Closed Communion is not only the LCMS' position, but indeed it is the position of the Lutheran Confessions:

". . . we have abandoned the papistical errors and idolatries, and can have no fellowship [communion] with them, and also why we know, and can think of, no way for coming to any agreement with the Pope concerning them." --Solid Declaration Rule & Norm 7

"For none are admitted [to the Supper] except they be first examined." --Augsburg XXIV:7
"it is not usual to give the body of the Lord, except to them that have been previously examined and absolved." --Augsburg XXV:1

I have noticed that those who usually opt for giving Communion to all those who believe in the Real Presence usually take a more "living document" approach to our Confessions on this issue. Not everyone, but many.

There can be no doubt what our Confessions meant historically. The Lutherans would not commune with Rome, either at their altars or theirs.

"Examined" meant catechized into the Lutheran faith and understanding of the Sacrament.

"Absolved" was the catechumen's First Holy private Confession and Absolution.

To be sure, there is pastoral discretion. But pastoral discretion is for exceptional cases such as emergencies or danger of death.

It is harmful to aid and abet our non-Lutheran brethren in their false views of the Supper. It is harmful to aid and abet our non-Lutheran brethren in staying in heterodox churches.

I have come to realize that closed Communion is a more vital position than ever.

Closed Communion upholds the Gospel and the necessity of uniting with those churches that uphold the Gospel in Word and Sacrament.

I know it is not popular, but pastors need to uphold closed Communion. We do not want to condone even implicitly someone staying in the Roman church or any other heterodox church.

I say the above not out of arrogance, but out of concern for the current state of the LCMS on this issue. Although the LCMS has spoken on this many times at the Synod level, it is not enforced.

May our prayers ascend for unity in the LCMS on this issue! May the Lord be gracious and merciful to us sinners.



Recently, a group of "Lutherans" were communed at the Vatican during a Roman Catholic Mass.

The priests that communed them figured that, since they believed in the Real Presence, they may as well commune them.

But is this the meaning of Holy Communion?


A survey was taken recently of LCMS pastors with regards to who they commune. Half of our parish pastors follow LCMS policy, that is, closed Communion and only communing those from the LCMS or sister churches we are in altar and pulpit fellowship with. Most of the other half stated in the survey that they commune "all those who affirm the Real Presence," even though knowingly this is against LCMS policy and the adopted policy of the Synod from the CTCR (Commission On Theology and Church Relations).

Those who decide to deviate from the LCMS' policy generally will use the argument from pastoral discretion, stating that they are allowed to make exceptions and that this discretion is inscrutable. Although this is true, the doctrine of pastoral discretion was made for exceptional cases, such as emergencies, imminent death or danger, or no Lutheran church in the area.

Likewise, many of these pastors will commune non-Lutherans who believe in the Real Presence, although almost all of those who commune are going against their own church's Eucharistic discipline.

For example, I know of no case where Rome would allow its faithful to commune at a Lutheran altar, since Rome does not believe we Lutherans have the Real Presence, given we differ with them over their understanding of apostolic succession.

Likewise, the Orthodox faithful are not permitted to commune anywhere but at an Orthodox parish.

So why is it that the LCMS and its CTCR have consistently put forth and adopted the policy of closed Communion, and the Galesburg Rule of "Lutheran altars for Lutherans only"?


Holy Communion is not only Communion with Christ's Body and Blood, but it is also sharing unity of faith with those with whom one communes. Granted that one cannot read everyone's heart, but nonetheless it is a statement of profession of belief. If one partakes at a Lutheran altar, they are saying that they affirm the Lutheran understanding of the Gospel.

The Gospel matters entirely! For a Lutheran to commune at a non-Lutheran altar would be either publicly stating that they confess the faith of that church's altar, or it would be stating that the differences do not matter.

Consider, the "Lutherans" that recently communed at the Vatican:

*Are these "Lutherans" now rejecting the Confessional view that the Papacy is the seat of Antichrist? If so, do they now reject the Smalcald and the Treatise? If not, why would they commune with the church of the Antichrist?

*Are these "Lutherans" now stating that justification by faith alone is not that big of a deal? That they agree with Rome on justification? That Rome has changed its mind?

*Are these "Lutherans" now stating that they believe justification is by faith and works?

*Are these "Lutherans" now stating that they see the Pope as the vicar of Christ on earth?

The word "Communion" in the Greek is "koinonia", the same word for "fellowship." It literally means "having all things in common."

It is a statement of vertical union with Christ, feeding on His Body and Blood, but it is also a horizontal statement of the union we have in the Gospel.

To partake of the Eucharist with those with whom we do not have agreement in the Gospel is akin to playing "pretend." We loved to play pretend as kids. Even with our parents. "Let's play pretend, mommy!" we would say. 

But now we are adults. 

