Introit, Kyrie, Gloria

More from the Narrative Commentary on the Divine Service by Prof. John Pless of Concordia Theological Seminary (Ft. Wayne, IN).  Again, our pastor had these brief introductions read before each part of the service as a way to teach the liturgy.  Notice that the entire liturgy consists essentially of passages of Scripture.  When someone objects to the liturgy, I ask, “What words from the Bible do you think we shouldn’t say?”

INTROIT (p.186)

Having received the Lord’s forgiveness, we are glad to enter into His courts with praise and thanksgiving. This entrance is made in the Introit with the Lord’s own words, most often drawn from the Psalms. Most often the Introit is chanted by the Choir or Cantor.

- Introit –

KYRIE

Kyrie Eleison is a Greek phrase meaning “Lord, have mercy.” In the Kyrie we come before the King of Mercy with the prayer that was on the lips of Blind Bartemaeus, whom Jesus healed. We approach our Merciful Savior and King as citizens of heaven, seeking His mercy for our salvation, the peace of the whole world, the well-being of His Church, our Worship, and our everlasting defense.

GLORIA

The Gloria in Excelsis (Glory to God in the Highest) (p. 187ff)

The Lord to whom we cry for mercy is the Savior who has come to us in the fl esh. The Gloria in Excelsis (Glory to God in the Highest) echoes the hymn that the high angels of God sang to the shepherds at Bethlehem. In this hymn we acclaim and extol the Son of God who humbled Himself to be our Brother and now reigns over us as Savior from the right hand of His Father. In Divine Service I, an alternate to this hymn is “This is the Feast of Victory” taken from the Book of Revelation. This hymn proclaims the victory of the Lamb who was crucifi ed for us. It is appropriately used at Easter and Ascension.

via Grace Lutheran Church – Pastor’s Letter – February 2010 2009.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • kerner

    Why did you skip confession and absolution? Some Lutherans consider this a separate sacrament; most consider it more of a precursor to receiving forgiveness in the Eucharist. As I have become more cognizant of the liturgy in recent years, it strikes me that confession and absolution is one of its most important elements, especially since private confession is rare among Lutherans. It deserves better than an oblique reference in your paragraph about the introit.

  • kerner

    Why did you skip confession and absolution? Some Lutherans consider this a separate sacrament; most consider it more of a precursor to receiving forgiveness in the Eucharist. As I have become more cognizant of the liturgy in recent years, it strikes me that confession and absolution is one of its most important elements, especially since private confession is rare among Lutherans. It deserves better than an oblique reference in your paragraph about the introit.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yes Kerner,
    There is something existentially freeing about coming into the presence of God Sunday after Sunday, and with a host of others, even if they are giving merely half a thought to what they are saying, being completely honest with yourself, God, and all those around you and confessing that you are a sinner. Just the honesty of it is therapeutic. But then to hear the words of God pronounce absolution, wow!
    Which makes the whole history of this part of the liturgy quite peculiar. It is actually a late Lutheran innovation, meant to counter the drop in attendance of Private confession and absolution that the churches were experiencing. And still to this day has mixed reviews among confessional Lutherans.
    I’ve known pastors to just drop the whole thing for months to see if anyone would notice, and no one did. And somewhat based on John 20, it may have the least scriptural warrant in all the liturgy, because by nature of it being public it lacks the intimacy that seems to be called for in John 20 and elsewhere where the office of the keys is expounded on.
    And there seems to come a complete break when it then comes to that same absolution being offered in communion, but not to everyone who just heard that their sins were absolved. Which seems to almost say “your sins are forgiven… sike! not really, stew in them a little more.” And I don’t know if there is an easy answer to that. I haven’t found one. At some level I think you have to be careful who you invite to the Lord’s table, the admonitions in 1 Cor. can’t be avoided, the idea, secondary as it may be, that communion is a confession of unity if faith and doctrine also needs to be safe guarded, but there seems to be a dissonance between the two the public absolution, and a consequent denial to the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps I’ll write a paper on it sometime.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yes Kerner,
    There is something existentially freeing about coming into the presence of God Sunday after Sunday, and with a host of others, even if they are giving merely half a thought to what they are saying, being completely honest with yourself, God, and all those around you and confessing that you are a sinner. Just the honesty of it is therapeutic. But then to hear the words of God pronounce absolution, wow!
    Which makes the whole history of this part of the liturgy quite peculiar. It is actually a late Lutheran innovation, meant to counter the drop in attendance of Private confession and absolution that the churches were experiencing. And still to this day has mixed reviews among confessional Lutherans.
    I’ve known pastors to just drop the whole thing for months to see if anyone would notice, and no one did. And somewhat based on John 20, it may have the least scriptural warrant in all the liturgy, because by nature of it being public it lacks the intimacy that seems to be called for in John 20 and elsewhere where the office of the keys is expounded on.
    And there seems to come a complete break when it then comes to that same absolution being offered in communion, but not to everyone who just heard that their sins were absolved. Which seems to almost say “your sins are forgiven… sike! not really, stew in them a little more.” And I don’t know if there is an easy answer to that. I haven’t found one. At some level I think you have to be careful who you invite to the Lord’s table, the admonitions in 1 Cor. can’t be avoided, the idea, secondary as it may be, that communion is a confession of unity if faith and doctrine also needs to be safe guarded, but there seems to be a dissonance between the two the public absolution, and a consequent denial to the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps I’ll write a paper on it sometime.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Most of the time I hear objections to the liturgy it is because they would rather have something else, more songs, more sermon. They don’t seem to get that there is a reason why we do the things we do in a service. So, I am thankful to have seen this narrative service, because we are heading into a series on the different parts of the service and we will be putting in the appropriate narrative for the part of service we are highlighting.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Most of the time I hear objections to the liturgy it is because they would rather have something else, more songs, more sermon. They don’t seem to get that there is a reason why we do the things we do in a service. So, I am thankful to have seen this narrative service, because we are heading into a series on the different parts of the service and we will be putting in the appropriate narrative for the part of service we are highlighting.

