Missouri’s Position on Intercommunion – Warning! Strong Lutheran Content!

August 26th, 2011 Post by

(((Found on Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison)))

 

WARNING: STRONG ORTHODOX LUTHERAN CONTENT. From time to time the question arises whether LCMS Christians, or even clergy, should be communing at non-orthodox Lutheran altars. The Missouri Synod’s position is unambiguous. It was adopted by the Synod in one form in 1852 when the following text was voted the position of Synod as it relates to the doctrines of church and office. This text was reaffirmed when in 1998 the Synod reaffirmed its commitment to C.F.W. Walther’s “Church and Ministry.” The 1998 resolution affirms not only the theses from Walther’s book, but the book in its entirety. The strong content of what follows should be understood in the entire context of Walther’s great document which clearly affirms the existence of the church well beyond the bounds of orthodox Lutheranism. The following is taken from thesis VIII on the Church. The text is the revision of Walther that I’ve been working on and which is scheduled for publication by CPH next year.

Matt Harrison

B. Every believer for the sake of his salvation must flee all false teachers and avoid fellowship [Gemeinschaft] with heterodox congregations [Gemeinden] or sects.

1. Proof From God’s Word

Not a few, on hearing that the church exists wherever the Word and the sacraments are still found essentially, infer from this fact that it is a matter of indifference whether they belong to an orthodox [rechtgläubige] or to an unorthodox [falschgläubige] church, since after all they are in the church [Kirche] and so can be saved. But they are mistaken. True, it is not necessary to leave a heterodox communion [Gemeinschaft] in order to be in the church, and many indeed are saved who, for lack of knowledge, outwardly belong to sects and nevertheless continue in the [true] faith. But what does it profit anyone to be in the church if he is not of the church and [so] does not belong to it? Whoever has learned to recognize the false doctrine of the sects and their teachers and despite this fact continues to belong to them is indeed still in the church but not of the [true] church. Such a person does not belong to the divine seed that is hidden in the sects. His maintaining of fellowship [Gemeinschafthalten] with the sects is not a sin of weakness, with which the state of grace can exist, for such a person acts willfully and contrary to the will of God, who in His holy Word commands [gebietet] us to flee and avoid false teachers and their false worship.

As little, therefore, as the doctrine that true [begnadigte] Christians still commit sins of weakness justifies those who think that for that reason they knowingly and willfully may continue in sin, indeed, as surely as those who thus sin against [divine] grace are children of perdition, so little also does the doctrine that in the sects there are children of God justify those who contrary to God’s Word knowingly desire to continue in them; indeed, so surely also such willful partakers of the perversion of the Word of truth are children of perdition; for thus it is written:

Deut. 13:1–3: “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Matt. 24:23–24: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

Acts 20:30–31: “And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.”

Rom. 16:17–18: “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

1 Cor. 10:18, 21: “Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar [Luther: in der Gemeinschaft des Altars]? You can not drink at the same time from the cup of the Lord and the devil’s cup; you can not at the same time be participants of the Lord’s table and the devil’s table.” [Luther’s trans.]

1 Cor. 11:19: “There must also be factions [Luther: Rotten] among you, that they which are approved may be recognized among you.”

2 Cor. 6:14–18: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship [Gemeinschaft] has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,?and I will be their God,?and they shall be my people.?Therefore go out from their midst,?and be separate from them, says the Lord,?and touch no unclean thing;?then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you,?and you shall be sons and daughters to me,?says the Lord Almighty.’”

Gal. 5:9: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

Titus 3:10–11: “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, avoid him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

2 John 10–11: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting; for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

Rev. 18:4: “Come out of her (Babylon), my people, lest you take part in her sins, and lest you share in her plagues.”

2. Witnesses of the Church in Its Official Confessions

Apology: “Nevertheless, we should not receive or listen to false teachers, for they no longer stand in Christ’s place [Christus statt] but are antichrists [Widerchristi]. And Christ clearly commands [befohlen] us regarding them: ‘Beware of false prophets’ (Matt. 7:15). And Paul [writes] to the Galatians: ‘If anyone preaches any other gospel to you, … let him be accursed’ (Gal. 1:9)” (Ap. VII/VIII [IV]. 48; German text, Triglot, pp. 242–43; Mueller p. 162; BSLK 246.20f.).

Smalcald Articles, Appendix: “In the third place we must know also that though the pope had the primacy and superiority by divine right, we do not owe obedience to such popes as propose false worship [Gottesdienst], idolatry, and false doctrine contrary to the Gospel. Indeed we should regard such popes and such rule as anathema and an accursed matter, as Paul clearly teaches in Gal. 1:8 and as it is written in Acts 5:29” (Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope.38; German text, Triglot, p. 515; Mueller p. 335; BSLK 483).

The same [Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope]: “This being the case, all Christians should beware most diligently that they do not make themselves partakers of such godless doctrine, blasphemy, and unjust tyranny, but they should flee from and curse the pope and all his members or adherents as from the Antichrist’s kingdom, as Christ has commanded: ‘Beware of false prophets’ (Matt. 7:15). And Paul commands that we should avoid false preachers [Prediger] and curse them as an abomination. In 2 Corinthians 6 he says: ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what … communion [Gemeinschaft] has light with darkness?’ (2 Cor. 6:14). It is indeed difficult for us to separate ourselves from so many lands and people and teach a different doctrine. But here is God’s command that everyone should take care and not consent to those who teach false doctrine or intend to uphold it by tyranny” (ibid., par. 41; German text, Triglot, 517; Mueller 336, 337; BSLK 485).

The same [Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope]: “For so Paul commands [gebeutet] that all bishops who either teach false doctrine or defend false doctrine and false worship [Gottesdienst] should be regarded as criminal people” [Latin text: tamquam anathemate] (ibid., par. 72; German text, Triglot, 524; Mueller 342; BSLK 492).

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, Article 10: “In like manner, too, such ceremonies should not be reckoned among the genuine free adiaphora, or matters of indifference [Mitteldinge], as make a show or feign the appearance, as though our religion and that of the papists were not far apart, thus to avoid persecution, or as though the latter were not at least highly offensive to us; or when such ceremonies are designed for the purpose, and required and received in this sense, as though by and through them both contrary religions were reconciled and became one body; or when a reentering into the papacy and a departure from the pure doctrine of the Gospel and true religion should occur or gradually follow therefrom. For in this case what Paul writes (2 Cor. 6:14, 17) shall and must obtain: ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For … what fellowship [Gemeinschaft] has light with darkness? … Therefore “come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” ’ ” (Art. X, par. 5, 6; Triglot, pp. 1053, 1055; Mueller p. 698; BSLK 1055).

