You commune whom?

July 18th, 2013 Post by

Meme courtesy of Confessional Lutheran Memes

Meme courtesy of Confessional Lutheran Memes

Recently the topic of Infant Communion has come up on BJS.  There is a world of difference between practicing first communion before confirmation and communing infants.  The Agenda for Lutheran Service Book has a rite for first communion prior to confirmation because it is a good practice.  There is no such rite for infants and this article will help point out why.

Let me say this to start out.  Infant Communion is not a faithful practice by Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions.  Further, Lutheran heritage shows that no chief Lutheran father ever taught or instituted the practice.  Any attempt to bring Infant Communion in under the guise of faithful Lutheran teaching is dishonest to our heritage and teachings.

Here are some simple reasons why it is not the teaching of Scripture or Confessions to commune infants:

1.  Infants cannot “do this in remembrance of Me”.  This is part of the Words of Institution, where Jesus commands the Sacrament to be done in His way and in remembrance of Him.  This brings in the Old Testament where remembrance is about thought and also action.  There is a mental component to the Sacrament of the Altar.  The Large Catechism draws this out more and more, talking about preparation and the ongoing Christian struggle concerning Christ’s command and promise and our lowly state.  The Augsburg Confession puts it this way (XXIV, 30-33):

30 But Christ commands us, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Therefore, the Mass was instituted so that those who use the Sacrament should remember, in faith, the benefits they receive through Christ and how their anxious consciences are cheered and comforted. 31 To remember Christ is to remember His benefits. It means to realize that they are truly offered to us. 32 It is not enough only to remember history. (The Jewish people and the ungodly also remember this.) 33 Therefore, the Mass is to be used for administering the Sacrament to those that need consolation. Ambrose says, “Because I always sin, I always need to take the medicine.”

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 49.

2.  Infants cannot “proclaim the Lord’s death”.  This is part of St. Paul’s explanation of the corporate activity of the congregation in communing.  There is a confessing component to the Sacrament of the Altar.

3.  Infants cannot discern the body and blood of the Lord.  This is part of St. Paul’s admonition about communing in 1 Corinthians 11.

4.  Infants have not been taught concerning this command of the Lord.  This is part of Matthew’s formula for making disciples, which involves first baptism in the name of the Triune God, then being taught to observe all things that Jesus commanded (including the Lord’s Supper).  The teaching cannot happen yet with infants.  There is a catechetical component necessarily preceding receiving the Sacrament of the Altar.

5.  Infants cannot be communed according to our confessional standard.  According to the short preface of the Large Catechism:

For I well remember the time—indeed, even now it happens daily—that one finds rude, old persons who knew nothing and still know nothing about these things. Yet they go to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and use everything belonging to Christians, even though people who come to the Lord’s Supper ought to know more and have a fuller understanding of all Christian doctrine than children and new scholars. 6 However, for the common people we are satisfied if they know the three “parts.” These have remained in Christendom from of old, though little of them has been taught and used correctly until both young and old (who are called Christians and wish to be so) are well trained in them and familiar with them.   Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 355.

Now, when these three parts are understood, a person must also know what to say about our Sacraments, which Christ Himself instituted: Baptism and the holy body and blood of Christ. They should know the texts that Matthew [28:19–20] and Mark [16:15–16] record at the close of their Gospels, when Christ said farewell to His disciples and sent them forth.
Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 358.
Let this, then, be said for encouragement, not only for those of us who are old and grown, but also for the young people, who ought to be brought up in Christian doctrine and understanding. Then the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer might be taught to our youth more easily. Then they would receive them with pleasure and seriousness, and so they would use them from their youth and get used to them. 86 For the old are now nearly past this opportunity. So these goals and others cannot be reached unless we train the people who are to come after us and succeed us in our office and work. We should do this in order that they also may bring up their children successfully, so that God’s Word and the Christian Church may be preserved. 87 Therefore, let every father of a family know that it is his duty, by God’s order and command, to teach these things to his children, or to have the children learn what they ought to know [Ephesians 6:4]. Since the children are baptized and received into the Christian Church, they should also enjoy this communion of the Sacrament, in order that they may serve us and be useful to us. They must all certainly help us to believe, love, pray, and fight against the devil.
Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 440.
This last quote may be used by those who want to advocate Infant Communion if it wasn’t taken in the context of the Large Catechism and how Luther draws out the differences between Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but also in the need for catechesis prior to the Lord’s Supper.  Among the advocates of Infant Communion there is a generic equalization of the Sacraments and failure to understand how each is distinct from one another.  This way, the thoughts we have about who can be baptized become the thoughts we have about who can commune.  It is poor theology to do so.
6.  No one, including infants should be forced to commune.  How can we know their desires if they are unable to express them?  This is in keeping with the Large Catechism (V, 42):

