Project Wittenberg

Theology and Practice of
Part III

A Report of the
Commission on Theology and Church Relations
of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
as preapared by its
Social Concerns Committee

May 1983

To: Contents This File/ Plain Text - LCMS Documents - Project Wittenberg



1. Is it proper for a Lutheran to attend the Lord's Supper at the altars of churches not in doctrinal agreement with the church body of which he/she is a member?

    In accordance with the confessional nature of participation in the Lord's Supper (cf. pp. 19-23), and in agreement with Lutheranism's historic position, it is inappropriate to attend the Lord's Supper at non-Lutheran altars. Since participation in Holy Communion, Scripturally and confessionally understood, entails agreement in the Gospel and all its articles, it would not be appropriate to attend the Lord's Supper in a church with which such agreement is not shared.

2. Is it proper to celebrate Communion as a device for furthering or attaining pulpit or altar fellowship?

    No. The Confessions rightly teach that Eucharistic fellowship is a thankful celebration of that unity which God has bestowed in the Gospel rather than a device to advance Christian fraternity (Ap XXIV, 68-69; cf. discussion above on pages 10-11 and 19-23).

3. Is it appropriate to have Holy Communion in private homes or other settings and at times other than Sunday's congregational worship?

    The early church often worshipped in the homes of its members. Similarly, many contemporary mission congregations originate in the home of a consecrated layperson. More important than the setting is the manner in which the Lord's Supper is celebrated. If a mission congregation finds a home the most suitable setting for worship, and perhaps can only have a pastor come on Sunday night to celebrate the Lord's Supper, then such a service surely would be fitting.

    At the same time, when groups within a congregation desire to have Holy Communion in special settings, care should be taken to avoid this practice. Dr. C.F.W. Walther's counsel in this regard is well taken:

      In order that the Word of God may have full scope in a congregation, the congregation should lastly tolerate no divisions by way of conventicles, that is, of meetings for instruction and prayer aside from the divinely ordained public ministry, 1 Cor. 11:18; Jas. 3:1; 1 Cor. 12:29; Acts 6:4; Rom. 10:15: "How shall they preach except they be sent?" [31]

    Since the Lord's Supper is the church's confession of its unity in faith and practice, the whole congregation, in keeping with responsible pastoral care and established practices for admission to the sacrament, is properly invited and welcome at the Lord's Table. To be avoided are tendencies to regard the sacrament as more meaningful when partaken of in a beautiful setting, such as a mountain retreat or with one's own family or close friends.

    The manifold benefits of the Lord's Supper are offered to the communicant on the basis of Christ's word and promise. The church's focus should remain on the gracious promise of the Savior as He comes in bread and wine to His people.

4. Is it appropriate to have Holy Communion on synodical campuses?

    There are no Scriptural or confessional texts which would preclude such a practice. In the case of a seminary or college community, the church in the form of a local congregation can provide for Holy Communion. The same need for pastoral care, for confessional agreement, and for good order exists which was stipulated for any extracongregational service (cf. pp. 23-24).

5. Is it proper to celebrate Communion at a wedding?

    While there are no explicit passages of Holy Scripture which would preclude a nuptial Communion, there are weighty reasons to discourage such celebrations under normal circumstances. First, it is clear that the Lord's Supper is at the center of the public worship of the Christian congregation (cf. discussion on pages 8-9, 23, 28-29). Inasmuch as the marriage ceremony, in the popular mind, would frequently replace the sacrament as the center of the worship, it would not be fitting to multiply settings where this would be a probable attitude. Secondly, it would be logistically difficult to preserve confessional integrity at such a celebration of the Lord's Supper, since family and friends frequently come from a variety of Christian and even non- Christian backgrounds.

6. When is private Communion appropriate?

    Private Communion is the administration of Holy Communion to an individual or group of individuals who cannot attend the regular Eucharistic worship of the congregation. The poor health of those involved or a variety of extenuating circumstances may lead the pastor and congregation to provide these special Communion services. Such worship is to be a miniature of the congregational Communion service, with a devotion from God's Word, confession and absolution, consecration, distribution, prayers, and benediction.

7. May the elders take the consecrated elements to the sick and to shut-ins after the Communion service?

    The chief consideration regarding such a practice is that the role of the pastor in the sacramental life of the church should not be displaced. The opportunity to conduct a brief service of confession and absolution, to involve other family members in the private Communion, and to be a shepherd for the flock suggests that whenever possible the pastor will distribute the elements to the communicants (cf. pp. 13-15).

