I make it my concern to continually observe the Church in America. I read the polls, visit different churches to speak week-by-week, and still talk to leaders continually. I try to read the various signs of life and change as best I know how. This is a part of my calling and thus my public ministry.

This weekend my wife and I visited a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The LCMS is much more conservative than the mainline Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), indeed it is rightly thought of as a faithful confessing church body. (There are several smaller Lutheran churches that are much more conservative than the LCMS by the way.) Lcm_image
One of the problems that I always run into in an LCMS setting, when I do visit, is the practice of "closed communion." Some LCMS congregations try to get around this but it is the correct practice according to their official denominational stance. In the bulletin of the church we visited last evening these words appeared: "We believe Holy Communion as a confession of our faith. Anyone who has not been instructed regarding the Lutheran meaning of Holy Communion, anyone in doubt, or anyone whose beliefs differ from the LCMS, yet desires to receive the Lord’s Supper, are requested to first speak with the Pastor or one of the elder." (Following are the texts of Matthew 5:23-24; 10:32-33; 18:15-20; 26:26-29 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.)

One should not judge such statements overmuch but this one really puts me off personally. "Anyone in doubt?" Man, I doubt. Should doubters not come to the Table? Of is the doubt meant to refer to doubt about the Lutheran view of the Supper? I am not quite sure. But if it is the latter then I am in doubt and could never take communion in such a congregation. Congregation
I not only do not see this in the New Testament I see no good theological reason to support it in the present either. This stance is simple a major carry over from the Reformed and Lutheran polemics of the 16th century.

Now I have highest praise for my LCMS brothers and sisters on so many fronts, especially since there are so many who truly follow Christ in humble faith. But this statement completely misses the catholicity that I see in the early church and the ancient creeds. I find this language more than odd when we are told that we must be "instructed regarding the Lutheran meaning . . ." I do not know if it is still the case but at one time the LCMS also used the Apostles Creed, which was not said last night, and changed the words "holy catholic church" to say "holy Christian church," a word change which misses entirely the original meaning of the creed. To say the least it is a redundancy. Honestly, do we have to reject the word "catholic" simply because we do not like the connotations of the word given its association with Roman Catholicism?

There was something else we noted last evening. This LCMS gathering felt and worshiped much like most Bible churches that we know, except for saying the Lord’s Prayer and reading one more Scripture text besides the text for the sermon.Church
It felt much more like a good adult Sunday School class than a solid liturgy of worship. This was a great disappointment to us both, especially since we went for this very reason. The presiding leader, a gracious and wonderful deacon, as well as the people we met, were exceptionally gracious to us as visitors. We noted this with real gratitude.

Today I preached again at First Reformed Church in South Holland, where I will be preaching a great deal in coming months, at least until they get a new senior pastor. The bitterly cold weather cut the attendance down by a third from last week but the spirit of the church was warm and the response to the preaching was encouraging once again. Snow_church
This old church has dear become very dear to me. I am hoping for the wind of God’s Spirit to blow through the people as they wait upon God and find a new shepherd. It was noteworthy, at least to me, that the Reformed Church was more "liturgical" today than the LCMS congregation last night. This shows, at least in this one instance, that you cannot judge things today by the name on the sign out front. I find Bible churches that are serious about worship, and sacramental life, while there are Lutheran churches that feel much more like they are moving away from this expression with every passing year. The real issue in the end is still life, life in the Spirit and the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in the gathering, regardless of the forms being followed. I miss it desperately when I do not sense any hunger for God’s manifest presence in either the prayers or the preaching.

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  1. Steve Scott January 20, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Regarding “closed communion”, at least the LCMS allows one to talk to a pastor first. I regularly attended several closed communion churches who limited communion to “formal” members – and membership was according to a man-made list of extra biblical rules and outward appearances of men. Obviously, my saved and sanctified life didn’t measure up to their standards. After my conversion it took four Reformed churches a total of two years to baptize me and allow me to partake of the elements. I faithfully attended every week in obedience to God, openly confessing Christ and engaging in love toward the brethren, yet the “formal” memberships of these churches were infinitely more important to them than the ordinances of Christ Himself, despite the amount of preaching and teaching they did about the sacraments. I was never so spiritually discouraged as I was having spent years watching my brethren partake of the elements while being told that I was forbidden.
    “But let a man be examined to death by the church, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” 1 Corinthians 11:28 New American Legalist Version

  2. Gene Redlin January 21, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Not ALL LCMS Churches are like that one.
    You are welcome to take communion freely, you will experience a moving of the spirit, you will find things free in the LCMS church I work in.
    You are invited. The LCMS is changing.

  3. Bruce Gerencser January 21, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I preached in a Sovereign Grace Baptist Church a number of years ago. They were Landmark in practice. They accepted and enjoyed my sermon. I felt at home……then they had communion and the pastor leaned over and said “brother, communion is for members only. You’ll have to abstain.”
    I felt like the ugly stepchild with red hair. 🙂

  4. Jerry January 22, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Sorry to be late in the conversation, but I am also struck by the doubting aspect. Every time we partake of communion at my PCUSA church I say the words found in our Book of Order. “Even those who doubt, or whose trust is wavering may come to the table in order to be assured of God’s grace and love in Jesus Christ.” Bring everything you have to the table. Your doubts, your fears, and your pain, for in Christ, we have been set free.

  5. Reg May 19, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    It doesn’t appear as if you’ve made any effort to understand the theological basis for the LCMS understanding of communion before judging it deficient.
    From http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2620
    So then, what does it mean to “discern the body” and thus to
    commune “worthily”? From the particulars of 1 Cor. 11:17–34 the
    following points can be stated with confidence.
    First, “discerning the body” requires faith that Christ’s true
    body and blood are received in, with, and under the eucharistic
    bread and wine. This is a sine qua non for all discussion of Paul’s theology and understanding of the Lord’s Supper.
    Second, “discerning the body” implies faith in and desire for the
    effects of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s own words of institution
    (Matt. 26:28) indicate that the primary benefit of the Eucharist is the
    forgiveness of sins. Yet in the Corinthian situation Paul focuses so
    strongly on the corporate character and benefits of the Supper that
    the forgiveness of sins receives scarcely any attention. The Eucharist
    is God’s means for preserving the unity of the church, maintaining
    the many Christians as one body since they all eat of the one loaf
    (1 Cor. 10:17). To create divisions is to contradict the character and
    purpose of the Sacrament, and to fail to discern the body.
    Third, the context indicates that “discerning the body” must
    involve a repentant willingness to remove sinful divisions between
    Christians that fracture the visible unity of the congregation and
    contradict the Gospel-corporate character of the Lord’s Supper. All
    who commune must examine themselves and through repentance
    and faith they must find the divinely-created willingness to remove
    divisions and to preserve unity with fellow communicants.