  • kerner

    Bror:

    I agree with you. Further, I think any penitent Christian should receive communion. I understand that we do not want to exhibit unity of doctrine where none exists, but I think communion is way more about unity of faith than it is about unity of doctrine. When someone comes into a Lutheran Church and confesses according to our liturgies,

    eg.: “O most merciful God, I, a poor miserable sinner, confess to Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee. But I am heartily sorry for them, and sincerely repent of them. And I pray Thee, of thy boundless mercy, for the sake of the wholey innocent, bitter suffering and death of thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.”

    That person has confessed sufficient faith and doctrine to receive absolution, and the Eucharist. This would be especially true after that person had confessed the Nicene Creed later in the service. Having confessed his sins and relied on the blood of Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and then confessed the basics of the Christian faith in the creed, I believe that person has expressed the unity all Christians have as the body of Christ, albeit at its most basic level.

    But I think communion is supposed to express unity at a basic level, not as to every possible theological point. The whole point of the Creed, developed by the counsel of Nicea, was to come up with a statement of what one had to believe to be saved, to call oneself a Christian, to be in communion with “the Church”. It was only later that the Roman church began to require agreement with everything its popes and counsels said to be in communion with it. I think we have taken that custom and carried it too far. I believe that our practice of closed communion needs to be rethought.

  • kerner

    Bror:

    I agree with you. Further, I think any penitent Christian should receive communion. I understand that we do not want to exhibit unity of doctrine where none exists, but I think communion is way more about unity of faith than it is about unity of doctrine. When someone comes into a Lutheran Church and confesses according to our liturgies,

    eg.: “O most merciful God, I, a poor miserable sinner, confess to Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee. But I am heartily sorry for them, and sincerely repent of them. And I pray Thee, of thy boundless mercy, for the sake of the wholey innocent, bitter suffering and death of thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.”

    That person has confessed sufficient faith and doctrine to receive absolution, and the Eucharist. This would be especially true after that person had confessed the Nicene Creed later in the service. Having confessed his sins and relied on the blood of Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and then confessed the basics of the Christian faith in the creed, I believe that person has expressed the unity all Christians have as the body of Christ, albeit at its most basic level.

    But I think communion is supposed to express unity at a basic level, not as to every possible theological point. The whole point of the Creed, developed by the counsel of Nicea, was to come up with a statement of what one had to believe to be saved, to call oneself a Christian, to be in communion with “the Church”. It was only later that the Roman church began to require agreement with everything its popes and counsels said to be in communion with it. I think we have taken that custom and carried it too far. I believe that our practice of closed communion needs to be rethought.

  • kerner

    Its been awhile since we used that one at our church. I hope I got it right. :)

