Yet another new step in open communion

Thanks to nqb for alerting us to yet another new horizon of open communion:  not just communing other Christians, not just communing non-Christians, but communing people who are not even setting foot in a church:

Wednesday morning pastors from the Community United Church of Christ offered communion to any one who wanted to receive it on the corner of 6th and Daniel streets.

The church, which is located on 805 South Sixth Street, plans to set up every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for the rest of the Christian season of Lent, which goes until Easter.

“We decided we needed to bring the open table out to the people,” explained Rev. Leah Robberts-Mosser, who is the pastor of Community United Church of Christ (Community UCC).

The church said some churches restrict who can get communion.  Rev. Robberts-Mosser said they wanted everyone to have the opportunity to do so, and that’s why they took it out to the streets.

via Champaign Church Offering Communion On Street Corner – IllinoisHomePage.net.

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.

  • larry

    This goes hand in hand in a common “church” scheme we’ve increasingly noted in our area/State in which a (sect) “church”, no longer even goes by its former denominational root name X Baptist Church but X Community Church and/or some drop the term “church” altogether and go by X Community Worship Center.

    This really is the unsurprising logical extension of a false doctrine on the Lord’s Supper, again Zwingli and Calvin unraveling. Instead of the sacrament being the CULMINATION of the true and pure confession of THE (as opposed to “my/one’s” personal subjective faith) Faith that forms the body of Christ, the community gathering around becomes the culmination and the pseudo Lord’s Supper merely a means to this end.
    There is formally opening the communion doors, then, there is what we had in the SBC and PCA in which the church ‘hypothetically’ closed the communion to unbelievers (i.e. if you asked the “official” position) but in reality no real closing occurred and one could be complete stranger off of the street, walk in on any given memorial meal quarterly (or monthly at PCA) and very easily partake without the slightest qualm whatsoever, in fact the deacons would pass the plate and platter to you.

    Open communion really formally started when Zwingli altered the method of giving the supper. Zwingli knew what he was doing when altered the doctrine and then the “way in which” his memorial meal would be given/distributed. Instead of coming in humble unity to the altar, undemanding of the sacrament, the distribution method began. Really from there which was logical to the false doctrine on communion, “this is not my body/blood”, open communion started informally to what we see today taking place increasingly formally.

    Hermann Sasse writes from ‘We Are Not Ashamed of Their Ardent Struggle’ concerning that loosing the sacrament the church, then, is lost.

    If we do not take what Scripture says concerning the presence of Christ with complete seriousness, then we have a wrong understanding of Christ. Then we also have a wrong understanding of His Church. Then we have a mental construct of Christ in place of the real Christ and in place of the real Church in which Jesus Christ is really present according to both His divinity and His humanity we have a dream church, a mere community of spirits in which Christ is only spiritually present just as He was prior to His incarnation. Then the Church ceases to be what it has been in the world ever since the incarnation of Christ, His death and His resurrection, and the institution of the Supper, to wit, the place of God’s love among men, a spiritual and bodily community in which we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
    The reason why our fathers contended for the pure doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar is that they knew all of this. They recognized the consequences that an inadequate and false understanding of the Lord’s Supper must have for the whole doctrine and life of the Church. We are not ashamed of their ardent struggle. For when she has followed the Reformer in taking with utmost seriousness the inextricably related questions of the faithful administration and the right understanding of this Sacrament, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has never been set on the enthronement of preferred opinions and confessional peculiarities. What is at stake for her is the supreme value for which the Church can and must wage her warfare, namely the absolute validity of the divine Word. In times past and present her struggle does not aim at securing a “Lutheran” Supper but a Biblical Lord’s Supper and therefore the Biblical Church and the Christ of the Bible. In this process she has always acted on the assumption that Scripture’s teaching on the Supper is not something yet to be discovered by future synods and theological conferences, but that it has already long since been found and can be seen by everyone who reads the New Testament in faith in Christ without ideological preconceptions.
    Perhaps the Church of coming ages will be the first to understand what service the Church of the Lutheran Reformation has performed for the whole of Christendom by this untiring testimony in doctrine and life: the Sacrament can be rightly administered only where the Gospel is purely taught, and the proclamation of the Gospel can remain pure only where Christ’s Sacrament is rightly celebrated. Just as continual celebration of the Sacrament must keep the Church’s proclamation from ending up as mere doctrinaire theology, so likewise constant care for pure doctrine must protect the celebration of the Sacrament from sinking into cultic mysticism and magic. Word and Sacrament, Gospel and Lord’s Supper, belong indissolubly together, because Christ the Lord is present in them and through them builds His Church on earth in divine omnipotence and love. This He does neither through the Word alone, nor through the Sacrament alone, but through both together

  • larry

    This goes hand in hand in a common “church” scheme we’ve increasingly noted in our area/State in which a (sect) “church”, no longer even goes by its former denominational root name X Baptist Church but X Community Church and/or some drop the term “church” altogether and go by X Community Worship Center.