  6. Rev. Larry Beane May 19, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    I also cringe at a lot of the “communion statements” in LCMS churches (I’m an LCMS pastor) – as they really do give the impression that the issue is formal synodical membership, or some “Lutheran meaning.”
    That’s not the issue.
    The issue is confessional. If you confess what we confess, you are welcome to commune. If you don’t share our confession, it would be wrong for us to offer and wrong for you to partake. We give benefit of the doubt to other LCMS members. Non-LCMS members can commune if their churches are in fellowship with the LCMS.
    It’s really the same practice as the early church. Fellowship was bishop to bishop.
    If I visit a Roman Church, I abstain, since our churches are not in fellowship. I show respect to my hosts by not swaggering to the chancel and challenging the pastor to commune me, and they show respect to me by not putting me into a position of publicly repudiating my own confession.
    Closed communion is really mutual respect of sincerely held differences in confession.
    Non-Lutherans give a confused confession when they present themselves for communion at Lutheran altars. Catholics who commune at our altars are renouncing the papacy. Reformed who commune at our altars are renouncing the Westminster Confession. If you really want to do that, then why not join our church? And if not, then what’s the problem in simply abstaining from communion?
    The division in the church is a shame, but let’s be honest and admit the fact that it exists. Don’t get offended when you visit another church and their customs and approach to the faith are different. You are a guest.
    Nobody is saying you are any less a Christian, less sanctified, less worthy, less a child of God, less redeemed, etc. We’re simply saying that your Westminster Confession, or your canons of the Council of Trent, put our churches out of fellowship. It’s not personal. Similarly, I cannot preach at a Roman or Reformed pulpit. It would be hypocritical to do so.
    We can’t just wish differences in confession away.
    And, BTW, I agree that “Christian” in the creeds is a bad translation. But it predates Luther by a century when the word “Christliche” was how the German Catholics translated “catholicam” from the Latin (at that time, they had no word “Katholische”). LCMS Lutherans spoke German up until the 20th century. We *should* use the word “catholic” now that we have been using English for so long. These things take time. 😉 At least there is a “catholic” footnote in our new hymnal, and the Athanasian Creed does shamelessly use the word “catholic.”
    The fact that we use an un-catholic, sectarian translation for the very word “catholic” (which repudiates sectarianism) is a sad irony. But it is an accident of history.

  7. Reg May 19, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    The “doubt” referred to is doubt in Lutheran doctrine.
    Those who doubt their faith are welcome to communion in their Lutheran congregation, as the sacrament was instituted to strengthen the faith of the weak.
    Also, congregations like Gene’s aren’t following proper LCMS practice, which will not change without a split in the synod.

  8. Gene Redlin May 20, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Also, congregations like Gene’s aren’t following proper LCMS practice, which will not change without a split in the synod.
    What are we then serving? Synod or ??
    I believe what Missouri Synod President Kieschnick said as he outlined the Problems, Propositions and Concerns in our denomination.
    * “The marginal vitality in our Synod is an objective sign of a genuine spiritual problem. What resides in our heads must also find a prominent place in our hearts.”
    For too many years it seems that our focus has been on “being right” instead of “doing right.” In the process we lost the Great Commission eyes the Lord desires for His people. Dr. Kieschnick lays out a clear plan for our church body to focus on as we reach the world for Jesus.
    This idea of synod splits over inclusive or exclusive communion is a symptom of a deeper problem.
    Perhaps a synod split would be in order if that is our core concern.

  9. Henry May 20, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    The liberal wing of LCMS is trying to go down the same slippery slope that the ELCA is going down. The ELCA is trying to be buddy, buddy with every denomation that there is even if they don’t believe that they receive Christ’s very Body and Blood in the bread and wine of Communion. I should know, we were ELCA members all our lives until we moved across country. We visited ELCA churches in our new area and we found them lacking, then we visted a confessional LCMS and it was like coming home to a Lutheran church before the mess of the ELCA.

  10. Rev. Larry Beane May 21, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I think if people were more familiar with LCMS history, it might make more sense.
    As a result of the Prussian Union, Lutherans in Germany (in the 1800s) were being forced to commune with Reformed Christians – which is a problem, because we confess different things regarding the Holy Supper. Those who refused were harshly persecuted.
    As a result, some German Lutherans left everything behind to come to America, so they could take communion with integrity. (This was in the days when church and confession were important to people, kind of like getting the kids to Sunday soccer games and watching American Idol are today…).
    The ELCA doesn’t have that history, and so they willingly have joined communion with Reformed churches (even though, again, they confess different, mutually-exclusive things about the Supper). It’s a postmodern “maybe we’re all right at the same time” kind of “inclusiveness” (which is self-delusion). It’s a “kumbaya” evasion of confession.
    We Lutherans believe Jesus is present, physically. We confess that we physically eat His flesh and physically drink His blood. He is not merely spiritually present. Nor are the elements in any way symbolic. This is problematic to our Protestant brothers and sisters.
    When you invite Reformed, Methodists, Baptists, and Pentecostal brothers and sisters to your table, you are forcing them into what they believe is idolatry. Or, you are making concessions of your own faith. Either way, it’s bad.
    When you commune with Roman Catholics, you are forcing them into publicly repudiating certain doctrines concerning the Mass.
    Closed communion is a big pain sometimes. But integrity always is. It is always easier to be cowardly “inclusive” than to confess the truth lovingly and yet steadfastly.
    “Speaking the truth in love” is different than overlooking the truth to be politically correct and comfortable.
    And if your pastor is practicing open communion, he is openly giving the finger to those of us who are upholding the historic practice that we have agreed to uphold. He is being highly offensive, and if the synod were more healthy, he’d be defrocked for his insubordination and flippancy toward our confession.

