Lutheran Hour Ministries Wants to Connect You with Their Lutheranism

Lutheran Hour Ministries has developed an adult instruction course to connect you to their vision of Christianity. The course is titled “God Connects – A Course in Christianity.” It’s a 12 part course, and it is better than the 4 – 8 hour one day classes offered in my area. It may even be better than CPH’s Lutheranism 101 which aims to be more popular than confessional. But like the latter it tiptoes around the fellowship issue. They mention close and closed Communion – equating the two – but at the end of the day they are vague about how those who don’t confess the same faith are not to commune together or how it is impossible to hold contradictory faiths. Here are their own words.

10.6. Who should take Communion?

                        People who desire to be reassured of God’s forgiveness and presence should hunger and thirst for the Sacrament that most closely ties us to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, which won our forgiveness. Those who desire Communion carefully examine their hearts and repent of their sins in thought, word and deed. They believe the Good News of Jesus’ victory over death, and that they are receiving the very body and blood of Christ. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) Contrary to what some may think, Christians don’t think of themselves as perfect people who never sin. We know we are sinners like everyone else. However, all believers who have been instructed in Communion, examine themselves, sincerely repent, and genuinely seek forgiveness of sins are welcome to commune. It does not matter how far away from God they may feel. If the slightest faith is there, God will comfort, forgive and strengthen it….

            10.7. Am I correct to think that maybe not everyone should take Communion?

                        Think of Communion like a powerful medicine Jesus Christ has prescribed for us. As long as it is taken in the way He instructs it will bring tremendous healing and benefit to our spirit, soul, mind and body. But if we misuse it, we will suffer harm. See 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 above. The ironic truth is that while it seems unloving for the church to exclude others from Communion, they actually are deeply concerned about the welfare of others. The church truly desires everyone to be able to partake of Communion. The big key, however, is receiving it rightly. Therefore the practice of “close” or “closed” Communion is to protect those who would be harmed by receiving the Sacrament in the wrong way. What would be the loving thing to do if you saw someone smoking near an open container of gasoline? If you snatch the cigarette away, that person may not understand the action at first. But with an explanation of the danger, the response eventually would be one of gratitude. Serving Christ’s body and blood to someone who would be harmed by it would be just as unloving. In addition, the Lord’s Supper is intended to show the unity of the people who commune together. Therefore, those who commune together should be in agreement about the teachings of the church. (See Acts 2:42, I Corinthians 10:17.)

            10.8. So when is person ready to go to Communion?

            People are ready when 1.) They believe in Jesus Christ as true God and Savior and are willing to repent of their sins: Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (1 Corinthians 11:28) 2.) They are willing to forgive those who sin against them: (Jesus said) “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15) 3.) They believe that Jesus’ body and blood is truly present: For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:29) 4.) They can examine themselves: examples of those not able to examine themselves include young children, those who have not been instructed in the Christian faith, and those profoundly mentally impaired or unconscious.

Here is their description of the course: “GodConnects is a video-based adult confirmation course developed by Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM). It has been doctrinally reviewed by the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS) and covers Christian doctrine in 12 topics. Each topic begins with a short video and is supported with a downloadable discussion guide and PowerPoint presentation.” The video portion is the weakest link. They aren’t even 7 minutes long, and they don’t go even to the depth of the above material, but the videos are professional, entertaining, and upbeat.

Is minimalism the wave of future instruction in the faith? It’s not in the areas of hobbies or  technology. A dizzying array of in-depth information is produced for and pursued by aficionados.  People just can’t get enough of whatever they are “in to.” Except when it comes to eternal, spiritual, salvific things. Then all they need is the basics, just the facts. We wouldn’t want to overload them with the connection. No fear of “GodConnects” doing that.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
This entry was posted in Missouri Megatrends. Bookmark the permalink.