  • kerner

    Its been awhile since we used that one at our church. I hope I got it right. :)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    I sympathize, but forgive me if I’m not there with you yet. I’m not sure I ever will be either. Rethinking though, well I think we ought to always be rethinking our theology, not sure it is the same as changing our practice.
    I do struggle with it.
    I have a fairly extensive communion statement, in which I try with all my heart to explain in an evangelical way what our beliefs are concerning communion, I do it somewhat along the lines of Luther’s Admonition to Communicants. It is just as much for my sheep as it is for those who are maybe not yet sheep Christ has entrusted to my care. Yet, even after all that I will talk to people after church, and they start out saying but pastor that is what we believe, and then 10 minutes later, “wait, you mean you don’t believe it is a symbol?” and I’m sorry but if they can’t confess that, I do not feel comfortable as a steward of the mysteries of God, communing them.
    So I vacillate back and forth in my head, rethink it Sunday after Sunday, and keep doing what I know, until I can be convinced a little better than I have thus far that what I’m doing, and what has been the practice of the Lutheran Church for centuries is wrong. These are weighty things.
    But to be honest, completely, if the dissonance between public confession and absolution and closed communion was to force me to choose one over the other right now, based on what scripture says, I’d throw out Public confession and absolution. As it is I think it is the cross Lutherans bear to live with a little dissonance. Perhaps there is reason God gives us grace in so many ways, but warns us of the dangers of one of those means?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    I sympathize, but forgive me if I’m not there with you yet. I’m not sure I ever will be either. Rethinking though, well I think we ought to always be rethinking our theology, not sure it is the same as changing our practice.
    I do struggle with it.
    I have a fairly extensive communion statement, in which I try with all my heart to explain in an evangelical way what our beliefs are concerning communion, I do it somewhat along the lines of Luther’s Admonition to Communicants. It is just as much for my sheep as it is for those who are maybe not yet sheep Christ has entrusted to my care. Yet, even after all that I will talk to people after church, and they start out saying but pastor that is what we believe, and then 10 minutes later, “wait, you mean you don’t believe it is a symbol?” and I’m sorry but if they can’t confess that, I do not feel comfortable as a steward of the mysteries of God, communing them.
    So I vacillate back and forth in my head, rethink it Sunday after Sunday, and keep doing what I know, until I can be convinced a little better than I have thus far that what I’m doing, and what has been the practice of the Lutheran Church for centuries is wrong. These are weighty things.
    But to be honest, completely, if the dissonance between public confession and absolution and closed communion was to force me to choose one over the other right now, based on what scripture says, I’d throw out Public confession and absolution. As it is I think it is the cross Lutherans bear to live with a little dissonance. Perhaps there is reason God gives us grace in so many ways, but warns us of the dangers of one of those means?

  • kerner

    I understand, Bror, and when I say that our practice should be “rethought”, I am very hesitant to advocate a specific result. I am not a trained theolgian, nor am I called to the pastoral ministry. I don’t know that I am qualified to say what exact result a rethinking process should yield.

    But I feel qualified to point out some problems with the way we do things now. The root of my concern is that the Eucharist does nothing less than convey forgiveness of sins. This is clearly something that every penitent Christian should receive from the Church (which holds the office of the keys). To withhold the Eucharist is tantamount to saying, “your sins are NOT forgiven”. And I don’t know that we dare say that to everyone with whom we are not in pulpit fellowship.

    I have heard the argument that members of other denominations can receive forgiveness through the eucharist at their own churches. But, especially in the case of the reformed or the anabaptistic, that is debatable.

    I have also heard the argument that other Christians will have their sins forgiven through the preaching of the Word and their baptisms so we shouldn’t worry; in other words, they will get along ok without the Eucharist. But if so many Christians can get along ok without the Eucharist, what is the big urgency about ME going to communion so frequently?

    All the arguments against giving the Eucharist to non-confessional Lutheran Christians seem to dimnish its value, even its essense.

    I mean here we are, arguing that we should baptize every infant we can get in the door to get his/her sins forgiven, but with communion we won’t forgive anyone’s sins that way if they haven’t taken a theology course and taken a vow to support the small catechism (which, incidently, doesn’t say anything about closed communion that I can see). It doesn’t figure.

  • kerner

    I understand, Bror, and when I say that our practice should be “rethought”, I am very hesitant to advocate a specific result. I am not a trained theolgian, nor am I called to the pastoral ministry. I don’t know that I am qualified to say what exact result a rethinking process should yield.

    But I feel qualified to point out some problems with the way we do things now. The root of my concern is that the Eucharist does nothing less than convey forgiveness of sins. This is clearly something that every penitent Christian should receive from the Church (which holds the office of the keys). To withhold the Eucharist is tantamount to saying, “your sins are NOT forgiven”. And I don’t know that we dare say that to everyone with whom we are not in pulpit fellowship.

    I have heard the argument that members of other denominations can receive forgiveness through the eucharist at their own churches. But, especially in the case of the reformed or the anabaptistic, that is debatable.

    I have also heard the argument that other Christians will have their sins forgiven through the preaching of the Word and their baptisms so we shouldn’t worry; in other words, they will get along ok without the Eucharist. But if so many Christians can get along ok without the Eucharist, what is the big urgency about ME going to communion so frequently?

    All the arguments against giving the Eucharist to non-confessional Lutheran Christians seem to dimnish its value, even its essense.

    I mean here we are, arguing that we should baptize every infant we can get in the door to get his/her sins forgiven, but with communion we won’t forgive anyone’s sins that way if they haven’t taken a theology course and taken a vow to support the small catechism (which, incidently, doesn’t say anything about closed communion that I can see). It doesn’t figure.

  • –helen

    The catechism doesn’t have to “say anything about closed communion”. Communion, when the catechism was written, was closed by the necessity of private confession and absolution beforehand. Someone who was not Lutheran would not be likely to go to confession at a Lutheran church, anabaptists, least of all.