  11. Gene Redlin May 21, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Larry Beane says:
    We Lutherans believe Jesus is present, physically. We confess that we physically eat His flesh and physically drink His blood. He is not merely spiritually present. Nor are the elements in any way symbolic. This is problematic to our Protestant brothers and sisters.
    I respond:
    I am Pentecostal and a Lutheran and believe this truth as well. The elements are not Symbolic. If you are familiar with most Pentecostal theology in practice today you would find it embraces true presence than anything else. Sure, the doctrines of denominations may not yet reflect this, but the practice is true presence. Books are written about it: See the book the Meal that Heals.
    So, now the question is, those Pentecostals (like me) who embrace the true presence, believe it, practice it with reverence, do we “qualify” to come to the table or is there some other hoop we have not yet jumped thru to take communion?
    The way, we practice “Open” communion at our LCMS church is like this:
    We post and publish for all to comprehend that we believe in the true presence and if you embrace that reality you are welcome to come to the table. We do not examine you, that is between you and God, Paul instructed us thus. We follow that ideal.
    If a Methodist or Catholic or even a Buddhist comes forward we do not turn him or her away. We inform them or the reality of our communion practices and accept them if they present themselves.
    I think that is a pretty Lutheran thing to do.
    One other thing, My forefathers built one of the first Lutheran Churches in West Prussia (Pommerania) less than a hundred years after the reformation. The building stands today in Naugard near Stettin which is now Poland. My Lutheran Roots and passions go very deep.
    I was raised and confirmed in the German Lutheran LCMS in North Dakota. That church I grew up in which was very traditional LCMS, and is housed in a beautiful brick building my Father built and laid the cornerstone in 1959 (The year I was Confirmed) is about to be abandoned. I’m sad about that.
    The future vitality of the LCMS is not in a work the form of which as you or I grew up in. Those days are drawing to a close and will not come again. I miss the old, but value the new.
    I think that the divisions over these things are damaging to the furtherance of the Communion of the LCMS. I support the Synod President and his desire to see us break out of the dead past and I hope you will as well.
    The LCMS needs changes made. As a Charismatic Lutheran I want to be part of furthering the Kingdom of God, not of the LCMS. No denominational traditions or polity transcends that.
    One other thing, I spend a lot of time with Pastors who are making it work nationally in the LCMS. In particular I am a friend of the pastor of the largest LCMS church in America. He will need to be defrocked as well if we use your standards.
    Those who use practices similar to our little Church of 500 worshiping on Sundays seem to prosper more than does than the dying on the vine churches in our fellowship who don’t. That’s just observation even in our area. There are a dozen churches in our district within 25 miles that are LCMS. I know them all. The pattern holds. Those who are embracing the new are prospering. Those who are clinging to the old are dying. I don’t want to see the LCMS die. I don’t think you do either. We have national leadership who doesn’t either. We should hear them out.
    Nothing can be made better without change. Of course not all change is improvement but there can be no betterment without change. That axiom is most certainly true. In our churches, in our lives, in our culture.
    Change my heart oh GOD………..Make it ever new…..Change my heart oh God…Make me more like YOU.

  12. Rev. Larry Beane May 22, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Dear Gene:
    Thanks for your remarks. I greatly appreciate them.
    I can’t think of a single Lutheran theologian that would advocate communing Buddhists. Luther certainly would never have done so. But you’re right, things are changing. I even have a New Testament in which Matt 6:9 says: “Our Father/Mother in heaven.” Lot’s of things are changing.
    As far as “not examining” anyone who presents himself at the rail goes, according to Paul, those who don’t “discern the body” commune to their detriment. Communing a Buddhist would be a terribly unloving thing to do. That’s why our constitution forbids unionism and syncretism – but as you say, there is often a big gap between what is written and what is practiced.
    Also, we pastors have to take vows that our teaching is normed by the confessions, such as the Augsburg Confession XXV in which we vow not to give communion to a person unless they are “examined and absolved.”
    Doesn’t that promise count?
    I would also caution you about being so mesmerized by numbers. There are some huge Mormon temples out there. Joel Osteen’s church is a heckuva lot bigger than any LCMS churches. Benny Hinn also packs them in. So what? Bigger isn’t always better. Just because WalMart is bigger and more “successful” than the farmer’s market doesn’t mean the food is anywhere near as good.
    I understand that not all Christians are on board with us in what our confessions say about the Mass and our confessional adherence to traditional, reverent, historic liturgical worship forms and ceremonies, but that’s just what we are according to our confessions and the vows our pastors take. Especially see AC XV (Ecclesiastical Rites) and AC XXIV (The Mass).
    Those who don’t believe, teach, and confess the same thing are simply being dishonest in remaining within the Lutheran confession. In days gone by, folks tried to change the wording of our confessions. These days, people just do their own thing and ignore the confessions. You’re right about how things have changed!
    I guess that’s what our president means when he says: “This is not your grandfather’s church.”
    Thanks again for your remarks. Blessings!
    “Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word…”

  13. Mark Loest May 22, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Your own words, “especially since there are so many who truly follow Christ in humble faith,” make you no less a judge of the faith of others. How do you judge a true follower, and by whose standard? I find your criticism of LCMS closed communion practice hypocritical on the basis of your own words.

  14. Gene Redlin May 22, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Mark, Larry and John,
    Just so we are all on the same page, in the LCMS to be precise there is no CLOSED Communion.
    It’s CLOSE communion. Look it up on the LCMS website.
    Maybe the nomenclature leads to bad theology and bad practices in ministry.

  15. Henry May 22, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I believe in calling a thing what it is even if it is not politically correct. Your church seems to be at best a wannabe everything to all people and Lutheran in name only especially when you said that your pastor doesn’t question anybody when they come forward to receive the Holy Supper. You said that they could even be Buddhists and it wouldn’t matter. That is desecration of Holy Communion and harm to the person receiving it. It seems to me that your church would be better off by being associated with the ELCA or Willow Creek Churches. Yes, your pastor should be defrocked.
    The Marks of a Church are Sound Doctrine, Right Administration of the Sacraments and The Right Administration of Discipline. You notice that it does not include CHURCH GROWTH for the sake of church growth.

  16. Henry May 22, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I might add that you may want to read the book by Pastor Klemet I. Preus “The Fire and the Staff”.

