Confessionals “Get Their Lunch Handed to Them” at the Minnesota South District, by Pr. Klemet Preus

On June 12 the confessional movement in the MNS district got its lunch handed to it, at least from a purely political perspective. There were two major issues facing the convention. Both had serious theological ramifications. Both were lost. Every single candidate promoted by the confessionals was defeated. The elections were not even close. We got clobbered.

 

What is particularly puzzling about this sound thrashing is that three years ago the convention was evenly split. Three years ago we actually voted to a tie on a resolution which would have asked the synod to reconsider its position on allowing women elders and presidents. Three years ago we elected a board which, for the most part, was confessional. I was elected by a four vote margin. Yet in 2009 I received 35% of the votes.

 

What happened? How did we lose 15% of the vote in three years?

 

First, we lost the rhetorical battle. The main issue of the convention was the motion to receive TheAlley church into the synod. TheAlley is a mission start of Woodbury Lutheran whose pastor is Dean Nadasdy, one of the synod’s VPs. The congregation was the poster child of some in the synod. It had received $50,000 of Ablaze funds and $100,000 from the district since its inception two years earlier. Reportedly a couple of vans of students from Concordia College attend each week. Woodbury had sent 100 of its members. It was deemed “Cutting Edge,” “The church of the future,” “people ready to step out of their comfort zone,” and “uniquely situated to reach those young people the rest of us cannot reach.” The Alley was clearly a Causa Celebre of the district and synodical establishment.

 

One the other hand The Alley Church had been under fire from the confessionals in MNS and others for about 18 months prior to the convention and for good reason. They refused to use the name Lutheran in their publicity materials. And it was clear that the congregation had no intention to call themselves Lutheran anytime in the future. Initially the congregation did not practice closed communion according to the principles articulated and commonly held by the synod. More recently President Seitz, the MNS DP, had assured the district that this issue had been resolved. Still the church celebrated the sacrament only 12 times annually. The church had published a doctrinal statement in its publicity which contained no reference to Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. Although the district offered to give copies of the LSB to the fledgling congregation this gift was declined. No hymnal was used and it was apparent than no hymnal will be used. By all accounts, the ecumenical creeds, the Lord’s Prayer and any recognizable liturgical forms were lacking or used sparingly in the Sunday services.

 

Rhetorically the issues were clear. “Reaching young people,” “Cutting edge,” “Willing to change,” “Missional,” were the key concepts. Contrasted with these were “Liturgical,” “Orthodox,” Sacramental” “Traditional,” and “Lutheran.” I guess I can see why we lost. I think we overestimated the value the word “Lutheran.” I really supposed that the district in convention would not support an endeavor which intentionally did not use the term especially since a 1995 resolution of the synod required it. This was a fatal supposition.  

 

Added to the rhetorical mix was the ability of the other side to demonize us. We were labeled “legalist,” “stuck on human traditions,” and were clearly depicted as those against young people and missions. These are key words to remember; young people and missions. The synod will support uncritically any idea which invokes the two things we fear we are losing – young people and mission work.  

 

Second, we lost the political battle. The other side was very well organized. Early in the process, eight months before the convention, they began to send out Emails apparently to anyone and everyone. The list of endorsers – all pastors from MNS – was initially mostly retired guys. But as the convention loomed it grew to include almost 50 endorsers. These Emails took rather complex issues and turned them into simplistic, if inaccurate sound bites. It worked very well.

 

Further, the Emails attracted the Board early and often. They pitted the Board against the President of the district who was handily elected to his seventh term. His election was really never in doubt. What we learned, tragically for us, is that it is almost impossible to disagree with a popular incumbent an on an important issue – even when he is clearly and demonstrably wrong – and expect to win the majority. As goes the president so goes the district. That is most certainly true in MNS.

 

We found ourselves increasingly frustrated in our attempts to articulate a message which was primarily theological. We sent out mailings with no indication that they were read. We tried to hold meetings where both sides of the Board would speak. These were sponsored by the Board of the district and still were sparsely attended. By all accounts we prevailed when dialoging or debating but it didn’t matter. It all seemed too little and too late.