    This really is the unsurprising logical extension of a false doctrine on the Lord’s Supper, again Zwingli and Calvin unraveling. Instead of the sacrament being the CULMINATION of the true and pure confession of THE (as opposed to “my/one’s” personal subjective faith) Faith that forms the body of Christ, the community gathering around becomes the culmination and the pseudo Lord’s Supper merely a means to this end.
    There is formally opening the communion doors, then, there is what we had in the SBC and PCA in which the church ‘hypothetically’ closed the communion to unbelievers (i.e. if you asked the “official” position) but in reality no real closing occurred and one could be complete stranger off of the street, walk in on any given memorial meal quarterly (or monthly at PCA) and very easily partake without the slightest qualm whatsoever, in fact the deacons would pass the plate and platter to you.

    Open communion really formally started when Zwingli altered the method of giving the supper. Zwingli knew what he was doing when altered the doctrine and then the “way in which” his memorial meal would be given/distributed. Instead of coming in humble unity to the altar, undemanding of the sacrament, the distribution method began. Really from there which was logical to the false doctrine on communion, “this is not my body/blood”, open communion started informally to what we see today taking place increasingly formally.

    Hermann Sasse writes from ‘We Are Not Ashamed of Their Ardent Struggle’ concerning that loosing the sacrament the church, then, is lost.

    If we do not take what Scripture says concerning the presence of Christ with complete seriousness, then we have a wrong understanding of Christ. Then we also have a wrong understanding of His Church. Then we have a mental construct of Christ in place of the real Christ and in place of the real Church in which Jesus Christ is really present according to both His divinity and His humanity we have a dream church, a mere community of spirits in which Christ is only spiritually present just as He was prior to His incarnation. Then the Church ceases to be what it has been in the world ever since the incarnation of Christ, His death and His resurrection, and the institution of the Supper, to wit, the place of God’s love among men, a spiritual and bodily community in which we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
    The reason why our fathers contended for the pure doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar is that they knew all of this. They recognized the consequences that an inadequate and false understanding of the Lord’s Supper must have for the whole doctrine and life of the Church. We are not ashamed of their ardent struggle. For when she has followed the Reformer in taking with utmost seriousness the inextricably related questions of the faithful administration and the right understanding of this Sacrament, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has never been set on the enthronement of preferred opinions and confessional peculiarities. What is at stake for her is the supreme value for which the Church can and must wage her warfare, namely the absolute validity of the divine Word. In times past and present her struggle does not aim at securing a “Lutheran” Supper but a Biblical Lord’s Supper and therefore the Biblical Church and the Christ of the Bible. In this process she has always acted on the assumption that Scripture’s teaching on the Supper is not something yet to be discovered by future synods and theological conferences, but that it has already long since been found and can be seen by everyone who reads the New Testament in faith in Christ without ideological preconceptions.
    Perhaps the Church of coming ages will be the first to understand what service the Church of the Lutheran Reformation has performed for the whole of Christendom by this untiring testimony in doctrine and life: the Sacrament can be rightly administered only where the Gospel is purely taught, and the proclamation of the Gospel can remain pure only where Christ’s Sacrament is rightly celebrated. Just as continual celebration of the Sacrament must keep the Church’s proclamation from ending up as mere doctrinaire theology, so likewise constant care for pure doctrine must protect the celebration of the Sacrament from sinking into cultic mysticism and magic. Word and Sacrament, Gospel and Lord’s Supper, belong indissolubly together, because Christ the Lord is present in them and through them builds His Church on earth in divine omnipotence and love. This He does neither through the Word alone, nor through the Sacrament alone, but through both together

  • Jonathan

    Well, at least I’m pretty sure that it isn’t truly the Lord’s Supper that she is distributing out there on the street corner.

  • Jonathan

    Well, at least I’m pretty sure that it isn’t truly the Lord’s Supper that she is distributing out there on the street corner.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    OK, if they’re going to be effectively universalists, why does it matter who gets the Lord’s Supper? Their very action–intended to “prove” the universality of the Church–proves just the opposite.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    OK, if they’re going to be effectively universalists, why does it matter who gets the Lord’s Supper? Their very action–intended to “prove” the universality of the Church–proves just the opposite.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But couldn’t somebody lie about their status in a closed communion service just as easily?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But couldn’t somebody lie about their status in a closed communion service just as easily?

  • http://ebaznica.lv Roberto

    St.Paul says: “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.”

  • http://ebaznica.lv Roberto

    St.Paul says: “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    J. Dean, Yes, someone certainly could lie about their status in a closed communion service just as easily. That would be very bad for them. A closed communion practice at least gives people the proper warning. That person would indeed receive Christ’s body and blood, but not for blessing or for the forgiveness of sins, but to their great harm and judgment. To enter the Lord’s Table not in unity with one’s brother and sister in Christ, but based upon lies and deceit, is certainly possible, but not a good idea.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    J. Dean, Yes, someone certainly could lie about their status in a closed communion service just as easily. That would be very bad for them. A closed communion practice at least gives people the proper warning. That person would indeed receive Christ’s body and blood, but not for blessing or for the forgiveness of sins, but to their great harm and judgment. To enter the Lord’s Table not in unity with one’s brother and sister in Christ, but based upon lies and deceit, is certainly possible, but not a good idea.

  • larry

    Do hypocrites attend? Surely, and this simply EMPHASIZES the point about the doctrine of the LS is not up for grabs and what closed communion IS. It’s not based on the people but the true confession of the faith culminating in this sacrament; i.e. what is confessed at the font (NOT differing views of baptism), at the pulpit (NOT differing aspects of ‘what is the Law and Gospel’, and at the altar (NOT differing views of memorial or signage or spiritual presence).

