Great Stuff — Theses on Infant/Toddler Communion

Found over on MercyJourney:



  1. The question of admission to the Lord’s Supper is addressed from the instituting words of the Lord which also disclose the purpose and beneficial use of the Sacrament.
  2. The apostolic teaching that a man is to examine himself (I Corinthians 11:28) cannot reasonably be interpreted as to exclude the noetic dimension of which infants/toddlers are not capable.
  3. Baptism is an absolute prerequisite for admission to the Lord’s Supper but it does not follow that all the baptized are categorically to be admitted to the Altar.
  4. Arguments for infant/toddler communion bypass the truth that in Baptism, we receive “victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with his gifts” (LC IV:41-22, Kolb/Wengert, 461) as though the promise of Baptism remained unfulfilled without the Lord’s Supper. By waiting until children have been instructed, examined, and absolved before admitting them to the Lord’s Supper, they are not being deprived of Christ.
  5. Faith does not make the Sacrament but it is only by faith that the benefits of the Sacrament are received. Faith is precisely trust in these words “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” (SC). In the Small Catechism, eating and drinking are joined together with trust in the spoken word “given and shed for you.” The Lord’s Supper is given precisely to strengthen the faith of those who through the accusation of the Law recognize their sin and whose terrorized consciences acknowledge their need and desire the forgiveness of their sins. “For people are admitted only if they have first had an opportunity to be examined (explorati) and heard. The people are also reminded about the dignity and use of the sacrament – how it offers great consolation to anxious consciences –so that they may learn to believe in God and expect all that is good from God” (AC XXIV:6-7-Latin, K/W, 68) 6.
  6. The Lutheran Confessions assert that none are to be admitted to the Sacrament who have not been instructed, examined, and absolved. See LC V:1-3, K/W, 467; AC XXV:1-3, K/W, 73).
  7. Lutheran theology does not begin with a generic category of sacraments but works instead from the Lord’s mandates for Baptism and the Supper. Each has its own distinctive features. They are not interchangeable. It does not follow that arguments for the baptism of infants are to be applied for the communion of infants/toddlers.
  8. The Lord’s Supper is the new testament of the Lord not the new Passover. Hence it does it does not follow that because infants/toddlers were included in the Passover meal that they are to be communed.
  9. Evidence for the communion of infants/toddlers in the early and medieval church is there in some places but it is not clear that the practice was universal or when it was first practiced. Lutheran liturgical practice is not based on historical precedent but on the Lord’s mandates. Not all practices of the early church are to be emulated. Infant/toddler communion is one of those practices.
  10. Arguments for infant/toddler reveal a problematic hermeneutic of the Lutheran Confessions which undercut a quia understanding of confessional subscription.
  11. Luther may not be cited in support of infant/toddler communion. He knew of the practice among the Hussites and while he would not condemn them as heretics (those who deny the fundamental Christological and Trinitarian dogma), he did not accept their practice as correct.
  12. Infant/toddler communion is a novel practice in the Lutheran Church. In American Lutheranism, it gained traction only in the 1970’s fueled by particular aspects of the liturgical and ecumenical movements.
  13. The fact that children who have been instructed, examined, and absolved may be admitted to the Sacrament at a younger age than has been the general custom in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is not to be confused with the admitting of infants/toddlers to the Altar. Churchly and pastoral concerns for unity in practice are important considerations. But the communion of infants/toddlers is not an adiaphoron to be left up to individual parents, pastors, or congregations.


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