    I believe the church should have a consistent practice about admittance to communion. Pastors should be able to make exceptions in individual cases, but an “exception” means that a rule is usually followed, (and the exceptions should be few).

    Laity should be able to see consistent practice, so that my cousin from the elca understands that we do not commune together (even 20 years ago and never mind that I was once a member in the alc).
    It would help the lcms laity to understand “why” also; many of them don’t!

    Your hypothetical ‘Baptist’ who doesn’t think he is getting forgiveness of sins at his own church should be taking instruction in the Lutheran faith so he can join us in communion.

    All the arguments for closed communion emphasize it as a special gift to those who believe in it.
    A person can’t say, “I believe this is the Body and Blood of Christ” today and go back to crackers and grape juice next week or next month! One place or the other he will be lying and that is a dangerous thing to do in connection with the Sacrament. You aren’t doing any favor to one who tries, (or to yourself if you are the responsible pastor), if you allow it.

    This is too long. Look it up in the Book of Concord.

  • –helen

    The catechism doesn’t have to “say anything about closed communion”. Communion, when the catechism was written, was closed by the necessity of private confession and absolution beforehand. Someone who was not Lutheran would not be likely to go to confession at a Lutheran church, anabaptists, least of all.

    I believe the church should have a consistent practice about admittance to communion. Pastors should be able to make exceptions in individual cases, but an “exception” means that a rule is usually followed, (and the exceptions should be few).

    Laity should be able to see consistent practice, so that my cousin from the elca understands that we do not commune together (even 20 years ago and never mind that I was once a member in the alc).
    It would help the lcms laity to understand “why” also; many of them don’t!

    Your hypothetical ‘Baptist’ who doesn’t think he is getting forgiveness of sins at his own church should be taking instruction in the Lutheran faith so he can join us in communion.

    All the arguments for closed communion emphasize it as a special gift to those who believe in it.
    A person can’t say, “I believe this is the Body and Blood of Christ” today and go back to crackers and grape juice next week or next month! One place or the other he will be lying and that is a dangerous thing to do in connection with the Sacrament. You aren’t doing any favor to one who tries, (or to yourself if you are the responsible pastor), if you allow it.

    This is too long. Look it up in the Book of Concord.

  • wcwirla

    To the original post, the Mass formally begins with the Kyrie. This is so in Luther’s 1523 and 1526 rites, and he is reflecting common usage. Private confession was the only means by which the gift of absolution was administered. Luther does have a sort of “general confession” along with an admonition prior to the Lord’s Supper, but there is no absolution. The Lord’s Supper was the absolution.

    Corporate confession and absolution is a development from the days of Rationalism, which did away with private confession in favor of the much more “efficient” Confessional Service (Beichtgottesdienst). In some Lutheran circles, confession is seen as a necessary preparation for reception of the Lord’s Supper, therefore required attendance at the Sat. night confessional service, or today, the pro forma of the corporate confession in the preparatory rite.

    Given the developments, and the unlikelihood of complete returning to the Reformation practice, isolated pockets notwithstanding, I prefer a both/and approach to confession and absolution and offer both. Individual confession emphasizes the “Christ for you” character of forgiveness, as you alone hear it in view of your personal confession. Corporate confession/absolution reflects “Christ for all” as does the general preaching of the Gospel. Neither are necessary for the proper reception of the Lord’s Supper (as the Small Catechism indicates), since the Lord’s Supper itself is a form of the Gospel.

  • wcwirla

    To the original post, the Mass formally begins with the Kyrie. This is so in Luther’s 1523 and 1526 rites, and he is reflecting common usage. Private confession was the only means by which the gift of absolution was administered. Luther does have a sort of “general confession” along with an admonition prior to the Lord’s Supper, but there is no absolution. The Lord’s Supper was the absolution.

    Corporate confession and absolution is a development from the days of Rationalism, which did away with private confession in favor of the much more “efficient” Confessional Service (Beichtgottesdienst). In some Lutheran circles, confession is seen as a necessary preparation for reception of the Lord’s Supper, therefore required attendance at the Sat. night confessional service, or today, the pro forma of the corporate confession in the preparatory rite.

    Given the developments, and the unlikelihood of complete returning to the Reformation practice, isolated pockets notwithstanding, I prefer a both/and approach to confession and absolution and offer both. Individual confession emphasizes the “Christ for you” character of forgiveness, as you alone hear it in view of your personal confession. Corporate confession/absolution reflects “Christ for all” as does the general preaching of the Gospel. Neither are necessary for the proper reception of the Lord’s Supper (as the Small Catechism indicates), since the Lord’s Supper itself is a form of the Gospel.

  • kerner

    helen:

    I HAVE looked closed communion up in the book of concord. I didn’t find it. That’s why I don’t feel “non-confessional” bringing this up.