3. Witnesses of the Church in the Private Writings of Its Teachers

[Martin] Luther: “Whoever knows that his soul’s curate [Seelsorger] teaches Zwinglian [Reformed] doctrine, he should avoid him and rather go without the sacrament as long as he lives than receive it of him; indeed, he should rather die and suffer all things because of it. (Warning Addressed to the Christians at Frankfurt… 1533; Walch1: 17.2440; St. Louis 17.2011; WA 30 III.561.11; Aland 225) …. In fine, while I am treating this subject, I hear with great horror that in the same church [einerlei Kirchen] and at the same altar both parties [Lutherans and Reformed] receive and obtain the same sacrament, one party believing that they receive mere bread and wine and the other that they receive the true body and blood of Christ. Often I hesitate to believe that a preacher [Prediger] or curate of souls [Seelsorger] can be so hardened and malicious as silently to let both parties go [to the Sacrament], each in the illusion that they receive the same Sacrament according to their belief. If such a one should exist, he must have a heart that is harder than stone, steel, or diamond can be. He must surely be an apostle of wrath. The Turks and Jews are much better, for they deny our Sacrament and confess this publicly; so we remain undeceived by them and do not fall prey to idolatry. But these guys [Gesellen] must be the really high-ranking archdevils, for they give me mere bread and wine and yet let me believe that I receive Christ’s body and blood, and so they cheat me atrociously. Such [fraud] is too hot and hard; God will punish that before long. Therefore, whoever has such preachers [Prediger] or may expect that [fraud] from them should be warned of them as of the very devil himself” (Ein Brief an die u Frankfurt am Main D.M. Luther 1533. Ende 1532; Warning Addressed to the Christians at Frankfurt to Guard Against Zwinglian Doctrine and Teachers; Walch1, 17:2440, 2446; St. Louis, 17:2011, 2016; WA 30 III, 561, 556-7; Aland 225).

The same [Martin Luther]: “Whoever regards his doctrine, faith, and confession as true and certain cannot stand in one stall with others who teach false doctrine or are agreeable to it, nor can he continue to speak sweet words to the devil and his followers. A teacher [Lehrer] who is silent over against error and nevertheless pretends to be a true teacher is worse than an outspoken fanatic [ein öffentlicher Schwärmer] and by his hypocrisy does greater harm than a heretic, so that no one should put confidence in him. He is a wolf and a fox, a hireling and a belly server [Rom. 16:17]; he despises and rejects the doctrine, the Word, the faith, the Sacrament, the church and school. He either secretly lies with the enemies [of the truth] under one cover, or he is a cynic and a windbag who wants to see how things will turn out, whether Christ will win the victory or the devil, or he is altogether uncertain in his mind and not worthy to be called a pupil, let alone a teacher. He does not desire to offend anyone; he wants neither to confess Christ nor to hurt the feelings of the devil and the world” (“Conversation with Dr. George Major, 1546” Gespraech mit D. Georg Major; St. Louis edition, 17:1180).[1]

The same [Martin Luther]: “ ‘A little leaven leavens the whole lump’ (Gal. 5:9). St. Paul regarded that warning very highly, and we should too, especially in our time. For the factions [Rotten] that declare that Christ’s body and blood are not present in the Lord’s Supper slander and defame us as though we were contentious, stubborn, and unfriendly because on account of this one article concerning the Sacrament we sunder Christian love and the unity [Einigkeit] of the church [Kirche]. They think that we should not regard this article, which is not too important anyhow and of which we cannot be sure since the apostles did not explain it as much as is necessary, so highly and greatly that on account of it we let the whole Christian doctrine and the general unity [gemeine Einigkeit] of so many Christian congregations [christlichen Gemeinden, Walch1 8.2652; Latin:omnium Ecclesiarum concordiae, WA 40 II.45.28][2] go to pieces, [especially] because they certainly agree with us in other doctrines of the Christian faith, which [they say] are more necessary and also more important.

“With this argument, which makes a favorable impression on and sounds well in the ears of the common people, they effect not only that those who adhere to them become extremely inimical to us, but they also induce many pious people to become angry with us and imagine that we do not want to fellowship [mit ihnen nicht halten wollten] with them because of sheer stubbornness or some special grudge. But all that is clever trickery and craftiness of the devil, by which he endeavors nothing else than to pervert and overthrow not only this article [concerning the Holy Supper] but also the whole Christian doctrine.

“Therefore, we reply to their pretext with St. Paul: ‘A little leaven leavens the whole lump.’ Just as in philosophy a little mistake in the beginning will end in a very great and enormous error, so also in theology a little error will pervert and corrupt the whole Christian doctrine. Therefore, we must distinguish carefully between doctrine and life. The doctrine is not ours but God’s, who has called us merely to be its servants [Knechten] and ministers [Dienern]. Therefore, we neither shall nor can yield or surrender even the least tittle or letter of it. But the life is ours, and therefore the sacramentarians may demand of us nothing that we would and should not gladly do, suffer, forgive, etc., yet in such a way that we do not surrender anything of the doctrine and faith. For we always maintain with St. Paul: ‘A little leaven leavens the whole lump.’ [Gal. 5:9]

“Therefore, in this article we cannot yield a single hair’s breadth, for the doctrine is so carefully gauged and measured off that you cannot add to it or subtract from it without great and serious harm. But the life is such that you can easily assume or also give up something, do or suffer something, as necessity demands.

“If a little speck of dust gets into the eye, you cannot endure it; so you let someone take it out, or otherwise it will harm the eye. Therefore, we Germans are accustomed to say of the treatment of the eye: ‘Nothing is good [which gets in] in the eye.’ And Christ says: ‘The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light’ (Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34), and again in Luke 11:36: ‘If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light.’ By this allegory or parable Christ indicates that the eye, that is, the doctrine, must be absolutely pure and uncorrupt, clear and bright, so that not a particle of darkness, not even a little cloud, can be noticed in it.

