Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Cross Post from Pr Wil Weedon's Blog and the ALPB Forum

From ALPB.  This seemed to have generated some response and a number of folks said it was helpful.  Figured I'd post it here as well:  [I am posting this because it raises substantive issues with respect to fellowship and the church.  - Pastor Peters]

I'm not sure it will clarify or not, but for what it's worth.  We in the LCMS do not accept denominationalism.  We do not believe in the branch theory of the Church.  We recognize that our practice of closed communion is exactly what would be appropriate for the entire visible Church on earth.  We believe that what we believe is precisely what every jurisdiction/communion SHOULD believe, because it is - we hold - nothing other than what the Scriptures teach.

In other words, we don't regard those who hold to a different Confession as just "another denomination."  We regard the other confessions to the extent they differ from ours to be falsifications of the truth.  As offensive and prideful as they may sound, it's not intended to be anything less than what (until very recent times) EVERYONE believed about their own confession.

So we act in our communion discipline *as if* we were the legitimate heir and successor to the Catholic Church of the West.  That's a self-understanding derived from our Lutheran Symbols.  We do not claim to be the only jurisdiction in this Catholic Church of the West, purified by the Gospel.  We recognize other particular churches around the globe in whom the same faith resides - from the churches of the Archbishop of Latvia, to the churches of the Archbishop of Kenya and the Bishop of Southern Africa and the President of the LCC, and a bunch of others.  Consequently the notion that our altars are closed to non Missourians is actually not at all accurate.

In the corrupted state of the Church in which doctrine that we cannot but regard as false and dangerous is enshrined in the confessions of other jurisdictions, this leads invariably to acknowledging in them that while members of the Church Catholic may well reside in their midst (in fact, most certainly DO), nonetheless those Churches by the acceptance of various falsehoods alongside the truth of God, cannot be acknowledged as true sister churches on a par with our Synod.  Again, I know it sounds horrific to the ears of those who think denominationally, but if you think confessionally it makes perfect sense:  confessions can be entirely pure, somewhat corrupted, or totally destructive of the Christian faith.  We tend to put almost all the other confessions (Anglican, Reformed, Roman, Orthodox) as "somewhat corrupted."  Totally destructive would be something like a Mormon or JW confession.

So back to the assumption that an LCMS person holds the pure confession - that IS the assumption we would make, unless the person in question gives evidence that his participation at our altars is in fact a lie - that he disagrees with our Lutheran confession of the Christian faith as expressed in our Lutheran Symbols.

I've probably offended all my ELCA friends and many of my Missouri ones by the above, but I think it's clear that until we can get the differing ecclesiologies understood, there's no hope of anyone understanding our practice of responsible communion (my preferred term), which takes seriously into account the nature of one's public profession at a given altar (where, as Pr. Speckhard says, he or she is willing to accept correction).

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters,

As I read your post, it seems mostly to refer to our confession as it affects the Eucharist; however, I have a question about your statement saying LCMS “regard[s] the other confessions to the extent they differ from ours to be falsifications of the truth.” How/does this affect the salvation those who subscribe to other denominations?

tubbs said...

I hate it when Unitarians and 'Warm-Fuzzy" denominations try to corner me with that question. So it is wrong to believe in absolute truths?

Unknown said...

The posting reads, “We believe that what we believe is precisely what every jurisdiction/communion SHOULD believe, because it is - we hold - nothing other than what the Scriptures teach.”

I will be grateful to anyone for giving me the reference to Scripture where this is taught. Obviously I am aware of 1 Cor. 11:29, but there are two problems with it:
1. The interpretation of “the Body” being the sacramental Body as opposed to the mystical Body (the Church) is highly suspect. I think I have read all of the articles in favor of the sacramental argument, and I find them less than convincing. Our Confessions do not use it as a proof-text. Only Gerhard, among the Reformers does.
2. But even if you accept the “sacramental” interpretation, neither this text, nor any others, place the responsibility for proper reception of the Lord’s Supper on anyone but the recipient, even as Judas participated in the first Communion distributed by our Lord Himself. Where is it written that Pastors should withhold communion from anyone who comes to the altar whom they do not know?

Please do not write about any of the dire consequences that abandoning “close(d)” (see, I know) Communion will bring. Sola Scriptura please.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Janis Williams said...