 

Early in the process I thought that if we could just create a level playing field where both sides had equal opportunity to speak and to argue then we would have a chance. Such a context was never achieved.

 

I still am uncertain precisely how to create a dialogical context especially for laymen. It really seems to be something necessary given our democratic polity. But I fear that sound bite theology prevails in our district.  

 

Third, the power of incumbency was unusually strong. The orchestration was brilliant. President Seitz’s report, given immediately before the vote on The Alley was based on the thought that this would be a “Watershed convention.” He used all the buzz words – “Change” “contextualizing the gospel,” “Missional,” with faint praise for Sacraments, doctrine, tradition etc. While none in the assembly would have disagreed with president Seitz the speech was not that balance of “Keep it strait” and “Get it out” that one would have liked from an impartial chair.

 

Immediately after his address, the motion to accept the Alley was made. Rev. Ben Griffin was given an opportunity to speak. He is young, dynamic, casual in appearance, unclerical if you will. He asserted with great force that he is Lutheran, Missional, and Sacramental. The assembly took his word for it and the debate was pretty much over before it started although we did manage to make some points on floor of the convention.

 

Once the Alley was accepted by a 65% vote everything else followed similarly.

 

I write this on June 13 so the advantage of a couple of weeks of reflection is lacking. But the thoughts may be worthy, taken as they are.

 

Klemet Preus

 

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Confessionals “Get Their Lunch Handed to Them” at the Minnesota South District, by Pr. Klemet Preus — 227 Comments

  1. Kim,

    I have not spoken slanderously. I believe you are referring to my comment about you not accepting the means of grace. You have stated that clearly above.

    I gave you numerous passages from the Bible demonstrating that God’s gracious act of forgiveness on the cross of Christ are given to the world via three means, the three things that bring us the forgiveness of sins, preaching/absolution, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I asserted the historic Biblical teaching of the means of grace and you stated that you did not accept this teaching.

    It is not slander for me to repeat what you have already said, i.e. that you do not accept that forgivness comes from baptism, preaching/absolution and the Lord’s Supper.

    Concerning the rote speaking of prayers and confessions let me say this. Do you realize that you are refelcting a very short term, romantic view of piety? Over the course of the 2,000 years of church history there have been little pockets of romanticizing about the need for personal expression and a rejection of creeds and formal prayers. It happened in the 18th century with pietism and it has resurfaced with the anti-authoritarian view of the 1960’s. The emphasis in the church today on revolution, a relationship with God, dynamic leadership, etc. is a cultural expression of this romantic view of things. (It is a well know fact in the history of the church that the church is usually about a generation behind the culture.) It is an old, worn out idea from the 60’s that we ought to do away with memorized liturgies and prayers.

    I am sure there are few folks in my congregation that think this way but the faithful people and leaders have been properly taught that emotion and the notion that if you “really believe” what you are saying that the prayer then becomes efficacious is just not true. My sincerity does not make a prayer work.

    For sure, I should not say my prayers or sing the hymns at church without believing them, but new, fresh words that I make up as opposed to old, tried and true words that have been passed down through generations of Christians, does not make a prayer or hymn more appealing to God.

    Actually, I as a pastor prefer to have people who are disciplined to use the tried and true words of prayers and hymns that I know are doctrinally pure and speak them genuiniely rather than have new, fresh words that may or may not be pleasing to God.

    I have had years of experience with charismatics and those who reject the tried and true and ironically, as I listen to them, they just say the same things over and over again anyway. I prefer tried and true classically good and reverent language over new, fresh, poor language anyday. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Holy Spirit only works with new, fresh expressions. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will help us to remember what Christ taught us and that is exacly what the historic liturgy, prayers, and hymns are, the words of Christ put into beautiful, poetic, language.