8. What constitutes worthy reception of the Lord's Supper?

    Luther's words are as Scriptural and as concise as any which could be written on this point:

      Fasting and bodily preparation are indeed a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, "Given and shed for you for the remission of sins." But he that does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unprepared; for the words "for you" require all hearts to believe (SC VI, 10; quoted from 1943 Intersynodical Catechism, p. 21).

    Martin Chemnitz amplifies in a pastoral manner as he writes in answer to the question "How, then, should a man examine or look into himself, so that he might eat and drink worthily in the holy Supper?":

      This worthy eating does not consist in a man's purity, holiness, or perfection. For they who are healthy do not need a doctor, but they who are not healthy (Mt 9:12). But, by way of contrast with the unworthy, one can understand very easily how that examination or exploration is to be undertaken, namely:

      First, let the mind consider of what nature the act of this Supper is, who is present there, [and] what kind of food is offered and taken there, so that one might prepare himself with due humility and piety for its reception.

      Second, let a man about to approach the Lord's Table be endowed with the kind of heart that seriously acknowledges his sins and errors, and shudders at the wrath of God, and does not delight in sin, but is troubled and grieved [by it], and has the earnest purpose to amend [his life].

      Third, that the mind sincerely give itself to this concern, that it might not perish in sins under the wrath of God, and therefore with ardent desire thirst for and long for the grace of God, so that by true faith in the obedience, passion, and death of Christ, that is, in the offering of [His] body and. shedding of His blood it seek, beg, lay hold on and apply to itself the grace of God, forgiveness of sins, and salvation. He that examines and prepares himself in this way, he truly uses the Sacrament worthily, not unto judgment, but unto salvation. And though all these things are still weak, infirm, and sluggish, yet one should not for that reason abstain from, the holy Supper. Rather on the contrary, this very reason will rouse and impel us the more to partake of it more frequently, especially since we know that the Son of God gradually kindles, increases, and strengthens repentance and faith in us more and more through this means. For this medicine has been prepared and provided for the sick who acknowledge their infirmity and seek counsel and help. [32]

9. Is it appropriate to commune infants?

    No. St. Paul says: "Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Cor. 11:28). Since infants cannot examine themselves, it is inappropriate to commune them. The precise age at which a child can examine himself is not determined in the Scriptures. For the sake of order and to avoid confusion, the practice of a church body should be as uniform as possible in this matter.

10. What special considerations should be taken into account regarding the participation of mentally impaired persons in Holy Communion?

    Caution should be employed so that the mentally impaired not be required to communicate their faith in the usual manner. Family, friends, social workers, and others can greatly assist the pastor in communicating with the mentally impaired. It should be kept in mind that there are those individuals who may lack only the usual avenues of expression and therefore may be unable to communicate fully a confession of their faith. When there is in the mentally impaired trust that the body and blood of the crucified and risen Lord is sacramentally present in the elements of the Lord's Supper, a basic understanding of what the Sacrament offers the communicant, and an ability to examine one's life (1 Cor. 11:17-34), participation in Holy Communion is to be encouraged.

11. How often should the Lord's Supper be offered in a congregation?

    No fixed number can be given in response to this question. However, it should be remembered that the Lord's Supper is not to be regarded as an "extra" or an "appendage" to regular Christian worship. While some churches relegate the Lord's Supper to an incidental and occasional role in the church's worship, the Scriptures place "the breaking of bread" at the center of worship (Acts 2:42; 20:7; cf. 1 Cor. 11:20, 33).

    Similarly, the Confessions regard the Sacrament of the Altar as a regular and constitutive feature of the worship of Christ's church:

      To begin with, we must repeat the prefatory statement that we do not abolish the Mass but religiously keep and defend it. In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals, when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved (Ap XXIV, 1). [33]

    Thus the spoken Word of the liturgy and sermon and the signed Word of Baptism and the Lord's Supper constitute the two foci of Lutheran worship.

