You Won’t Believe this Communion Statement!

I freely admit this is clickbait, but it’s also true. The following story shows how it’s possible to go from Closed to Communion to Open in less than a generation.

Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church was founded in 1985 by a Confessional Lutheran pastor who faithfully confessed and practiced the doctrine of Closed Communion. I was called there after him in 1990 and confessed and practiced the same till October 1999. In 2002, a 2002 grad of Fort Wayne was called there. By 2018 you won’t believe their Communion statement!

Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, Harvey, LA

May I take communion?
We invite all adults who know Jesus as their Savior and Lord and who understand that the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are truly present in the Lord’s Supper to come to Communion with us.

© 2018 Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church
A congregation of the Southern District , The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Breaking not only with the Book of Concord, Reformation-era churches, the church of the first four centuries, but the Holy Christian Church Herself, this church doesn’t even require you to be baptized! Lord have mercy!

I don’t know when they forsook Confessional Lutheranism. I do know in 1990 an Elder, who’s not there now, told me that if they got a liberal pastor that’s what they would become. He was right. How does a Fort Wayne-trained grad come to believe open Communion is just fine, faithful, and confessional? I don’t know except to say he is also a graduate of Concordia, Austin. I’ve said for decades that these synod-owned colleges tear down the very faith I believe, teach, and confess. In recent years, I’ve been told by faithful confessional pastors who were graduated from a Concordia that my assertion, is wrong. It was spot on with this guy.

Has anyone tried to call this pastor and congregation to repentance? I honestly don’t know. I do know that in a August 1990 “Letter to Pastors” rock-ribbed confessional Lutheran stalwart President Ralph Bohlmann wrote: “On the question of admission to Communion, it is interesting to note the following statement developed by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1986 summarizing the official Roman Catholic practice regarding the admission of other Christians to Roman Catholic altars: ‘We welcome to this celebration of the Eucharist those Christians who are not fully united with us. It is a consequence of the sad divisions in Christianity that we cannot extend to them a general invitation to receive Communion. Catholics believe that the Eucharist is an action of the celebrating community signifying a oneness in faith, life, and worship of the community. Reception of the Eucharist by Christians not fully united with us would imply a oneness which does not exist, and for which we must all pray.’”

President Bohlmann goes on to point out: that Cannon Law does allow for exceptional cases of pastoral care; that the official practice of the LCMS is very similar to this; that although the practice will vary at the local level, at the official level the Roman Catholic Church’s rationale is “somewhat similar to that of our Synod.”

Geez! How come the LCMS doesn’t elect an outspoken man like that for Synodical president? I’m speaking tongue in cheek for those of you who never knew Ralph Bohlmann. But even his tepid endorsement and justification of Closed Communion is better than President Harrison’s “you could do better” to congregations practicing Open Communion. Now that’s an Ezekiel-esque warning!

I believe there are fewer congregations today practicing Closed Communion than when Harrison, the confessional candidate, was elected president of the LCMS in 2010. I know there is at least one less.

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.
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