    Now, to change subjects, here is the problem with the Leith Anderson quote and this is what makes it an emergent comment. I am not so concerned about the acoustic guitar, the rock music and the rap music (although the latter two are not appropirate since they are so culturually associated with the immorality of the culture and are not very reverent in style) but am concerned about the end of the statement – “in a darkened, worshipful environment.” This is right out of the false spirituality of the emergent church movement (and BTW – matches the pictures of worship at The Alley). Darkening a room does not make it more or less oriented to Christian worship but it does create a certain spiritual (lower case “s” and not the upper case “S” as in the Holy Spirit) feeling. The emergent church movement is very much about creating a spiritual environment. They like the “feel” of the traditional church with its candles and dark cathedrals because it has a feel of spirituality.

    We cannot create a worshipful environment except to preach God’s word and administer his sacraments in a way that is serious and reverent because of what is going on there. The “spirituality” does not come from a darkened room but from the presence of God in his word and sacraments.

    I hope that helps. This of course does not exhaust the notion of emergent. There is also the notion of deeds not creeds and the accomodation of the culture, etc. I encourage you again to read Scott Diekmann’s series on this website about the emerging church.

    Concerning your questions about sacraments, it is not ab out what Lutherans say or Catholics. What is important is what the Bible says. There are three things/acts that are described in the bible as bringing us the forgiveness of sins – preaching/absolution, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper so that is why Lutheran doctrine and piety are built around them.

    I agree with you that there is a big differnece between emergent and non-Lutheran (yippee, we found something we agree upon 🙂 🙂 🙂 ). There are plenty of churches that are not Lutheran but are not emergent. Most Roman Catholic churches are not emergent. There are also many protestant churches that are resisting the pull of the emergent movement.

    I would not equate the concerns I have with the Alley with the emergent church movement. I think there are a lot of emergent type things going on at the Alley but my concerns with them are not equal to my concerns with the emergent movement.

    Finally, if Jesus appeared today he would have a lot of things to say to each of us. He would say to me that I am a poor miserable sinner who is worthy of eternal hellfire. But because of his mercy and because of the forgiveness that he has brought to me through preaching/absolution, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, he will welcome me into this kingdom. For these means of grace that have brought me into the faith and have kept me in the faith, I am grateful to my Lord.

    I would add one more thing. In your last post you said that you have been crying over things written here. I would suggest that if the civil discussions (it is not spewing as you have asserted) here are causing you to weep, you may want to consider backing out of these discussions. I hope you won’t. I have appreciated your desire to learn and look forward to future dialogue but do want to pursue this if it is going to leave so sad.

    TR

  2. Kim,

    As I said above, I have used the phrase “means of grace” in the historical doctrinal manner. I have carefully explained what it means and you have responded by saying that you do not accept this teaching. I have never said that you have rejected grace.

    TR

  3. I wonder if Jesus appeared today, would he reject me because I didn’t say the confessions that Luther wrote about? Or would he say welcome, by faithful servant. Gentile and Jew were both accepted by Christ. And I thank God that I have a Savior who takes a look at my website (if I had one) but more importantly a Savior and a Judge who can see into my inner most sanctuary, MY HEART.

    Dear Kim,

    I hesitate to write anything to you, since I’m sure I’ll be labeled as one of those nasty “confessionals” who don’t know how to “minister” to people, but I simply can’t let this one go, since what you say here really gets at the heart of the concerns many of us have over the false teachings of the Americanized Evangelicals and all those who follow them.

    You really do not want God to judge you by looking into your “innermost sanctuary – your heart.” Just take a gander through the Scriptures and you will find that the heart is a place where evil resides in us (cf. Jer. 17:9; Matt. 15:19, et. al.).

    We Lutherans thank God that we have a Savior who clothes us with His perfect holiness and righteousness, thus covering the evil which remains in our hearts. When God the Father looks at us believers, He does not peer into our hearts, but sees only His Son, who lived the perfect life in our place and died on the cross for all our sins.

    Now, don’t get mad, or think I’m ridiculing you or anything, but when you make statements like the one above, it raises red flags among us Lutherans, for these are the kinds of statements made by the church growthing, emergent/ing, Americanized Evangelical folks. Their focus is on our hearts, feelings, emotions, etc. Their preaching and teaching focuses on the Christian, rather than on the Christ. They focus on Christ “in you,” rather than on Christ “for you.”