Someone once said, "Oh, you Lutherans ALWAYS think you're right!"

Reply: "You want us to think we're wrong?"

William Tighe said...

One might do worse on ponmdering this question than to read or reread Werner Elert's classical *Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries* which was published in its orginal German in 1954 (the year of Elert's death) and in English by Concordia Press in 1966 (which also reprinted it in paperback in 2003).

The whole 223-page book, clearly and lucidly written, and admirably organized, and thorough, is worth reading: it is a thumping defense of "closed communion" on both theological and historical grounds. Perhaps of particular relevance here, though, is his conmtention in the books's first chapter, and developed and defended in greater detail in three "excursuses" or appendices, that the phrase "the communion of saints" in the Apostles Creed did nor mean "the fellowship of holy persons" (and thus in apposition to the preceding "the Holy Catholic Church") but was rather a separate item, and meant "the communion of holy things," that is, the Euchatrist, and, specifcally, "closed communion." I find Elert's argument on this matter absolutely convincing.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Krauth is also helpful on this: “When the Lutheran Church acts in the spirit of the current denominationalism it abandons its own spirit. It is a house divided against itself. Some even then will stand firm, and with the choosing of new gods on the part of others there will be war in the gates. No seeming success could compensate our church for the forsaking of principles which gave her her being, for the loss of internal peace, for the destruction of her proper dignity, for the lack of self-respect which would follow it. The Lutheran Church can never have real moral dignity, real self-respect, a real claim on the reverence and loyalty of its children while it allows the fear of the denominations around it, or the desire of their approval, in any respect to shape its principles or control its actions. It is a fatal thing to ask not, What is right? What is consistent? but, What will be thought of us? How will the sectarian and secular papers talk about us? How will our neighbors of the different communions regard this or that course? Better to die than to prolong a miserable life by such compromise of all that gives life its value. ... We have among us a sort of charity which not only does not begin at home but never gets there. It is soaring and gasping for the unity of Lutherans with all the rest of the world but not with each other. It can forgive all the sects for assailing the truth but has no mercy for the Lutherans who defend it.
When there is official fellowship between those who hold the higher and positive position and those who hold a lower and negative one, the communion is always to the benefit of the lower at the expense of the higher. For however the holders of the higher view may protest as to their personal convictions, the act of communion is regarded as a concession that the convictions, if held at all, are not held as articles of faith but only as opinions. If a Socinian and a Trinitarian commune, each avowing his own opinion as neither changed nor involved, which cause is hurt and which benefited? It looks equal, but Socinianism, whose interest is laxity, is advantaged; Trinitarianism is wounded. It gives fresh life to error; it stabs truth to the heart. Contact imparts disease but does not impart health. We catch smallpox by contact with one who has it, but we do not catch recovery from one who is free from it. The process which tends to the pollution of the unpolluted will not tend to the purification of the evil.” (pp. 135-36) Lutheran Confessional Theology in America, 1840-1880, edited by Theodore G. Tappert (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972):

Anonymous said...

George Marquart is correct. There
is no Biblical warrant for the
misguided posting by Weedon. To
assume that the Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod is in charge of the
correct and pure distribution of
the Lord's Supper and no one else
is competent to do this.. This is
gross denominational pride at its
worse.

Lurker said...

"To assume that the Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod is in charge of the
correct and pure distribution of
the Lord's Supper and no one else
is competent to do this.. This is
gross denominational pride at its
worse."

I don't think that this is what Weedon is saying at all. He is speaking to the idea that we all have our own versions of the truth and all denominations are merely branches of this truth. He is saying that Missouri (and surely not most others) believes that the faith it confesses is without flaw, true, and correct with respect to Scripture and the catholic tradition. It follows from this that those who commune are either of this faith or of an errant confession. You may not like this language but this is what Rome says, what Orthodoxy confesses, and what Lutherans used to think of their own confession.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

I'll throw another quote from Krauth at this, "If we do not believe that we are scriptural over against Rome, we have no right to be separate from Rome. If the churches divided from us do not believe that they are scriptural, they have no right to be divided from us, and if we have no assured conviction that we have the truth, we have no right to exist." Perhaps that helps.

Unknown said...