    This point about Judas is missed all the time. He was in fact a hypocrite and known (only by Christ) to be one. Yet among the true confession, the disciples under Christ, he was allowed while the heterodoxies among them were not.
    It really gets back to the painful reality that, yes heterodoxies are in fact heterodoxies (false churches), not in communion with orthodoxy and hence the altar is closed to them. Put another way, there are indeed hypocrites that attend the confessional orthodox confession’s altar but they outwardly confess to the orthodoxy (the OUTWARD CONFESSION) and they come as long as they are not revealed openly such (this is the whole point of the church’s witness, even with hypocrites in and among), but heterodoxy (e.g. Reformed, etc…) cannot commune with the orthodoxy – recognizing that even within their ranks are in fact true Christians that actually belong to, in, and with us – yet due to a combination of ignorance (in the honest sense of that word) and personal unbelief concerning an article of faith they have yet to arrive.

  • larry

    Do hypocrites attend? Surely, and this simply EMPHASIZES the point about the doctrine of the LS is not up for grabs and what closed communion IS. It’s not based on the people but the true confession of the faith culminating in this sacrament; i.e. what is confessed at the font (NOT differing views of baptism), at the pulpit (NOT differing aspects of ‘what is the Law and Gospel’, and at the altar (NOT differing views of memorial or signage or spiritual presence).

    This point about Judas is missed all the time. He was in fact a hypocrite and known (only by Christ) to be one. Yet among the true confession, the disciples under Christ, he was allowed while the heterodoxies among them were not.
    It really gets back to the painful reality that, yes heterodoxies are in fact heterodoxies (false churches), not in communion with orthodoxy and hence the altar is closed to them. Put another way, there are indeed hypocrites that attend the confessional orthodox confession’s altar but they outwardly confess to the orthodoxy (the OUTWARD CONFESSION) and they come as long as they are not revealed openly such (this is the whole point of the church’s witness, even with hypocrites in and among), but heterodoxy (e.g. Reformed, etc…) cannot commune with the orthodoxy – recognizing that even within their ranks are in fact true Christians that actually belong to, in, and with us – yet due to a combination of ignorance (in the honest sense of that word) and personal unbelief concerning an article of faith they have yet to arrive.

  • Pat

    larry, yet table fencing seems to involve more than Book of Concord orthodoxy. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but don’t the Wisconsin and Missouri synods close the tables off even from each other?

  • Pat

    larry, yet table fencing seems to involve more than Book of Concord orthodoxy. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but don’t the Wisconsin and Missouri synods close the tables off even from each other?

  • DonS

    It is United Church of Christ (UCC) and Rev. LEAH Robberts-Mosser, for goodness sake.

    It’s a political stunt of some sort and nothing more.

  • DonS

    It is United Church of Christ (UCC) and Rev. LEAH Robberts-Mosser, for goodness sake.

    It’s a political stunt of some sort and nothing more.

  • Joe

    Pat – we do; but we also take issue with each other’s confession. While the disputes are not as great as those between the ELCA and LCMS or the ELCA and WELS, they are real and it prevents alter and pulpit fellowship (or if you are WELS fellowship) between the WELS and LCMS.

  • Joe

    Pat – we do; but we also take issue with each other’s confession. While the disputes are not as great as those between the ELCA and LCMS or the ELCA and WELS, they are real and it prevents alter and pulpit fellowship (or if you are WELS fellowship) between the WELS and LCMS.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@9), “It’s a political stunt of some sort and nothing more.” And how did you come to that conclusion?

    Seems to me it’s the logical conclusion of their (lack of) understanding of what the Lord’s Supper is.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@9), “It’s a political stunt of some sort and nothing more.” And how did you come to that conclusion?

    Seems to me it’s the logical conclusion of their (lack of) understanding of what the Lord’s Supper is.

  • Pat

    @10 Yes, and not one person in 10,000 can explain the WELS-LCMS differences or, more importantly, why they are of such import to prevent communion. Or, most importantly, why they remain unresolved, generation after decade.

    But synodical disputes provide a powerful sense of bunker-identity, evidenced by the separate synodical bureaucracies, seminaries, publishing houses, conventions, etc.

  • Pat

    @10 Yes, and not one person in 10,000 can explain the WELS-LCMS differences or, more importantly, why they are of such import to prevent communion. Or, most importantly, why they remain unresolved, generation after decade.

    But synodical disputes provide a powerful sense of bunker-identity, evidenced by the separate synodical bureaucracies, seminaries, publishing houses, conventions, etc.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Pat, I choose to trust that the pastors of these churches (WELS and LCMS) all teach very carefully the main points of the differences, but alas, few listen and most don’t care (you’re probably right about that), but we still are called to carefully teach God’s people the confession of faith based on the Word of God and to be reverent and respectful of the confessions and faith of others. And we should continue to pray that the Missouri and Wisconsin synods come to concordia and full altar and pulpit fellowship over the teaching of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, that what has divided us in the past would be resolved through thorough study and unity around Christ and His Word.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Pat, I choose to trust that the pastors of these churches (WELS and LCMS) all teach very carefully the main points of the differences, but alas, few listen and most don’t care (you’re probably right about that), but we still are called to carefully teach God’s people the confession of faith based on the Word of God and to be reverent and respectful of the confessions and faith of others. And we should continue to pray that the Missouri and Wisconsin synods come to concordia and full altar and pulpit fellowship over the teaching of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, that what has divided us in the past would be resolved through thorough study and unity around Christ and His Word.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Certainly we should expect this sort of ecumenical work by the leaders of our synod (between WELS and LCMS), not to mention our synod leaders working to educate other non-Lutheran bodies as to the consistency and beauty, not to mention the tremendous helpfulness and comfort, of the Christ-centered, evangelical yet catholic faith as confessed in the Book of Concord. I think they would find that they would love to be in unity with orthodox Lutherans (they just don’t know it yet).