  17. Gene Redlin May 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Has there ever been a time in all of history that a church or denomination has so divided itself into “true believers” and those considered apostate and in rebellion? Yes.
    When Church polity and church tradition weighs heavier than Biblical implementation of the great commission “go ye into all the world”, When in the name Biblical clarity there was an argument by those who would excommunicate (or DeFrock) those who embraced a fresh wave of the spirit rejecting dogma that keeps people away from encountering Jesus. Where the two sides came to impasse. Yes it happened before.
    YES — 1521 at Worms
    20 years ago I stood on that place in Worms while I made a pilgrimage to the Luther Sites in Germany. I said out loud, let the spirit of this great man in standing firm for the faith influence and change the Lutheran Church in America.
    I am convinced that Martin Luther would not be a Member of the Lutheran Church in America as it is today. Not the ELCA, LCMS or the WELS in which I was baptised as a baby. None of them.
    We have lost the spirit of Luther’s reformation. We are as stuck in dead blood-of-Jesus nullifying tradition as the Catholic church ever was. Mark 7:13
    My hope that the LCMS would come alive again in new vitality is stirred once again by this conversation. It’s time for a new reformation.
    Evenso Come Lord Jesus.

  18. Harold May 22, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    I’m happy to remember that one of the Lutheran dogmaticians spoke of a “happy inconsistency” when speaking of the various doctrines of different church bodies, the ‘happy inconsistency” being that though some may not be consistent with the Scriptures on some doctrine, there is the happy result that on their death bed, with Christ on their lips and faith in Him in their hearts, they will be in heaven. In heaven we will agree on bended knee that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

  19. Harold May 22, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    I’m happy to remember that one of the Lutheran dogmaticians spoke of a “happy inconsistency” when speaking of the various doctrines of different church bodies, the ‘happy inconsistency” being that though some may not be consistent with the Scriptures on some doctrine, there is the happy result that on their death bed, with Christ on their lips and faith in Him in their hearts, they will be in heaven. In heaven we will agree on bended knee that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

  20. Texas Confessional Pastor May 22, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Dear Gene,
    If you believe that Lutheranism and the Lutheran Reformation is only to give us an example that we have to “roll with the times” and “change things so we are not stuck in the mud” then you friend have not a clue. You say Luther would not be a member of ELCA, but a Luther who revolutionized things to grow the church past its antiquated roots is precisely the Luther that the ELCA portrays! Luther would indeed be a member of the ELCA, and indeed you should be as well because you are espousing the same ideas they do! We have to change with the times, everything is relative for the sake of the success of the result – those are ELCA mottoes, and the motto of our current LCMS leadership.
    Gene, join the ELCA. They deserve you. You deserve them. Be intellectually honest, and quit trying to change the LCMS just because you have some misguided loyalty based on dead relatives putting brick and mortar in the ground either in Prussia or in North Dakota.
    Dear Everyone,
    Pastor Beane has given a fine analysis of Closed Communion. It is spot on with Elert’s book on Closed Communion practice in the first four centuries of the Church. How can we dare commune at the same rail and claim to be the “body of Christ” if we do not confess alike? That is the question the early Church asked, and answered it time and again, “We cannot!” Elert makes the point that in the large cities, there were more different “denominations” who all had their own sanctuaries then there are today, and people without getting all upset walked right past each other to their respective altars and communed only with their like-confessing Christian brothers and sisters and would not have thought of doing otherwise.
    Gene is star struck by numbers and success and dazzling lights and emotional song lyrics. I pray for Gene that he repents and turns to the living God who blesses His people with the Gospel rightly preached and the Sacraments administered according to CHRIST’S institution and purpose (which is definitely not to use His means of grace as bait to draw in the masses).
    I am most concerned for the man who originally wrote this post. He obviously went to a POOR example of a Confessional Lutheran Congregation with a horrible communion statement and a severely malnourished liturgical practice. The preaching was not even mentioned hardly, called a “bible study” even, so that could not have been great either.
    Perhaps he went to Gene’s congregation?

  21. Henry May 22, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    What you are saying Deeds not Creeds and that Sound Doctrine doesn’t matter.

  22. Rev. Larry Beane May 22, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Dear Gene:
    I’m always amazed at how people want to make Luther in their own image.
    The real Luther would shock a lot of people.
    Luther believed in the immaculate conception, the assumption, and the perpetual virginity of Mary. He championed the integrity and continuity of the Western Mass (even in Latin, which he hoped would continue alongside the vernacular).
    The early Lutherans wore full eucharistic vestments, genuflected, crossed themselves, chanted, and retained nearly everything in the traditional liturgy. You’ll even see pictures of early Lutherans clutching rosary beads. They continued to sing the same hymns the church had sung for centuries. (I’m sorry, but Twila Paris and Amy Grant can’t hold a candle to St. Ambrose of Milan and Johann Sebastian Bach).
    Lutheran Latin Masses were still being said and sung in some places as late as the 18th century.
    BTW, Luther and the early Lutherans *also practiced closed communion!* They did not commune at RC and Reformed altars, nor would they allow them to commune at Augsburg Confession altars. The Lutherans were Catholic reformers, not Protestant revolutionaries.
    In fact, Luther’s criticism of the “contemporary worship,” “emerging church,” and “charismatic movements” of his day was harsh and dramatic (e.g. Karlstadt, the Anabaptists, the Zwickau prophets, etc.). Luther never advocated surrendering the church’s worship to the vulgar popular culture. He never wrote hymns to tavern songs (this is an almost inexplicable myth).
    It may not fit in with your emotional pilgrimage to Worms, but the real Luther is often quite different than the Luther in the eye of the beholder.