“So also St. James in his epistle says very nicely and aptly, not indeed of his own spirit but as he heard it of the apostles: ‘Whoever sins at one point is guilt of all.” [Luther’s trans.] (James 2:10). Therefore, the doctrine must be like a precious and pure golden ring that has no rent or flaw; for as soon as such a ring suffers a flaw or rent, it is no longer perfect [ganz]. What would it benefit the Jews if they believe that there is one God and Creator of all things; indeed, if they were to believe all articles [of the Christian faith] and accept the whole Bible, but deny Christ? Therefore, the saying of St. James is true: ‘Whoever sins in one point is guilty of all.’ [James 2:10]

“Therefore, we must carefully consider this passage against the argument of the sacramentarians, who charge us with the lie that we tear asunder love and unity in Christianity to the great harm and detriment of the holy church. We certainly are ready and willing to keep peace with them and show them love, but only as long as they allow our doctrine to remain inviolate and pure. If we cannot obtain that from them, it is in vain for them to praise Christian love so highly. May that love be cursed to the depth of hell that is maintained to the harm and detriment of the doctrine of faith, to which whatever there may be must be subject: love, apostle, angel from heaven, and everything else.

“Hence, by the fact that they regard this matter so lightly and of such little importance, they clearly show what they think of the majesty and glory of the divine Word. If they would seriously and heartily believe that they were dealing with God’s Word, they would not jest and joke so frivolously with it, but they would hold it in highest esteem and would believe without any doubt or disputation what it tells and prescribes to them. They would also recognize that one Word of God is all, and again that all words of God are one. They would recognize that all articles of our Christian faith are one, and again that one is all, so that if they surrender one, they in the course of time will gradually surrender all, one after the other; for they all cleave together and belong together.

“Therefore, we will let them exalt Christian love as much as they may. But we will glory in the majesty and glory of the Word and faith. Regarding love, you may yield somewhat without any harm or danger. But that cannot be done with the Word and faith. Love should suffer all things and yield to everyone. But faith can and should not suffer anything and should yield to absolutely no one. Love, which gladly yields, believes all things, puts the best construction on all things, forgives, and suffers, is often deceived. But nevertheless all deceptions cannot harm it with a real harm rightly so called, for it never denies Christ even if it is deceived. Therefore, love does not permit itself to be disturbed but always continues helping and benefiting everyone, even those who are ungrateful and unworthy. On the other hand, when the matter concerns salvation, and the fanatics [Schwaermgeister] teach their falsehood and error under the pretense of the truth so as to deceive and mislead many people, we certainly must show no love and must not approve and justify their error; for then we lose not [merely] a gift granted to an ingrate, but we lose the Word, faith, Christ Himself, and eternal life.

“Therefore, do not doubt that if you deny God in one article, you deny Him most surely in all. For He does not permit Himself to be divided piecemeal into many articles, but He is altogether one God in every article and in all. Hence, when the sacramentarians accuse us at great length and in many words that we do not consider love, as we justly should, we answer them with the one passage of St. Paul: ‘A little leaven leavens the whole lump.’ [Gal. 5:9] Again: It is an evil thing to jest with honor, faith, and the eyes.

“All this I have said in so many words in order to confirm our adherents and to teach others who might be offended by our steadfastness [Beständigkeit], as they think that we are so very obstinate and stubborn, and that without valid reason. Therefore, it does not trouble us if they greatly boast how eager they are to preserve love and unity [Einigkeit] between us and them and how sorry it makes them that the two are separated. Whoever does not love and honor God and His Word is not benefited, even if he loves whomever he wills. For this reason St. Paul in this passage admonishes both teachers and hearers not to think that the doctrine of faith is so unimportant and frivolous a matter that they might jest and amuse themselves with it as they please. It is rather a glorious ray of sunshine, coming directly down from heaven to illuminate, warm, and rule us. As the world with all its wisdom and power cannot change this light of the son, which comes down directly from heaven, so also we can neither subtract from nor add anything to the doctrine of faith, unless we want to destroy it altogether …

“ ‘He who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is’ (Gal. 5:10). With these words St. Paul condemns the false apostles most vehemently, as though he were pronouncing this verdict on them from the judgment seat of Christ. He ascribes to them the very offensive term ‘deceivers of the Galatians,’ though the unsophisticated Galatians regarded them as the most holy people and as far greater teachers than even St. Paul himself.

“With this dreadful verdict, by which he so vehemently condemns the false apostles, he at the same time wanted to persuade the Galatians to guard and take care of themselves against them, as though they were the most dangerous poison. He meant to tell them: Why do you listen to these harmful and venomous liars who teach you nothing [good] but only lead you astray? With their teaching they accomplish nothing else than merely to confuse your consciences. Therefore, they will bear their judgment no matter how great or exalted they might be.

“From the words ‘whoever he is,’ we may conclude that according to their outward appearance the false apostles must have been very pious and holy people. It may be that among them there was an especially great and famous man who perhaps had been a disciple of the true apostles and therefore was held in highest esteem; for certainly St. Paul had just cause to use such hard, condemning words. In the same way he speaks above: ‘Even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed’ (Gal. 1:8). No doubt many were greatly offended at these hefty and hasty words, and they may have thought: How can St. Paul act so hastily contrary to [Christian] love? Why should he be so stern and stubborn in a matter so unimportant and insignificant? Why does he hand over to the devil and everlasting perdition those who are Christ’s servants [Diener] just as much as he is? But for all that he does not care an iota, nor does it matter to him that they [the false teachers] were regarded as pious, holy, and learned men and so were highly esteemed. But because they pervert the doctrine of faith he curses and condemns them most vehemently, nor does he doubt by a hair’s breadth that his way of treating them is right. So also today we regard all as cursed and condemned [verbannet und verdammt] who say that the article concerning the Sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is unclear, or who distort the words of Christ in the Holy Supper. For we – in short – desire to retain all articles of the Christian doctrine absolutely pure and sure, whether they be great or small (though not one is small or insignificant), and we do not want to surrender one tittle of it. And that is as it should be; for the doctrine is our only light that lights and guides us and shows us the way to heaven. If we let it be made weak and dim in one particle, then we may be sure that it will become altogether powerless. If we fail here, love will do us no good. We certainly can be saved without the love and unity [Einigkeit] of the sacramentarians, but we cannot be saved without the pure doctrine and faith. Hence, we gladly keep peace and unity with those who with us treat and believe all articles of the Christian faith in a Christian and right way. Indeed, we are willing as much as possible to keep peace even with our enemies; we will pray for those who in ignorance slander and persecute our doctrine but never for those who knowingly and contrary to their conscience attack one or more articles of the Christian faith.