12. How often should one participate in the Lord's Supper?

    The following counsel by Dr. Martin Chemnitz is appropriate:

      Christ did not want the use of this Sacrament to be bound either to a certain time or to certain days, except that Paul says that the Lord's Supper is to be celebrated when the church gathers to commemorate the death of the Lord, 1 Cor. 11:18-26. But it is certain that God wants us to use this Sacrament not only once, as we are baptized once, but often and frequently, 1 Cor. 11:26. ... It is not for any man to give a specific answer to this, either with a number or with a certain measure, other than as often as a troubled conscience feels and recognizes that it needs those benefits that are offered in the Supper for comfort and strengthening. Consciences are therefore not to be forced but aroused to frequent use of this Supper by earnest admonition and consideration of how necessary [and] likewise how salutary and profitable the use of this Supper is for us. But he that does not attend this most holy table thereby clearly shows that he is a Christian in name rather than in fact, namely that he is one who neglects and despises the command of his Savior, who says: Eat, drink, and do this as often etc. [34]

13. Can a qualified male assist with the distribution of the elements in the service of Holy Communion?

    Yes. A pastor and congregation can mutually designate that a qualified male(s) member of the congregation assist the pastor. Great care should be taken in such cases to educate such an assistant(s) in the proper execution of this function. [35] Adequate instruction will provide the theological rationale for the church's liturgical traditions. As is appropriate for those who handle holy things, reverence should mark the manner of anyone associated with the administration of the Lord's Supper.

14. May women serve as assistants in the distribution of the Lord's Supper?

    While some might argue that assisting the presiding minister in the distribution of the elements is not necessarily a distinctive function of the pastoral office, the commission strongly recommends that, to avoid confusion regarding the office of the public ministry and to avoid giving offense to the church, such assistance be limited to men.

15. Is it fitting that noncommuning children join their parents at the Communion rail?

    The propriety of this practice is best decided by the local congregation. While it provides an excellent opportunity for parents to educate their children in the meaning of the Lord's Supper and permits the entire family unit to approach the altar, the practical concerns of decorum and appropriateness for the entire congregation should be considered. The key question should be whether, in a given context, the congregation's focus on the sacrament is sharpened or blurred by the presence of children. If a blessing is pronounced, perhaps it could be tied to the child's baptism, lest the impression be given that the benefits of the Sacrament of the Altar are received apart from the reception of the elements.

16. Is Communion in which the communicant receives only the bread or only the wine an adiaphoron in the church?

    No. The Lord invites us to partake of both His body and His blood in the bread and wine. The Confessions speak directly to this question when they assert:

      There can be no doubt that the use of both kinds in the Lord's Supper is godly and in accord with the institution of Christ and the words of Paul. For Christ instituted both kinds, and he did not do so only for part of the church, but for all of the church (Ap XXII, 1).

      We also hold that it is not to be administered in one form only. We need not resort to the specious learning of the sophists and the Council of Constance that as much is included under one form as under both. Even if it were true that as much is included under one form as under both, yet administration in one form is not the whole order and institution as it was established and commanded by Christ. Especially do we condemn and curse in God's name those who not only omit both forms but even go so far as autocratically to prohibit, condemn, and slander the use of both as heresy and thus set themselves against and over Christ, our Lord and God, etc. (SA III, vi, 2-4).

17. Does it matter whether a congregation uses individual glasses or the common cup to distribute the consecrated wine?

    In the absence of a specific Scriptural mandate, either method of distribution, when performed in a reverent manner, is acceptable. Many Christians prefer the use of the common cup because of its symbolism as representative of the oneness of the body of Christ--the church--and because there is reason to believe that Christ used this method of distribution. Any decision in this area is to be marked by Christian liberty and charity.

18. What is the propriety of intinction?

    Intinction refers to the dipping of the consecrated bread into the consecrated wine prior to distribution. While the consecrated elements offer Christ's body and blood to every communicant, regardless of the method of distribution, our Confessions and practice preserve the model of our Lord's distribution of the bread and then the wine (Matt. 26:26-29).

19. Is a particular posture to be assumed in the reception of Holy Communion?

    No. More important than physical posture is a penitent heart and faith which trusts in the word of Christ.

20. Does the celebration of Holy Communion require a specific liturgical setting?

    Lutherans refuse to be bound by the customs of men (Galatians), while at the same time they support good order in the church (1 Corinthians). Clearly, good order in the church is not served when each congregation or organization drafts a different liturgy. Perhaps, especially in this age when novelty is often sought for its own sake, care should be exercised to value highly the worship practices of the church through the ages. The confessors demonstrate great respect for the liturgical traditions of the church when, in the Introduction to Part II of the Augsburg Confession, they write:

      However, it can readily be judged that nothing contributes so much to the maintenance of dignity in public worship and the cultivation of reverence and devotion among the people as the proper observance of ceremonies in the churches (AC, Introduction to Part II, 6).