Many years ago my now sainted brother gave me Elert’s book, because it was supposed to settle the longstanding argument between us concerning close(d) communion. To this day I recall reading the first chapter practically with tears in my eyes, because Elert described the Sacrament exactly as I understood it, and I thought, “surely this will settle our argument.” But then, in the rest of the book, he contradicts everything he wrote in the first chapter.
Dr. Tighe is correct when he writes, “it is a thumping defense of ‘closed communion’ on both theological and historical grounds”. But, with the exception of the first chapter, which is full of references to Scripture, and which does not touch on closed communion, the rest of the book may indeed be “theological and historical”, but not Scriptural.

In any event, it is obvious that the question distresses many, but so far nobody has responded with a single passage from Scripture. I did not make my posting frivolously, nor my request for Sola Scriptura. It is not enough to “believe that we are scriptural.” We have to be able to demonstrate it. Surely, on such a critically important topic, our Lord would see to it that every layperson would not have to read a 223 page book so as not to eat and drink judgment to one’s self.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

William Tighe said...

Since I am not a Lutheran, perhaps I should not comment, but Mr. Marquart's comments seem to me to be perfect examples of "nuda scriptura" or of what some have taken to terming "solo scriptura," which seems to me to place him squarely among those whom Luther termed "Schwaermer."

It is also perfectly incompatible with the conclusion of the Augsburg Confession, cf.:

"Only those things have been recounted whereof we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches."

William Tighe said...

As an afterthought, I daresay that Mr. Marquart would have as hard a time finding "homoousios" or even "Trinity" in the Scriptures, as he does "close communion," given the (Reformed-ish) demands for "clear Scriptural warrants" (aka the "regulative principle") that he seems to be demanding -- or even, perhaps, "ordination."

William Tighe said...

Ugh, I meant "closed communion" rather than that weasely and absurd term "close communion."

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Saint Paul would have the Corinthian church, and us, believe that it is those who follow the apostles in the Church's ordained ministry, and not the Christian per se, who are the stewards of the mysteries of God.

"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and the stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

Unknown said...

Although I have to confess that I am no expert on the subject, but as I understand it a person who believes in “solo or nuda Scriptura” cannot also be a Schwärmer, and frankly I really do not think I am either of those. At least I have not had any special revelations buzzing in my ears lately.

Obviously, as the Church developed some explanations had to be made for concepts that do not have their specific “name” in Scripture. Trinity, ὁμοούσιος, its unacceptable counterpart ὁμοιούσιος, infant baptism, real presence and closed communion are among them. But for each of these, except “closed communion”, there are numerous passages from Scripture, which are used to justify the appropriation of the “name” under the concept of “Sola Scriptura.” But take away 1 Cor. 11:29; or rather only the interpretation of σῶμα as referring to the Sacramental Body of our Lord and where is the Scriptural basis for closed Communion? In other words, one would have to be a real Schwärmer to believe it, because the revelation comes from other than Scripture.

I am not asking for much, maybe just two or three quotations from Scripture? I can provide that number for any of the other “names” I have mentioned.

Let me also make it clear that I do not object to closed Communion in terms of discouraging (not necessarily “prohibiting”, one should leave this up to the conscience of the individual Christian) taking Communion in denominations with whom we have serious doctrinal disagreements or having them come to our congregation as a “right”. I believe that there is Scriptural support for this concept. But I have known too many people who were refused Communion at the altar rail with less than desirable consequences. One could also ask the question in terms of the “shopkeeper’s prison”, whether a member of the Elect could eat or drink judgment to themselves?

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

And I wish to second what Prof. Tighe said. To the crass biblicist, no answers will be found for some questions; on the other hand, to the Christian conditioned to see the scriptures through the eyes of faith, the answer will be found not merely in this or that isolated verse, but coursing throughout the sacred page, like a theme in a fine piece of music.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

To be clear, I am not calling George Marquart a biblicist. I don't know him well enough. Just making a general statement about the proof texting impulse

Chris Jones said...

I am not asking for much, maybe just two or three quotations from Scripture?

One statement of Scripture is enough, if one understands its context and grasps its implications:

For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

How can we be one body, if we are not one in faith? If we do not believe and confess the fullness of the Catholic faith, then how can we be one body with those who do so confess?

