Thursday, July 20, 2006

Just Say No!

For quite some time, leaders of the LC-MS and the AALC have been pursuing altar and pulpit fellowship. It seems that we are getting closer, from the news that is coming from Synodical headquarters. The picture included here is of the Presiding Pastor of the AALC. From my observation, this possible fellowship would be a very bad idea. The AALC have many theological problems that should completely prevent the Missouri Synod from joining in any type of relationship with the AALC. There are serious questions about the AALC's doctrine of Holy Communion, the Charismatic Movement and the Ordination of Women, to name just a few. The fact that the leaders of our Church are pursuing this fellowship shows to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt (as if I really needed any more evidence) that we are not unified in doctrine. The issues that divide us are so much more than issues of style or practice. God have mercy on our Synod!


At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure what the ordination of women has to do at all with Holy Communion. The only rule to which I am inclined to adhere regarding who participates in it, is that those participating in the Lord's Supper together be of one mind in the elements of the sacrament which were instituted by Christ. This means that all involved believe that they are receiving the true body and blood of Christ, in and with the bread and wine.

Even this rule, often referred to as "close communion" is not the finite resolution of the discussion. Between God and each individual party taking communion exists an individual relationship, equally important to the group relationship shared in the sacrament. To deny someone the right and privilege of Holy Communion when they are truly in need of it is neither right nor prudent. At no point will anyone lead me to believe that your salvation could be harmed by trying to share it with another of God's children. If they are deemed unworthy, that is a decision to be made by one more holy than any other who has walked this earth.

If indeed you behave in such a manor which supports your belief and your speech and actions reflect the words of scripture which you prescribe to, especially in this instance, you may in fact be able to influence not only the faith, but lives and belief of others through your example.

If you believe however, contrary to scripture, that salvation is only offered in Holy Communion given with the blessing of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, you are a fool. This is the same type of belief as the papal decree of long ago stating that salvation was only attainable from and through the Holy Roman Church (Catholic). Salvation is only given through Our Lord Jesus Christ, and I will proclaim no other.

However, if anyone can show me direct scriptural confutation of my standpoint, I will give it due consideration. Though, I have never seen any passage though which has alluded to me that any man has the right to deny another God's mercy.

To Him be the glory!

At 9:46 AM, Blogger stjohnstrongs said...

Thank you for your comments. It is nice to know that my comments are being read. This issue has caused much controversy; and, it is an issue that many people feel strongly about. Here is the basis for a Biblical position on Closed Communion. You might not agree, but I pray that you understand the position. First, 1 Corinthians 4:1, calls pastors, "stewards of the mysteries of God."(KJV) Proper stewardship involves proper administration. That is to say, that both the pastor and the congrgation are responsible to make sure that all aspects of God's work in the church is done properly and in good order. But, it is especially important in Holy Communion where pastors and congregations are called to be good stewards. Being a good steward means that you concern yourself with who receives Christ's body and blood. To give someone Christ's body and blood who is not ready to receive it would go against Paul's words in 1 Corintians 11:27, "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord." The practice of closed communion is done to protect someone from sinning against Christ's body and blood and "drinking judgement" on himself. Closed Communion is done out of love for the person. We don't want someone to eat or drink to their judgment. Again, proper adminstration of God's gifts, being a good steward of the mysteries, necessitates only giving the bread and wine to those who we can be assured are ready to recieve. Those who are members of the local congregation or those who have received Lutheran catechesis or instruction is the best way to know for sure that everyone is communing rightly and for their benefit and is good stewardship. Anything else opens the door to allowing someone to commune in a way that might be harmful to them.

Also, Holy Communion is a Confession. Take the words, "Holy Communion." Holy Communion is a holy "common union." That is to say, that all who come forward are confessors. 1 Corinthians 11:26, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim (confess) the Lord's death until he comes." So, therefore, everyone who comes forward should be confessing the doctrine of the Lutheran faith. If someone comes forward who maybe even believes the Christ is present in the bread and wine, but is a Methodist or a Catholic or a Methodist, then the intregity of our Confession is compromised at our altar. Whatever Confession that a person adopts should be the altar that they commune at. That is the only way to have a "Holy Communion" or a holy "Common union" of faith, not just in the teaching of Holy Communion, but in all articles of faith. May God bless our church as we struggle through these important issues.

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Close Communion" is the doctrine by which we protect our Christian brothers and sisters from approaching the altar to take the sacrament when they are not ready. "Closed Communion" is a Catholic tradition by which only Catholic church members who have received their catechesis or instruction, are invited to the Lord's table. Closed communion is a doctrine and tradition born of closed hearts and minds.

To believe that our way is the only way to confess and worship is ignorant, prideful, and pharisaical. It is an insult to Christ's church to say that we are the way to salvation. Christ is the only way to salvation. The sacraments are a means of grace, instituted by Christ for all who believe.

If you are so concerned about your brethren, consider these words from Matthew chapter 16: "Whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven."

Though the decision on each person's salvation is mad by God alone, we are indeed meant to be good stewards. By denying his people a means to grace, you may also discourage their faith. This is poor stewardship of the gifts of both Christ in his sacrament, and the Holy Spirit's work in people's hearts.

Foolish you would be to commune someone whose faith clearly did not lie in Christ for salvation, or someone who you believe to be truly unrepentant. But doubly foolish would you be to shun the gifts of Christ and the Holy Spirit when they are laid so clearly before you.

Judgement may be on anyone who comes to the sacrament in an unready state, and that weight may be on their heart. Let also those who are unready to give the sacrament to those it was intended for, doubly feel such weight upon themselves.

Being forever responsible for the bindings and seperations you dictate here on earth should always be a heavy consideration in your actions. Be thankful that nothing can seperate you from the love of Christ, and be ever-mindful that it is not your place to try to seperate others either.

At 4:14 PM, Blogger terence lung said...

And Open Communion was first practiced by Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit.

Why shall we be in communion with those who are persistently contrary to Scripture (eg ordination of women)? We are of different communions.

It is Grace Alone, not Entitlement Alone. Entitlement and Grace are two mutually exclusive concepts. They are not in communion with each other.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Aaron - HIS child said...

I do not care for female pastors as a personal preference. However, I have never seen scriptural evidence against their validity.

Second, I agree that Grace and Entitlement are mutually exclusive concepts. What I do not agree with is the idea that anyone is entitled or not entitled to commune. Christ welcomes all. His grace is offered for "all people." This is not an entitlement, but a free gift. Any time you refuse to commune someone, you refuse access to that part of the gift. You refuse them the physical embodiment of the Grace that Christ has freely given.

Third, there is only one Communion. This is what I think is a grave error in our day. There is only one Communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians are part of it. This does not mean we should all worship and observe the sacrament together. It also means however, that no one is more or less saved by observing the sacrament with a Lutheran Congregation as opposed to a Methodist or Baptist, or whichever. Salvation is in Christ alone. "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." On this point there can be no mistake. Whether I choose to worship and observe sacraments with another Christian congregation or not, does not make either of us any "less saved." There are not degrees of salvation. It is a definitive have or have not concept.


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