    What you read about communion in the Book of Concord has mostly to do with what it is and what it does, not who you take it with. It does say that the Eucharist retains its essense and effect even if it is distributed by a liar or a hypocrite.

    I have also done some study about Church practise about who was admitted to or turned away from the Lord’s table. In ancient times, major heresies tended to be about the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. These were decided to be essentials of the Faith, and people who had these concepts wrong were denied communion. I’m ok with this so far. The eucharist is for penitent Christians. Not believers in some similar but different religion.

    But it was only over time that the practice developed of excommunicating anyone who dissented about anything. By the Reformation communion became all about whose denomination you were in.

    That’s the way it is now, but I remain troubled by what I have learned about the sacramental nature of communion. Pastor Cwirla says above that the Lord’s Supper is a form of the Gospel. And I agree with that. But if so, then how do we justify making someone, who is already a Christian, take a several month long course of study before he gets the Gospel? That seems to me to be tying the Gospel to works. I know we have gotten used to thinking of Holy Comminion as a sign that we are united in doctrine on every point of any importance. But I see precious little support in Scripture or the Book of Concord for that proposition.

    I repeat, when Holy Communion becomes all about doctrinal unity and has almost nothing to do with the Gospel, we have diminished it.

  • kerner

    helen:

    I HAVE looked closed communion up in the book of concord. I didn’t find it. That’s why I don’t feel “non-confessional” bringing this up.

    What you read about communion in the Book of Concord has mostly to do with what it is and what it does, not who you take it with. It does say that the Eucharist retains its essense and effect even if it is distributed by a liar or a hypocrite.

    I have also done some study about Church practise about who was admitted to or turned away from the Lord’s table. In ancient times, major heresies tended to be about the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. These were decided to be essentials of the Faith, and people who had these concepts wrong were denied communion. I’m ok with this so far. The eucharist is for penitent Christians. Not believers in some similar but different religion.

    But it was only over time that the practice developed of excommunicating anyone who dissented about anything. By the Reformation communion became all about whose denomination you were in.

    That’s the way it is now, but I remain troubled by what I have learned about the sacramental nature of communion. Pastor Cwirla says above that the Lord’s Supper is a form of the Gospel. And I agree with that. But if so, then how do we justify making someone, who is already a Christian, take a several month long course of study before he gets the Gospel? That seems to me to be tying the Gospel to works. I know we have gotten used to thinking of Holy Comminion as a sign that we are united in doctrine on every point of any importance. But I see precious little support in Scripture or the Book of Concord for that proposition.

    I repeat, when Holy Communion becomes all about doctrinal unity and has almost nothing to do with the Gospel, we have diminished it.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Kerner@1,
    I didn’t skip Confession & Absolution! See the post about “Amen.” The “Amen” is the conclusion to the whole commentary on corporate confession.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Kerner@1,
    I didn’t skip Confession & Absolution! See the post about “Amen.” The “Amen” is the conclusion to the whole commentary on corporate confession.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith
  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith
  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner@ 10
    “I have also done some study about Church practise about who was admitted to or turned away from the Lord’s table. In ancient times, major heresies tended to be about the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. These were decided to be essentials of the Faith, and people who had these concepts wrong were denied communion. I’m ok with this so far. The eucharist is for penitent Christians. Not believers in some similar but different religion.”
    In modern times, major heresies tend to be about the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ, including the reformed heresy. A good book you may want to read is Sasse “This is my Body” that tracks the colloquy of Marburg, and shows how the controversy over the Lord’s Supper was a controversy over whether or not Jesus was True God and True Man. In essence to deny that Jesus is present in the Lord’s Supper, is to deny that Jesus is God, it is based on axioms that will not permit it. If Jesus is God he can do what ever he wants, Calvin, Zwingli and the rest are not at liberty to say that there is anything Jesus can’t do.
    And the confessions backing up the Bible as they do, the question really isn’t what do the confessions say about closed communion, (they don’t say anything about Women’s ordination either, but they do give us a Biblical hermeneutic with which to decide on these matters) but what does the Bible say about it, what warnings and admonitions are there in the Bible concerning this form of the Gospel? And then how does a pastor, as a steward of the Mysteries of God, 1 Cor. 4 ff, and Titus 1, then take into account these warnings and admonitions with his stewardship.
    I know it may sound like total paranoia for me to go off on this. In my neck of the woods I deal with Mormons and evangelicals though, and more and more, in talking with them I’m not seeing that big of a difference. I’m not exagerating either. I became a Lutheran Pastor because I realized people go to church their whole lives and never hear the gospel, never hear their sins are forgiven. Well their is reason for that, evangelical doctrine concerning Christ and the Trinity doesn’t support it, and this manifests itself no where more clearly than in their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.
    On the other hand I think Closed Communion needs to be treated more as a pastoral care issue than a denominational issue. It is why denominations that needs to be rethought in a big way, what is their purpose etc.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner@ 10
    “I have also done some study about Church practise about who was admitted to or turned away from the Lord’s table. In ancient times, major heresies tended to be about the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. These were decided to be essentials of the Faith, and people who had these concepts wrong were denied communion. I’m ok with this so far. The eucharist is for penitent Christians. Not believers in some similar but different religion.”
    In modern times, major heresies tend to be about the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ, including the reformed heresy. A good book you may want to read is Sasse “This is my Body” that tracks the colloquy of Marburg, and shows how the controversy over the Lord’s Supper was a controversy over whether or not Jesus was True God and True Man. In essence to deny that Jesus is present in the Lord’s Supper, is to deny that Jesus is God, it is based on axioms that will not permit it. If Jesus is God he can do what ever he wants, Calvin, Zwingli and the rest are not at liberty to say that there is anything Jesus can’t do.
    And the confessions backing up the Bible as they do, the question really isn’t what do the confessions say about closed communion, (they don’t say anything about Women’s ordination either, but they do give us a Biblical hermeneutic with which to decide on these matters) but what does the Bible say about it, what warnings and admonitions are there in the Bible concerning this form of the Gospel? And then how does a pastor, as a steward of the Mysteries of God, 1 Cor. 4 ff, and Titus 1, then take into account these warnings and admonitions with his stewardship.
    I know it may sound like total paranoia for me to go off on this. In my neck of the woods I deal with Mormons and evangelicals though, and more and more, in talking with them I’m not seeing that big of a difference. I’m not exagerating either. I became a Lutheran Pastor because I realized people go to church their whole lives and never hear the gospel, never hear their sins are forgiven. Well their is reason for that, evangelical doctrine concerning Christ and the Trinity doesn’t support it, and this manifests itself no where more clearly than in their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.
    On the other hand I think Closed Communion needs to be treated more as a pastoral care issue than a denominational issue. It is why denominations that needs to be rethought in a big way, what is their purpose etc.

