At one time in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Scripture’s teaching on Holy Communion was taken seriously, and Closed Communion was the order of the day. In the 16th century, Lutherans took their theology a bit more seriously than we do now as well, as the following quote clearly illustrates. At the time, Tileman Hesshus was a professor of theology at the University of Heidelberg, president of the church council, and general superintendent of the churches of the Palatinate. Wilhelm Klebitz was the deacon of Hesshus’s congregation:
Hesshus deposed Klebitz after tussling with him over the chalice in front of the altar of the Holy Spirit church in Heidelberg because he believed it impious for someone who denied Christ’s real presence in the Sacrament to distribute it.1
You won’t see anyone fighting over Christ’s body and blood today. Now, we’re all talk and no tussle. I hope that will change, because it’s worth fighting about.2
- Charles P. Arand, Robert Kolb, and James A. Nestingen, The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of The Book of Concord, (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2012) 237.
- If you’d like to hear from someone who’s ready to rumble, read Rev. Dr. Kristian Kincaid’s article titled “This is the Missouri Synod?” in the April Lutheran Clarion, which reads in part “I have heard of the desire to have a harmonious Synodical convention in Milwaukee. Why would they do that? I pray for contention. May unabashed honesty mark our Synod’s convention and not disingenuous harmony.“
Image credit: Adam Schneider on flickr, cropped, via Creative Commons license 2.0