    That is why, by the way, you don’t see them emphasizing the means of grace (Holy Word and Sacraments), but present Jesus as an example to follow – a life coach, if you will. For them, it’s all about motivating you to be the best “Jesus follower” you can be, instead of a faithful Christian who remains always and ever dependent upon the Christ who is delivered to you in the means of grace He Himself has established. For them, the Christian is exhorted to rely upon his/her own subjective experience, rather than on the objective reality of the Word.

    We desperately need the means of grace to live and breathe as Christians. We were clothed with Christ at Holy Baptism and the white robes (symbolizing His perfect holiness and righteousness) we wear need to constantly be drenched and cleaned in the Blood of the Lamb (which happens when we hear His Word and eat and drink His very Body and Blood). These giftts come to us from OUTSIDE of us, not INSIDE of us, which means, thankfully, that our salvation is not based upon the ebb and flow of our own feelings and emotions, but on the objective reality of what Christ as done, and continues to do, for us.

    Thus, as a Lutheran (and even as a nasty, stubborn, unloving “confessional”), I thank God that I have a Savior in Jesus Christ, in whom I am clothed, so that God doesn’t peer into the evil of my heart, but declares me righteous because of Christ.

    Do you see the difference?

    Sincerely,
    In Christ,
    Pastor Messer

  4. I wanted to note that there seem to be some misunderstandings in definitions.

    Kim, when people mention confessions I get the impression you think of prayers said repeatedly such as the Hail Mary or Our Father in Catholicism but instead with the daily prayers in the Small Catechism. If I am wrong regarding this I apologize. When other people here are mentioning confessions they mean the understanding of Scripture as confessed in the writings of the Book of Concord. They may be used to aid understanding Scripture but are not generally spoken repeatedly aloud. It helps to keep us from interpreting Scripture poorly and falling into heresies. In most instances of “confessions” you could substitute “Book of Concord”.

    Also the Means of Grace seems to be understood differently. When Pr Rossow said you rejected the Means of Grace I do not believe he meant that you have rejected the grace of God and lack salvation but rather that you did not subscribe to the understanding that God continues to sustain our faith by grace through the means He has chosen, His Word and Sacraments.

    I hope this helps to clarify some things. If I have misspoken about anything please correct me.

  5. Sister in Christ Kim,

    You read and believe the Bible, and it seems you understand justification, so you’ve got a leg up on most Catholics and many Lutherans. By grace you have faith, and I don’t doubt it.

    I would speculate with your Catholic upbringing that when you found the true Gospel–it’s all Jesus, not you–that all the Catholic rules around the Sacraments turned you off of them. The key is not to throw them out, but to trim the fat.

    We don’t go to Jesus. How does he come to us? He comes to us in the Word (Himself), Baptism (Attaches us to Him), and the Supper (Himself). He not only gives Bibles, but He also gives us the Church and Pastors. Just as the Ethiopian eunuch needed Philip, so we need sound preaching.

    I am baptized. I can point to it and all the blessing ascribed to it and know I am saved. When I eat the host and drink from the cup I know how he came here to my location to feed and strengthen me. He’s not way over there. He’s here, specifically for me, for us. I can look at these and the promises in the Bible and know God looks favorably toward me. Individually. It’s real, I saw it, tasted it, felt it, heard it. I can even smell the wine. With every sense I am reminded of God’s love.

    These means of grace are from God and everything else should be secondary. Anything else can be nice or it can get in the way. The font, alter, and pulpit should be prominent to remind us of this fact. Just as a divine service without a Scripture reading would throw up red flags, so should a church that downplays the Sacraments.

    Emergent churches have a postmodern view that deny absolute truth and shun creeds. Church growth churches put entertainment (bands front and center and sermon series on sex and finances) and butts in the seats above what Christ has actually given us. And what He has given us through the means of grace is nothing other than Himself. A Church can’t be lowest common denominator since Christ said to teach all things.

    It is difficult to have disagreements with those we love. Hate the sin, love the sinner. We should not attack each other, but we must be able to point out errors in each other without taking them as personal attacks. There has been some of each in this thread.