“And if we are so rigid and stubborn, we are taught that by the very example of St. Paul, who publicly and vehemently condemns the false apostles in a matter that they and their adherents regarded not only as insignificant and secondary but even as highly unfair (for they believed both, [namely,] that they [the teachers] taught rightly according to God’s Word and that they [the hearers] believed rightly and according to God’s Word); for he says: ‘He who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.’ Therefore, as I often and in many words have admonished to do, we must diligently distinguish between doctrine and life. Doctrine is heaven; life is earth. In life there is sin, error, discord, labor, and sorrow. There love must not listen but overlook; it must suffer and always forgive sins, that is, if sin and error are not defended. But doctrine is a far different matter, for it is holy, pure, undefiled, heavenly, divine. Whoever desires to pervert that, to him must be shown neither love nor mercy. [Pure] doctrine requires no remission of sins.

“Therefore, it is not at all proper to try to compare doctrine with life; for a single letter, indeed a single tittle of Scripture is of more and greater importance than heaven and earth. Hence, we will not have anyone pervert it in the least. We can well excuse and overlook weaknesses and faults in life, for we too are weak human beings who daily fail and sin; indeed, all dear saints confess most earnestly in the Lord’s Prayer that they are sinners and that they believe in the forgiveness of sins. But by the grace of God our doctrine is pure. There is not a single article of our faith that is not well and firmly grounded in Scripture. But these [articles] the devil would like to besmirch and pervert [befudeln und verkehren]. Therefore, he also attacks us so insidiously with the argument, accusing us through the factious [Rotten] spirits that we do not keep the peace but are quarrelsome and destroy the unity and love in the church or Christendom.

“Here, then, we learn how St. Paul regards a little error in doctrine that might appear as very insignificant, if not even as the truth. He regards it as so great and dangerous that he dares curse the false apostles, though these seemed to be great persons. Therefore, we dare not regard the leaven of false doctrine as insignificant. No matter how small it may appear, its result is that the truth and salvation will be suppressed and crushed and God will be denied unless we guard against it. For if the Word is blasphemed and God is denied and blasphemed (and this must follow of necessity), then there is no longer any hope for salvation. But though we are slandered, cursed, and killed, we shall not be overpowered; for He who is never destroyed can again raise us up and deliver us from the curse, death, and hell.

“Therefore, we should learn to regard the majesty and glory of the Word greatly and highly; for it is not so insignificant and trifling as the fanatics [Schwaermgeister] of our time think, but a single tittle [of it] is greater than heaven and earth. So here we do not care anything for Christian unity and love, but we directly make use of the judgment seat, that is, we curse and condemn all those who pervert and corrupt the majesty of the Word even in the least; for a little leaven leavens the whole lump. [Gal. 6:9] But if they will let us have the Word wholly and unmutilated, then we will not only keep love and peace with them, but we offer ourselves gladly to be their servants and to do all they ask of us. If, however, they do not let us retain the Word, then may God grant that before they and all the world, and we with them, perish and be cast into the abyss of hell, He may remain true in His Word. If He remains, then there remains life and salvation. Then also those who believe His Word will truly remain and be preserved, even if they were in the abyss of hell” (In epistolam S. Pauli ad Galatas commentarius, ex praelectione D.M. Lutheri collectus. 1535 (Nach Luthers Vorlesung 1531); “Detailed Interpretation of the Epistle to the Galatians” [Gal. 5:9–12], 1535, Auslegung des Briefes an die Gal. 5, 9-12, vom J. 1535; Walch1 8, 2652ff.; St. Louis, 9:642-653; WA 40 I, 45ff.; Aland 229).

The same [Martin Luther]: “We will begin with the fact that they (the Zwinglians) write whole books and admonish us that we should not on account of these causes [differences regarding the Lord’s Supper] destroy Christian unity, love, and peace; for, they say, it is an insignificant matter and an unimportant controversy because of which Christian love should not be violated. So they reprove us for adhering so sternly and firmly to it [the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper] and causing divisions …. But may such love and unity be cursed into the depth of hell, because such a unity not only tears apart the Christianity [die Christenheit], but it also mocks and ridicules its great distress ….

“No, my dear sirs, I will have nothing to do with such peace and love! If I would kill someone’s father and mother, wife and child, and purpose to destroy also him, and then would say: ‘Keep the peace, my friend; we want to love each other, for the matter is not of such importance that we quarrel about it,’ what [do you think] he would tell me? Oh, how he would love me! So then the fanatics [Schwaermer] destroy my Christ, my Lord, and God my Father, in addition also my mother, Christianity [die Christenheit], together with my brethren, as well as me, and [yet] they want to cultivate my friendship [Liebe] …. Nor does it benefit them to say that otherwise they esteem the Word of God and the whole Gospel most dearly and highly except only this doctrine. My dear friend, God’s Word is God’s Word and does not bear any criticism. Whoever accuses God of lying in His Word and [so] blasphemes Him, or whoever says that it is a small matter in which He is being blasphemed and called a liar, he blasphemes the whole God and regards as insignificant all blasphemy of God. God is one and cannot be divided. He cannot be praised in one place and reproved in another, nor can He be honored in one place and despised in another ….

“But we poor sinners [we Lutherans who oppose the sacramentarians], who are ‘altogether without the Spirit,’ answer these pious Christians [the sacramentarians] from the holy Gospel: ‘He who loves father and mother, wife and child, house and home, as well as his own soul more than Me, is not worthy of me’ (Matt. 10:37 [Luther’s paraphrase, largely based on Luke 14:26]); and again: ‘I did not come to bring peace but a sword’ (v. 34). So also Paul says: ‘What accord has Christ with Belial?’ (2 Cor. 6:15). If then we are to live in Christian unity and preserve Christian love with them, we must also love their doctrine and practice [Lehre und Thun] and assent to it or at least condone it. Whoever cares to do this, let him do it, but not I! Christian unity, according to Eph. 6:4, is in the Spirit and means that we are of one faith, one mind, and one judgment [eines Mutes]. We gladly will be united with them in secular matters [weltlich]; that is, we are willing to keep bodily or temporal peace with them. But in spiritual matters we will avoid, condemn, and reprove them as long as they live as idolaters, perverters of God’s Word, blasphemers, and liars. In addition we are willing to suffer persecution and separation from them as from enemies if and so long as God permits this. We also want to ask and admonish them to desist [from their error]. But to yield to their blasphemies, ignore and approve them, that we neither can nor want to do ….

