Among Lutheran brethren, there are some who are concerned that the historic and confessional view of closed Communion ("Lutheran altars for Lutherans only") comes off as exclusivistic and unloving. Many of these well-meaning Lutheran brethren are concerned that, they believe, it is impossible to come to full agreement in doctrine this side of heaven--yet full agreement in doctrine is required for Altar fellowship in Lutheran churches.

For the sake of these brethren, I would like to take a different approach, which I think may be more helpful when it comes to the nature of the Sacrament of the Altar, and which perhaps, I hope, will help them, as well as others, understand why we believe that the Lutheran Altar is for Lutherans, and why we believe Lutherans should only partake with Lutherans.


As Lutherans, we confess and believe a very unique view of the Supper, that only Lutheranism confesses. We confess that with the bread and wine, we receive the very Body and Blood of Christ, into our mouths and bodies, for the forgiveness of sins.

Do other traditions believe this?

*Our evangelical friends do not believe this. They believe the Supper is simply a remembrance and an action of meditation on Christ's death. They do not believe they receive the Body and Blood of Christ into their mouths. So, why would an evangelical want to come to a Lutheran Altar? And why would a Lutheran want to partake at an evangelical assembly?

*Our reformed friends do not believe this. They believe only those who have faith receive the sacrament, and only in a spiritual sense. Our concern as Lutherans is that this takes away objective assurance, and causes a person to go inward with reflection. Our further concern is that if the sacraments are only gracious for the elect, how do we know God is gracious toward *us*? Our concern is that this is damaging to the Gospel. The Gospel always includes "for *you*."

*Our Roman Catholic friends, although they confess the Real Presence, believe instead that it is a sacrifice that they are offering to God for both the sins of the living and the sins of the dead in purgatory. We Lutherans reject this as sacrilege. We reject purgatory. Why would any Lutheran want to participate in a Roman Catholic Eucharist?

*Our Eastern friends are similar, although their doctrine of purgatory is not as developed as Rome's. Many of them do not like the term "purgatory," but nonetheless they still believe the Eucharist is a sacrifice for the sins of the dead as well.


We Lutherans take Christ's Words of Institution very seriously. No one has the right to take away the Cup of His Blood, as Rome used to do--and still does in some parishes. No one has the right to skip drinking the Blood.

Christ did not institute a Supper that is offered for sins of the dead; much less is there such a thing as purgatory.

Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Altar for comfort, for the forgiveness of sins.

For you.

Given the above, why would any Lutheran want to partake at any other Altar, given what we confess the Eucharist actually *is*?

And why would any non-Lutheran want to partake at a Lutheran Altar, since they do not believe what we believe about the Eucharist?

Considering the above, closed Communion makes perfect sense.


Word, not just water, makes Baptism

We hold to it isn't the water by itself that makes baptism. It's the Word that makes baptism. The Word by which Christ washes through with water as outward means. It is by which the Holy Spirit calls us to faith that clings to Christ alone given unto us by outward and objective means. And out of the Father's grace, love and mercy, it is by which  to draw us.

Being that the Word makes baptism, it means God can operate outside baptism to send forth His word to us, such as when it is preached.

So we deny one is lost for lack of chances to be baptized. Only unbelief condemns and cuts us off from Christ's Saving work.

It remains true though baptism is objective means we can point back to in regards to when God delivers His promises to us.

And not a one time in the water is baptism.

Our baptism covers our entire Christian life.

We were buried with Christ and in baptism and raised with Him to newness of life.

Daily we are to live out our baptism. Die to old Adam and alive with Christ.

And it is so by the Word and Sacrament giving, nourishing and strengthening our faith/assurance.

Our assurance is never inwards. It is outwards to the objective promises God give us in Word and Sacrament:

In Christ crucified, we are forgiven and our sins washed away.

Faith alone is the instrument in which we are justified. Object of that is Christ crucified for our sins. That is what faith alone receives. Word and Sacrament are means to deliver that to us and give us faith to receive what God gives us.

The Gospel of Christ crucified for our sins.

Here we stand.