Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Walther, 1906. Chapter 15, “The Communicants: Announcement”

Chapter 15, “The Communicants: Announcement” (pp. 107-119)

Walther now discusses the practice of communicants’ visiting with the pastor to announce their intention to receive communion. This is a duty which should not be neglected. Presenting someone with communion unworthily may harm a person spiritually. Walther also observes (p. 108) that open communion is used by some fanatics as a way to lure people in. On the contrary, all who are to be admitted to the table should be examined, even by a new pastor taking over an existing flock, a practice which causes dissension (p. 108).

The distinction is that preaching is for all but the Supper is for strengthening the repentant person in the faith. Reception without repentance brings condemnation. Certainly the Sacrament is for the regenerate, so is never given to unbaptized people. Those who receive the Sacrament in unbelief find only condemnation (p. 110). Those who receive worthily receive to their great blessing. The work of the pastor is to bring blessing, not cursing. Luther’s guideline (p. 115) was that the pastor should interview every communicant at least once a year. Walther adds, “If possible, the preacher should find out what he needs to know without giving the person the impression that he is being examined” (p. 117).

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