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Certainly we should expect this sort of ecumenical work by the leaders of our synod (between WELS and LCMS), not to mention our synod leaders working to educate other non-Lutheran bodies as to the consistency and beauty, not to mention the tremendous helpfulness and comfort, of the Christ-centered, evangelical yet catholic faith as confessed in the Book of Concord. I think they would find that they would love to be in unity with orthodox Lutherans (they just don’t know it yet).

  • Pat

    Bryan, can you point me to an explanation of the synods’ differences and the reason for their magnitude? I was in the WELS years ago; my experience was, the parishioners largely ignored the split by taking communion when they visited family in LCMS churches. Pastors were more particular, allowing communion only to those who could prove WELS membership somewhere. But, frankly, I found no one who could explain the reason for the split (or who, for that matter, really thought about it).

    As for unity, it’s got to come by will, not prayer, and there’s no incentive right now to bring it about. But dwindling numbers will, in my view, eventually cause the synods to reunite. It’s been said that the WELS now averages only about 200,000 communicants per Sunday and can’t place the pastors its seminary churns out. Neither synod evangelizes well or keeps pace with the ethnic and linguistic changes in America. The WELS/LCMS split speaks volumes about deep rut these synods can’t climb out of.

  • Pat

    Bryan, can you point me to an explanation of the synods’ differences and the reason for their magnitude? I was in the WELS years ago; my experience was, the parishioners largely ignored the split by taking communion when they visited family in LCMS churches. Pastors were more particular, allowing communion only to those who could prove WELS membership somewhere. But, frankly, I found no one who could explain the reason for the split (or who, for that matter, really thought about it).

    As for unity, it’s got to come by will, not prayer, and there’s no incentive right now to bring it about. But dwindling numbers will, in my view, eventually cause the synods to reunite. It’s been said that the WELS now averages only about 200,000 communicants per Sunday and can’t place the pastors its seminary churns out. Neither synod evangelizes well or keeps pace with the ethnic and linguistic changes in America. The WELS/LCMS split speaks volumes about deep rut these synods can’t climb out of.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Will they commune my pet pot-belly pig, too?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Will they commune my pet pot-belly pig, too?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    though I would never encourage closed communion or open or anything like that on the sidewalk or the street corner. I prefer lemonade stands run by boys and girls in that context. That way everyone can enjoy and be refreshed by the blessing of God!

    No wonder Community United Church of Christ sounds like kiddie church. Sounds like they’re just playin’ with things they don’t understand. No, that’s an insult to children, at least the lemonade stand is an honest vocation.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    though I would never encourage closed communion or open or anything like that on the sidewalk or the street corner. I prefer lemonade stands run by boys and girls in that context. That way everyone can enjoy and be refreshed by the blessing of God!

    No wonder Community United Church of Christ sounds like kiddie church. Sounds like they’re just playin’ with things they don’t understand. No, that’s an insult to children, at least the lemonade stand is an honest vocation.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Pat, if you google: “differences between LCMS and WELS” you’ll find all sorts of interesting things, I’m sure, the the first link to the explanation on the LCMS.org cite seemed pretty adequate to me. I would love for these differences to be resolved as I stated before, but I must also respect the faith of another brother or sister. And please, Pat, reconsider being so dismissive about God’s gift of prayer. Realistically, it will take much prayer and hard work.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Pat, if you google: “differences between LCMS and WELS” you’ll find all sorts of interesting things, I’m sure, the the first link to the explanation on the LCMS.org cite seemed pretty adequate to me. I would love for these differences to be resolved as I stated before, but I must also respect the faith of another brother or sister. And please, Pat, reconsider being so dismissive about God’s gift of prayer. Realistically, it will take much prayer and hard work.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Pat, I take exception to this: “Neither synod evangelizes well…”

    No one evangelizes as well as a faithful Lutheran who finally gets off his/her keester and dares open their mouth to let all the treasures God Himself put there out.

    And this, “…or keeps pace with the ethnic and linguistic changes in America.” is just making excuses. I think a lot of churches are really trying to do the best they can in the midst of the whirlwind and morass that is U.S. culture. Give ‘em a break and get enthusiastic about going to a faithful church again (and bring a friend while you’re at it). That in itself would be a great answer to a great deal that I’m praying and working for.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Pat, I take exception to this: “Neither synod evangelizes well…”

    No one evangelizes as well as a faithful Lutheran who finally gets off his/her keester and dares open their mouth to let all the treasures God Himself put there out.