We do not turn people away from the altar because they are not Lutheran (i.e. because they belong to the wrong organization); we turn them away because they do not confess the Catholic faith (which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly). The issue is not denominational exclusiveness, but the integrity of the faith.

kari said...

George,

What about the verse that says there should be no divisions among us? People from differing confessions certainly have to admit to having divisions.

1 Corinthians 11:17-19

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Lord’s Supper
17But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

Terry Maher said...

Gott hilf mir seitlich if I'm not about to agree with Dr Tighe, and on yet another Lutheran blog.

Judas H Sacristan, does anybody remember that it wasn't just closed Communion but the whole bleeding service that was closed to those not of the same faith as the community, after the prayers, readings and sermon? That's why it was called The Mass of the Faithful for centuries even after the practice of dismissing those not of the community's faith before it was abandoned?

Well, does anybody other than Dr Tighe remember that. The whole controversy is just like Shakespeare's lost play about a sneeze, Much Acho About Nothing.

I'd sign this Dr Maher, but only the alumni association calls me that these days, when they send letters wanting money.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

It is only in modern times that the Mass has been viewed as an instrument of outreach to those outside a church's own communion. Besides Elert, I'd also recommend Martin Wittenberg's essay in the maiden issue of LOGIA: http://www.logia.org/fullpdf/199211.pdf

Steven Goodrich said...

I have to say that while I disagree with George's position. I do agree that in practice often the only requirement for Communion is that one be a a member of the LCMS or churches that we have altar and pulpit fellowship with.

It seems if we were true to our confession that no one would be received Communion until after being examined. That seems to be the correct way through the mire of denominationalism.

William Tighe said...

"It is only in modern times that the Mass has been viewed as an instrument of outreach to those outside a church's own communion."

I think you must mean "by Lutherans" (and Catholics and Orthodox). John Wesley believed that communion was potentially, and legitimately, a "converting ordinance," and Methodists, in general, have not been scrupulous in refusing communion to the unbaptized. Earlier, Solomon Stoddard, the long-serving Congregationalist pastor of Northampton, MA (and Jonathan Edwards' grandfather) had strongly pushed the same view (and I think it was he who first used the phrase "converting ordinance" of the Lord's Supper), which eventually won over most New England Congregationalists.

I wonder if such views among Lutherans (which certainly have no connection with the Lutheran Confessions) are yet another pietist "taint" upon Lutheransim, as in other cases as well, e.g., "lay celebration" of the Eucharist.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

You're right, Professor. When I posted that comment, I was not thinking of Wesley and his movement.

And you have a very interesting thought regarding Pietism's deep and lasting influence on Lutheranism potentially even including the areas under discussion. I'm no expert on Pietism, but I would offer a thought here.

On the one hand, I don't think that the Pietists shared Wesley's view of the Holy Supper. On the other hand, the Pietist approach to church life may indeed be a part of what has led to the porous boundaries of our altars today, for a couple of other reasons.

1. We know that Pietism (certainly P. J. Spener) believed in a less than full and unconditional subscription to the Lutheran Symbols. To him, it was enough if one with a troubled conscience had a quatenus subscription. And as Theodore Tappert writes:

"This had the effect of relegating other doctrines to the realm of unnecessary ballast and in the long run the position was theologically more revolutionary."

2. Worthiness for taking Communion became for the Pietists much more intensely personal, and personally intense. The big question was, Am I truly worthy? And while this led to less frequent Communion (which may seem like the opposite problem from open communion) the precedent of shifting the criteria of worthy reception of Communion away from objective faith to much more subjective questioning arguably set us down the road toward a dangerous individualizing approach (and away from a more corporate approach) to the Sacrament.

Pastor Peters said...

It is true that in most of our discussions of who communes, the issue is inevitably individual -- the particular person -- and not on the confession to which that person subscribes and of which he becomes part. Our individualism has led to the idea that the only faith that counts is the person's individual faith and that it does not matter so much what the "church" believes and confesses. Therefore, it is easy for people to think of the "church" as being a general agreement with which you may have serious and even substantive disagreement and still remain a member in good standing and why it is easy to think that the portable faith of the individual is the only operative aspect of communing at a given table. These are the very things Weedon's initial post challenges.

Terry Maher said...