    Sometimes there is confusion in the Church. Is Jesus fully God? Of course he is. Seems like a simple question, but there were those who denied it long ago. So Christians condensed the true Scripture in a creed so we don’t mess it up again.

    Similarly with the Lutheran Confessions. We hashed that all out and got back to the truth. If we throw out the confessions we still have the truth in the Scripture, but over time the Church may be corrupted again as it once was.

    I’ve ramble far to long, and I’ve got to go.

    Justin

  6. Kim and Alley-an:

    I would be interest to know, do you as members of the Alley Lutheran Church believe the following, and is it in line with what Pastor Griffin preaches?

    * That God is the Creator of the universe with all of its grandeur and beauty, and that He sustains it with His almighty power. He also created our first parents, Adam and Eve, in His own image that they might live in fellowship with with Him and be His instruments to care for the creation.

    * That Adam and Eve, whom God created, doubted and rebelled against Him. They sinned and their natures became evil. Now every human being is born with a self-centered nature and a tendency for evil that violates God’s will and desire. Attempts to change human nature or to please God with our own good are doomed to failure. People need forgiveness and new life, and God provides it through His grace.

    * That God out of pure love gives people forgiveness of sins and thus reconciles them to Himself. He does this even though He is a just God who punishes sin because His own Son, Jesus Christ, took the punishment for all sin for all people upon Himself when He dies on the cross of Calvary. God raised Him from the dead on Easter and thus demonstrated to the world that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God has been accepted and man’s sin paid for.

    * That people receive forgiveness through faith. Faith is the hand which accepts God’s free gift. Faith is created by the Holy Spirit through the means of the Gospel message which tells of God’s love demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

    * That the Bible is the source of knowledge about God and His forgiveness and is also the way in which He speaks to us today. The Bible was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and so is true and without error.

    * That the church is the fellowship of all those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. The Lutheran Church gets its name from Martin Luther, who “reformed” the church with basic principles of faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone. The purpose of the church is to nurture faith through the Word and the Sacrament of the altar, and to share the love of God through Word and deed with the whole world in order to make other people disciples of Jesus Christ.

    * That God has given two Sacraments to build His church, Baptism to create faith and Holy Communion – also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist – to nurture faith. In Holy Communion Jesus Christ gives the communicant His body and blood “in, with, and under,” the bread and wine.

    * That the fellowship which God establishes with His believers on earth will continue after this life as believers live with Him in heaven for all eternity God provides it through His grace.

    Are any of these statements out of sync with the Lutheranism practice at the Alley Lutheran?

    Thanks to both of you in advance, I am looking forward to hearing your answers. – TimG

  7. Tim G,

    Kim has already stated that she does not beleive that God pours out his grace in baptism or the Lord’s Supper. You can see this in comment 123. That is why we have been speaking about the means of grace for the last 75 comments.

    TR

  8. Tim G.,

    From post #206 above I see that I was mistaken in thinking you were a member of the Alley. Please disregard my earlier questions unless, of course, you have visited that congregation and can answer some of the questions.

  9. Jim, in response to some of your questions, no we do not use a traditional hymnal. The altar in located in the front of the church. WE do not take communion every Sunday, and you will know when we are taking communion by receiving updates from the Alley on a weekly basis or by checking the website.

    Baptism is practiced at our church. Infant baptism is also practiced at our church.

    Why such things are omitted or included in the website is something you will have to address with the pastor and leader of our church.

    Kim

  10. Tim,

    In response to post #206, although I am sitting here with two kids on my lap trying to read the posts and pour over the bible, those statements look true and accurate and I share those beliefs, except for the communion part where Christ is in, with and under, which brings me back to the February postings and discussions I had with the pastors on this website.

    I will say that the pastor at the Alley does share the belief that Christ is in, with and under the bread and wine, which is why I have only communed with my church once since starting discussions on this blog.

    This blog has also sparked some real discussion between my husband and I. And he has pointed out to me that because we have both been studying the Word in what we call inter-denominational studies, that our understanding of the Lutheran church has probably gotten confused.