“Therefore, we shall say to these fanatics and visionaries [Schwaermern und Geistern] who offer us peace what Christ said to Judas, his betrayer, in the garden: ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ (Luke 22:48). Most certainly it would be a Pharisaic peace and a kiss of betrayal if they ask us to be their friends and keep silence as we watch their burning and murdering by which they lead so many souls eternally into hell. And yet they insist that this [their teaching] should be regarded as insignificant and of no importance” (Dass diese Worte Christi (Das ist mein Leib etc.) noch fest stehen wider die Schwarmgeister. 1527; “That the Words of Christ, ‘This Is My Body,’ Still Stand Firmly Against the Fanatics,” 1527; Walch1, 20, 692ff.; , St. Louis, 20:772ff.; WA 23:79ff.; Aland 679)
The same [Martin Luther]: “Because so many and great warnings and admonitions of God have been addressed to them (the sacramentarians), … I must let them go and avoid them as self-condemned (autokatakritou~; Titus 3:11), for knowingly and maliciously they want to be condemned. Nor will I have fellowship [Gemeinschaft] with any of them, whether he be Stenkefeld [Casper Schwenkfeld; ca. 1490-1561], [Huldrich] Zwingli [1484-1531], or whoever he may be, neither by letters, writings, words, nor deeds, as the Lord commands (Matt. 18:17). I regard them all as one cake [Kuchen], for they refuse to believe that the Lord’s bread in the Holy Supper is His true natural body, which the wicked and Judas receive orally as well as St. Peter and all [other] saints. Whoever refuses to believe this (I declare), let him not molest me with letters, writings, or words. Let him not expect me to have fellowship [Gemeinschaft] with him, since that will never happen” (Kurzes Bekenntnis vom heiligen Sakrament. 1544; Brief Confession of the Holy Sacrament Against the Enthusiasts, 1544; Walch1, 20, 2211-12; St. Louis, 20:1778; WA 54:155; Aland 661; FC, SD 7.33).

The same [Martin Luther]: “Some unreasonable persons [Geister], deceived by the devil, say regarding the Sacrament and other errors that we should not contend so sternly about one article and because of it destroy Christian love or deliver each other to the devil. But though they err in a minor matter, we must yield and concede a little and preserve brotherly and Christian unity or fellowship [Gemeinschaft], since they agree in other articles. No, dear friend, I will not have peace and unity if that means to deny God’s Word, for this means to lose eternal life and all things [all spiritual blessings]. It is not proper here to yield or concede anything to please you and a few [other] people. But to the Word all things must yield, whether he is foe or friend. For that was given us solely for eternal life and not for outward or temporal unity and peace. The Word and doctrine must bring about Christian unity [Einigkeit] and fellowship [Gemeinschaft]. Where people are agreed and united in that, all other things [such as Christian fellowship] will follow, but where that is not the case, no unity will remain.

“Therefore, do not speak to me of love and friendship if the Word and doctrine are to be destroyed; for it is not love but the Word that brings eternal life, divine grace, and all heavenly gifts. We will be glad to maintain external peace with them in outward things as we must be with everyone else in this world, even with our worst enemies. Let that be done in this life and secular affairs about which we do not contend. But in the matter of doctrine and Christian fellowship [Gemeinschaft] we will have nothing to do with them nor regard them as brethren but rather as enemies because they knowingly continue in their error, and we will contend against them in our spiritual warfare [Kampf]. It is only a satanic, deceitful, and crafty attack by which they declare and demand that we should somewhat yield to them and condone their error for the sake of unity. By that [attack] he [Satan] insidiously tries to lead us away from the [divine] Word. If we would concede to this and agree on this point, he already has gained ground, and if we would yield to him the breadth of a finger, he soon would have the whole hand. Then in a short time he would have us altogether in his power.

“It may not appear that there is much danger and harm [Macht] connected with this matter, but St. Paul represents it as very great; in fact, there is at stake the loss of God and eternal life, not merely money or goods, the love and favor of men, earthly peace and quietness, or whatever else flesh and blood may give or do or whatever else the world may give or take. Let these things [these earthly gifts] remain or perish, whatever may remain or perish; by that he [Satan] has not yet gained anything. But if you permit him to take from you this one thing—the Word—you have lost all things and nothing can counsel or help you; for then the chief thing is lost without which there is no good [blessed] life. Whatever you can do will neither avail nor stand before God, and yet with such fine show and pretense the devil seeks and endeavors to rob you of this [eternal life]; for it is his intention to deprive you of it. Therefore we dare not jest on this point nor be secure” (Das 6[10ff.] Kapitel der Epistel Paul, an die Epheser. Von der Christen Harnisch und Waffen. 1533. 29 Oktober 1531; “Sermon on the Christian’s Armor and Weapons,” 1532; Walch 1 9:455-57; St. Louis, 9:831–32; WA 34 II:387; Aland 196).

[Martin] Chemnitz [1522-1586]: “It is true that doctrine is the chief part of the office [Amtes], and that if true doctrine is perverted and perverse opinions are established, then the very office [Amt] [of the ministry] itself is changed. But the office [Amt] of those who pervert doctrine must be avoided, as it is written: ‘Beware of false prophets’ [Matt. 7:15]; and again: ‘They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers’ [John 10:5]” (Examen concilii Tridentini, p. 237, a).

[Johann] Gerhard [1582-1637]: “We concede that in a certain good sense we are schismatics, namely, inasmuch as we have separated ourselves from the Roman church and its head, the Roman pope. But we have not separated ourselves from the unity of the catholic church [katholischen Kirche] and its Head, Christ Jesus. What a blessed schism [seliges Schisma] [this is] by which we were united with Christ and the true catholic church! Such a schism it was in ancient times when the Christian church severed its connection with the Jewish synagogue, and that by the divine command [geboten]: ‘Be saved from this perverse generation’ (Acts 2:40), and again: ‘Come out of her, my people’ (Rev. 18:4).