Don't you wish somebody would just sit down and write out the basics of the faith -- the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Our Father, Baptism, Confession, Communion, then maybe a section on daily prayers, on one's duties, and a series of questions and answers for those preparing to go to Communion.

Irenaeus said...

LOL, Terry! Love it!

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Mr. Marquart:
You asked for scripture, and I gave you 1 Cor. 4. Have you any thoughts in reaction to this?

William Tighe said...

There is another issue here, too, Deacon Gaba, isn't there, underlying all this and the related issue of a "quia" or "quatenus" confessional subscription? (I tend to think of "quatenus" as typical of the Reformed, as in even the most conservative Reformed denominations, e.g., the PCA or the OPC, ordination candidates can "make exceptions" to aspects or articles of the Westminster Confession, and if a panel of denominational theologians decide that such "exceptions" do not call in question "essential contents" of that confession, the guy can be ordained regardless.)

If the confessions, quia-ly subscribed to, are in a sense the "magisterium" of orthodox Lutheranism, what happens when the confessions are silent on an arising question or issue? Is "Western Catholic tradition" to be followed in such a case (particularly if Lutherans have previously followed it)? Or is it all to be set aside in favor of what amounts to "nuda scriptura" lucubrations and rationalizations? Or (a third possibility) are Luther's own personal notions and lucubrations, even when not sanctioned by the Lutheran Confessions, and even when contrary to all Early Church practice, and Catholic tradition, to be embraced as a guide?

An obvious example concerns Art. 14 of the Augsburg Confession and the practice of "lay celebration." Lutherans appear to be confessionally committed to the view that bishops and presbyters constitute essentially the same order of ministry, even if, at the same time, Augustana (cf. also the Confutation and the defense on that same article) expressed a strong desire to retain the traditional form of church polity (see also Abp. Laurentius Petri's preface to the rite of episcopal consecration in the 1571 Swedish Church Order) -- but what about "lay celebration?" Luther clearly believed that laymen (and even laywomen -- and note how WELS has occasionally allowed laywomen to "say Mass" for groups consisting exclusively of women) had the capacity to celebrate it, but Article 14 seems on the face of it to repudiate, tacitly, Luther's view. So when and how did "lay celebration" become a Lutheran practice (perhaps it was due to Pietism; I know that Count Zinzendorf, as a Lutheran ordination candidate at Tuebingen, was licensed by the Theology faculty there to preach and administer the sacraments even before his ordination), and how is it to be justified in the light of Article 14? When the Confessions fail, or are ambiguous, where does the answer lie? In Scriptura, viewed in isolation from Early Church paratice? In Catholic tradition (where this was tacitly or explicitly accepted by the Lutheran Reformers)? Or in Luther's own notions?

Not that I mean to divert this thread to that subject -- but questions such as these seem to underlie the particular matters in discussion on this thread.

Terry Maher said...

Some clarification, not on the entire subject but that aspect of it just raised, may come from this -- The Confessions are not the magisterium of orthodox Lutheranism.

More exactly, a magisterium cannot be a book. The Latin word means an office, which means someone occupying that office. The Latin word in English is usually used as a churchy way of saying "teaching authority", but even in this usage, what is included but not stated generally is teaching authority of the church which is centred in the bishops in concert with the bishop of Rome. An office.

The authority is ascribed to and depends on the office. Ain't no gettin around that.

Rich Kauzlarich said...

All this leaves me confused. How does the way that close or closed communion is practiced (absent individual examination of ALL those coming to table) guarantee the worthy reception of the sacrament?

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Dr. Tighe asks:
"what happens when the confessions are silent on an arising question or issue? Is "Western Catholic tradition" to be followed in such a case (particularly if Lutherans have previously followed it)?"

It certainly seems to me that that is the view of the signers of the AC, especially considering the paragraphs between articles XXI & XXII, and the conclusion.

Also, I would suggest that any reading of Luther supporting the lay celebration of the Sacrament is hasty and unfair to the context and the whole of his writings and practice.

Anonymous said...

The Augsburg Confession teaches that
private confession and absolution
should be retained and not abolished.

It also advises not to commune those
who have not been previously
examined and absolved.

This custom would help our 21st
century practice of closed communion.

William Tighe said...