Now, it is true, as we have said, that no one should by any means be forced or compelled to go to the Sacrament, lest we institute a new murdering of souls. Nevertheless, it must be known that people who deprive themselves of and withdraw from the Sacrament for such a long time are not to be considered Christians. For Christ has not instituted it to be treated as a show. Instead, He has commanded His Christians to eat it, drink it, and remember Him by it.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 436.
7.  Infants have not been examined.  To commune them is to go against the Augsburg Confession (XXIV, 5-8):

All those able to do so partake of the Sacrament together. This also increases the reverence and devotion of public worship. 6 No one is admitted to the Sacrament without first being examined. 7 The people are also advised about the dignity and use of the Sacrament, about how it brings great consolation to anxious consciences, so that they too may learn to believe God and to expect and ask from Him all that is good. 8 This worship pleases God [Colossians 1:9–10]. Such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion toward God.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 47.
A very good summary of some excellent points (some of which I made above) can be found here.
Of course there are arguments that can be made from tradition itself, but as Lutherans we do not put as much weight in those as we do the simple words of Scripture and our Confessions.  If tradition is a part of the argument for communing infants, those who have instituted such practices in their parishes or believe such practices are faithful to our Lord’s institution have a burden to prove why in five hundred years the Lutheran church has not embraced such a practice or beliefs.  It is really shameful arrogance on their part to presume that five hundred years of Lutheran history that none of our fathers had been so enlightened.

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  1. Tim Jackson
    July 22nd, 2013 at 16:04 | #1

    @Jim Pierce #50

    Jim,

    Your argument hinged on AC XXV, Concerning Confession, one sentence in the beginning, but the examination referred to by Melancthon in the writing is clearly not the same type of examination referred to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. I was addressing your arguments. Infants are not capable of the unrepentant sins against faith and love that leads Paul to say, let a person examine himself. It’s a call to repentance which is nothing more than a return to baptism. What sins can a baptized infant do that convince you they are in need of a different examination other than the one that took place at their baptism?

  2. Tim Jackson
    July 22nd, 2013 at 16:44 | #2

    Ok. Forget about it, Jim. I give.

  3. Libby North
    July 22nd, 2013 at 17:01 | #3

    Tim Jackson :
    @Jim Pierce #50
    infants are not capable of the unrepentant sins against faith and love that leads Paul to say, let a person examine himself. It’s a call to repentance which is nothing more than a return to baptism. What sins can a baptized infant do that convince you they are in need of a different examination other than the one that took place at their baptism?

    How can you say infants aren’t capable of unrepentant sin?

  4. Jim Pierce
    July 22nd, 2013 at 17:05 | #4

    @Tim Jackson #1
    @Tim Jackson #2

    Tim,

    Your argument here is so fraught with errors, logically and theological, that I can only point you to the document I linked and back up to the original posting. You’re not getting the fact that AC XXV and the introduction to the Large Catechism are indeed echoing 1 Corinthians 11. The point is not the form of examination, but that a self-analysis (test, something like “test the spirits” in 1 John 4:1) occurs which shows the communicant comprehends, is aware of, what they are doing. It also pains me to read your comment (for the second time), “Infants are not capable of the unrepentant sins against faith and love that leads Paul to say….” Not capable?! What a denial of original sin! Then there is your “What sins can a baptized infant do that convince you they are in need of a different examination…” which is baffling on so many levels! Why should any one of the baptized be examined before taking the Lord’s Supper, since they were baptized and already examined?! There was no need for Paul’s exhortation to the baptized, believing, Corinthians to “examine” themselves, since they had already been examined in baptism! Paul got it wrong! (<— Sarcasm for those who don't catch it.) Lord have mercy!

    All that I can say has been said. If you are LCMS, then please ask your pastor for help understanding the LCMS teaching on this subject.

    ________

    “5] The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public 6] worship. For none are admitted 7] except they be first examined. The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament, how great consolation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is good. 8] [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion 9] toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us.” <a href="5] The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public 6] worship. For none are admitted 7] except they be first examined. The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament, how great consolation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is good. 8] [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion 9] toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us." AC—XXIV 5-9 (emphasis added)

  5. Mark Resner
    July 22nd, 2013 at 17:39 | #5

    This topic usually focuses on the Communicant but rarely on the Communicator. Eating the Body of Christ and drinking His blood is a gift. But it’s not an abstract gift. The gift is grounded in the reality of the Incarnation. If the Son were not Incarnate, then He would have neither body nor blood to be given for you

    But He is Incarnate. And how did He become so? As an adult? No. God the Son received Humanity to Himself as an infant. He was the perfect infant, a vicarious substitute for sinful infants.

