To Address the Practice of Infant Communion

To Address the Practice of Infant Communion

WHEREAS, St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30); and

WHEREAS, some children at an early age may be able to so examine themselves, but infants are unable to discern the body and blood of the Lord, as 1 Corinthians 11 requires; and

WHEREAS, the Great Commission requires the Church to make disciples both by first baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, and then teaching them to observe all that our Lord has commanded us (Matthew 28:18-20), including the Lord’s Supper. This teaching cannot happen yet in the case of infants and very young children, and this catechetical component must precede admission to the Lord’s Supper; and

WHEREAS, our Lutheran Confessions further provide direction regarding admission to the Lord’s Supper: “As we treated Holy Baptism under three headings, so we must deal with the second sacrament in the same way, stating what it is, what its benefits are, and who is to receive it. All these are established from the words by which Christ instituted it. So everyone who wishes to be a Christian and go to the sacrament should be familiar with them. For we do not intend to admit to the sacrament and administer it to those who do not know what they seek or why they come.” (LC V 1-2.) Infants and very young children are unable to comprehend what God promises in the Lord’s Supper or its benefits. Nor do they “know what they seek or why they come”; and

WHEREAS, no one should be forced to commune, and infants and very young children are incapable of expressing their desire to participate in the Sacrament of the Altar. As stated in the Large Catechism, “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.” (LC V 42): and

WHEREAS, infants and the very young have not been, and are not capable of being, examined by their pastor or the Church. The Augsburg Confession states, “All those able to do so partake of the Sacrament together. This also increases the reverence and devotion of public worship. No one is admitted to the Sacrament without first being examined. 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. This worship pleases God [Colossians 1:9–10]. Such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion toward God.” (AC XXIV 5-8); and

WHEREAS, “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. To remember Christ is to remember His benefits. It means to realize that they are truly offered to us. It is not enough only to remember history. (The Jewish people and the ungodly also remember this.) 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.’” (AC XXIV 30-33); and

WHEREAS, the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations has twice in recent years researched and written two opinions on the practice of admitting infants and young children to the Lord’s Supper, first in Response to “Concerns of the South Wisconsin District Circuits 18 and 19 Regarding Infant Communion” (1997) and more recently in Knowing What We Seek and Why We Come (2014); and

WHEREAS, the congregations and pastors who are members of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod must require of communicants the sort of careful self-examination required by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. To this end, and for the sake of those who wish to partake of the Lord’s Supper, congregations and pastors must admit to this Sacrament only those persons who are of sufficient age and discretion to examine themselves; and

WHEREAS, the practice of communing infants (Paedo-Communion) is not in harmony with Holy Scripture and the Lutheran confessions; and

WHEREAS, those who wish to extend the blessings of Holy Communion to infants or very young children are not adequately considering the special Biblical purposes and conditions of this Sacrament; therefore be it

Resolved, that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Convention affirms that the two CTCR opinions, Response to “Concerns of the South Wisconsin District Circuits 18 and 19 Regarding Infant Communion” (1997) and Knowing What We Seek and Why We Come (2014), are faithful to Scripture and consistent with confessional Lutheran practice since the Reformation; and be it further

Resolved, that while the 2016 LCMS Convention recognizes that there is no precise numerical age for first communion required by Scripture or the Confessions, worthy reception does involve conscious self-examination and catechetical instruction so that communicants know what they seek to receive at Christ’s altar and why they come to the Sacrament coupled with pastoral examination to encourage worthy use of the Sacrament; and be it further

Resolved, that the communing of infants and very young children prior to their instruction and examination in the faith is contrary to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions and should not be the practice of LCMS congregations and pastors; and be it finally

Resolved, that for the sake of the unity of Holy Scripture, for the unity of practice and doctrine for all LCMS congregations, and for the steadfast Christian faith of all our congregations’ members, this Convention strongly urges all LCMS pastors and congregations to avoid the practice of communing infants and very young children.

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