    JUSTIN;
    I probably agree with your post that since I was raised in the Catholic church (didn’t leave until I was almost 30 years old) I probably do need to trim some fat regarding the sacraments.

    And I guess I don’t have an understanding of what the confessions are. I thought the confessions were the whole rote prayers being said day after day, like the rosary (10 Hail Mary’s, 1 Our Father.)

    I will check out the Augsburg papers (I promise I will make notes on it and get the names right.)

    I do believe Christ works through Baptism and through the Lord’s Supper.

    as far as the HEART

    believe me, I deserve nothing but hell for the life I’ve lived. And only by Christ giving his life on the cross and rising again am I forgiven.

    But Romans 10:8-10
    “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

    Thanks you so much for clearing things up,

    In Christ,
    Kim

  11. Kim,

    Thank you for hanging in there and working so hard. This has seemed to be stressful for many posting here but I think especially for you. Thank you for your example of strength and fortitude and the tenacity with which you strive to understand more, even when it can get difficult.

  12. Tim Goebel (#154),

    I have never read a more judgmental statement. Did you mean to condemn Pr Rossow and “confessionals” to outer darkness? Pr Preus nor anyone here indicated such a thing about TheAlley. I may have missed your retraction in the numerous posts.

    Why doesn’t TheAlley use the Christian liturgy? As a confessional Lutheran congregation they should rejoice to do so. (See Augsburg Confession and Apology, Art. 24)

  13. Matt P,

    I guess when they go out to the highways and the bi-ways and the “alleys” to reach the lost they don’t include pharisaical and curmudgeonly types like me 🙂 .

    TR

  14. Kim @ 209,

    Thank you for your response and answering some of my questions. So, it is certainly not a misrepresentation of facts when it is pointed out that the Alley doesn’t use the LSB, a charge you did NOT level just to be clear.

    What about closed communion at the Alley, Kim? Do people have to be instructed about the Lord’s Supper before they can take it? Is there any announcement prior to the Supper that because of significant differences amongst Christians regarding the Lord’s Supper that only confirmed members of the LC-MS can partake of the Lord’s Supper? Or something similar?

    Thank you for your response ahead of time. I think it is very helpful to get this information out in the open so there are no lingering questions about some of the practices at the Alley.

  15. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
    John 6:54

  16. I looked at Mission Vision’s website. They claim that theAlley not using Lutheran hymnals is in the great tradition of the founders of the LC-MS. What an amazing abuse of history! Those faithful Lutherans fled Germany because the government was forcing them to become united with the other non-Lutheran Protestants in Saxony. They fled to UPHOLD their Lutheran Confessions not muddle them. So, in order for the analogy to hold up theAlley would be saying that they are upholding the Lutheran Confessions in the face of persecution. (*I admit I only have evidence from the website.) It seems to me that theAlley through copying Pentecostal/emergent worship liturgies and promoting non-Lutheran teachings (specifically in the books section where four books are linked) are not seeking to uphold their stated confession of Lutheranism, but mixing it with many non-Lutheran elements. (*Again assuming the information on their website can be trusted.)

    Why would a confessional Lutheran church not rejoice in confessing the Lutheran faith with the historic Lutheran liturgy? Why would they NOT want to use the LSB? or TLH? or LW? or perhaps some older form of the liturgy?

  17. I thought some key texts regarding the Lord’s Supper may be helpful at this point.

    Acts 20:7
    On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.

    1 Corinthians 5:11
    But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

    1 Corinthians 10:17
    Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

    1 Corinthians 11:26
    For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    1 Corinthians 11:27-30
    27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

    Most of these verses are often used as reasons for closed communion. Not only is it a testimony to the unity of faith of those communing it is to prevent others from drinking judgment on themselves. This does not mean that we must feel worthy in order to partake of communion. Quite the contrary since this means of grace is to help strengthen our faith.