“Such a schism also the fathers command. Ignatius thus writes in his letter 6 to the Philadelphians[3]: ‘If anyone follows him who has deviated from the truth, he will not inherit the kingdom of God, and he who refuses to avoid a false prophet will be condemned to hell.’ Ambrosius in his commentary on Luke remarks (chap. 6): ‘If any church rejects the faith, it must be forsaken.’ Chrysostom, in his 46th sermon on Matthew, says: ‘He does not leave the church who leaves it physically, but he who in spirit leaves the foundation of the Christian truth. We indeed leave them (the Arians) in a physical way, but they [leave the church] by their faith’ [their error of denying the deity of Christ]. Admonished by these commands and examples, we have separated ourselves from the idolatrous Roman church but not from Zion; we [merely] fled out of Babylon. We have not divided the church, but we have separated the disciples, following the example of Paul in the church at Ephesus (Acts 19:9). We have not erected an altar against an altar, following the examples of Jeroboam and the Donatists, but we cast the altar of Damascus out of the house of the Lord and restored true worship (2 Kings 16)” (Loci theologici, “De ecclesia, ” par. 156).

[Friedrich] Balduin [1575-1627]: “The admonition of Paul is most serious: ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness?’ (2 Cor. 6:14); and again: ‘Have no fellowship [Gemeinschaft] with the unfruitful works of darkness’ (Eph. 5:11); or: ‘Flee from idolatry’ (1 Cor. 10:14). This [admonition] separates all believers [Fromme] from fellowship [Genossenschaft] with the wicked and severs the adherents of various religions from one another in their religious exercises [worship]. It is the duty of every pious and steadfast confessor to guard the treasure of sound doctrine, of whose truth he is convinced in his conscience, in order that it may not be defiled, diminished, or lost altogether, which can easily happen through indiscreet association with opponents of the true religion. Therefore, we are in duty bound, as much as possible, to keep away from their worship [that of the heterodox] in order that we may not burden our consciences nor offend the weak by appearing to be in agreement with [zusammenzuhalten] the opponents. Against this apostolic admonition some here sin in a twofold way. In the first place, they of their own accord and without any outside command [befiehlt] take part in such sacrilegious worship either because they are epicureans, to whom religion is of no concern so that they regard it as immaterial to what communion [Gemeinschaft] they belong, or because they seek some advantage that they could not obtain if they would refrain from agreement with others in the matter of religion. Such, however, sin most grievously since there is only one faith, and of this everyone must be sure in his heart; for according to Rom. 14:23, whatever is done with a doubting conscience is sin, and in matters of religion sinful gain must be avoided altogether. Such people halt between two opinions, and if they are not inveterate epicureans, they at least are lax in religion and must face the Lord’s severe judgment.

“In the second place, there are those who allege that they are compelled by the government to attend such [heterodox] worship [Gottesdienst]. But since the government has no authority over conscience and religion, it is right to refuse it obedience in this matter, for we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). So also we must render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s (Matt. 22:21) …. Augustine, in his sixth sermon on the words of the Lord in the Gospel According to St. Matthew, says: ‘When the emperor commands one thing but God another, what do you judge? God’s power is the greater; that of the government is the lesser. Give to the government your taxes, but render obedience to God. Be complaisant: the government threatens you with prison, God with hell.’

“Nevertheless there are cases in which someone may attend the worship of unbelievers or heretics. In the first place, in order to observe it, attending it only that one may bear better and surer witness against the ungodly nature of the unbelievers or heretics. Thus tourists attend the synagogues of the Jews or the papistic mass and view their processions in order to be eyewitnesses of what they saw when they tell others about it, to whom it might seem hardly credible. But here great care is needed in order not to make it appear as though we agreed with the opponents. Therefore, we must refrain from the opponents’ acts of worship [Geberden]; we must not bow our knees or beat our breast as the papists do at the mass. But we must rather make it publicly known by some signs that we do not agree with them, though we should not show our attitude toward the worship of the opponents by laughter or any other sign of contempt.

“Where it is impossible publicly to show that we do not agree with them, it is better to remain away from such worship in order that we may not burden our conscience or expose ourselves to any peril from the opponents. Here is no place for hypocritical dissimulation, for this offends both God and man. ‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other’ (Matt. 6:24). Thus Paul at Athens entered the temple of the idol; yet he did not approve idolatry, but he rather made use of the occasion better to inform the idolaters (Acts 17:22–23). It is necessary, however, that anyone who, without endangering his conscience, desires to attend the worship [Gottesdienst] of the heretics merely as an observer should above all be sure that what he sees and hears there is contrary to true worship …. Then he who in his heart is firmly convinced of this [the error] will, because of his own greater illumination through the Gospel, feel sorry for these blind persons and intercede before God for those so miserably deceived that He may not impute to them their sin but rather lead them to the knowledge of the truth.

“In the second place, it is permitted to attend the worship [gottesdienstlichen Uebungen] of heretics if that is demanded by the government [weltliches Amt]. If, for example, someone accompanies his papistic prince or master to the mass or the papistic processions, he is free to do so, but he must in no way approve the idolatry of his superior or deny any part of his religion to please him, nor dare he hypocritically take part in the papistic superstition, bow his knees before papistic objects of worship, beat his breast, invoke the saints, offer gifts to the priests reading mass, or show respect for or interest in it in any other way. But he must attend merely as an observer, not on account of the worship but merely for the sake of his master whom he must accompany in his secular service. Thus Elisha permitted Naaman the Syrian to accompany his king to the temple of Rimmon, where the king indeed worshiped his idol, but Naaman did not, for he merely served him by conducting him there (2 Kings 5:18).

“But here also care must be taken in a twofold way. In the first place, this political service must not give offense to the weak, for if such conduct of an evangelical [Lutheran] servant in a papistic temple would offend the weak, who perhaps might think that he harbors doubts about the evangelical faith [Religion] and approves the papistic idolatry, then he should rather desist from such service. For even things not forbidden must be left undone if they cannot be performed without giving offense, as Paul writes concerning the eating of meat: ‘If food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble’ (1 Cor. 8:13). In such a case either the weak is to be instructed and shown the true cause of such conduct, or the papistic master should be asked to spare him such service by which a weak brother is offended.