I don't think that there is any way of guaranteeing "worthy reception" of the Sacrament, and, moreover, that such is not the purpose of "closed communion." Rather, it is to prevent or exclude its manifestly and objectively "unworthy" (and even "perilous") reception on the part of those unqualified, either by orthodox belief or by unrepented known evil conduct, to receive it.

Oh, and Dr. Maher, I did write of the Confessions as "in a sense" the magisterium, etc. I suppose I might have written "in a loose sense" or "in an improper sense" -- but it does seem to me that they are more "magisterial" to at least some orthodox Lutheran bodies, than the Reformed confessions are to their counterparts.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Rich:
You ask, "All this leaves me confused. How does the way that close or closed communion is practiced (absent individual examination of ALL those coming to table) guarantee the worthy reception of the sacrament?"

It doesn't. As I would suggest we infer from 1 Cor., and as we clearly confess in AC XXIV, examination by the pastor is precisely the way in which closed communion is practiced. As Luther says, though, this pastoral examination need not necessarily have a fixed form, or take place at a fixed frequency. A pastor may know a parishioner well enough, for example, to know that he needn't "examine" him every week. A pastor may certainly, likewise, trust the pastoral opinion that a brother pastor has of communicants who are visiting his church. This is kin to the early church practice of going to another church with a letter from one's own bishop. My point is that you are right, but that we on the whole can recognize the communion that takes place within a church body.

I do not, on the other hand, discount the fact that there are churches in the LC-MS with which I do not recognize myself to be in fellowhsip. Did you guys notice Matt Harrison's recent blog posting of Walther's comment on the need to keep from fellowship with false teachers, etc? While Walther may have had in mind other church bodies (which would be natural, since the LC-MS didn't have the internal division it does today) I must say his comment pretty much sums up why I left my last LC-MS church, and probably won't commune there until its pastor is replaced.

Terry Maher said...

Dr Tighe is exactly right. Worthy reception is known only to God. Closed communion is simply due diligence, so zu sagen, that may prevent grosser cases.

And in either, right belief or right behaviour, the basis is objective. Not a judging of hearts, but simply going on one's public confession as evidenced by one's affiliation, or one's public and unhidden behaviour.

And your qualifications are quite right Dr Tighe. Would that not then express the whole problem -- how can something be magisterial when it cannot be a magisterium?

christl242 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
christl242 said...

Takes me back to the 70's when some radical theologians adopted the motto "Mater, si, magister, no!"

I suppose if one limited the sense of magister to "teacher" the BOC could be looked at in that way. It is not an "office" but it is a teaching instrument.

Christine

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Dr. Maher writes: "Worthy reception is known only to God."

And in another sense, no one on this side of heaven is worthy. The healthiest attitude to take to the altar is that exhibited in the prayer of St. Ambrose in preparation for Mass:

"O loving Lord Jesus Christ, I a sinner, presuming not on my own merits, but trusting in Thy mercy and goodness, with fear and trembling approach the table of Thy most sacred banquet. For I have defiled both my heart and body with many sins, and have not kept a strict guard over my mind and my tongue. Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful Majesty, I a wretched creature, entangled in difficulties, have recourse to Thee the fount of mercy; to Thee do I fly that I may be healed, and take refuge under Thy protection, and I ardently desire to have Him as my Savior, Whom I am unable to withstand as my Judge. To Thee, O Lord, I show my wounds, to Thee I lay bare my shame. I know that my sins are many and great, on account of which I am filled with fear. But I trust in Thy mercy, of which there is no end. Look down upon me, therefore, with the eyes of Thy mercy, O Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, God and man, crucified for men. Hearken unto me, for my hope is in Thee; have mercy on me who am full of misery and sin, Thou Who wilt never cease to let flow the fountain of mercy.
Hail, Victim of salvation, offered for me and for all mankind on the tree of the cross. Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ and washing away the sins of the whole world. Remember, O Lord, Thy creature, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Blood. I am grieved because I have sinned, I desire to make amends for what I have done. Take away from me, therefore, O most merciful Father, all my iniquities and sins. That I may be purified both in soul and body, let me partake of the holy of holies; and grant that this holy gift of Thy Body and Blood, of which though unworthy I propose to receive, may be to me the remission of my sins, the perfect cleansing of my offenses, the means of driving away all evil thoughts and of renewing all holy desires, the accomplishment of works pleasing to Thee, as well as the strongest defense for soul and body against the snares of my enemies. Amen.

christl242 said...