    And He substitutes His perfection, His righteousness, for the sinful imperfection of our infants. It is no longer they who live but Christ in them. And He gives them His Holy Spirit who sanctifies and enlightens them, who bestows on them spiritual gifts which they could not have by their own reason or strength.

    If Christ lives in them, how can we keep them separated from His Blood? If they have the Spirit of God, why not His Body?

    The infantile members of your congregation are already members of His Body. Why do we create a schism amongst our own congregations based on physical maturity? The things of God are unknowable to the physical man, for they are spiritual and of the Spirit.

    Infant Communion is nothing except the Body of Christ participating in the Body of Christ and the doctrine of Christmas.

  6. Jim Pierce
    July 22nd, 2013 at 18:40 | #6

    “You’re not getting the fact that AC XXV and the introduction to the Large Catechism are indeed echoing….”

    Correction… that sentence should read “Small Catechism” and not “Large Catechism.” Also, everything from (and including) the “<a href="5]" in the footnote is a repeat of the text above it. A bad cut and paste job!

  7. Tim Jackson
    July 23rd, 2013 at 08:04 | #7

    Good grief! I never denied Original sin. I said infants are still sinners after their Baptism as we all are! Which is exactly why they need the Supper! They need the strength. Perfect repentance by each believer is not a requirement for a beneficial reception of the Supper. If it were none of us could go because as Melanchthon says in AC XXV “Who can discern his errors?” Hence the Epitome ties worthiness to the most holy and active obediece to Christ and does not turn us in on ourselves to our own virtues. A baptized infant is not yet capable of the type of sin against faith and love perpetrated by the Corinthians which earned them the disciplinary rebuke of Paul to examine themselves. An infant discerns the body as much as you do! Faith discerns it, not the intellect.

    AC XXV most clearly echos the 5th chief part in the Catechism on Confession which Luther ties to John 20, not 1st Corinthians 11.

    Baptism and first communion go hand in hand whether you are an infant or an adult convert. An adult convert has the same rite of baptism as an infant, except they don’t need anyone else to renounce the devil, confess the creed and express their desires for them. Then they are allowed to receive communion like the rest of the baptized.

  8. David
    July 23rd, 2013 at 09:33 | #8

    I apologize, I have not read the entirety of these comments. If this has already been brought up I would appreciate it if someone could direct me to the appropriate comments. I do have a few practical questions though for those in support of infant communion.

    Should only LCMS infants be communed? If other churches baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit they are valid baptisms. If their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper does not discern the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper do those infants get excluded based on the church they are members of? If these infants came to an LCMS church would you commune their infants and not the parents who do not discern?

  9. Tim Jackson
    July 23rd, 2013 at 09:50 | #9

    @David #8

    It was talked about a little bit towards the beginning in the comments.

    “Should only LCMS infants be communed?” — That is all I am arguing for, LCMS babies and those of any Church body we are in official fellowship with. The babies are baptized into our whole confession. Teaching is nothing more than helping them understand and articulate as they grow older the deposit of the faith we say they were given in baptism and also believe, not giving them new information.

    “If their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper does not discern the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper do those infants get excluded based on the church they are members of?” — I would say so. If we’re not in fellowship with their churches we cannot commune together.

    “If these infants came to an LCMS church would you commune their infants and not the parents who do not discern?” — I would hope that does not happen. The historic practice of the Church is Closed Communion.

  10. R.D.
    July 23rd, 2013 at 10:19 | #10

    @Rev. Josh Osbun #11

    Here’s where the discussion on cognition actually comes into play. The apostate adult has used his cognitive faculties to deny the faith. The more that his mind and thinking capabilities have developed, the more he has used them to turn away from God.

    We do not commune him because it is not beneficial to his health.

    Pr. Osbun,
    Is this what you are teaching your congregation?

  11. July 23rd, 2013 at 11:05 | #11

    David,

    You have asked a very good question and Tim’s answer leads us to further question infant communion.

    Tim says that it is somehow the faith of the parents and all the faithful LCMS’ers that keeps the infant in the faith and all the falsely held teachings of the Romanists taints the faith that was worked in the infant baptized in a RC church. This is a new twist on an ancient heresy in reverse. It is Reverse Ecclesiastical Donatism.

    To avoid this we are best to simply speak as the Scriptures and the Church has for centuries. The saving faith given in baptism needs to be nurtured with knowledge and understanding. In regards to Holy Communion, this knowledge is required so that a communicant can examine himself and discern the body of Christ.

