[We are using Pr. Matt Richard‘s helpful study, “How Do We View Christianity?” which sums up two ways of looking at the various aspects of human beings, sin, free will, salvation, and more.]
We continued our discussion on the Sacraments, on p. 8 of the study guide.
Our discussion revolved around the Lutheran (and formerly universal) practice of “closed Communion.” Some issues were raised about how our practice comes across: as though we are judging people, or considering them lesser Christians, or acting as if we could know someone’s heart.
We used an illustration from this book to ask the question: who, actually, is claiming to know another person’s heart? The pastor who speaks about fellowship in terms of where a person communes (and, hence, makes a public confession, even if the person does not understand the nature of that confession)? Or the person who claims that someone else is a “sincere Christian”?
I also made the point that the decision about who communes should not be made by the pastor. Then, the Church becomes fragmented according to each pastor’s practice, even in differing practice from pastor to pastor within a single congregation. Rather, outward, altar fellowship is the only firm basis for who communes where. Since neither the pastor–nor anyone else–can see a person’s heart, the decision is actually being made by the individual, based on where he or she communes currently.
We discussed a number of other questions of practice, but they are best discussed in person, within our congregation! So please come in two weeks (Pr. Winterstein will be gone at the LWML retreat this week), when we take up the discussion again.