    And this, “…or keeps pace with the ethnic and linguistic changes in America.” is just making excuses. I think a lot of churches are really trying to do the best they can in the midst of the whirlwind and morass that is U.S. culture. Give ‘em a break and get enthusiastic about going to a faithful church again (and bring a friend while you’re at it). That in itself would be a great answer to a great deal that I’m praying and working for.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    “It is United Church of Christ (UCC) and Rev. LEAH Robberts-Mosser, for goodness sake.

    It’s a political stunt of some sort and nothing more.”

    Well, it’s a political stunt that indicates that Mrs. Mosser doesn’t believe what she’s preaching, right, DonS? If you offer the Lord’s Supper to people, you must believe it has some effect, which is counter to her theology.

    Hence I love this little stunt. It shows the bankruptcy of liberal theology, being self-referentially incoherent.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    “It is United Church of Christ (UCC) and Rev. LEAH Robberts-Mosser, for goodness sake.

    It’s a political stunt of some sort and nothing more.”

    Well, it’s a political stunt that indicates that Mrs. Mosser doesn’t believe what she’s preaching, right, DonS? If you offer the Lord’s Supper to people, you must believe it has some effect, which is counter to her theology.

    Hence I love this little stunt. It shows the bankruptcy of liberal theology, being self-referentially incoherent.

  • T. J. Merck

    Bubba, from what I read here, DonS is non-denom megachurch, isn’t he? He’s objecting, not to the theology behind the comminon distribution, but (look at his use of caps) to the fact that the UCC has women pastors.

  • T. J. Merck

    Bubba, from what I read here, DonS is non-denom megachurch, isn’t he? He’s objecting, not to the theology behind the comminon distribution, but (look at his use of caps) to the fact that the UCC has women pastors.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 11 & BB @ 20: The UCC is not, imo, a serious theological denomination. I was pointing that out, by referencing both the denomination and the female ordained pastor. Its “doctrine”, such as it is, consists of a series of “faith testimonies”, including historic creeds such as Luther’s Small Catechism (see http://www.ucc.org/beliefs/), but these doctrines are not mandatory on congregations or individuals.

    I have observed, over the years, that the UCC seems to have become more of a political organization than a church.

    So, BB, if I understand your comment correctly, I agree with it.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 11 & BB @ 20: The UCC is not, imo, a serious theological denomination. I was pointing that out, by referencing both the denomination and the female ordained pastor. Its “doctrine”, such as it is, consists of a series of “faith testimonies”, including historic creeds such as Luther’s Small Catechism (see http://www.ucc.org/beliefs/), but these doctrines are not mandatory on congregations or individuals.

    I have observed, over the years, that the UCC seems to have become more of a political organization than a church.

    So, BB, if I understand your comment correctly, I agree with it.

  • DonS

    T. J. @ 21: I’m not mega-church. My church has 400-500 attenders, quite small particularly by southern California standards.

    Though I am not sacramental, I most definitely object to the indiscriminate administration of the Lord’s Table on the street corner, to believers and unbelievers alike, without appropriate instruction and warning (I Cor. 11).

  • DonS

    T. J. @ 21: I’m not mega-church. My church has 400-500 attenders, quite small particularly by southern California standards.

    Though I am not sacramental, I most definitely object to the indiscriminate administration of the Lord’s Table on the street corner, to believers and unbelievers alike, without appropriate instruction and warning (I Cor. 11).

  • T. J. Merck

    I stand corrected, DonS.

    While I myself am sacramental, I think the UCC distribution here is consistent with a nonsacramental belief in communion. If it’s but a memorial meal, why should it not be made as available as possible to all comers? It’s not as if no one partaking fails to understand what the elements represent. And it’s unlikely unbelievers would partake. The warning you reference in I Cor 11 is based on the sacramental nature of communion. The only warning to nonsacramentalists is for them to accept the Church’s traditional and scriptural teaching: This IS my body/blood.

  • T. J. Merck

    I stand corrected, DonS.

    While I myself am sacramental, I think the UCC distribution here is consistent with a nonsacramental belief in communion. If it’s but a memorial meal, why should it not be made as available as possible to all comers? It’s not as if no one partaking fails to understand what the elements represent. And it’s unlikely unbelievers would partake. The warning you reference in I Cor 11 is based on the sacramental nature of communion. The only warning to nonsacramentalists is for them to accept the Church’s traditional and scriptural teaching: This IS my body/blood.

  • DonS

    T. J. @ 24: We disagree on I Cor. 11. Just because we don’t believe the elements to be Christ’s actual Body and Blood, believing the statement “This is my Body and Blood” to be figurative (since He first offered the Lord’s Supper while yet alive), does not mean we ignore the warnings of Scripture concerning the receiving of the elements of the Lord’s Table unworthily. So, you are wrong in thinking that the UCC distribution is consistent with a nonsacramental evangelical belief in communion.

  • DonS

    T. J. @ 24: We disagree on I Cor. 11. Just because we don’t believe the elements to be Christ’s actual Body and Blood, believing the statement “This is my Body and Blood” to be figurative (since He first offered the Lord’s Supper while yet alive), does not mean we ignore the warnings of Scripture concerning the receiving of the elements of the Lord’s Table unworthily. So, you are wrong in thinking that the UCC distribution is consistent with a nonsacramental evangelical belief in communion.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I believe the UCC does officially view communion as sacramental and not merely memorial. Which is probably the why of taking the communion to the streets to be administered to random passers-by. After all, those people need to be blessed with God’s grace too, right?