  23. Jeff May 23, 2008 at 7:46 am

    As I’ve always heard it taught, we practice Closed Communion out of love to those communing- not out of of some sense of exclusivity.
    I rejoice in those baptized Christians who believe the same as the LCMS, that Christ really gives His true Body and Blood for the forgiveness and that Christ alone is the sole hope of their salvation.
    However, it’s very important that people be connected to an altar that supports this confession. When the Reformed person comes and desires to recieve the Lord’s supper at an LCMS church, but is part of a church that confesses something different- this is a problem. They’re split, confessing one thing- but practicing another.
    It doesn’t serve the faith of the person communing. If the person’s home church does confess and believe rightly, then why do they need to commune at the LCMS church? Unless the situation is extreme, can’t they commune at home the next week? (This isn’t wartime, or someone on their death bed after all!)
    This way nobody’s confession is compromised, Paul’s exhortion doesn’t cast doubt on the worthy communing, we follow the practice the church has always done, etc.
    I certainly don’t like the practice of just having people wave their LCMS membership card, and those with it get in, and those without it don’t. Closed Communion means that we believe Pastors have a responsibility to oversee those who commune, for their own good. It means asking questions about their Baptism, whether they’re under church discipline elsehwere, about their faith and their belief. It means honestly caring about the person, and desiring they do what is best for their own faith. It means being willing (and desiring) to follow up with the person, to help them work through problems, to see them baptized, to connect them to a church which supports their confession, etc.
    Finally, if the churches really are in agreement, then we should formally seek fellowship together- in order that love and unity abound and the Gospels is clearly and faithfully confessed before the world!

  24. Jeff May 23, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Oh, and I forgot to add. To a large extent- Closed Communion is in keeping with the desires of the individual member’s church bodies. Rome doesn’t want their members communing at non-Catholic churches.
    Baptist pastors I’ve talked to don’t want their members communing at apostate churches which believe in the ‘hocus-pocus’ of the true actual Presence.
    WELS, ELS doesn’t want their members communing at other churches- same for the Orthodox church. I would hope if an LCMS member came up to commune at a Catholic church, the preist would be courteous enough to explain that their own church body (!) doesn’t want them communing- and explaining why this is.
    Even if you don’t agree with their beliefs on this, you should respect their wishes due to Christian love (bearing with the weaker brother). It’d be like little kids coming up to me, and me offering them candy. First I ask “Do your parents let you have candy?” They reply “No” but I say “Oh well, have it anyway- we won’t tell them”
    That doesn’t seem like the right thing to do at all…

  25. Gene Redlin May 23, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I am truly sorry for all of you who are trapped in this mess. I won’t argue with you. I am not superior or wiser. Certainly I’m not as educated. I have just seen a great light that somehow hasn’t yet shown in your life.
    This is a discussion that must be had but the nature of this has become accusatory and guilt by identity. That is a sad method of honest debate.
    It sounds like Worms 1521 to me.
    I have never said roll with the times, I have said fresh touch of the Spirit of God in the LCMS is what is needed. Very Different. WOULD YOU ARGUE A FRESH TOUCH IS NOT NEEDED in the LCMS?
    I am not on a mission to change the LCMS. I am hopeful as changes are taking place and know what part of that change gives me hope. If there are sides in the LCMS to be chosen up, I know what side I am on.
    I am not devoted to dead bricks and mortar, I honor them too much to allow man made devotion to some imagined past grasped as dead tradition destroy what that brick and mortar once stood for.
    I am puzzled by the comment that Luther would be a member of the ELCA. What does that mean? I think this discussion would make him laugh.
    I am not star struck. I have been part of big churches and small churches. I have been the pastor of a small church. I know that people have spiritual needs and respond to the truth of the Gospel of Peace with God. Where that is proclaimed, where relationship with our Creator Savior Jesus is emphasized over ritual people snuggle in together spiritually and church breaks out. If lots of people do that they meet house to house and snuggle in together to feel the warmth of the fire of God. That includes the warmth of breaking bread together. Communion.
    3000 asked to be reconciled and brought near in one day at Pentecost. Thousands were added. I AM star struck by THAT. I want to see a lost world and a lost culture banging on our doors asking “what must we do to be saved”? They aren’t. That’s our fault.
    Devotion to doctrine and dogma without remembering that the main thing is the main thing is blindness. I’m hopeful you remember what the main thing is and if you have questions, ask the Holy Spirit, what the main thing should really be. I’ll bet He’ll tell you.
    Sound doctrine starts with the centrality of Jesus as God. His blood shed as full payment for and the only way to the Father. The creator of all things. The salvation of us all is wrapped only in that truth. Nothing else counts. Not even communion.
    Anything that is Jesus Plus anything else as a requirement to be saved is the definition of a cult.
    The LCMS in it’s most confessional expression has tread dangerously near that definition. Just us and no more. We have the only truth. If you don’t agree with us in all things you are not welcome among us. (communion)
    I know this grates. I’m sorry if I offend. But for men who are concerned with the examination of one’s self I hope you will turn that looking glass inward.
    Paul the Apostle centuries ago prayed for you.
    Ephesians 1:17-19
    “[I pray]… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power…”
    I join him. Light come.
    Just so you know what happens when grace is given in communion please read this woman’s account of how the real presence of Jesus in her mouth for the first time as an UNBELIEVER changed her for eternity. Did the pastor that handed her the true BODY OF CHRIST sin?
    That’s the real power in the real presence of Jesus in the elements.
    Are you guilty of withholding Jesus from those who need him desperately?
    I hope not. If they are lost for eternity on who’s hands is their blood?
    Take a hard look at this alone today on your knees and see what the Spirit of God says.
    He alone holds you accountable, not me, not your belief in some denominational interpretation. Seek God and Live.
    In my opinion, judgment, the weighing of God is here. Don’t be found wanting.

  26. Rev. Larry Beane May 23, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Dear Gene:
    St. Paul says unbelievers take the sacrament to their peril. That’s in the Bible.
    NPR isn’t.
    But I’m willing to be convinced, if you argue on the basis of Scripture and plain reason (now, where have we heard that before?). But if all you have to offer is your feelings and National Public Radio, I’m just not convinced. But I am willing to change my mind.
    And is this statement from St. John Chrysostom just a part of the “dead tradition” that’s holding back the LCMS: “the priest stands daily at he altar, inviting some to the Communion and keeping back others”? That’s closed communion. Does your church and pastor feel constrained by this statement from one of the church’s great fathers?
    Hint: You’re not allowed, as a Lutheran, to disagree with Bishop Chrysostom on this point.