The healthiest attitude to take to the altar is that exhibited in the prayer of St. Ambrose in preparation for Mass:

A lovely idea but I don't know of any post-Vatican II rites, even among Lutherans, that permit enough time for the people to pray the magnificent prayers of Ambrose or Aquinas.

Unless one prays them before the service begins.

Christine

Rich Kauzlarich said...

Sorry but I'm just a humble lay person. Two things, however, seem clear to me: first only God can judge who has received the sacrament in a worthy fashion. Second, why in the application of close(d) communion would only some and not all be examined? If in the service there is a general confession and absolution, and the congregation is clear (either through a Pastoral announcement before the sacrament is offered or a written statement in the Sunday bulletin) about the meaning of the sacrament and its reception, then it is on each who approaches the Table whether he or she receives the sacrament worthily.

Unknown said...

Dear Deacon Gaba: first, thank you for your gracious responses, devoid of any personal acrimony. Secondly, as I pointed out in my last posting, my objection is only to the practice of turning people away from the altar. (As an aside, this would be an unforgiveable violation of the laws of hospitality in the Middle East). Finally, 1 Cor. 4:1ff seems to me to be a part of St. Paul’s argument in favor of his authority. But does it mean that whatever he says must be accepted because of who he is? Just a few verses further he writes (v. 6), “….so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying ‘Nothing beyond what is written,’ so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.”

As a last comment, there is indeed something to the idea of a Christian understanding beyond specific verses from the Bible. St. Paul calls it “spiritual discernment.” Somewhere St. Augustine (and I will be grateful to anyone who knows where he wrote this; I have misplaced the citation) tells of hearing about some particular theory about the faith and he immediately knew that it was wrong. That he attributed to “spiritual discernment”, which is part of the new nature of the child of God. But then he searched Scripture to find confirmation for what he felt was wrong, but did not know why.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Christine:
You write, "A lovely idea but I don't know of any post-Vatican II rites, even among Lutherans, that permit enough time for the people to pray the magnificent prayers of Ambrose or Aquinas. Unless one prays them before the service begins."

By and large, our LC-MS churches do not really do much to encourage it. However, they can't really stop me either. If some of these things are going to gain a foothold, they may as well start at the grass roots level. And, yes, this one is best done before Mass. The communicant simply needs to decide to arrive early enough, and ignore whatever may be going on socially in the narthex or around him or whatever.

Terry Maher said...

You got that right Herr Diakon.

Here's a couple of long-gone pracrtices that maybe shouldn't be so long gone.

Hell no nobody is worthy. In fact when I was a kid, before Communion one said just that, in the words of the centurion before Jesus entered his house -- Lord, I am not worthy!!!

That thou shouldst come under my roof, but say the word and my soul shall be healed. (Well, we said it in Latin but you get the idea.)

Stick that in your next Communion service COW.

Also, within the living memory of some Lutherans is the practice of "announcing for Communion" the Saturday before. THey did that before phones, email, text, anything like that. SO what's stopping us now? Oh, I forgot, it would conflict with the damn Vatican II For Lutherans Saturday service.

christl242 said...

That thou shouldst come under my roof, but say the word and my soul shall be healed. (Well, we said it in Latin but you get the idea.

What a hoot, that's how it will appear in the new translation of the Roman missal (without the Jacobean thees and thous, of course).

Announce for Communion? Yep, in my mother's generation they did. Now most people just fill out a card and plop it in the collection.

Aw, Saturday services aren't so bad, especially for those who work in professions that might require them to work Sundays, such as nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers, firemen, etc. etc.

Besides, it's reckoned as a vigil service.

Christine

christl242 said...

For what it's worth, I've also heard the local Orthodox priest complain how few people show up for Saturday Vespers before the Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

Like it or not, we are not living in our parents' generation where women still more or less stayed home to raise the kids. With jobs, taking care of elderly parents and other responsibilities time gets juggled around.

Christine

Terry Maher said...

Who needs a damn translation? Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tecum meum sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea. Learn how to say the words, learn what they mean, you're done. Any words, learn to say em, learn what they mean, it's your language.

