For those who have actually read Luther, it seems clear that, although he personally thinks the practice of infant communion is wrong, he refuses to condemn it because of its long practice in the East (and in the West before c. 1200). To say it is unwise is one thing. To say it is condemned would be to condemn (that is, say they are un-saved because of false doctrine) many of the great fathers of the church.
True, Infant Communion can not be found in the Lutheran Confessions. Neither can any comments endorsing the historical grammatical method, a six day creation, or the voter’s assembly. Are we then to assume that all of those are forbidden as well? Of course not.
Over at his usally-agreeable blog The Bare Bulb, Pr. Wilken claims that those who advocate for infant communion have, by definition, already left the LCMS for the East, and just haven’t made formal the announcement yet. Sorry, Todd, that’s logical fallacy #32 : The No True Scotsman fallacy. It works like this. No true Scotsman would do X. Angus does X. Angus is no true Scotsman.
What Luther and the confessions go out of their way not to condemn, the LCMS has explicitly rejected as a teaching. That is, Luther says, “For me it is wrong, but I won’t say it simply can not be done in the church.” Generations of Lutherans have followed this advice. But over time, they stopped simply following the advice and made a law : No Lutherans can commune infants. So, if an LCMS pastor were to do this, he would be visited by his district president, and, should he not repent of his actions, he will be shown the door. This was explicitly stated to our pastor’s conference by a former District President, who is now a synodical official. That being the case, it’s pretty clear that no true LCMS Lutheran can advocate for Infant Communion. Why? Because if you do, you can not be an LCMS Lutheran. QED.
But it’s not so simple as that. The reason this keeps coming up is because the two sides are really talking past each other. Hopefully that can end, and we can start really dialoguing about this from a biblical and confessional perspective. But so far, the CTCR will only produce talking points: 1 Cor 11:27, The LCMS Doesn’t Do This. End of discussion.
Left unaddressed are things like the nature of Baptism. The Nature of faith. The Nature of salvation. What is means to examine oneself. Whether those in the LCMS who advocate for Infant Communion still hold to a Lutheran understanding of original sin. Until we are willing to discuss the underlying issues, we will not see a consensus emerge on this. And, as I have predicted before, the issue will gain a larger and larger prominence.
Why? Because we are finally rejecting the pietistic and rationalistic practice of admitting to the sacrament at 14. The age is moving lower. How low? Good question. Should we stop where Luther did it, at age 7, or should we continue into Baptism itself? The question will be asked. Infant Communion continues to gaining advocates. But calling some of the leading theologians in our synod Eastern Othrodox a priori because they advocate infant communion is not going to make the problem go away. It will leave us with a diminished theological outlook, and likely return us to the thing that is stifling our theological light in the world : Pietism.
And that would be a shame.
Disclaimer: The author is absolutely NOT advocating infant communion. He likes his LCMS roster status. He is only pointing out the logical fallacy involved in Pr. Wilken’s thinking on the issue. The author absolutely agrees with each and every LCMS doctrinal statement ever. Even the ones that conflict with themselves or others.