“In the second place, it may happen that such a service is required of evangelical [Lutheran] ministers [Dienern] to tempt them, namely, whether they will agree in religions with their superiors or whether by their presence they will approve or confirm the godless worship. In such cases it is not permitted to attend false worship. For if our liberty is tried and our consent is forced from us against our will by fraud, then according to Paul’s example (Gal. 2:5) we must in no way yield to the enemies of the truth. Thus the Protestant electors and princes at the famous Diet of Augsburg in 1530 declined to accompany emperor Charles V to the masses and Corpus Christi processions because they perceived that this service was purposely asked of them at the instigation of the monks, not merely to do the emperor a political service but to confirm by their presence the papistic abomination. This they knew well because that Diet was convened largely because the Confession might be heard that opposed the papistic abomination. Hence, they did not wish to act contrary to this [Confession] by this dangerous action” (Tractatus de casibus conscientiae 2.6.6).

The same [Friedrich Balduin 1575-1627]: “We have the command of the apostle: ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ (2 Cor. 6:14); and: ‘Flee from idolatry’ (1 Cor. 10:14). Those who knowingly and willingly take part in the idolatrous worship of the papists and the heterodox religious exercises of the Calvinists are unequally yoked together with unbelievers by publicly participating in strange [heterodox] worship, even though they do not approve of it in their hearts. Those who have learned to know the truth must flee all lies and errors. Second, we here have the example of the primitive church, when the Christians would have nothing to do with the Jews in the public exercise of their religion. Though they agreed in many chief parts of religion, every party practiced its religion in its own communion [Gemeinschaft] in order that they might not seem to mingle religions [Religionsmengerei], which God had forbidden in the Law (Deut. 22:9; Lev. 19:19).

“In the third place, we must not confirm heretics in their errors, which would be done if we would take part in their worship. For by that we would lead them to believe that in the course of time we would join them also in other matters. Indeed, they would mock us as though we would thereby signify that we had separated ourselves from them without [just] cause since now we approve their worship by our conduct.

“In the fourth place, we would make ourselves partakers of the many blasphemies and abominations of which the sect is guilty, and this we must avoid with the greatest earnestness. For we are commanded to come out from them in order that we may not be partakers of their sins and may not receive their plagues (Rev. 18:4). If this coming out cannot be done with the body, it should be done in spirit by avoiding their worship [gottesdienstlichen Handlungen].

“In the fifth place, we would greatly offend the weak as though we were not sufficiently firm in our faith and had done wrong by contradicting the adversaries so long and consistently. For why should we participate in the worship of those whose religion we know to be false? ‘Woe to that man by whom the offense comes!’ (Matt. 18:7).

“In the sixth place, the sacraments are also marks of the church [Kirche] and its confession [Bekenntnisses]. Hence, whoever knows that the papistic or Calvinistic churches are not the true church must refrain from the sacraments of these churches; otherwise he silently approves the faith of such a church. Indeed, the use of the sacraments is a special form of confessing [der Gebrauch der Sacramente eine esondere Art des Bekenntnisses]. Hence, if we intensely loathe the [false] doctrine of a [heterodox] fellowship [Gemeinschaft], we must shun its sacraments in order not to commit hypocrisy; for nothing is more dangerous in matters of religion than this pest. Indeed, what kind of faith or religion would that be of which by our action we attest the very opposite. For His service God demands the whole person (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37). In general, even a protest made by this outward action to show disapproval of the religion of the opponents cannot avert the danger of hypocrisy, for such a protest would be contrary to our action [fellowshiping with the heterodox], which supports or confirms the papists and similar opponents in their errors and silently admits that they are right.

“Here finally we must add the example of the believers [Fromme] in the primitive church, who would have no fellowship [Gemeinschaft] with false teachers. As Irenaeus reports, the apostle John declined to sit next to Cerinthus [a gnostic heretic, ca. 100 A.D.]. Polycarp [Bishop of Smyrna; 69-155 A.D.], a student of John, spurned the greeting of the heretic Marcion [ca. 85-160 A.D.] so that the latter exclaimed: ‘Do you not know me?’ Polycarp answered him: ‘I know you as the firstborn of Satan.’ So also Cyprian [Bishop of Carthage, d. September 14, 258 A.D.] of old prescribed (book 1, chap. 4); ‘A faithful and compliant people must separate itself from a public sinner and may not take part in the worship of a godless priest.’ When Arsacius [ca. 324-405 A.D.], after the banishment of Chrysostom [ca. 347-407], became his successor in the congregation [Gemeinde; Latin: in ecclesia] at Constantinople, not one of the believers honored him by addressing or hearing him, as Theodoret [ca. 393-ca. 457 A.D.], Sozomen [,d. ca. 450 A.D.] and Nicephorus [d. 829 A.D.] attest. Indeed, many preferred to be exiled rather than attend the worship of this hireling. Of Lucius the Arian [Heretical Bishop of Alexandria 373-377], as Socrates [of Constantinople, b. ca. 380] reports, someone said: ‘God forbid that your hand should ordain [weihe] me.’

“Thus the [ancient] believers abhorred the worship of the heretics as long as they could still find a purer preaching office [Predigtamt] elsewhere. In the same way we must avoid the worship of those whose religion we know for sure is false and contrary to God’s Word. If the government should compel us to attend such worship, we must disobey it, since this is contrary to conscience, which no one dare domineer …. But this matter [fellowshipping with the heterodox] must be observed still more with regard to the Sacrament of the Holy Supper, which does not have as great a necessary as is Baptism. That should be received neither from the papists nor the Calvinists, who do not have the true Lord’s Supper, because they pervert the essence of this Sacrament …. Here the saying of Augustine holds: ‘Believe and you have eaten.’ As I said before: To receive the Sacrament is a mark of confession and doctrine. Whoever, therefore, does not regard as true the doctrine of the church in which he intends to attend the Sacrament cannot partake of the Sacrament in that church with a clear conscience” (ibid., 2.6.7).

Here we may add a few more testimonies from the writings of the teachers of the ancient church:

Ignatius [Bishop of Antioch; ca. 35 or 50-between 98 and 117)] : “I beseech you therefore (yet not I but the love of Jesus Christ) live only on Christian fare, and refrain from strange food, which is heresy. For these men mingle Jesus Christ with themselves in special honesty, mixing as it were a deadly poinson with honeyed wine, which the ignorant takes gladly in his baneful pleasure, and it is his death. Beware therefore of such men; and this will be possible for you, if you are not puffed up, and are inseparable form God, from Jesus Christ and from the bishop and the commands of the apostles. (Letter to the Trallians 6-7; [Lake, The Apostolic Fathers, I.217-219]).