  12. July 23rd, 2013 at 11:34 | #12

    Tim Jackson :
    Good grief! I never denied Original sin. … A baptized infant is not yet capable of the type of sin against faith and love perpetrated by the Corinthians ….

    You did it again, Tim. When you write that an infant is “not yet capable” you are claiming that they lack the capacity, or the inclination to do such sin. That is not true and is a rejection of the teaching of original sin. Please see the AC quote below. Now it could be you’re just being sloppy with your english and you wouldn’t be alone! But, I can only guess what you might mean is that the infant is not physically able, as yet, to do some of the things the adult Corinthians had done and for which they were rebuked. That is far different than saying the infant is not “capable.”

    Please consider correcting your statement.

    “Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam [Romans 5:12], all who are naturally born are born with sin [Psalm 51:5], that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. 2 Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit [John 3:5]. ”

    AC II, 1-2

    McCain, P. T. (Ed.). (2005). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (pp. 31–32). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

  13. Tim Jackson
    July 23rd, 2013 at 12:22 | #13

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #11

    Very Clever. I’ll remember that one for a meme sometime.

    Pastor Rossow said, “The saving faith given in baptism needs to be nurtured with knowledge and understanding.”

    – Couldn’t agree more. That’s the problem with belonging to a heterodox church body we are not in fellowship with, the false teaching corrupts the deposit of faith given in their baptism and endangers their salvation. Closed Communion prevents the misunderstanding that we are all in agreement with regards to the Faith which was delivered in Baptism and is nourished by right teaching which forms our developing intellects. We don’t allow them to come out of love for correcting their errors, not because the gifts of Christ in their Baptism aren’t true. Walther said it is our duty to flee false teaching and heterdox teaching because it endangers our salvation by leading us astray. To allow open communion is to lead people further down a path of danger to their soul.

    Baptismal faith could certainly be lost, but if the infant is being nourished by the pure preaching of God’s Word in our congregations why is it right to assume they are like those who do not belong to our fellowship? How is that not against the 8th Commandment by assuming the utter worst about the condition of their faith because of their immature bodies and minds?

    Pastor Rossow said, “In regards to Holy Communion, this knowledge is required so that a communicant can examine himself and discern the body of Christ.”

    – Paul’s exhortation to examination is in light of the fact that their public, unrepentant sin was indicative of a lack of true repentance and living faith. Examination is not referring to an inward intellectual preparation regarding knowledge acquired through teaching. To say so contradicts Epitome VII that says worthiness for the Supper consists in no way of our inward or external preparations or virtues.

    I actually went and checked out Chemnitz to see what he has to say about eating and drinking in an unworthy manner means.

    In his work on the Lord’s Supper, on page 128 he has this to say:

    “For Paul is accusing the Corinthians that among them many were eating unworthily at the Supper. He explains wherein this consisted, namely, that they were not coming to the Lord’s Supper with any other spirit or in any greater reverence than in their private homes when they sat down to their ordinary meals. Likewise they were nourishing hatred in their hearts; they were despising the church, were shaming the poor, were not abstaining from idolatrous practices; they were even coming to the celebration of the Supper drunk — and yet, although this was so and they remained without true repentance and living faith, they still came to the table of the Lord. This Paul calls unworthy eating.”

    Even Chemnitz says their public actions were indicative of the Spirit in which they were going to the Supper. An infant is not yet phyically able to act in any way besides being infantile about things. It doesn’t indicate a disrespect or lack of reverence for the Supper or the things of God because they receive them like babies. It’s literally the best and most reverent they can be. They too need the Supper to fight against the Original Sin and propensity to sin that leads to such actual sin and it’s result: unworthy eating and judgment! As they grow parents continually teach them how to conduct themselves so that a proper spirit continues to be cultivated for going to the Supper. According to their developmental stage their is no way for anyone to determine a baptized infant is coming to the rail in the same spirit Paul condemns in 1 Corinthians 11. Yet it is assumed, somehow, that they lack the true repentance and living faith and so are eating in an unworthy manner to their judgment. This is against the 8th commandment and a Law against those who have done nothing to warrant a ban from the Supper which was instituted to strengthen their weak faith for their fight against the sinful flesh corrupted by the fall.

    In light of the Corinthian’s open, public, impenitence Paul exhorts them to examine themselves anew because their ongoing sin demonstrates a blantant rejection of their baptismal faith. Head knowledge gained through teaching, which is good, is not what discerns Christ’s real presence in the Supper. Faith discerns the body in the Supper, not intellectual knowledge about it. Examination here is not to determine if they comprehend intellectual knowledge about the Supper at all.