  • kerner

    You don’t sound paranoid [well...less paranoid than usual :)].

    And I agree with you about Mormons. Their doctrine denies the Holy Trinity and that Christ was true God as well as true Man. Accordingly, we don’t consider them Christians so they chouldn’t be given communion in our churches under any circumstances, nor should a Lutheran even consider taking communion with them (I don’t even know if Mormons have communion, but if they do, we shouldn’t take it). The same is true for Jehovah’s Witnesses and similar anti-Trinitarian cults.

    I’m a little less hard on evangelicals than you are. I realize that 16th century Reform theologians argued that Christ’s body had ascended so it couldn’t be on the altar and stuff like that, but I think that the gist of the Reform argument has not been so much that Christ COULD not make His body locally present at the altar, but more that He DOES not. Maybe you have experience to the contrary. But even if their doctrine logically does lead to anti Trinitarian conclusions, I think Reform and anabaptistic Christians do confess the Holy Trinity. The Westminster Confession certainly does. It’s hard to find a Calvary Chapel that will put on its website what it believes exactly, but the one I found did confess the Holy Trinity.

    Anyway, just so I’m being clear, I’m not saying we should have pulpit fellowship or ecumenical services or any other thing that would condone what the Reformed, anabaptistic, or charismatic churches teach. I’m not even suggesting that a Lutheran should consider taking communion in one of their churches.

    What bother’s me is the idea that a form of the Gospel should be witheld from baptized, penitent Christians until they can, after long and rigorous study, satisfy us that they have intellectually learned enough to receive this form of the Gospel from our hands. If you have to do all those good works to qualify for the Eucharist, how is it the Gospel?

    I’m also not all that impressed with the arguments that we are somehow protecting these people from themselves by keeping the Eucharist from them. We tell them what Communion is and means in all our literature, we certainly say what it is in the liturgy, there is no reason why the pastor couldn’t give a general admonotion as to what is going on at the beginning of the service, or just before communion (although the words of institution pretty much ARE such an admonition). Maybe a rule about seeing the pastor first so our doctrine could be explained would help. I realize that as a layman I’m an outsider here and the logistics of this are beyond me.

    But again, if somebody visits your church, establishes that he has been baptized, has sins on his heart that he repents of, and having had it explained to him at least briefly, wants to receive forgiveness of his sins with the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, I think we should let him take his chances and receive it. After all he came to the right place for the right stuff for at least this one time. Its not like we went into one of his heretical churches and compromised our teaching to get in or something. If next week he goes back to grape juice and crackers, then he will have wrongfully returned to his former errors, and that will be his fault, not ours. But I don’t see how receiving communion rightly for once is going to make his situation worse than it would be if he never received it rightly at all.

  • kerner

    You don’t sound paranoid [well...less paranoid than usual :)].