    I don’t agree with it, but that’ what I imagine is going on here.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I believe the UCC does officially view communion as sacramental and not merely memorial. Which is probably the why of taking the communion to the streets to be administered to random passers-by. After all, those people need to be blessed with God’s grace too, right?

    I don’t agree with it, but that’ what I imagine is going on here.

  • T. J. Merck

    DonS, One can’t empty a warning of its substance, then claim to apply it. It now warns against nothing. Because one cannot receive a figurative meal unworthily, the UCC distribution is consistent with such a a figurative theology. Warnings against reception matter only if the meal is what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed it to be, the real body and blood.

  • T. J. Merck

    DonS, One can’t empty a warning of its substance, then claim to apply it. It now warns against nothing. Because one cannot receive a figurative meal unworthily, the UCC distribution is consistent with such a a figurative theology. Warnings against reception matter only if the meal is what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed it to be, the real body and blood.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pat (@12, 15), I find it strange that you complain about the ignorance among WELS and LCMS members about the synods’ differences, and yet cannot yourself explain the same concept. Apparently, you place yourself among the 9,999 you describe (@12). I hope you will take this opportunity to educate yourself on the topic, so that the ignorance in our synods can decrease. Because you are right: this should be something we know about, care about, and work to do something about (if, indeed, anything can be done).

    As to your statement (@15), “As for unity, it’s got to come by will, not prayer”, I would note, along with Bryan’s exhortation (@18), that Jesus himself prayed for our unity (John 17). Surely this is informative on your statement.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pat (@12, 15), I find it strange that you complain about the ignorance among WELS and LCMS members about the synods’ differences, and yet cannot yourself explain the same concept. Apparently, you place yourself among the 9,999 you describe (@12). I hope you will take this opportunity to educate yourself on the topic, so that the ignorance in our synods can decrease. Because you are right: this should be something we know about, care about, and work to do something about (if, indeed, anything can be done).

    As to your statement (@15), “As for unity, it’s got to come by will, not prayer”, I would note, along with Bryan’s exhortation (@18), that Jesus himself prayed for our unity (John 17). Surely this is informative on your statement.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    TJ, the memorialist argument for fencing off the Lord’s table to believers only is that the believer recognizes the Body of Christ–the Church, as Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 12. How can a nonbeliever judge himself as worthy without the application of the Blood of Christ, and how can he recognize the Body of Christ, the Church, if he is not a part of it?

    On another note, it would be interesting to see the mental /rhetorical gymnastics whereby one would (per Mike’s note) justify both sacramentalism and the vague universalism of the UCC.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    TJ, the memorialist argument for fencing off the Lord’s table to believers only is that the believer recognizes the Body of Christ–the Church, as Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 12. How can a nonbeliever judge himself as worthy without the application of the Blood of Christ, and how can he recognize the Body of Christ, the Church, if he is not a part of it?

    On another note, it would be interesting to see the mental /rhetorical gymnastics whereby one would (per Mike’s note) justify both sacramentalism and the vague universalism of the UCC.

  • Pat

    tODD, perhaps my statement to Bryan was too abrupt, but I did not mean that prayer was unnecessary. What I meant was that prayer alone (or, better, to recommend only prayer) is unavailing. If it lies within my power to bring about an action (i.e., tend to my neighbor’s need), then I need to do so, not just pray about his need and expect alone to be sufficent. That’s how I read Bryan’s comment.

    It lies within the power of every WELS and LCMS member to bring about unity – by petitioning the heirarchies for it, by speaking about it, by calling for conferences to address it, etc. Who is doing that?

    But as for your first point, yes, I am among those who can’t understand why the differences between the LCMS and WELS result in the absence of table fellowship. I have my suspicions, but they have little to do with confessional theology.

  • Pat

    tODD, perhaps my statement to Bryan was too abrupt, but I did not mean that prayer was unnecessary. What I meant was that prayer alone (or, better, to recommend only prayer) is unavailing. If it lies within my power to bring about an action (i.e., tend to my neighbor’s need), then I need to do so, not just pray about his need and expect alone to be sufficent. That’s how I read Bryan’s comment.

    It lies within the power of every WELS and LCMS member to bring about unity – by petitioning the heirarchies for it, by speaking about it, by calling for conferences to address it, etc. Who is doing that?

    But as for your first point, yes, I am among those who can’t understand why the differences between the LCMS and WELS result in the absence of table fellowship. I have my suspicions, but they have little to do with confessional theology.

  • T. J. Merck

    I’m old school (and maybe out of line here), but I can’t wrap my mind around someone (1) taking the Church’s two most significant sacraments (baptism and Lord’s Supper), (2) divesting them of all sacramental signficance, yet (3) insisting that his beliefs conform to the Church’s teaching.

  • T. J. Merck

    I’m old school (and maybe out of line here), but I can’t wrap my mind around someone (1) taking the Church’s two most significant sacraments (baptism and Lord’s Supper), (2) divesting them of all sacramental signficance, yet (3) insisting that his beliefs conform to the Church’s teaching.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@23), I think T.J. has done a good job of making my point (@11). But just to put it in my own words …

    You say, “I most definitely object to the indiscriminate administration of the Lord’s Table on the street corner”, to which I must ask, quite sincerely: why?

    I mean, by all means, point to 1 Cor. 11. But do note that the condemnation there is for “those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ” — those who “will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord”.