    Accordingly, Melanchthon said of the purpose of ceremonies that they are observed "that men may learn the Scriptures and that those who have been touched by the Word may receive faith and fear and so may also pray" (Ap XXIV, 3). Thus all liturgical practices having the appearance of frivolity and causing offense are neither useful nor edifying and should therefore be avoided.

21. How appropriate is a Seder meal in conjunction with Holy Communion?

    The Seder--a ceremonial dinner which is held on the first evening of the Passover--can on occasion remind Christians of the Old Testament background and historical setting in which Christ instituted the Lord's Supper (cf. pp. 5-6). At the same time the pastor should stress the distinctive theological meaning of the Lord's Supper, for, while the meal probably occurred in the historical setting of the Seder, that of which the disciples partook was the very body and blood of the incarnate Lord. The new covenant had now replaced the old.


[1] Luther writes in his Large Catechism: "But outside the Christian church (that is, where the Gospel is not) there is no forgiveness, and hence no holiness. Therefore, all who seek to merit holiness through their works rather than through the Gospel and the forgiveness of sin have expelled and separated themselves from the church" (LC II, 56; cf. AC V).

[2] "Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.' And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom"' (Matt. 26:26-29; cf. Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

[3] Ex. 12:2-13. The Lutheran fathers were confident that the sacraments were present, in prefigured form, in the Old Testament. Martin Chemnitz writes: "God in all ages of the world, by giving a certain Word, revealed His will concerning the mystery of redemption to the human race, concerning the gratuitous reconciliation and acceptance of believers to life eternal through faith, because of the sacrifice of His Son as Mediator. He also added to the Word, by His own divine institution, certain external signs, by which to seal and confirm more clearly the promise of righteousness by faith. The institution and use of Sacraments did not, therefore, first begin in the time of the New Testament; but the fathers in the time of the Old Testament, even before the publication of the Law, had their certain signs or Sacraments divinely instituted for this use, which were the seals of the righteousness of faith. Rom. 4. But though it is the same God, the same Mediator, the same grace, righteousness, promise, faith, salvation, etc., yet those external signs or seals are sometimes changed for others, substituted in their place by divine institution, so that the mode of revelation was constantly rendered more clear, which at first was like a lamp shining in a dark place; afterwards the morning star succeeded, until at length, the night being past, the Sun of righteousness arose" (Examination of the Council of Trent, Vol. II, First Topic, Section II, par. 1, quoted in H. Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church [Minneapolis Augsburg Publishing House,1961], p. 536; cf. Charles P. Krauth's "The Passover Is a Type of the Supper," in The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology [Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963], pp. 592-97).

[4] Even those scholars of critical persuasion find overwhelming evidence for this Passover setting. For example, Joachim Jeremias writes: "The fourteen observations that have been made above concern not only the framework of the narrative but also its substance. It cannot be said therefore that only later embellishment has made the Last Supper a Passover meal. It is much more the case that the Passover character of the last meal of Jesus is unanimously supported..." (The Eucharistic Words of Jesus [London: SCM Press, 1964], pp. 61-62).

[5] The doctrine of the Real Presence is succinctly confessed in Article X of the Augsburg Confession.

[6] One study stands out in the secondary literature, namely, Hermann Sasse's This Is My Body (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1959), passim. Commenting on Luther's confession of the Real Presence, Sasse writes: "His belief in the Real Presence rests solely on the words of Christ. ... It was not stubbornness that moved Luther to retain the words 'This is my body' in their literal sense. It was simply reverence for Him who spoke these words and neither gave nor commanded to give another explanation" (p. 107). Other studies which convincingly demonstrate Lutheranism's reliance upon the verba of Christ include: Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Treat-- Part II, trans. Fred Kramer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978), pp. 217-548; Martin Chemnitz, The Lord's Supper, trans. J.A.O. Preus (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979), passim; Werner Elert, The Lord's Supper Today, trans. M. Bertram and R. Norden (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1973), pp. 5-43; Werner Elert, The Structure of Lutheranism, trans. Walter A. Hansen (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963), pp. 300-21; Holsten Fagerberg, A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions, trans. Gene J. Lund (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1972), pp. 184-205; Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963), pp. 585-830.

[7] John 19:30. The Greek grammars appropriately stress the perfect tense of tetelestai. Cf., for example, C.D.F. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 1968), p. 16; and Nigel Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Volume III-Syntax, James Hope Moulton, ed. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1963), pp. 81-89, for a thorough discussion of the perfect and its force in the New Testament period.

