Inadequate Communion Statements

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My wife attended church with our daughter recently and brought home a bulletin. I knew that the church did not have a reputation for practicing closed Communion, but I was still curious to know what kind of statement they would have, if any. Here is what it states:

“We invite you to read the following statement of faith about Holy Communion: This is our statement of faith. If it is your statement of faith, we invite you to share the Holy Communion with us.” And then the paragraph goes on to state what _________ Lutheran Church believes about Communion.

This is not Closed Communion. This statement deals only with the personal faith of the communicant but completely ignores the reality of church fellowship. And, to be honest, it really doesn’t even deal adequately with the personal faith of the worshiper. There is no pastoral concern for souls here. There is no recognition that “good medicine, improperly administered, can be fatal” (John Pless, Handling the Word of Truth, p. 22).

Closed Communion takes this reality into account. Good medicine, improperly administered, can be fatal. One of my elders noted this connection to the practice of the Lord’s Supper last night when we were reading Chapter Two of Pless’ book. What loving pastor could possibly leave the effects of the Lord’s Supper on the recipient up to chance?

For what it’s worth, here is what we print in our bulletins. Perhaps someone will point out what is inadequate in this statement, and feel free to do so. But it takes more than a Communion statement in the bulletin to practice Closed Communion.

Who May Commune at the Lord’s Table?

Our churches teach that those who commune together ought to be in full agreement concerning the chief articles of Christian doctrine (1 Cor. 11:18; Matthew 28:20; Philippians 2:2). Scripture also teaches that the Lord’s Supper can be spiritually harmful for those who receive it in an unworthy manner (1 Cor. 11:27).

Thus, all communicants are first instructed and examined by the pastor before being admitted to the Lord’s Supper. Those visiting from sister congregations of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod or one of our Partner Churches are welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Adult membership classes are offered periodically for those wishing to join the communicant membership of Immanuel.

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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