    Can the wrong intellectual head knowledge damage faith? You bet. Faith most certainly interacts with the intellect as it grows and matures throughout our lives. That is why we can’t have open communion, the teaching of those outside our fellowship is harmful to the faith received in baptism. False teaching lies and twists the truth of the deposit rather than expounding the inheritance rightly in order to keep us steadfast and in the true faith.

    Communing our baptized infants in no way necessitates open communion any more than the traditional practice of keeping infants from the Supper has brought about an epidemic of open communion in our churches.

  14. Tim Jackson
    July 23rd, 2013 at 12:32 | #14

    @Jim Pierce #12

    Jim,

    I will correct that statement and apologize for the sloppiness. I did not mean “claiming that they lack the capacity, or the inclination to do such sin.” I did mean “the infant is not physically able, as yet, to do some of the things the adult Corinthians had done and for which they were rebuked.”

  15. July 23rd, 2013 at 12:38 | #15

    Tim,

    You may continue this conversation with Chemnitz. He is sufficient for me.

    “It is clear that one cannot deal with infants through the bare preaching of repentance and remission of sins, for that requires hearing (Rom. 10:17), deliberation and meditation (Ps. 119), understanding (Matt. 13:51), which are not found in infants. With regard to the Lord’s Supper Paul says: “Let a man examine himself” [1 Cor. 11:28]. Likewise: “Let him discern the Lord’s body” [1 Cor. 11:29], a thing which cannot be ascribed to infants. Moreover, Christ instituted His Supper for such as had already become His disciples. In the Old Testament infants were circumcised on the eighth day, but they were admitted to the eating of the Passover lamb when they were able to ask: “What do you mean by this service?” (Ex. 12:26). There remains therefore [for infants] of the means of grace in the New Testament only the sacrament of Baptism.” (Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 165-66)

  16. Tim Jackson
    July 23rd, 2013 at 12:59 | #16

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #15

    His private writings are only so good as they are correct, just like Luther’s.

    So based on this infants can’t be dealt with through bare preaching or repentance and remission of sins because they lack “deliberation and meditation, understanding …”. So, what exactly is sustaining the infant’s faith until such a time as they acquire these virtues? They can’t come to communion and they can’t deliberate, meditate, or understand so why do they even need to be in the Divine Service if they can’t be served by the Word or the Supper?

    Since the word doesn’t preached Word can’t interact with a Baby what comfort is there for the parents who lose a child before baptism? I’ve always heard pastors comfort people by appealing to the fact that the parents came to church where the Word was preached. Are all those babies lost then?

    Also, since Chemnitz likes it NOW we can go with the passover analogy?

  17. July 23rd, 2013 at 13:17 | #17

    Tim,

    Private writings or not is irrelevant. Chemnitz argues from Scripture and in this case the entire Western Church agrees with him except for you.

    What sustains an infant’s faith is the same Word the Holy Spirit used in baptism.

    Assuring parents who have lost a baby before baptism of his salvation is an innovation of our non-sacramental age – the very thing you are trying to combat with infant communion. It is also consistent with your enthusiastic theology that makes promises apart from what God has promised in his word.

    No one said you cannot use analogies from Scripture. Chemnitz uses analogy the way it ought to be, to support doctrine that is otherwise clear.

  18. July 23rd, 2013 at 14:02 | #18

    @Tim Jackson #16

    More arguments from emotionalism from you. The question of “What comfort does this give…” is not a sound framework from which to build up sound, scriptural, teaching. Indeed, most, if not all, of your argumentation is built upon emotionalism. How can we exclude a poor, helpless, infant from the Supper; a weak little package who needs the sacrament for strength?! Yet, you seem unaware that it is the Lord and giver of Life who inspired Paul to write that we must first examine ourselves before coming to the table. Like it or not, our Lutheran fathers refer to 1 Corinthians 11 and teach us that an infant is not able to do such a self examination (please review the texts below that I have copied and pasted from Pr. Webber’s comment above ours). Argue with our Confession of faith which tells us that we do not admit anyone to the table unless they have first been examined. “For none are admitted except they be first examined” (AC XXIV 6-7). We know how this text was viewed by our Lutheran confessors at the time, because we have Chemnitz’s explanation as well as Lucas Osiander’s, Jacob Andreae’s, and Martin Crucius’ (provided below). So, what does this mean? It means that infants were excluded from the Lord’s Supper based upon the scriptural grounds of 1 Corinthians 11. This is not only the grounds provided by Luther, Chemnitz, Osiander, Andreae, and Crucius, but is the teaching of the LCMS today (as I provided you in the CTCR document above).