    Part of being ready to partake of communion is to have a proper understanding of what you are doing. It is not a memorial, the bread and wine are not gone and Jesus’ body and blood are really present. If a pastor does not know that someone is fully informed about communion and has repented, this is why confession and absolution are done before communion, he should be a responsible steward and not commune that person for to do so would risk judgment on that person and compromise the testimony of unity of those that do commune. If someone falls under the description in 1 Cor 5:11 then if we are not to eat with such people how much more are we to not eat the Lord’s Supper with them. If they repent of their sins and are instructed about communion that would be a joyous thing and they would be welcome, but not while they are unrepentant. Communing an unrepentant person not only brings judgment on them but communicates to others that such a person and their actions are fully acceptable and compatible with the faith confessed at that church. This can be very confusing to those newer to the faith and can lead them to believe that the actions that the person was unrepentant of are good and acceptable, thus leading them away from the faith.

    Regular communion is helpful because it helps to strengthen our faith when God comes to us in Jesus’ body and blood. The early church communed once a week, the reformers communed once a week, Apology Article XXIV paragraph 1 , and I am not sure why someone would want to have their faith strengthened by God less often.

    I hope this helps to clarify at least my understanding of the Lutheran position regarding communion. If I have mischaracterized anything I hope someone will correct me and point me in a helpful direction.

  18. TR,

    If you don’t mind, I need to just set the record straight on my belief of the grace issue. As I go back and reread some posts, I think we may have a misunderstanding.

    I believe God pours out his grace in Baptism and the Lord’s supper. I do not deny that.

    Where I don’t agree with you is the need to be baptized and receive the Lord’s supper to receive the grace.

    God commands us to be baptized and to remember Him during the supper. As a believer, I will do as I’m commanded.

    I don’t agree that I must receive the Lord’s supper to continue to receive his grace.

    How long does the grace last that I receive during the Sunday distribution of the Lord’s Supper? Can I go 2 weeks without communing again before my gift of grace runs out? Can I go 1 month?

    As a believer in Christ who recognizes that she should be eternally separated from Him because of her sin, I have realized that NOTHING I do can set me right with Him. NOTHING. Not Baptism not confirmation, not the Lord’s supper not any of the sacraments that the churches hold so highly and tightly.

    Is Christ my Savior? Yes
    And because I have faith in Christ, and because I received his gift of grace, I will do as he commands.

    “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:20

    You cannot proclaim to know Jesus as your savior, and then sit on your bump and do nothing.

    But nothing I do is enough to reconcile my sinful self with Christ. So to continually look to something I can do to receive his gift of grace is putting the focus back on us.

    “All of our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6

    Kim

  19. Jim, post #215

    “Thank you for your response and answering some of my questions. So, it is certainly not a misrepresentation of facts when it is pointed out that the Alley doesn’t use the LSB, a charge you did NOT level just to be clear.”

    I have absolutely no idea what the LSB is and what the charge I did NOT level just to be clear.

    You need to clarify that statement.

  20. Alex (post #218)

    I am a member of the LCMS church. I have an adult son who was confirmed in the LCMS church (according to some of the numbers on the LCMS website, that means something) My husband was baptized in the LCMS church. My children were baptized in the LCMS church.

    I can just transfer my membership to any LCMS church and – poof – I am instantly a member in their church, and my beliefs come with me.
    A pastor can instruct his flock. He can stand up there and preach until Christ returns on what communion is in the LCMS church. But if I attended Pr. Preus’ church and received communion, or Pr. Rossow’s church and received communion, he would have no way of knowing what my beliefs are. The only way they know what I believe is if I am vocal (check) and if I blog on some website (check).

    But if I CHOOSE TO RECEIVE COMMUNION in an unworthy manner, then I am in direct defiance of the Scripture and am sinning against the body and the blood of Christ.

    I think it’s really too bad that you are looking at my posts and passing judgment on the Alley church. I’m pretty sure every congregation, even the most staunch, legalistic, confessional Lutheran church has members that if their beliefs or private life came out, the pastor’s preaching may be called into question.

    1 Corinthians 5:11
    But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

    Paul’s warning was to the church to disassocate themselves with people who claim to be believers but who are sinning aginst the church and then rationalizes their actions!!!!