Now let's see the priest say this before each communicant: Corpus Domine nostri Jesu CHristi custodiat anima tua in vitam aeternam.

As to Saturday services, all the rationales for moving the "red-eye" Mass to Saturday afternoon don't even matter. The Jewish day starts at sundown, it's a vigil, etc. Christians managed to meet Sunday mornings each week to celebrate a Little Easter when there was a helluva lot more than mothers at home and some jobs with weekend hours as factors-- there were no days off, but they had a Domingo nontheless!

christl242 said...

Who needs a damn translation?

Um, not you, but people who no longer use Latin?

And since the novus ordo uses Eucharistic Ministers it will be very difficult for the priest to say "May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul unto life everlasting" before each communicant.

Yes, in the era of the early Church Sunday was just another working day in the Roman world. So they met for worship and then went to work.

I had heard the elderly say that they like being able to come on Saturdays when there's a forecast for a winter storm for Sunday morning. I wonder if Rome had many winter storms?\

Anyway, I don't see a problem with Saturday services. Another local LCMS church even has them on Thursdays, Gott hilf mir!

Christine

Terry Maher said...

I don't use Latin either. Used it for years before taking it in school. Learn to say the words, learn what they mean, just like English. No big deal. The only difference is you don't develop a conversational ability (unless you take it later) but you don't need to liturgically.

What are Eucharistic Ministers but lay distribution Roman style? So what about a storm coming in Saturday, start having Friday services, or Sunday afternoon ones?

All 20th century innovations resurrected for contemporary reasons from various practices here and there.

christl242 said...

What are Eucharistic Ministers but lay distribution Roman style?

Oh, just about the same as the "pastor" who started running the neighborhood LCMS "contemporary" parish before he was ordained?

Christine

Unknown said...

Maybe a bigger problem with "quia" confessional subscription is not when the Confessions are silent or ambiguous but when they are wrong! Because, by definition they cannot be wrong and we are not allowed to question them. If, therefore, they are in fact wrong, we are obligated to uphold and teach something that is wrong.

Let me make it clear: I firmly believe that the Lutheran Confessions are the finest exposition of the true Christian faith ever. I do not believe they are full of errors. But a few? Are they important? Speaking of principles for which there is not a single Biblical proof text, but for which there are any number of passages which support it: “Nothing that comes in touch with human beings remains perfect”.

When the Apology claims that when God wrote His Law in our hearts this means the 10 Commandments, is that correct? Does the Hebrew word “Torah”, which is used in the original of the Jeremiah 31 passage, ever mean “the 10 Commandments”? Are we now condemned forever to believe that God wrote “the ministry of death and condemnation” in our hearts? No wonder we avoid the topic of the regenerate person and attribute everything to the “gratitude” for what God has done for us.

Speaking of which, how many of our people know that the Catechisms only contain 9 Commandments? Is that a problem? Are we allowed to question that, or is that simply dismissed as being insignificant?

Luther’s explanation of the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer is flawed, and this is one reason why we Lutherans do not have a proper doctrine of the Holy Spirit or of the Kingdom. Scripture clearly teaches that when we are baptized we are born into God’s Kingdom, not that it gradually comes to us. Neither does God supply us with ever new “portions” of the Holy Spirit.

I have certainly not searched the Confession with the purpose of finding errors. These few things simply that seemed jarring when I first read them (spiritual discernment) so it is possible there are others.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

George:
You write, "Maybe a bigger problem with "quia" confessional subscription is not when the Confessions are silent or ambiguous but when they are wrong! Because, by definition they cannot be wrong and we are not allowed to question them. If, therefore, they are in fact wrong, we are obligated to uphold and teach something that is wrong."

First, Confessional subscription is voluntary. And it ought not to be entered into lightly. I think Fr. Weedon recently said at his blog something to the effect that the seminaries should spend more time making sure their students know the Confessions. I wholeheartedly agree with this. After all, at ordination a man does not subscribe to the critical apparatus of the 27th edition of Nestle Aland, or to someone's theories of homiletic, or to Pieper, etc. One's vows of confessional subscription should be informed and genuine. Secondly, if and when one later realizes or decides that he no longer has a quia subscription to the Book of Concord, then he can simply say so. You're allowed. Honesty in religion is the best policy.