    Your view of infant communion is not scriptural, it is not the view of our confessions, it is not the view of our confessors I name above, and it is not the view of the LCMS. I don’t know why you persist in arguing your error.

    __________________

    As indicated in this church order, children who were too young to be catechized and examined were not communed in the Lutheran Church – although the Reformers were aware of the fact that this was done among the Hussite Bohemian Brethren. Luther discusses this in a 1523 letter to Nicholas Hausmann: “Right now I do not think badly about the Bohemian Brethren, having heard from their own representatives their faith concerning the Sacrament of the Eucharist. I do not approve of the Bohemians who commune little children, although I do not regard them as heretics in this matter. I have been thinking daily about prescribing a form for doing Mass and giving Communion, but so far I have not been able to release it. Nevertheless, it ought to be proposed that in the days to come no one be admitted to Communion unless he has been examined and has responded rightly concerning his faith; we should exclude the others” (Martin Luther, Letter to Nicholas Hausmann [1523]; quoted in “Whether the Eucharist Should be Given to Children?”, Lutheran Forum 30:4 [Winter 1996], p. 13. Emphasis added.).

    The Lutherans of the next generation concurred in Luther’s views on this matter. Chemnitz writes: “It is clear that one cannot deal with infants through the bare preaching of repentance and remission of sins, for that requires hearing (Rom. 10:17), deliberation and meditation (Ps. 119), understanding (Matt. 13:51), which are not found in infants. With regard to the Lord’s Supper Paul says: ‘Let a man examine himself’ [1 Cor. 11:28]. Likewise: ‘Let him discern the Lord’s body’ [1 Cor. 11:29], a thing which cannot be ascribed to infants. Moreover, Christ instituted His Supper for such as had already become His disciples. In the Old Testament infants were circumcised on the eighth day, but they were admitted to the eating of the Passover lamb when they were able to ask: ‘What do you mean by this service?’ (Ex. 12:26). There remains therefore [for infants] of the means of grace in the New Testament only the sacrament of Baptism” (Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 165-66).

    In their 1577 correspondence with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Lucas Osiander, Jacob Andreae, and Martin Crucius summarize the policy of the Lutherans in Württemberg on the question of infant communion: “We often exhort our people who have repented to partake frequently of the Lord’s Supper. However, we do not commune the infants, for Paul says: ‘Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the Lord’s body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself’ [1 Cor 11:28-29]. And since the children are not able to examine themselves and, thus, cannot discern the Lord’s body, we think that the ceremony of the baptism is sufficient for their salvation, and also the hidden faith with which the Lord has endowed them. For through this faith they spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, even if they do not, in the communion of the supper, physically eat it” (Jacob Andreae, Martin Crucius, and Lucas Osiander, Correspondence with the Patriarch of Constantinople [1577]; in George Mastrantonis, translator and editor, Augsburg and Constantinople, p. 143. Translation slightly revised.).

  19. Tim Jackson
    July 23rd, 2013 at 14:26 | #19

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #17

    So, that same Word received in Baptism is sustaining their faith without help from anything else…hmmm, It seems that the Divine Service is no place for the Baptized infant since preaching and hearing the Word do nothing for it. Certainly the Word the Holy Spirit would use in Communion would condemn the infant because they lack adult cognitive faculties.

    Got it.

    I forgot, no one really sins until the magical age of reason when we can finally deliberate, meditate, understand, examine and discern. In reality your view of Baptism is that it saves the non-cognitive or unconscious part of the human nature but the intellect isn’t sanctified until you assent to propositions about the faith put forth in teaching.

    Infants have cognitive ability; it is simply immature and outside of adult experience.

    Nonetheless the Holy Spirit still interacts with the whole human nature in baptism, even immature cognition. The Supper should not be withheld from baptized infants under the criteria that they do not possess mature, adult cognitive ability. You really have turned worthiness for the Supper into a synergistic activity rather than monergistic activity.

    Since you’re into labeling and name calling in order to dismiss arguments, you’re theology is nothing but rationalism. See, now I don’t have to deal with what you say either.

    Take it up with the 1,000 years of Church History, east and west, that allowed for the view you despise, yours is only 500 in the west. Take it up with all the Church Fathers from Cyprian on until Constance, who were too stupid to get what Paul meant. The reality is you have Scripture and tradition. While even the Nicene Creed had to be revised at a second council at Constantinople you have raised your tradition to a paper pope incapable of being normed more accurately. Frankly, it’s sad.

