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A long time ago, I complained to some LC-MS Lutheran pastors that my own hometown congregation had been full of racists, as evidenced by their comfort in using the "N word" around children. Years later I can now understand that this should not be too surprising, if we understand the church to be a "hospital for sinners." However, the pastors' rebuttal pointed to communion. They said if the sacraments were rightly offered, and if we believe that the sacraments have salutary effects, then the congregation would be where God wants, and it was wrong to criticize it for being insufficient in any spiritual way.

This raises the question, what do Lutheran teachings say about the salutary effects of communion are? Who has said that the effects are "descriptive" (God did his work) as opposed to merely "salutary" (God will continue to work to improve you)?

Answers from any Christian group that practices any sort of real presence (as opposed to using only the terms "symbol" or "reminder") are very welcome here.

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Communion assures us of the love of Christ and exhorts us to have the mind of Christ, which is indeed from glory to glory, not 'hospital of sinners'. –  Elberich Schneider Oct 17 '13 at 20:14
Great insight. Could you expand, and give some reference? Why would doctrine of communion be brought up at all in reference to a complaint about sin and non-love, if I got the point of this old communication wrong? –  pterandon Oct 18 '13 at 2:33
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Perhaps what you are looking for can be found in the Lutheran Small Catechism.

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

That is shown us in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins. Which words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

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