  27. Gene Redlin May 24, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Lets see, you cite a 3rd century priest, a good man, a revered man, but his pronouncements are extra biblical non canonic and subject to judgment as any pronouncement must be.
    You have made my point. When you make the statement that as a Lutheran I am NOT ALLOWED to disagree with St. John Chrysostom that statement tilts toward cultism. Thats the problem I have with this whole thing. There is a segment of the LCMS that is nearly cultist.
    I have a couple question I wish you would answer:
    Is there ever any occasion on which the practices and traditions of the LCMS has been or should be reviewed and adjusted?
    Is the LCMS exactly the same as it was in 1850 right after organization? Should those practices and principles from that day be re-instituted? How did the changes since 1850 come to be in the LCMS?
    What criteria should be used for any change of practice? What is the role of the Bishop (President)? What should that role be? Is democratic rule Biblically correct?
    Answer any or all of these questions as you see fit. I ask them rhetorically to cause you to think.
    The net question is, If God by the Holy Spirit were to instruct the leadership of the Synod to change or implement some previously prohibited practice to whom is your obedience? Leadership or your interpretation of some traditional practice?
    Is that obedience equal to what the Church at Jerusalem exhibited when Peter returned from Cornelius’s house?
    How close is the LCMS to spiritually demanding Circumcision of all believers that Paul had to deal with the Galatians about and standing down Peter? Was Paul Wrong in going against tradition?
    There are LCMS congregations in Africa. Harold, who has commented here, is a retired LCMS pastor. He returned from Africa (Nigeria and Kenya) from several years as a missionary. The practices and policy you would like to impose on LCMS congregations will be laughed off the street in Africa. They are not your Grandfathers LCMS.
    Reading the Book of Acts or even the instructions in 1 Corinthians I see zero reference to restrictive communion practices except as the communicant should impose upon himself. Examination comes from the person to be communed, not from the person communing. Besides, the idea that someone “administers” communion is foreign to scripture. The Cup and Bread was passed. People partook. A far cry from the formalization of communion we endure today in LCMS churches. How about getting back to a reflection of the love feast in the word of GOD. Give me chapter and verse to support the view from Scripture that we should restrict who communes at the level you are proposing.
    Last, I didn’t present the story from NPR about conversion during communion as a recommendation but as an application of the kind of mindset we must have to reach our world for Jesus. God is in the business of offending our minds to reveal our hearts. I think in this case he did.
    If God told you to wear a bathing suit next Sunday while preaching in order to reach people for Jesus, would you obey or reject the voice of God. I use this extreme example because obedience is what this is all about. How much of this tradition is really about you, your image, your reputation, your comfort level in making sure that everything is predictable. Do you fear that God might break out in your services?
    When the sheet comes down (Acts 10) and God says Kill and Eat, will you? Or will you say to God, we don’t do that in the LCMS. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
    I don’t expect I will change your mind Larry, I’m not trying to. I’m asking questions of those who are part of the LCMS and who are questioning the whole back to the past movement in the Church. Cutting edge of 1935.
    Once more, I think a lot of this is bad nomenclature. The LCMS does NOT practice CLOSED communion. That is a fabrication. It is CLOSE communion. I want to be part of a CLOSE communion, not CLOSED communion.
    Larry, give me current written LCMS polity that clearly embraces your view and leave the 3rd century saints alone. Even Martin Luther who as you rightly said, embraced much of what the Catholic Church taught and practiced said that believers were supposed to JUDGE the practices that the Church taught:
    “You can all prophesy, one by one” [I Cor. 14:31]. What sense is there to this drunken prattle of the pope and his papists, though handed down over many generations: “We command, we earnestly direct, the Church of Rome is Mistress of the churches and the articles of faith”? All right, let her sit and teach and be a mistress, yet here she is commanded to be silent, if a revelation is made to one sitting by. Not only she, but each of us, one by one, may prophesy, says Paul, a master and corrector even of Peter when he acted insincerely [Gal. 2:14ff.]. How much more ought we not then confidently judge the church of Rome in its insincerity and feigned authority. We are not to be judged by this church lest we imperil our own salvation and be found to deny Christ”.
    I will ask one last rhetorical question. Who’s out of step with the LCMS here? I think it’s time for those of us who are part of the LCMS to look in the mirror once again. 1 Corinthians 13 and James 1:23,
    2 Corinthians 3:18:and we all, with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord beholding in a mirror, to the same image are being transformed, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
    ARE WE BEING TRANSFORMED INTO THE VERY IMAGE OF GOD? Transformation = Change or there is no transformation. Is the LCMS being transformed? Should it be?

  28. Rev. Larry Beane May 24, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    The passage I quoted is part of the Lutheran Confessions (Augsburg Confession 24:36). It is what your pastor and your congregation have publicly vowed and confessed to be the truth and in accordance with Scripture. The Book of Concord norms our understanding of the Scriptures.
    If you don’t believe in it any more, that’s fine, you’re just not a Lutheran. You’re certainly a Christian, but if you can no longer confess what we Lutherans confess, than you are, by definition, not a Lutheran.
    If you don’t believe the pope is the head of the church, you are, by definition, not a Roman Catholic. If you believe in private property and free enterprise, you are, by definition, not a communist. If you believe in God, you are, by definition, not an Atheist.
    Lutherans, by definition, confess the Book of Concord of 1580. If you don’t believe me, ask your pastor what questions he was asked at his ordination. Or take a look at your parish’s constitution.
    Have you even ever *read* the Augsburg Confession? I have found that when the laity read it, their eyes are really opened, and a lot of the sad divisions go away. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here.
    Just admit that you are not a Lutheran – you are a devout Protestant Christian who was raised Lutheran, but you no longer believe in the tenets of that confession. We Christians are called upon to be honest. We Lutherans find our unity in the Holy Scriptures as confessed by the three catholic creeds and by the confessions of the Book of Concord. That’s what we are by definition.