  20. Tim Jackson
    July 23rd, 2013 at 14:39 | #20

    @Jim Pierce #18

    I’ll look at that more and thanks for engaging what I’m actually saying, well, at least you do after you label me as something you don’t like. Pastor Rossow got some emotional statements but otherwise I don’t accept your mischaracterization of emotionalism. I’ve always been blessed after reception of the Supper in part with these words: “may the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you …” I’m sorry you view that blessing as emotionalism. The Epitome uses the term weak as descriptive of faith for some people who need the Sacrament to combat their weakness.

  21. July 23rd, 2013 at 14:44 | #21

    Tim Jackson :
    You really have turned worthiness for the Supper into a synergistic activity rather than monergistic activity.

    No. Your statement is in error. Throughout the gospels and epistles we find scriptures such as Luke 24:45, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” As I discussed with Pr. Osbun above, and to which he agreed, we are not automatons whom the Lord drives to the Supper against our wills. Again, this isn’t a “synergistic activity” but it is the Lord opening our understanding to the Scriptures. A monergistic activity of the work of the Holy Spirit through the “hearing” of the individual.

  22. July 23rd, 2013 at 15:59 | #22

    I thought I would look up how Francis Pieper uses 1 Corinthians 11:28-29 in his dogmatics regarding the Lord’s Supper. Here is what I found:

    RE: “Who is to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper” Christian Dogmatics F. Pieper III, p.383-384

    “2. Such as are able to examine themselves. Scripture expressly declares spiritual self-examination necessary for a salutary use of the Holy Supper: “Let a man examine himself [δοκιμαζέτω δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἑαυτόν], and so [οὕτως] let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). Excluded therefore are children, the sleeping, the unconscious, the dying deprived of the use of their senses, the insane and possessed while not in their right mind, etc.133″

    133 Walther, Pastorale, p. 190: “Since according to God’s Word everyone who would approach the Lord’s Table should first examine himself and discern the Lord’s body, it will not do to give the Lord’s Supper to children incapable of examining themselves. It was a manifest abuse when this practice, as the examples of even Cyprian and Augustine prove, was quite general from the third to the fifth century, with the sanction also of Innocent I., through a misinterpretation of John 6:53 as referring to sacramental eating and drinking. This misuse was prevalent also among the Bohemian Hussites and is canon law even today in the Eastern Church. Luther writes: ‘I cannot side with the Bohemians in distributing the Lord’s Supper to children, even though I would not call them heretics on that account. Furthermore, those who cannot examine themselves and therefore are not to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper include also those asleep, or unconscious, those in the throes of death who are already deprived of the use of their senses, deranged people, and the like.” Walther, as we saw, points to the fact that the Lord’s Supper does not, like bodily medication, work physically, but presupposes consciousness of the essence and faith in the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. Further particulars, e.g., the question whether lunatics, raving madmen, yes, also the bodily possessed, may be communed when they have lucid intervals (“lichte Zwischenzeiten”) belong to casuistry. See Walther, ibid., p. 192.”

  23. Allen Mulvey
    July 24th, 2013 at 08:14 | #23

    My initial response to this post was to examine it closely, point by point. That would take volumes and I have neither the time nor the patience to do so. And who would read it all?

    I will confine my comments to points 1 and 2 which you present so emphatically as obvious truths. The proclamation. How is this proclamation made? It is certainly not verbal. In 65 years of attending the sacrament I have heard nary a word except that spoken by the officiants. Neither have I heard any shouts from the rooftops before or after. How is the proclamation made? The proclamation is made by the outward act, by the mere doing, ex opere operato. Our being there proclaims Christ! We come to receive His grace. Our being there proclaims His death, “given for you…shed for you.”

    Arrogance and condescension rarely, if ever serve the Kingdom of God.

    Some advice,
    to the hearer: Jeremiah 23:16, Matthew 7:15
    to he who would be heard: 2 Timothy 2:15, John 5:39
    to all: Proverbs 17:28

    Allen,
    Rome, NY

  24. helen
    July 25th, 2013 at 15:08 | #24

    @Jim Pierce #18
    “[E]rr[ing] on the side of God fulfilling His Word” is irrelevant to this discussion, pastor. What is relevant is where in God’s word do we find that infants ought to be communed?

    When a comments list numbers 100+ most of it is usually repetition. I plead guilty to not having read most of this one.
    But, of the scattered bits I’ve read, (and excepting “We always did it that way before.”) it seems to me that the argument against communing infants mirrors the Baptist argument against baptizing them, i.e., “they don’t have the developed intelligence to do this”.