    And I agree with you about Mormons. Their doctrine denies the Holy Trinity and that Christ was true God as well as true Man. Accordingly, we don’t consider them Christians so they chouldn’t be given communion in our churches under any circumstances, nor should a Lutheran even consider taking communion with them (I don’t even know if Mormons have communion, but if they do, we shouldn’t take it). The same is true for Jehovah’s Witnesses and similar anti-Trinitarian cults.

    I’m a little less hard on evangelicals than you are. I realize that 16th century Reform theologians argued that Christ’s body had ascended so it couldn’t be on the altar and stuff like that, but I think that the gist of the Reform argument has not been so much that Christ COULD not make His body locally present at the altar, but more that He DOES not. Maybe you have experience to the contrary. But even if their doctrine logically does lead to anti Trinitarian conclusions, I think Reform and anabaptistic Christians do confess the Holy Trinity. The Westminster Confession certainly does. It’s hard to find a Calvary Chapel that will put on its website what it believes exactly, but the one I found did confess the Holy Trinity.

    Anyway, just so I’m being clear, I’m not saying we should have pulpit fellowship or ecumenical services or any other thing that would condone what the Reformed, anabaptistic, or charismatic churches teach. I’m not even suggesting that a Lutheran should consider taking communion in one of their churches.

    What bother’s me is the idea that a form of the Gospel should be witheld from baptized, penitent Christians until they can, after long and rigorous study, satisfy us that they have intellectually learned enough to receive this form of the Gospel from our hands. If you have to do all those good works to qualify for the Eucharist, how is it the Gospel?

    I’m also not all that impressed with the arguments that we are somehow protecting these people from themselves by keeping the Eucharist from them. We tell them what Communion is and means in all our literature, we certainly say what it is in the liturgy, there is no reason why the pastor couldn’t give a general admonotion as to what is going on at the beginning of the service, or just before communion (although the words of institution pretty much ARE such an admonition). Maybe a rule about seeing the pastor first so our doctrine could be explained would help. I realize that as a layman I’m an outsider here and the logistics of this are beyond me.

    But again, if somebody visits your church, establishes that he has been baptized, has sins on his heart that he repents of, and having had it explained to him at least briefly, wants to receive forgiveness of his sins with the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, I think we should let him take his chances and receive it. After all he came to the right place for the right stuff for at least this one time. Its not like we went into one of his heretical churches and compromised our teaching to get in or something. If next week he goes back to grape juice and crackers, then he will have wrongfully returned to his former errors, and that will be his fault, not ours. But I don’t see how receiving communion rightly for once is going to make his situation worse than it would be if he never received it rightly at all.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    with most reformed churches that still officially hold to the Trinity, much of what you say is true. However, other elements of their doctrines seriously test that.
    In short though, today, things are even more complicated. As I have said elsewhere the nondenominational craze has greatly exacerbated the problem. And quite frankly I have sat down with too many evangelicals who articulate their faith in the trinity almost completely the same as the mormons, or with a variety of other heresies.
    Now, I don’t know how long and rigorous the classes have to be before one starts communing. In some cases I’m willing to start communing people after a few short visits, with others it requires more. As a rule, I like to bring them through the six chief parts of the catechism in about six weeks, and the same for my confirmation students, though I keep them in the classes longer. But I think being familiar with the Catechism is the bare minimum, and I’m not much willing to require anything but the bare minimum in instruction before someone communes.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    with most reformed churches that still officially hold to the Trinity, much of what you say is true. However, other elements of their doctrines seriously test that.
    In short though, today, things are even more complicated. As I have said elsewhere the nondenominational craze has greatly exacerbated the problem. And quite frankly I have sat down with too many evangelicals who articulate their faith in the trinity almost completely the same as the mormons, or with a variety of other heresies.
    Now, I don’t know how long and rigorous the classes have to be before one starts communing. In some cases I’m willing to start communing people after a few short visits, with others it requires more. As a rule, I like to bring them through the six chief parts of the catechism in about six weeks, and the same for my confirmation students, though I keep them in the classes longer. But I think being familiar with the Catechism is the bare minimum, and I’m not much willing to require anything but the bare minimum in instruction before someone communes.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    As for them being instructed enough by the liturgy, not a chance. Seriously, until you have the conversation with them they interpret what is said in the liturgy a million different ways, and usually not with child like faith. It is baffling, but I tell them flat out we don’t believe it is symbolic, after church they say the believe the same as I said, 5 minutes later, “What? I always thought it was symbolic. you mean it isn’t symbolic?” Bare minimum a conversation has to occur.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    As for them being instructed enough by the liturgy, not a chance. Seriously, until you have the conversation with them they interpret what is said in the liturgy a million different ways, and usually not with child like faith. It is baffling, but I tell them flat out we don’t believe it is symbolic, after church they say the believe the same as I said, 5 minutes later, “What? I always thought it was symbolic. you mean it isn’t symbolic?” Bare minimum a conversation has to occur.

