Lutheran Communion- Valid?

Let me start by saying I am a convert from an Independent Baptist background. When I converted my parents were very upset and it cause major problems for a few years. Recently my parents have left the Baptist church and are now attending a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. This is truly an answer to prayer because at least it is a step closer to the fullness of the Catholic faith. Now to the question. My Mom asked me to attend their Ash Weds. service with them. I went, and participated. I however did not partake of the Eucharist. It is my understanding that it is not valid and therefore I am not to partake. My Mother had a strange look on her face when she realized I was not following her to the front. How do I explain why I could not participate? I am not sure how to answer the question that I know is coming. I think they believe in the true presence but isn’t it not valid because of the lack of apostolic succession? Please help with my understanding of this…I still feel like a baby Catholic!:confused:

You could answer her question by reminding her of the LCMS practice of “close communion”, which is quite similar to the Catholic practice, and for the same reasons. It is one of the great sadnesses of our division that Lutherans and Catholics cannot share the same altar and chalice. Pope Benedict mentioned that when he visited the Lutheran Church in Rome last year.
You were right not to commune at the Lutheran Church, out of respect for your communion and for ours. Pray for the day of unity.

As for validity of Lutheran Eucharist, that is the Catholic position based on our orders, which, of course, Lutherans disagree with.


Jon, Lutherans do not even share communion with each other. We have open communion in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Some former members visited a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod church while traveling and were told they could take communion as long as they weren’t Missouri Synod. And WELS is more conservative than LC-MS.

When the ELCA was in talks about full communion with the Episcopal Church, the validity of communion was part of the issue of the validity of ordination, since the American branch of Lutheranism broke with apostolic succession early in its history.

Rainalaska, you did right both by LC-MS standards and Catholic ones. As regards the Baptist background, there is an entirely different attitude and practice of communion. I attended a community Ash Wednesday service at a Baptist church and it was quite different. I participated, because I believe that God comes to us in communion, so the sign on the front of the church does not make any difference to Him. I must say, though, I was much more comfortable about the experience when I took communion to a man in the hospital today.
I wonder if your parents still have the Baptist mindset about communion as an ordinance or if they have become Hyper-Lutherans, like so many converts do.
Cradle Lutherans and Cradle Catholics seem to be a lot more relaxed about all this than the converts.

Lutheran MS does indeed practive closed communion. My husband is Catholic and even if he was allowed to share communion by his church, he is not by ours. Same oncept as the Catholics…you need to be in full communion with the Lutheran MS Church to take communion. That being said there are Lutheran MS Churches out there that don’t follow this policy, but that is the doctrine of the Synod.

As to the ELCA Lutheran Church…who knows…they run the WHOLE gambit, and the MS doesn’t consider them in communion with them. Especially after the whole Gay Pastors ruling.

You are correct.

Missouri Synod has closed communion. They do not allow non-LCMS to receive communion in their church.

Correct. Lutherans beleive in the real presence, but do not believe in transubstantiation.

The Catholic position is that Lutherans do not have valid Holy Orders and therefore do not have a valid Eucharist.

You are exactly right as to why you should not receive Communion in the Lutheran church. I’m sure if you explain the reason the way you explained it to us,your parents will understand.

Does the Missouri Synod consider other Lutheran Synods different denominations? It sounds like that would be the case if none are in communion with one another. Also are there several different Lutheran churches in Europe and are you in communion with them?

Thanks for any information you might have.

God Bless


Imagine trying to work out seating at a family reunion. Well, we can’t seat Aunt Myrt next to Cousin Fred, and Cousin Bill and Cousin Jan’s husband can’t stand each other. That is what it is like for us Lutherans. The wife of the couple I referenced grew up in Wisconsin and there were intersections in her town with four Lutheran churches on the corners, all different synods. The theology was essentially the same, but it came down to things like whether women could be on the church council of if the liturgy was in Swedish or German. The only scarier thing than Lutherans disagreeing with each other is when we all agree on something. Actually that is pretty theoretical, I am not sure it ever happened, but it could. I should live so long.

I cannot speak to the Lutheran Synods in Europe and how they fit in with those in the US. When I toured Germany I happy went to those churchs, and took communion, but that was before a lot of the most recent controvesies.

The ELCA and the MS are the largest two Synods I believe, and they used to be a lot closer before the ELCA started ordaining Gay people about 2 years ago. That situation is actually dividing the ELCA right now and many predict they will split into two synods in the next year or two. In the flipside many ELCA lutherans have fled to the MS, so we have grown because of it, but it is sad because it is so blatantly not what God teaches us, what Christ teaches us, or even what Luther preached. I’m not sure if we are two different denominations or sub denominations or what, but I know that the ELCA and the MS are not in communion with each other.

Actually, the Pastor of my church and I were talking yesterday and he thinks that Luther would have be much happier with the state of the Catholic Church today than he would be with the ELCA Synod.