    Confessional Lutherans aren’t likely to commune infants. Some may think we should, but they won’t do it until there is uniformity/agreement, which they value, even as they value it in liturgical Lutheran worship.
    [Snowballs in Houston have a better chance!] ;)

    Now, I’ll take Allen’s quote of Proverbs to heart…at least on this topic! :)

  25. July 25th, 2013 at 16:37 | #25

    @helen #24

    “…it seems to me that the argument against communing infants mirrors the Baptist argument against baptizing them…”

    That is basically correct. But the problem is not that Lutherans misunderstand the nature and character of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. It’s that Baptists misunderstand the nature and character of the institution of Baptism.

    One thing that we also must insist on, is that we not deal with “the sacraments” as a category, and theologize regarding “the sacraments” as a category. Baptism is to be understood and applied in light of the purpose and scope of the dominical Words that specifically established it. The Lord’s Supper is likewise to be understood and applied in light of the purpose and scope of the dominical Words that specifically established it. And those two sacraments were instituted at different times, with different things being said by Jesus to his disciples, in different contexts, and with the disciples serving in each case in different capacities.

  26. quasicelsus
    July 25th, 2013 at 17:16 | #26

    @Allen Mulvey #23

    i would advise caution with using the term “ex opere operato.” i believe i understand what you say when you use the term, but traditionally it falls under the following meaning

    http://saints.sqpn.com/ncd06116.htm

    also from BJS

    “We affirm with Article 10 of the Augsburg Confession that Christ’s body and blood are really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist, and are a valid Means of Grace whether one believes it or not. We affirm with Article 13 that faith is required for the blessings of Holy Communion to be made one’s own, for the Sacrament does not work ex opere operato (note 8). We affirm with Article 22 that both elements are to be distributed to the laity, and we commend the pope for making this concession in Vatican II, urging him to go on and adopt the other reforms enjoined in the Augsburg Confession. As we pledge ourselves to celebrate Holy Communion according to the institution of our Lord Jesus Christ, we encourage all to follow His example in using the chalice, or common cup.”

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?page_id=5556

  27. Allen Mulvey
    July 25th, 2013 at 17:31 | #27

    I never applied “ex opere operato” to grace nor did I imply such. I applied it to the proclamation made in the sacrament.

    Allen

  28. quasicelsus
    July 25th, 2013 at 17:38 | #28

    @Allen Mulvey #27

    Excellent. and i advise caution in the term, as when used on the topic of the sacrament. :)

  29. July 25th, 2013 at 17:44 | #29

    helen :
    …it seems to me that the argument against communing infants mirrors the Baptist argument against baptizing them, i.e., “they don’t have the developed intelligence to do this”.

    I can’t give as great an answer to your comment as Pr. Webber has done. As Pr. Webber points out, and as was stated in the original post, baptism and the Lord’s Supper have distinct institutions given to us by Jesus. Pr. Scheer correctly explains our teaching on why we do not commune infants. I know you didn’t go through all the posts, but above ours are a number of resources you will want to follow up on should you have further questions. Pr. Webber has quoted some of our Lutheran fathers, including Chemnitz, and I link a good article from the CTCR which explains the LCMS teaching regarding why we don’t baptize infants.

    P.S.—I should point out that there is a significant difference, as far as mirroring is concerned, and that is the Lutheran teaching against infant communion doesn’t start from an infant mind which is not utterly dead in sins who then is supposed to have a capacity to make a decision for Christ at some magic age in the future. No, the baptized infant already has faith and is need of teaching and maturation before he can partake of the Supper. I would say that is a critical point where the comparison of what we teach as to why infants shouldn’t be communed with that of baptist decision theology doesn’t really work.

  30. September 20th, 2013 at 07:53 | #30

    Why is this:

    http://www.facebook.com/OrdainWomenNow

    Sounding like this?

    http://predigtamt.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/todd-wilken-is-no-true-scotsman/

    “Ignorance is the fertile field plowed by heretics!”

  31. September 20th, 2013 at 10:31 | #31

    Authored by Pastor Ken Kelly

    ” On the Incarnation, Eucharist and Matthew 19.14

    Posted on September 20, 2013

    Straw Man ? Missing major Scriptural points ? On purpose. Numerous logical fallacies………..
    “Ignorance is the fertile field plowed by heretics!”

    http://priestlyrant.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/on-the-incarnation-eucharist-and-matthew-19-14/

  32. jb
    September 23rd, 2013 at 22:11 | #32

    Mark -

    You don’t dispute Kelly’s piece, you merely dismiss it.

    Not cool.

    Prove your point, whatever it is. I suspect that will be a tad more difficult.

    Pax tecum – jb

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