The same [Ignatius Bishop of Antioch]: “For there are some who make a practice of carrying about the Name (of Christ) with wicked guile, and do certain other things unworthy of God; these you must shun as wild beasts, for they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, and you must be upon your guard against them, for they are scarcely to be cured. (Letter to the Ephesians 7; [Lake, The Apostolic Fathers I.181]).

The same [Ignatius Bishop of Antioch]: “For as many as belong to God and Jesus Christ, – these are with the bishop. And as many as repent and come to the unity of the Church [Einigkeit der Kirche], – these also shall be of God, to be living according to Jesus Christ. ‘Be not decieved’ [I Cor. 6:9-10] my brethren, if any one follow a maker of schism, “he does not inherit the kingdom of God;” if any man walk in strange doctrine he has no part in the Passion (of the Lord). (Letter to the Philadelphians 3; [Lake, The Apostolic Fathers, pp. 241-243]).

The same [Ignatius Bishop of Antioch]: “But I guard you in advance against beasts in the form of men, whom you must not only not receive, but if it is possible not even meet, but only pray for them, if perchance they may repent [difficult though that be]… They abstain from the Eucharist and prayer (as an act of fellowship [gemeinschaftlichen]),[4] because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh [Fleisch] of our Saviour Jesus Christ who suffered for our sins, which the Fatehr raised up by his goodness. They then who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes; but it were better for them to have love, that they also may attain to the Resurrection. It is right to refraim from such men and not even to speak about themin private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets and especially to the Gospel, in which the Passion (of Christ) has been revealed to us and the Resurrection as has been accomplished. But flee from divisions as the beginning of evils.” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 4 & 7; [Lake, The Apostlic Fathers pp. 255 & 259-261]).

Irenaeus [Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, d. ca. 202]: “The apostles as well as their disciples exercised such great caution not even to converse with any of those who deceitfully tried to pervert the truth by their own fabrications” (Lib. adv. haer. 3.3).

Cyprian [Bishop of Carthage, d. September 14, 258 A.D.]: “We must remain separate from the heretics as far as they themselves have separated themselves from the church” (Ep. I, 3 ad Cornel.).

Ambrose [Bishop of Milan; ca. 340-397]: “When a church [Kirche] spurns the faith and does not possess the foundation of the apostolic preaching, we must desert it in order that we may not besmirch ourselves with the stain of perfidy. That is what the apostle clearly demands when he says: ‘Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition’” [Titus 3:10].

Augustine [Bishop of Hippo Regius, 354-430]: “All who leave the church [Kirche] and are cut off from the unity of the church are antichrists. This [truth] no one should doubt, for he (the apostle) himself designates them thus: ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us’ (1 John 2:19). All therefore who do not remain with us but go out from us make it manifest that they are antichrists …. Either we are antichrists or they are antichrists. They call us antichrists and say that we went out from them; we say the same thing of them. But this epistle (of St. John) describes the antichrists. Everyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is an antichrist. [I Jn. 2:22] Let us therefore consider those who deny this, and let us not take notice of what they say but of what they do. For if they are asked, they all with one accord profess that Jesus is the Christ. Let the tongue be silent for a while, and let us look at the life. If we find this [the life], as Scripture itself tells us that the denial is done not merely with the tongue but by deed, then we certainly shall find many antichrists who indeed profess Christ with their mouth but depart from Christ by their conduct [moribus].

“Where do we find this in Scripture? Listen to the apostle Paul. When he spoke of such [heretics], he said: ‘They profess [bekennen] to know God, but they deny Him by their works’ (Titus 1:16). Here we learn who is an antichrist; whoever denies Christ in works is an antichrist. I do not listen to what is said; I consider what is lived. If the works speak, do we demand words? For what evil [person] does not wish to speak what is good? But what does the Lord say of such? ‘Brood of vipers! How can you speak good when you are evil?’ (Matt. 12:34). You bring to my ears your voice, but I regard your thoughts. There I behold an evil will, and you bring forth evil fruits…

“He is a doubly lying antichrist who confesses with his mouth that Jesus is the Christ but denies it with his works. He is a liar because he speaks one way and acts in another. Therefore, my brethren, if works are to be questioned, we find not only that many antichrists have gone out from us, but that many are not yet so manifest as to have gone out from us. For as many perjurers, deceivers, evildoers, and the like as are in the church, and whatever else there is that we cannot enumerate, all that is opposed to the doctrine of Christ and the Word of God. But the Word of God is Christ. Hence, everything that is opposed to the Word of God is antichristian [im Antichrist]. For antichrist is opposed to Christ. And do you want to know who manifestly opposes Christ? When it happens that they do evil and we begin to reprove them, they will blaspheme—because they do not dare blaspheme Christ—His servants [Diener] by whom they are reproved. And when you show them that you tell them not your own words but those of Christ, they will try, as long as they can, to prove to you that you speak your own words and not those of Christ. But when it becomes clear that you have spoken the words of Christ, they will oppose also Christ and will begin to criticize also Him” (Expos. in ep. I. Joh. 3).

[1] This document is not listed in Aland’s Hilfsbuch. The St. Louis edition (17.1179) notes that it is printed in the Altenburg Edition (8.502); Leipzig Edition (21.688) and the Erlangen Edition (65.86). M.H.
[2] Walther is quoting the German text which he found in Walch1. M.H.
[3] I was not able to locat this passage in Ignatius. M.H.
[4] By this insertion it appears Walther wishes to draw a distinction between prayer which is a demonstration of fellowship (i.e. public worship) and other prayer. MH






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  1. Our God Reigns
    September 11th, 2011 at 06:20 | #1

    Here is a problem I have with the whole communion issue.
    What if you live in an area where there is no option of worship style ie COWO is the ONLY offering? While my particular congregation is still practicing a “form” of orthodoxy, the COWO creep is getting more and more “creepy”. There is a slow often thinly veiled attempt by certain members to want to become more “like” the rest of the Christian community so that they are not seen as weird in their social circles and do not have the stuffy “frozen chosen” tag assigned to them. They are looking over fences to see if “their grass” ie “their worship style” is truly greener as promised. If our congregation, being unique in our geographical location, falls to COWO in any form, there is NOWHERE else to go. We are IT!! Should I still commune with my fellow members just because our sign says LCMS? There is no question that if we went COWO with all it entails, we would not be like-minded. Would I be better off attending a reformed traditional church ie PCA and communing with them?

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