  29. Rev. Larry Beane May 25, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Dear Gene:
    Our Lord Jesus administered the Supper, and then He said: “Do this in memory of me.”
    There has always been a celebrant. It is part of orderly worship that Paul called for in the face of the charismatic movement in Corinth – where people were more concerned with “speaking in tongues” than with the words of institution – which Paul repeats for them explicitly (in fact, he uses the word translated “tradition” when he says “handed over” (paradidomi) – the only place outside of the Gospels where the Words of Institution appear in Scripture.
    Finally, Lutherans in Africa are very traditional. It was Bishop Walter Obare of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, in his cope and miter, carrying a crosier, who consecrated a bishop for the Swedish Mission Province in traditional apostolic succession, then ordained several men to the priesthood.
    These African Lutherans are extremely traditional. They sing the Mass in four part harmony just as the Swedes who brought the liturgy to them did.
    I also had the honor to meet Bishop Andrew Elisa of Sudan. He is no “happy clappy” type, I guarantee. He was consecrated a bishop because African Lutherans are much more traditional than American Lutherans, and did not want *presidents* and congregational polity.
    I also attended seminary with several men who are today Lutheran priests back in their home countries in Africa. They reject the charismatic movement and embrace the Lutheran confessions.
    Ditto for the African Anglicans. They are arch-conservative Anglo-Catholics – and God bless them! They need to send missionaries to America, where our churches look more like strip malls and nightclubs than holy sanctuaries.

  30. Brett Cornelius May 25, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Lutherans have good Biblical reasons for practicing closed communion.
    First, communion is a sign
    of outward unity. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:17 “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” By partaking of this bread together, we are expressing our outward unity. This is also implied in Acts 2:42.
    There are two kinds of unity. One is before God, coram deo, and the other is before the world, coram mundo. Before God the Church is one, united by faith in Christ and known only to God, “the Lord knows those who are His.”
    But before man the standard of unity is truth. The Church is, as Paul says, “the pillar and support of truth.”
    Of course, the Sacrament at the altar is the greatest expression of Christian unity. But is this unity false or true? Can we commune together when doctrine deeply and radically divides us? That is the kind of unity that seeks koinonia at the lowest common denominator. True ecumenism seeks unity in the truth. Ephesians 4:13 tells us expresses this thought, “…until we all attain to the unity of the faith…” Notice that the unity of the faith described by Paul is the faith (fides quae, the faith which is to be believed) rather than faith (fides qua, the faith which believes). In other words, it’s the body of faith rather than our own personal faith which unites us. That is where koinonia is found. That is where we can have communion fellowship.
    Second, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11: 26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Proclaiming the Lord’s death does not mean simply that we proclaim that He died. If that were the case we could commune with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Proclaiming the Lord’s death means that we declare the purpose of His death.
    As to the purpose of His death, there are serious disagreements within Christendom. For instance, a five point Calvanist would say that Christ died only for the elect. The Scriptures teach that He died for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2. An Arminian or a Papist might say that Christ died for our sins, but there is something that we need to add to it. Christ says, “It is finished.” You see how the proclamation of the Lord’s death is limited in the one case and diminished in the other. In either case there is serious disagreement with our church that teaches that Christ died for the sins of the world and that His death is sufficient for salvation.
    By the way, the proclamation of the Lord’s death also deals with how the benefits of the atonement are distributed to us. We say that those benefits are distributed in the bread and wine of holy communion. So the proclamation that we make is that Christ died for the sins of the world and His death alone has appeased God , and you can come here to this table and receive the benefit.” Is that the proclamation you make when you when you go to the Supper? If not, we are making a different proclamation about the Lord’s death. In that case, our communing together would be a lie.
    By the way, when I attend a Roman or Reformed church, as I sometimes do, I do not partake of the Sacrament for that very reason. Whenever you commune in any church you are making a confession that you agree with what is taught at that altar.
    You asked Larry why Lutherans distribute the Supper in the way they do. You said, “Besides, the idea that someone ‘administers’ communion is foreign to scripture. The Cup and Bread was passed. People partook. A far cry from the formalization of communion we endure today in LCMS churches.” What Scripture can you cite to back up this claim? I have never seen a distribution formula in Scripture. If it’s there, I would like to know.
    The pastors in our church “administer” communion because we believe, as Paul says, that pastors are, “stewards of the mysteries of God.” There is a distinction between doctrine and practice. The real presence of Christ in the Supper is a doctrine. The way we distribute that real presence is a practice by which we try to responsibly distribute that real presence.
    As stewards of the mysteries, pastors must show at least as much care and concern for who might be affected by unworthy reception as say a pharmacist is about those who may have a reaction to the medicine he dispenses. In other words pastors manage the distribution for the sake of love, so that people do not partake of this gift until they know what it is and why they are receiving it.
    This is a short defense of the practice of closed communion as best I can state it.
    Remember, Lutherans also grieve over the sad divisions that exist within the body of Christ. We too want koinonia with all believers in Christ, but to do so at the expense of truth would be a cheap imitation of the koinonia that God calls us to.
    Finally, the reason I, as a Lutheran pastor, do not wear a bathing suit into the pulpit is because, yes, I’m afraid that God would break out in the service, IN JUDGMENT. We approach God with reverence and awe not in flippant jocularity for the sake of drawing a crowd.
    Some time ago there was a clown mass at St. John the Divine in New York. Really? We are not Barnum and Bailey coming up with gimmicks to get rear ends in the seats. Should the Church really resort to tricks to bring people to Christ? Have we lost confidence in the gospel?
    In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham tells the rich man that even someone being raised from the dead will not produce repentance. If the word doesn’t do it, nothing will.
    As Lutherans we know that God IS there. We are not afraid of His presence; we believe He is physically and really present at each Divine Service where the Supper is celebrated. We are not afraid of it we take comfort in it. The presence of Christ is defined by His promise not our emotions or our sensing of His presence in some way. He is there even when people don’t feel it, especially when they don’t feel it. His presence is hidden under the cross in the meager forms of bread and wine.
    Does that help you to understand what we believe, teach, and confess?