    If, as you believe, Christ’s body isn’t there in the first place, how then does one sin against the (not-present) body and blood of the Lord? And if Christ’s body is not present, why not give it to just anyone?

    The UCC is at least being consistent in their theology. They don’t take Christ’s presence seriously, nor the warning against communing in an unworthy manner.

    To put it differently, if you believe (@25) “the statement ‘This is my Body and Blood’ to be figurative”, why do you not also believe “the warnings of Scripture concerning the receiving of the elements of the Lord’s Table unworthily” are figurative?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@23), I think T.J. has done a good job of making my point (@11). But just to put it in my own words …

    You say, “I most definitely object to the indiscriminate administration of the Lord’s Table on the street corner”, to which I must ask, quite sincerely: why?

    I mean, by all means, point to 1 Cor. 11. But do note that the condemnation there is for “those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ” — those who “will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord”.

    If, as you believe, Christ’s body isn’t there in the first place, how then does one sin against the (not-present) body and blood of the Lord? And if Christ’s body is not present, why not give it to just anyone?

    The UCC is at least being consistent in their theology. They don’t take Christ’s presence seriously, nor the warning against communing in an unworthy manner.

    To put it differently, if you believe (@25) “the statement ‘This is my Body and Blood’ to be figurative”, why do you not also believe “the warnings of Scripture concerning the receiving of the elements of the Lord’s Table unworthily” are figurative?

  • JonSLC

    Pat, frustration such as yours can become a positive force, if indeed it spurs us on to new efforts toward theological discussions in the LCMS and WELS. My personal hope is that Revs. Harrison and Schroeder will work toward a new phase of dialog between the two synods. But you’re right: rather than just hope for this, I need to communicate this to the leadership of my church body (WELS in my case).

    If I might add a few words of clarification, in regard to your comment about the synods’ evangelism efforts. Bryan’s LCMS parish here in Salt Lake is blessed with an active Sudanese ministry. They are certainly sensitive to the linguistic and cultural situation in which the Lord has planted them, and they are looking to seize opportunities to preach the gospel. And our nearby WELS parish receives funding from the synod to support additional manpower specifically for outreach. This support enables us to spend much more time and energy reaching and teaching people in our community. I note these things not at all to boast — forgive me if it comes across that way — but only to clarify some things in response to your comments.

  • JonSLC

    Pat, frustration such as yours can become a positive force, if indeed it spurs us on to new efforts toward theological discussions in the LCMS and WELS. My personal hope is that Revs. Harrison and Schroeder will work toward a new phase of dialog between the two synods. But you’re right: rather than just hope for this, I need to communicate this to the leadership of my church body (WELS in my case).

    If I might add a few words of clarification, in regard to your comment about the synods’ evangelism efforts. Bryan’s LCMS parish here in Salt Lake is blessed with an active Sudanese ministry. They are certainly sensitive to the linguistic and cultural situation in which the Lord has planted them, and they are looking to seize opportunities to preach the gospel. And our nearby WELS parish receives funding from the synod to support additional manpower specifically for outreach. This support enables us to spend much more time and energy reaching and teaching people in our community. I note these things not at all to boast — forgive me if it comes across that way — but only to clarify some things in response to your comments.

  • Joanne

    City permit for distribution of food on a public sidewalk must be prominently posted where all passers-by can easily see/read it.

    Excuse me sir, would you care for the body of Christ?
    What?
    The body of Christ sir. It’s right here in this wafer of bread.
    Sure. num. Not much taste and a bit tough.
    Just lay it on your tongue and it will disolve.
    Hum, not much to it.
    Would you like some blood of Christ to go with that?
    Ho, what’s that? I hope it taste better.
    Well, it’s just a little thimble-full of grape-juice and it has a very pleasant flavor.
    Sure. Thanks. So what’s this all about?
    It’s a memorial meal we have at our church. We do this to remember Jesus.
    Well, how nice. Thanks again.

    Hello Miss. Would you like to share a little memorial meal with us?
    Pardon?
    Would you like to eat a wafer of bread and drink a small cup of grape-juice in memory of Jesus?
    Oh, heavens no.

    Hi there sonny. How would you like some bread and grape-juice?
    Sure.
    ***
    The body and blood of God; don’t let anyone at the UCC know you have it.

  • Joanne

    City permit for distribution of food on a public sidewalk must be prominently posted where all passers-by can easily see/read it.

    Excuse me sir, would you care for the body of Christ?
    What?
    The body of Christ sir. It’s right here in this wafer of bread.
    Sure. num. Not much taste and a bit tough.
    Just lay it on your tongue and it will disolve.
    Hum, not much to it.
    Would you like some blood of Christ to go with that?
    Ho, what’s that? I hope it taste better.
    Well, it’s just a little thimble-full of grape-juice and it has a very pleasant flavor.
    Sure. Thanks. So what’s this all about?
    It’s a memorial meal we have at our church. We do this to remember Jesus.
    Well, how nice. Thanks again.

    Hello Miss. Would you like to share a little memorial meal with us?
    Pardon?
    Would you like to eat a wafer of bread and drink a small cup of grape-juice in memory of Jesus?
    Oh, heavens no.

    Hi there sonny. How would you like some bread and grape-juice?
    Sure.
    ***
    The body and blood of God; don’t let anyone at the UCC know you have it.