Do Lutherans have unity in the Gospel with Rome?


Do Lutherans have unity in the Gospel with the Eastern Orthodox?


Do Lutherans have unity in the Gospel with the Reformed?


Do Lutherans have unity in the Gospel with non-denominationalists and evangelicals?


***The real question is, then, why would any Lutheran *want* to partake with those whom they do not have unity in the Gospel?***

Perhaps these Lutherans have lost sight of what their own Book of Concord teaches?

Perhaps these Lutherans have stepped away from the doctrines of the Gospel?


Closed Communion is the historic understanding of the Church in all her branches up until the 1800s. Everyone understood that one would commune only with the *community* one has fellowship with. It was not considered "divisive" or "offensive", but simply a statement of that faith.

Today, closed Communion is not popular, but it is vital to the faith.

The Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod, as well as the Wisconsin Synod, have spoken on this issue.

The Missouri Synod clearly states:

1. Is it proper for a Lutheran to attend the Lord's Supper at the altars of churches not in doctrinal agreement with the church body of which he/she is a member?
    In accordance with the confessional nature of participation in the Lord's Supper (cf. pp. 19-23), and in agreement with Lutheranism's historic position, it is inappropriate to attend the Lord's Supper at non-Lutheran altars. Since participation in Holy Communion, Scripturally and confessionally understood, entails agreement in the Gospel and all its articles, it would not be appropriate to attend the Lord's Supper in a church with which such agreement is not shared.
2. Is it proper to celebrate Communion as a device for furthering or attaining pulpit or altar fellowship?
    No. The Confessions rightly teach that Eucharistic fellowship is a thankful celebration of that unity which God has bestowed in the Gospel rather than a device to advance Christian fraternity (Ap XXIV, 68-69; cf. discussion above on pages 10-11 and 19-23).

    ***So, for the sake of the Gospel, let us not play pretend anymore, but let us pray for the day where the Church will share one common Eucharist. Until then, let us witness to the Gospel and stand for the beauty of this Gospel by giving our witness to this Gospel in the world, and at the Communion Altar.***

    This is vital to the faith.

    May the Lord have mercy.


The Idolatry of Choice

The church at large, especially in the United States, has become very much like the culture in which it finds itself. Our greatest virtue, so it seems, is our right and ability to choose. Self autonomy is the golden calf of the 21st century American church.

We hear it everywhere. Make good choices. Every person has a right to choose for themselves. People are the result of their choices. And so on. We see this everywhere in the culture around us, and without fail, it has trickled right into the theology of many churches; especially mainline evangelical ones.

Not only do we like to morally exhort our children to make good choices (which I am not saying is a bad thing), but many churches have also allowed this choice mentality to creep into everything in their theology. Make a decision for Christ is the rallying cry of numerous revivalist evangelical preachers. These techniques, needless to say, are anything but biblical. Regardless of the official theology held on paper or the involvement of the Holy Spirit prior to conversion, it is still an idolization of the choice of the will, not to mention a soft form of works righteousness.

We see this all around us in our society, particularly regarding sexual choices. The sexual revolution has succeeded far beyond its original beginnings. Not only must we now accept persons for the sexual choices they make, but to dissent and argue against those choices is the ultimate form of hatred. Or so our society tells us.

Not only this, but the biggest example of the idolatry of choice in our society is the whole brouhaha surrounding abortion. Pro-aborts biggest argument is that abortion is the woman's right to choose. Moreover, they have also adopted much of the same language as the sexual revolution. For instance, if you don't have a uterus (that is, if you're a male) you are unqualified to make any statement in the negative against abortion.

Pro-aborts go to great lengths to justify this as well. Many of them also argue that the infant in the womb is just a fetus, not a person or human. They then fall back on "science" to support their argument. But this just seems to me yet another attempt to justify a political pandering to the culture.

From where I stand, it's awfully simple. If the infant in the womb is not a human person, pardon my French, but what the hell is it? Instead of pandering to the culture and the pro-choice folks, we ought to simply call a spade a spade. This is a human person and they justify murdering them, all in the name of choice. Roman Catholic philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft has written a very apropos article regarding this topic. It can be found here:

Apple Argument Against Abortion

So instead of dropping theology to an idolatrous level where freedom to choose is its greatest virtue and using many of the same tactics as the sexual revolutionaries and pro-choice murder crowd, give them something better. In fact, give them something that is biblical and Christian.

Give them the Christ, proclaimed in Word and Sacrament. A Savior who doesn't need our sneaky cultural works to save people from their sins. He does so without our freedom to choose. He did it at Calvary on the cross apart from an altar call given by the Apostle John or His Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary. And He continues to do it by His life giving Word, in the preaching of the Gospel, Holy Baptism, and His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

Good thing that Christ is not bound to our idolatrous theology that puts us and our choices as paramount.