different Supper

  1. As an LCMS parish pastor who practices closed communion – I must confess I struggle with this issue. My struggle is encapsulated in this question: If we cannot commune members of the ELCA because the practices of their church body deny their official confession (which we do share), then why do we still commune members of other LCMS congregations where similar practices (opposed to our confessions) are present?

  2. Whether we like it or not, we’re still in fellowship with them, until either we or they leave. Their pastors have to answer for their practice. We have to answer for ours.

    Tim

  3. Well said, Tim. Perhaps we need to revisit the word “Synod”. Seems to be a lapsed word.
    The word synod comes from two Greek words: syn, meaning “a meeting or assembly,” and hodos, meaning a “way or journey.” We describe ourselves as congregations “walking together,” because our congregations all confess and practice the same teachings of God’s Word.

    If a brother rejects this clear teaching, we are supposed to go to them in love with the goal of correcting them. If we merely SUSPECT them, we should close our mouths until we have proof/reason to bar them from Christ’s gifts. All the while correcting them face-to-face out of love.

    I have met plenty of Pastors who are denying BROTHERS the Lord’s supper based on HERESAY… another word for “gossip”.
    Somehow I find that ironic.

    CC
    my 2 cents

  4. The statement, “Whether we like it or not, we’re still in fellowship with them, until either we or they leave,” contradicts the earlier statements, “It is true that they hold officially to the Lutheran confessional writings, especially the Augsburg Confession… However, they have denied in practice and action what they say they confess.”

    “We have to answer for ours.”

    Indeed, each pastor and each Missouri Synod congregation are responsible for whom they admit to the Lord’s Supper celebrated at worship services. With nothing else to the contrary, visiting members of other Missouri Synod congregations may be admitted, though each congregation is free to establish its own verification procedures prior to admitting them.

    However, the pastor and congregation must refuse such visiting members who demonstrate unrepentant heretical practices and actions from partaking of the Lord’s Supper at the worship service.

  5. “The statement, ‘Whether we like it or not, we’re still in fellowship with them, until either we or they leave,’ contradicts the earlier statements, ‘It is true that they hold officially to the Lutheran confessional writings, especially the Augsburg Confession… However, they have denied in practice and action what they say they confess.’

    Not exactly. We aren’t in fellowship with the ELCA.

    We can’t be refusing fellowship to other LCMS members based on whether we like what they’re doing in their worship or their programming, etc.

    If I know that a pastor is opening the table of his congregation to members of heterodox confessions, it is my responsibility to talk to him face to face before I break fellowship with him.

    Tim

  6. “Whether we like what they’re doing” is a strawman. What I stated previously was “such visiting members who demonstrate unrepentant heretical practices and actions”. This includes both lay and ordained members of other Missouri Synod congregations.

    “If I know that a pastor is opening the table of his congregation to members of heterodox confessions, it is my responsibility to talk to him face to face before I break fellowship with him.”

    Of course, a pastor should talk to any Missouri Synod lay or ordained visitors about repentence before any decision on admitting them to the Lord’s Supper, especially those whose heretical practices and actions are notorious.

    And if you don’t believe me, listen to Chrysostom on Distribution of the Lord’s Supper (https://talkingdonkey.wordpress.com/2007/09/06/chrysostom-on-distribution-of-the-lords-supper/):

    “These things I say to you that receive, and to you that minister. For it is necessary to address myself to you also, that you may with much care distribute the gifts there. There is no small punishment for you, if being conscious of any wickedness in any man, you allow him to partake of this table. ‘His blood shall be required at your hands.’ Ezekiel 33:8 Though any one be a general, though a deputy, though it be he himself who is invested with the diadem, and come unworthily, forbid him, the authority you have is greater than his.

    “And whence know I, you may say, this person, and that person? I speak not of the unknown, but of the notorious.

    “Nay, though it be from ignorance that he come to communicate, forbid him, be not afraid. Fear God, not man. If you should fear man, you will be laughed to scorn even by him, but if God, you will be an object of respect even to men.

    “I would give up my life rather than impart of the Lord’s blood to the unworthy; and will shed my own blood rather than impart of such awful blood contrary to what is meet.

    “But these things I say, not that we repel them only, nor cut them off, but in order that we may amend them, and bring them back, that we may take care of them. For thus shall we both have God propitious, and shall find many to receive worthily; and for our own diligence, and for our care for others, receive great reward; unto which God grant we may all attain by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.”

  7. Why are we so afraid of practicing the close communion of confessions. The confessions, after all are simply restating what Scripture so clearly states. Either you agree or you don’t. We should not allow the LINOs to claim Luther and the confessions as thiers when it clearly is not.

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