  • Pat

    @33 JonSCL
    Thank you (and Bryan) for your thoughtful and informative comment. I needed to hear it.

  • Pat

    @33 JonSCL
    Thank you (and Bryan) for your thoughtful and informative comment. I needed to hear it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pat (@30), I would suggest that it is through prayer, among other things, that God urges the New Man in us to action. Can our New Man repeat the Lord’s Prayer and not think about his neighbor’s daily bread, and how he can help him with that?

    Or, indeed, as many of us are reading through the Litany each day in Lent (including me, though I am WELS, and though it was suggested by the LCMS president — perhaps that bodes well?), can our New Man recite the part about putting “an end to all schisms and causes of offense, to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived”, without being moved?

    And you discuss “petitioning the heirarchies for it, by speaking about it, by calling for conferences to address it, etc.” and ask, “Who is doing that?” My question in response would be: are you?

    To continue, you said,

    I am among those who can’t understand why the differences between the LCMS and WELS result in the absence of table fellowship. I have my suspicions, but they have little to do with confessional theology.

    Again, I would urge you to learn about the differences and the history between these two synods. I don’t see how you could do otherwise, given your concern expressed here. It is not exactly hidden information.

    In fact, to begin with, here is a Wikipedia entry on the WELS, with a bulleted list of “differences from LCMS”. A simple Google of [LCMS WELS differences] will turn up in its first two results a page from each synod on their differences (LivingBold.net is run by the WELS).

    As to your “suspicions”, are they the best construction you could put on this situation? Sounds like the answer might be no.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pat (@30), I would suggest that it is through prayer, among other things, that God urges the New Man in us to action. Can our New Man repeat the Lord’s Prayer and not think about his neighbor’s daily bread, and how he can help him with that?

    Or, indeed, as many of us are reading through the Litany each day in Lent (including me, though I am WELS, and though it was suggested by the LCMS president — perhaps that bodes well?), can our New Man recite the part about putting “an end to all schisms and causes of offense, to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived”, without being moved?

    And you discuss “petitioning the heirarchies for it, by speaking about it, by calling for conferences to address it, etc.” and ask, “Who is doing that?” My question in response would be: are you?

    To continue, you said,

    I am among those who can’t understand why the differences between the LCMS and WELS result in the absence of table fellowship. I have my suspicions, but they have little to do with confessional theology.

    Again, I would urge you to learn about the differences and the history between these two synods. I don’t see how you could do otherwise, given your concern expressed here. It is not exactly hidden information.

    In fact, to begin with, here is a Wikipedia entry on the WELS, with a bulleted list of “differences from LCMS”. A simple Google of [LCMS WELS differences] will turn up in its first two results a page from each synod on their differences (LivingBold.net is run by the WELS).

    As to your “suspicions”, are they the best construction you could put on this situation? Sounds like the answer might be no.

  • Theresa K

    I highly recommend What’s Going On Among The Lutherans by Leppien and Smith for a detailed historical explanation of where we are today. I, too, pray for concord. I am assured of it in heaven!

  • Theresa K

    I highly recommend What’s Going On Among The Lutherans by Leppien and Smith for a detailed historical explanation of where we are today. I, too, pray for concord. I am assured of it in heaven!

  • larry

    Pat,

    Not really, no different. If men can “interpret” God’s word wrong and falsely, Whose Word is NEVER false or wrong, which in principle every person knows this to be a true reality, then it is very easy to interpret that embodiment and faithful exposition of the Word (i.e. BOC) wrongly and falsely.

    E.g. both the Reformed (formal Reformed and true Calvinist, not Baptist) and Lutherans confess the Nicene Creed. Yet, “I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sin” is NOT AT ALL interpreted the same. The Nicene Creed is a faithful and true confession of what Scripture actually states and for the refutation of heresy (i.e. to NOT confess it is to by default confess heresy). It is not itself the Word of God but a confession of the Word of God, yet it no less can be falsely confessed and interpreted, no less than can the very Word of God.

    Luther makes this point about Scripture in one of his last confessions before falling asleep concerning the Lord’s Supper, that if they, the sacramentarians, can twist the Word of God how much more so what Luther confesses.

    Thus, the principle is the same concerning closed communion (be of one mind, thought, Spirit…not many).

  • larry

    Pat,

    Not really, no different. If men can “interpret” God’s word wrong and falsely, Whose Word is NEVER false or wrong, which in principle every person knows this to be a true reality, then it is very easy to interpret that embodiment and faithful exposition of the Word (i.e. BOC) wrongly and falsely.

    E.g. both the Reformed (formal Reformed and true Calvinist, not Baptist) and Lutherans confess the Nicene Creed. Yet, “I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sin” is NOT AT ALL interpreted the same. The Nicene Creed is a faithful and true confession of what Scripture actually states and for the refutation of heresy (i.e. to NOT confess it is to by default confess heresy). It is not itself the Word of God but a confession of the Word of God, yet it no less can be falsely confessed and interpreted, no less than can the very Word of God.

    Luther makes this point about Scripture in one of his last confessions before falling asleep concerning the Lord’s Supper, that if they, the sacramentarians, can twist the Word of God how much more so what Luther confesses.

    Thus, the principle is the same concerning closed communion (be of one mind, thought, Spirit…not many).

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