“Pastor, my friends are visiting over the weekend. May they take Communion?” Implicit in the request is the assumption that love does not withhold Communion from guests. This is what many faithful pastors have been told by advocates of hospitality.
Biblical revelation, the confessional witness, and historic evidence attest to the fact that Holy Communion is offered to those who are of the same confession of faith. This unity of faith is not based on a hasty exchange two minutes before the beginning of the Divine Service whereby people talk about what is in their hearts.
We never, ever, look at or judge a person’s heart. And so in our discussion we don’t ask the individual what they believe in order to commune. We ask people what pulpits and altars they have joined themselves to for regular normal spiritual nourishment. It is loving and only reasonable to assume that people attend ELCA churches because they agree with and believe what is taught at ELCA pulpits and altars; that Methodist, Baptists, Catholics, etc., also believe what their pulpits and altars proclaim—after all, why else does one become a member of a particular church? I am aware that what has just been written is an assumption but it is a charitable assumption. To commune implies that all parties believe, teach, and confess the same doctrine.
This unity in belief as a prerequisite for Communion admittance is not a Missouri Synod penchant. Doctrinal unity as a prerequisite for Communion attendance is taught from the Scriptures and in our Lutheran Confessions. Early Church Fathers taught this as well. Here is Justin Martyr of the second century (c. 100 – 165 AD) and this is what he wrote:
But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, … then [is] brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, ….
And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.
Observe these two questions in our Synodical Catechism which address the need and reality of doctrinal unity at the altar:
296.What is the benefit offered in this sacrament? As Christians partake of this sacrament together, they make a solemn public confession of Christ and of unity in the truth of His Gospel.
305. Who must not be given the Sacrament? The Sacrament must not be given to the following: Those of a different confession of faith, since the Lord’s Supper is a testimony of the unity of faith.
To offer the Holy Things of God to people based solely on “love” irrespective of doctrinal definition, that is, doctrinal unity or agreement, is to irresponsibly administer the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1). “Love” without concrete doctrinal agreement leads to licentiousness in doctrine and, as shall be shown, morality. And this promiscuousness in doctrine and morality is led down the garden path by a “love” which serves radical individualism (which is not love at all) for it is absent of parameters and true love has parameters from God’s Word.
“Pastor, love would have you give Holy Communion to our guests.” Tis true, tis true we love people but we love them according to their station or office in life. My love for my wife expresses itself quite differently from my love for my children, which expresses itself quite differently from my love to those who hold the office of parent, friend, parishioner, neighbor, and the like. Pastors love parishioners in a different manner then the way they love non-members. Each act of “love” is guided by the office or station in life of that individual who is the object of our love. Sin comes about when we violate the boundaries of our office or station in life.
We really are loving a person when we kindly, gently, and with patient explanation emphasize that in no manner are we judging a person’s salvation but from Holy Scripture a prerequisite to Holy Communion is doctrinal unity. And, with no arrogance or pride, we kindly and sadly inform the individual before us that we are not able to have communion with those whose confession of faith embraces error.
But love does not leave the situation there. In a loving spirit and gentle manner we, where possible, invite such individuals to Adult Information Classes for we desire to reach all and it is our heartfelt desire to have people commune with us. All this is motivated by love for what our Savior Jesus has said and love for our neighbor that they not hold to things contrary to what Jesus has given. After all, the God of love—Jesus—exhorts us to judge the doctrine (Mt 7:15-20) which is proclaimed from the pulpits and altars to which these individuals have joined themselves. Remember also, that contrary to the world, love does not define God instead, God defines love and he does so in his Word.
This desire to have communion fellowship based on love detached from doctrinal teaching or parameters is the very same logic and identical thinking fueling the same-sex movement within our nation. Promoters of same-sex unions also advocate a love detached from concrete parameters or doctrine which is revealed in creation and Scripture. They lead people to violate the boundaries of their station in life which was established at conception in their mother’s womb. Liberalism has the same dress irrespective of the discipline it seeks to corrupt for it is always a spirit of radical individualism and as such, rebellion before God.
Love is not sufficient to commune an individual and nor is love sufficient to marry an individual. You need concrete doctrine or definition(s) to truly love and apart from concrete definition such love is a sham and pretense. The concrete definition for marital union is that it is to be between a man and a woman.
And “since all you need is love” without any definition we are now seeing polygamy laws being jettisoned in Utah, throuple nuptials in California, a woman in England who recently married herself!, and, stay tuned, in time we will see marriage between a human and their pet.
How prophetic and destructive were the “Fab Five” in 1967 when John Lennon penned his song, Love. The sentiment and attitude of these lyrics have swept throughout the Western world and is gaining converts all the time. Take a quick read:
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy …
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
The Beatles crooned that with a spirit of “love”, “there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done” and this is being implemented in the disparate disciplines of Communion with open Communion, and same-sex unions with open definitions of marriage. Whether one is dealing with an understanding of Communion based on hospitality or same-sex unions, the logic is sadly identical. So, beware of pleas to “love” irrespective of stations as laid forth in creation and Scripture. It is a gateway which leads where the holy ought not go.
– Pastor Weber
 “Justin Martyr,” Chapter 65. Administration of the Sacraments, New Advent: Church Fathers, <<http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm>> [Accessed October 29, 2014]
 “Justin Martyr,” Chapter 66. Of the Eucharist, New Advent: Church Fathers, <<http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm>> [Accessed October 29, 2014]
 Holger Sonntag first gave me this example speaking at the: 27th Annual Lutheran Free Conference, Saturday, October 25, 2014, Redeemer Lutheran Church, St. Cloud, MN.
 A marriage between three partners.