[8] 1 Cor. 11:27-34. The public nature of the sacrament and also the implications of doctrinal confession are stressed by the Lutheran Confessions' exegesis of 1 Cor. 11:26 in Ap IV, 210, and Ap XXIV, 35.

[9] Martin Franzmann, in commenting on "in an unworthy manner" (1 Cor. 11:27), aptly combines these two dimensions when he writes: "As 29 makes plain, the 'unworthiness' lies in not discerning the body in its sanctity and significance for man, eating and acting as if the present Lord were not present but had failed to keep His promise, as if His redemptive death did not signify, as if His 'Drink of it, all of you,' did not bind all His disciples together" (Concordia Bible with Notes [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971], p. 310).

[10] The confessors direct these words to the case of private self- Communion. They would not preclude public self-Communion where the pastor has no assistant. Martin Scharlemann underscores the corporate aspect of the sacrament by focusing on the word koinonia: "When reference is made to the Lord's Supper, it is spoken of as having both a vertical and horizontal dimension, as is evident from the use of the word koinonia at 1 Cor. 10:16; for this term signifies a sharing in something with others; in this case, in the body and blood of the Lord" (Some Remarks Regarding the Celebration of the Lord's Supper, Faculty Forum Paper, March 2,1976).

[11] Early Christian Fathers, trans. and ed. Cyril L Richardson, in The Library of Christian Classics, Vol. I (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953), p. 175.

[12] Ibid., p 178

[13] Origen, Contra Celsum, III, 51, 10. Tertullian, De Praescriptione Haereticorum, 41:1 ff. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses Mystagogicae, I, 4.

[14] Werner Elert, Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1966), p. 133. The procedure of excluding the heretics from the Eucharist meant that the early church had devised a means of dealing with the anonymous heretic. The local congregation or bishop personally could indeed impose the regular restrictions. But the anonymous heretic, particularly the layman, was not known locally. As a defense against this sort of thing, the church developed a system of written credentials that were presented. In the year 306, the Council of Elvira used the term "letters of fellowship." These were certificates intended for travelers to give proof of their identity as they came to another place and there sought to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Council of Carthage (345-48) directed that no person, clerical or lay, could commune in another congregation without a letter from his bishop. Two things were involved in these certificates or letters: first, a declaration that there was no impediment to a man's being received and that he enjoyed full church fellowship in his home congregation, thereby permitting his admission to the celebration of the Eucharist, and secondly, by presenting his certificate he came under the care of the bishop of the new congregation.

[15] Hermann Sasse writes: "Perhaps nothing reveals the profound difference between Luther's and Zwingli's understanding of the sacramental words more than the fact that for Luther and the Lutheran Church the words of institution have always been also the words of consecration, while Zwingli and all Reformed churches reject the idea that the elements are consecrated by reciting the words of Christ" (This Is My Body, p. 164). In keeping with the centrality of the sacramental verba, the consecration should be spoken over all the elements. To separate, by distance or liturgical action, a portion of the bread or of the wine from consecration moves in the direction of a Protestantism wherein the verba need not be held in sacramental proximity to the elements (cf. FC SD VII, 75-84).

[16] Martin Chemnitz's reply to the question of whether the body and blood of Christ are present in the consecrated elements if they are laid up, enclosed, or carried about, and not used and distributed, is most appropriate: "Christ did not institute this Sacrament in such a way that, even if no one uses it, or if it is changed into something else than He Himself commanded, it nevertheless is His body and blood, but in the very words of institution He prescribed the form of that which was commanded, how it is to be observer and used, and that not only for a time but to the end of the world, 1 Cor. 11:26. And use surely does not make a Sacrament, but the Word, ordinance, and institution of Christ. And there is a difference between the essence of a Sacrament and its use. But Christ so ordered and arranged the words of institution in the form of a testament, as He wanted the Sacrament to be an act in which bread and wine are taken, blessed, or consecrated, as they say, then offered, received, eaten, and drunk. And Christ says of that which is blessed, which is offered, received, eaten and drunk: This is My body; this is My blood. Therefore when the bread is indeed blessed but neither distributed nor received, but enclosed, shown, and carried about, it is surely clear that the whole word of institution is not added to the element, for this part is lacking: He gave [it] to them and said, Take and eat. And when the word of institution is incomplete there can be no complete Sacrament. In the same way it is also no true Baptism if the Word is indeed spoken over the water, but if there is no one who is baptized" (Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, trans. Luther Poellot [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1981], p. 121).