  31. Gene Redlin May 26, 2008 at 9:19 am

    First, let me say, That I read much of Larry Beane’s blogsite. I commend it to you. I suspect that if we hung out we would find much that we would enjoy together. I think I would like the man. So, Larry, I’m not being contentious for the sake of contention here.
    I actually respect your view even if I profoundly disagree with it.
    I do understand your point about the Augsburg confession. Yes I have read it. I think its a confession, not a guide for living or for ministry to those in Athens where we are today in our post Christian era.
    I see LCMS congregations who are full of life and vitality engaging the culture and building the kingdom.
    I see others who are hiding behind brick walls and preserving the “Confession”.
    I wonder if Jesus ever asks why. Who is the “Well Done good and Faithful”?
    I don’t know how you or anyone else can decide for me or for anyone if they are or are not a Lutheran.
    If being a Lutheran means practices that kick against the mandates of Jesus, I guess I’m guilty as charged.
    You must have thought it was a “crack” regarding bathing suit preaching. It’s very different from clown mass which I would find troubling, but maybe I need my religious spirit stirred up sometimes. God uses what offends my mind to reveal my heart. He does the same for you.
    Some decades ago in the 70s Chuck Smith in California was told by God to don a Bathing Suit and go to the beaches where the surfers were and preach the Gospel to them. He was a traditional evangelical. But, he did what God told him to do and to this day the movement he started, Calvary Chapel still thrives today. He heard the voice of God and Obeyed.
    Oh that we had men of Courage, boldness and obedience of that kind in the pulpit today.
    I know a few. Not many. That is why the Church is so anemic. I wrote of it on my blog today. I invite you to read it. We need more rebels in the LCMS.
    I just have a hard time believing that a multiple choice test on the Book of Concord will be administered upon presenting myself at heavens gate.
    I understand that’s not what you mean. It’s majoring on minors when we argue about these things. The color of the vestments with the Bolsheviks at the door.
    Why are we at odds? I see no evidence of this kind of deep division in the centrality of Jesus in the Church of the first few centuries. Not till Constantine and Nicaea did things start to go south in the vitality of Christianity. Remember the dark ages?
    At that point those who did or didn’t believe according to the definitions of the Nicaean council were cast out. Exactly like the LCMS of your vision today.
    Surely the creed was worthwhile, but the passion and person to person spread of infectious Christianity began to wane as institutional church began to usurp the reality of Jesus as the Christ for Religion.
    The heresy hunters, who are still with us today, killed the move of the Holy Spirit among believers by trading the uncomfortable and radical for the predictability of dead religion. This is a battle we still find ourselves in today.
    Africa. Have you been there? I know first hand many who are there right now. Your view is one of convenience and doesn’t line up at all with the quarterly from the Fort Wayne LCMS Seminary in 2002. http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/967 Like it or not, Lutheranism in Africa is not practiced like it is in the USA except for a few isolated enclaves.
    Now that I think of it, it’s practiced exactly like in America. Much of the LCMS is finding new life and light in engaging the culture and a few isolated enclaves are still trying to grasp a dying past.
    One other thing. Luther didn’t believe in the appellation “LAYMAN”. There is no such thing in Luther’s writing. In fact that’s what go him in so much Trouble. Priesthood of all Believers.
    Maybe what we really have is a “Back to what Luther really taught movement going on in the LCMS and it is in marked contrast with the spiritual drift that has taken place.
    So, I’ll keep my Lutheran credentials thank you. I’ll keep pressing forward. I’ll fight the good fight and hope you will too. Only in this battle will the truth come out.
    There is much more God has for you. MUCH!
    If you ask him he will reveal it to you.
    How hungry are you?
    I write not to Larry and the other confessional Lutherans, but to all others who may read this dialog.
    How much do you really want Jesus? How willing are you to allow tradition and religion to get in the way of that?
    I hope the question you have deep in your soul right now will find the only answer there is.
    His name is JESUS.

  32. Rev. Larry Beane May 27, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Again, Gene, unless you embrace post-modernism, words mean something. Unless you are God (and your words create reality), words describe reality.
    And the reality is this: Atheists don’t believe in God. Communist don’t believe in private property. Roman Catholics recognize the pope as the head of the church. Lutherans confess the Book of Concord.
    You can no more reject the Book of Concord and remain Lutheran than you can have thumbs and claim to be a paramecium.
    This is the problem with defining the Christian faith by “passion” instead of “confession.” The faith then becomes either a buffet table, a do-it-yourself job, or an anything-goes venture.
    This is why Joel Osteen can claim Mormons are Christians, after all, who are we to say they are not, right? Hey, they have a “passion” for Jesus, for the lost, for having big numbers, dynamic speakers, and missionary zeal. And, it says “Church of Jesus Christ” right there on the side of the building.
    In short, the Mormons are Ablaze!(tm) – which is perhaps why the LCMS is trying so hard to copy them. Now, I will say, I do ride a bike around town to make visits, but I’m clad in black (and certainly no tie!) and bringing a communion kit with me… 😉
    And, Mormons are really nice people, great neighbors, law-abiding citizens, etc. The problem is not with their passion, their morality, or their zeal – but with their confession. And that’s why those dusty-musty old creeds are as fresh today as when our forbears wrote them.
    I realize there are lots of non-Lutheran Christians out there (I’m the only person in my family who is a Lutheran). In fact, the vast majority of Christians are not Lutheran. But again, you cannot reject (or in your case, condescendingly pooh-pooh and pat on the head as passé and irrelevant) the Book of Concord and still *be* a Lutheran. You might as well claim to be Napoleon Bonaparte or a piece of red velvet cake.
    I just as for honesty and integrity here.

  33. Rev. Larry Beane May 27, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    As far as this Chuck Smith and his “preachin’ Speedos”, did God also tell him to deny the real presence in the Eucharist and baptismal regeneration in his preaching?
    Did God also speak to Joseph Smith, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, and the Son of Sam? Robert Tilton claims God told him to ask for a thousand dollars from people on welfare. Either God is crazy, or a lot of people He supposedly talks to are.
    Maybe Chuck Smith was just talking to himself. Maybe he needs medication for hearing voices. I read this someplace: “In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.”
    You wouldn’t believe the things people tell me God told them to do.
    I know a lot of people don’t like to read the Bible and hear it proclaimed in Church, I know a lot of people want a more “sexy” religion than the simple faith in Christ through the Gospel that comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word of God (these days, we’ve come to expect church to be a cross between a magic show and half-time at the Super Bowl), but that’s just how it works.
    Jesus’s parable of the sower may be outdated, quaint, and arguably out of step with today’s super-duper savvy sexy high-tech Red Bull powered post Christian emerging hop-hop world, but daggone it, it still works!
    And that is why the Christian faith is indeed a miracle, and the Church is an article of faith.
    And tell this fella Chuck Smith that St. Paul says we should be modest. I would say preachers ought to wear pants as a minimum – they seem to get into a lot of trouble when they take them off. 🙂

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