  • helen

    “helen:
    I HAVE looked closed communion up in the book of concord. I didn’t find it. That’s why I don’t feel “non-confessional” bringing this up. ” –kerner

    After every statement of belief in the Book of Concord, there is usually a statement of what we as Lutherans reject, some directed at Roman practice, others at the “enthusiasts” or “anabaptist” forerunners of modern “evangelicalism”.
    People who do not believe that when Christ said, “This is My body.” it is His body won’t receive Christ’s body in the sacrament. And with such unbelief about it, they won’t receive forgiveness either.
    They “eat and drink to their damnation, not discerning the Lord’s body” –Paul
    Luther split with Zwingli over this despite being in agreement on most other things.

    I cannot guarantee that every “Lutheran” who comes to the Lord’s table is repentant or believing. God knows I may not be able to guarantee that about myself some Sundays. But it is my intent. “I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!”
    We do have the problem of seemingly faithful Christians in unfaithful denominations. But, consider: If they know their denomination is unfaithful in major ways (think elca) and stay, aren’t they putting family, friends or a loved building ahead of God? And what did Christ say about such conflicting loyalties? “If you don’t hate your [family] you aren’t worthy of me”

    I fell into the lcms ["only Lutheran church in town"] way back when all the Lutheran denominations had the common service and a common understanding about other things. I couldn’t go back. I haven’t moved from what I learned in catechism but my childhood church has a woman in the pulpit. They moved away from me, never mind that I’m the one a thousand miles distant!
    Now we have quite a lot of people [inside lcms, not just other denominations] who don’t seem to value what we have as lcms Lutherans. What will be done about it, I don’t know. I hope someone can convince them that you can’t put a “lutheran” paint job on a non lutheran termite ridden confession and expect it to stand!
    Over and over again, it’s the person who comes from “outside”, who was born into/dabbled in an evangelical or pentacostal denomination or was “nothing” for some years, who is the most ardent defender of Lutheranism. They have learned its value the hard way. God bless them for their witness to the rest of us!

  • helen

    “helen:
    I HAVE looked closed communion up in the book of concord. I didn’t find it. That’s why I don’t feel “non-confessional” bringing this up. ” –kerner

    After every statement of belief in the Book of Concord, there is usually a statement of what we as Lutherans reject, some directed at Roman practice, others at the “enthusiasts” or “anabaptist” forerunners of modern “evangelicalism”.
    People who do not believe that when Christ said, “This is My body.” it is His body won’t receive Christ’s body in the sacrament. And with such unbelief about it, they won’t receive forgiveness either.
    They “eat and drink to their damnation, not discerning the Lord’s body” –Paul
    Luther split with Zwingli over this despite being in agreement on most other things.

    I cannot guarantee that every “Lutheran” who comes to the Lord’s table is repentant or believing. God knows I may not be able to guarantee that about myself some Sundays. But it is my intent. “I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!”
    We do have the problem of seemingly faithful Christians in unfaithful denominations. But, consider: If they know their denomination is unfaithful in major ways (think elca) and stay, aren’t they putting family, friends or a loved building ahead of God? And what did Christ say about such conflicting loyalties? “If you don’t hate your [family] you aren’t worthy of me”

    I fell into the lcms ["only Lutheran church in town"] way back when all the Lutheran denominations had the common service and a common understanding about other things. I couldn’t go back. I haven’t moved from what I learned in catechism but my childhood church has a woman in the pulpit. They moved away from me, never mind that I’m the one a thousand miles distant!
    Now we have quite a lot of people [inside lcms, not just other denominations] who don’t seem to value what we have as lcms Lutherans. What will be done about it, I don’t know. I hope someone can convince them that you can’t put a “lutheran” paint job on a non lutheran termite ridden confession and expect it to stand!
    Over and over again, it’s the person who comes from “outside”, who was born into/dabbled in an evangelical or pentacostal denomination or was “nothing” for some years, who is the most ardent defender of Lutheranism. They have learned its value the hard way. God bless them for their witness to the rest of us!

  • helen

    ” If next week he goes back to grape juice and crackers, then he will have wrongfully returned to his former errors, and that will be his fault, not ours.”

    If he truly believed in the real presence of Christ in the sacrament and returns to grape juice, crackers and a “symbolic” understanding, it seems to me that he will have taken in “seven other devils, worse than the first” because he knew the Truth and went away from it. We will have done him far less than “no good”.

    I am a lay person (obviously). Pastors can elucidate or correct where I have spoken wrongly.

  • helen

    ” If next week he goes back to grape juice and crackers, then he will have wrongfully returned to his former errors, and that will be his fault, not ours.”

    If he truly believed in the real presence of Christ in the sacrament and returns to grape juice, crackers and a “symbolic” understanding, it seems to me that he will have taken in “seven other devils, worse than the first” because he knew the Truth and went away from it. We will have done him far less than “no good”.

    I am a lay person (obviously). Pastors can elucidate or correct where I have spoken wrongly.


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