    Sexually immoral – how many in the LCMS congregation are divorced and remarried (that might open up another thread)

    a drunkard – one who drinks to excess (how many times do you have to get drunk to be a drunkard?)

    idolator – worshipping of an undeserving object (could be anything, car, money, home, etc)

    slanderer – to deliberately lie to cause harm!!!

    We are all sinful. And to think you are any more worthy of communing with the Lord than the next person is boastful, prideful, arrogant (and there are passages to go along with that.)

    Paul was warning the church to rid themselves of the people who were claiming to be followers of Christ but then committing these sins AND THEN TRYING TO JUSTIFY THEM!!!

    FOR THE RECORD, I AM NOT A FORMAL MEMBER OF THE ALLEY CHURCH. SO ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS REGARDING THE CHURCH BUSINESS WILL NEED TO BE DIRECTED TO THE PASTOR OF THE CHURCH.

    He is the one who has been ordained and called to lead a flock. And I cannot answer any more questions about the church.

    With much Love for the brothers and sisters in Christ,
    Kim

  21. Kim,

    Just to be clear my comments are about communion in general and may or may not apply to what is done at The Alley.

    I did not say we do not commune sinners for we are all sinners, we do not commune unrepentant sinners, there is a world of difference. I or anyone else am not more worthy because of anything I do but to take communion without recognizing Jesus’ body invites judgment, see 1 Cor 11:29.

    Once again I did not level any accusations at The Alley, my comment on communion was to aid in its understanding in general and I commune with other sinners as often as I can.

  22. Kim,

    I think we may be in more agreement than you thought. In 218 I repeatedly used the word unrepentant in reference to some who should not commune, this means people who sin and try to justify them as you said.

    Also to clarify the LSB item, LSB is Lutheran Service Book, the most recent hymnal published by the LCMS.

  23. Kim @ 220,

    Another way of putting my comment is that you have confirmed that the Alley doesn’t use the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) as a hymnal (or any traditional hymnal for that matter) and I wanted other readers to know that you had not stated otherwise. I can’t recall who stated in this thread that what Pr. Preus wrote was not true, but I do know you didn’t make that claim. I hope that clears it up.

    What about my questions on closed communion @ 215? I think you are in a position to answer them, since you might be taking communion at the Alley. Right?

  24. Kim,

    Sorry for all the posts, I should have tried to do all this at once. Regarding taking communion at another LCMS church, pastors here could obviously speak to this better than me, but it is not uncommon for churches to request that any visitors wishing to commune, even from other LCMS churches, speak with an elder or pastor before the service so that they can check. If one were to transfer membership I imagine the pastor would still take the time to talk with you. I admit I am not thoroughly familiar with the practices of LCMS churches with regard to transferring church membership but I imagine they may still need to confirm the transfer, which could involve talking with the pastor at which time one’s understanding of communion could be checked and increased if needed. That is speculation on my part as I am not a pastor or involved in church transfers and I hope some of the pastors here can inform me more about the process of transferring membership.

  25. Kim @221,

    I completely passed over your response to Alex and didn’t even see the capitalized words you wrote indicating you would answer no further questions about the Alley. I will respect your wishes and not ask any further questions about the Alley.

    I have made more comments in this thread than I have made on multiple blog sites combined, as of late! I have been too chatty I suppose. 😉

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions and thank you for your questions. Please keep asking them. If you aren’t already in a private dialogue with a solid confessional Lutheran pastor in your area, then please look up a couple of the pastors and their churches suggested deep in this thread above. There is no substitute to chatting with a person one on one over your favorite beverage.

    Jim Pierce

  26. Kim #221,

    Because of the growing number of poorly taught members of the LCMS, we have just started requiring transfers in to attend the last few weeks of our catechumenate classes where they get a review of basic sacramental doctrine. We have held out as long as we could on this. We did not want to do this because we always felt that membership in the LCMS meant that a person was well trained but anymore it does not. It saddens me that we had to add this requirement but we are finding very good fruit from it and know that we are striving to be true to Christ’s command that his followers truly walk in his word.

    TR

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