In 1978 the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America adopted a Joint Statement on Communion Practices that “precluded” the communion of baptized infants. This statement shut the door on a practice that the Western Church had observed for a thousand years and had not previously categorically precluded, that the Episcopal Church was reconsidering, and that the Eastern Churches still practiced. Eric Gritsch saw the ecumenical, biblical, and theological inappropriateness of this statement and was one of a handful of Lutheran theologians who spoke up for a reconsideration of the practice. Pastor Larry Recla has gathered papers of Dr. Gritsch that were disseminated for discussion purposes at the time of the debate, but have not previously been published. Their publication now is timely when churches are considering the inclusion even of the unbaptized in Holy Communion — a line Dr. Gritsch would not have crossed in his thesis that the Lord’s Supper is the meal of the baptized, but all the baptized.
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