[17] Representative of such a consensus are the following commentaries: A. Schlatter, Der Evangelist Matthaus (Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1948), pp 741-45; William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974), pp. 504-09; I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978), pp. 792-807; C.K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), pp. 264-70; Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, trans. Norman Perrin (Philadelphia Fortress Press, 1966), pp. 41-88.

[18] Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 110.

[19] "Fruit of the vine" is, exegetically, synonymous with wine. Cf. H. Buechsel, "genema," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, I (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1965), p. 164; W. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1974), pp. 508-09; H. Seesemann, "oinos," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, V (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1967), p. 164; Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to Mark (London: St. Martin's Press, 1966), p. 547.

[20] Martin Luther, Luther's Works, American Edition, 36 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), p. 231.

[21] The problem with the "consecrationist-receptionist" discussion is that each side runs the risk of separating in one direction or the other what has been Biblically joined together.

[22] Edmund Schlink, Theology of the Lutheran Confessions, trans. Paul F. Koehneke and Herbert J.A. Bouman (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961), p. 245.

[23] The Greek Word in 1 Cor. 11:29 is krima. The term used by Paul of wrongful participation in the Lord's Supper is the equivalent of our English "condemnation." cf. Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, pp. 450-51. For additional material on the force of this word see Friedrich Bueschel "krino," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, III (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), pp. 921-54.

[24] While the term "closed Communion" has a longer history (cf. W. Elert, ch. 7) and is regarded by some as theologically more proper than "close Communion," the latter term, which has been used in more recent history by writers in The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, may also properly be employed as a way of saying that confessional agreement must precede the fellowship of Christians at the Lord's Table. Whatever term is used, it is clear that the LCMS' official practice is consistent with the historic practice of the church, which has regarded unity of doctrine as a prerequisite for admission to the sacrament (cf. 1967 Res. 2-19).

[25] Martin Chemnitz, The Lord's Supper, trans. J.A.O. Preus (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979), p. 21.

[26] H.P. Hamann, Studies in Holy Communion (LCA, S.A. District: Church Development Committee, 1977), p. 12.

[27] Donald Deffner, "Why Close Communion?" Berkeley, Calif., 1955, p. 14.

[28] 1967 Res. 2-19. See also 1969 Res. 3-18 and 1981 Res. 3-01. Cf. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, III, p. 381. Pieper begins his discussion concerning who is to be admitted to the Lord's Supper by stating: "Christian congregations, and their public servants, are only the administrants and not lords of the Sacrament. ... On the one hand, they are not permitted to introduce 'Open Communion': on the other hand, they must guard against denying the Sacrament to those Christians for whom Christ has appointed it." To be sure, a heavy responsibility rests on pastors in making decisions as they evaluate those exceptional cases of pastoral care where persons who are members of denominations not in fellowship with the LCMS desire to receive the Lord's Supper. However, part of the pastor's responsibility in such situations involves informing individuals desiring Communion also of their responsibility regarding an action which identifies them with the confessional position of the church body to which the host congregation belongs and their willingness to place themselves under the spiritual care of the pastor in that place.

[29] An announcement in the service folder may request those who wish to commune as guests to speak with the pastor prior to the service. Elders or ushers may be instructed to provide guidance to visitors regarding the Communion practices of their congregation. Members of the congregation should be instructed to encourage relatives and friends to indicate in advance their desire to commune.

[30] The questions which follow have been selected in response to the specific assignment given to the commission to deal with the questions of close Communion and extra. congregational Communion services, and in response to inquiries often received from members of the Synod on other matters of concern.

[31] Thesis 25 in C.F.W. Walther's Proper Form of a Lutheran Congregation in Walther and the Church, trans. Th. Engelder (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1938), p. 101; also found in Selected Writings of C. F. W. Walther, Aug. R. Suelflow, Series Editor, Walther on the Church, trans. John M. Drickamer (CPH, 1981), p. 140.

[32] Martin Chemnitz, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, pp. 131-32.

[33] The term "Mass" was used in the Reformation period to designate the service of Holy Communion. The Confessions, of course, removed all the connotations of propitiatory sacrifice in their usage of the term.

[34] Martin Chemnitz, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, p. 128.

[35] With respect to the distribution of the sacrament, attention may be called to Rubric 28 in the Altar Book of Lutheran Worship, pp. 31- 32. For instance, it may be well to point out that "Since the administration of the Lord's body is the decisive act of admission to the Sacrament, the presiding minister, as the responsible minister of the Sacrament, distributes the body of the Lord. The assisting minister(s) may distribute the blood."


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