I find it kind of comforting that the ELCA, the UMC, the UCC, the Episcopalians and Presbyterians have communion with one another and even have clergy sub for one another at times.

It’s possible the institution might be valid, it depends upon the orders of the Lutheran conducting service. But that isn’t the real answer to your question, the real answer was contained in the first reply, we Catholics have a double closed communion. Non-catholics (with rare exception) can not commune freely at Catholic mass, likewise with similar rare exception can a Catholic ever commun at a non-Catholic mass.

Communion is primarly about the pachal mystery yes, but also inherent is the statement that you are in full visible communion with the church you are receiving at. Since you can not honestly say this, under any condition, at a Lutheran service you can not commune there.

God bless, and best of luck with your parents.


I have a problem with what I have bolded in your statement above. I understand Holy Communion to be our Lord’s gift of his body and blood to those who follow him. For any church body to claim that one must agree with every jot and tittle of doctrine in order to receive our Lord’s gift seems presumptuous at best. I wonder what our Lord would say if he were present (not simply in the Sacrament itself) when someone was refused the Sacrament because they were not in “full visible communion” with the church at which the Sacrament was offered even if they believed that they truly would be receiving his body and blood.

Thank you for your response. It sounds like what is happening within the Anglican Communion. At one time Episopalians and all Anglicans were one, now there are over 80 different groups in the world, many in the US.


This issue doesn’t really come up in the Eastern Catholic Churches, so I would like to ask what the rules are governing intercommunion at the Polish National Catholic churches?


Dear Rev. Pastor,

Thank you for your contribution!

I was wondering if you could enlighten me about the “High Church” Lutheran movement. Do they venerate saints or say the Rosary?

The person of Jan Hus is important in Slavic history (as he is in the Czech Republic and the early Lutherans regarded him as a saint, as you know).

I once wrote an Eastern service to him for private use for some Hussites who entered the Catholic Church and a German Lutheran pastor put parts of that same service (in which Hus is directly invoked as a saint would be) to music in German and he has told me that it was in temporary use in some German Lutheran parishes.

I’m just trying to understand the Lutheran veneration of saints within the various traditions within Lutheranism.

Thank you.


I can not at present give you any meaningful information with regard to the PNCC. I can tell you the only situation under which a Catholic may receive outside of a Catholic Church is when the following conditions are met:

  1. There is no Catholic Church available, or the only church available is fully in heresy
  2. There is a (truely) Orthodox (E. Orthodox typically) available.
  3. The communicant has sought permission from the local Orthodox Bishop.

I can not say that this applies to the PNCC, I don’t know much about them. All I have is from wiki, and that source suggests there are serious theological differences between our churches. I can’t say what that means.

It is not presumptious in the least, it is typical historically and fully in tradition. I’m a bit busy now, trying to catch up on my training seminars. But I will try to get back to you later.

Thanks to everyone for the information. While I am more clear on the Catholic part, I am so confused by the multiple Lutheran Synods! Again thanks, I appreciate the information from people and their willingness to share.

I was raised in MS in the 60’s and never even knew there were other denominations in the Lutheran Church. I remember it as being a very formal, strict chuch. At that time and in the early '70s the Catholic Church my friends went to seemed more informal with their “folk masses” and all.

When I joined the ECLA in my early 30’s my pastor told me MS and ECLA were two different denominations and very far apart in some of their beliefs.

Absolutely! The ECLA changes things so fast it makes your head spin, just one reason I am going home to the Catholic Church I was baptized in. One example, deciding to give communion to everyone even babies, and offering apple juice and gluten free bread along with/instead of wine and bread.I know many would say it’s biblical to offer it to infants and this is just one small example of changes. After much reading, thinking and finally attending RCIA, I have come to believe in the fullness of faith found in the CC. I’m also seem to be getting more traditional the older I get. :eek: But that’s just me.



I still haven’t had time to put together my own satisfactory answer, so for now I’m going to “cheat” and link you out to a website which begins the process of laying the foundation for what I posted earlier.

God bless,

Visible Dimension of Communion
The visible dimension of the communion which is the precondition for Eucharistic Communion is oneness in the doctrine of the faith, in the sacraments and in Church governance (nos. 35a and 38a). Reception of the Body of Christ is the manifestation of fullness of communion in the Church and, therefore, demands that the visible bonds of communion be present. It is, therefore, never permitted to give Holy Communion to someone who dissents from the truth of the faith regarding the Holy Eucharist or who is not baptized (no. 38b).

Eucharistic Communion is also communion with one’s own bishop and with the Roman pontiff, for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the local community is the celebration of the one Church throughout the whole world. The bishop is “the visible principle and the foundation of unity within his particular Church.” It is a contradiction to speak of the celebration of the Church’s great sacrament of unity when communion with the bishop is lacking. Likewise, the Holy Eucharist must be celebrated in communion with the Roman pontiff, the successor of St. Peter, who, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, is “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the bishops and of the multitude of the faithful” (no. 39b).

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