Pastors’ responsibility for Communion

Why in close communion does the pastor seem totally responsible for the communicant? The gospels do not mention about possible punishment and 1 Corinthians 11:17-32 tells us that the communicant needs to bear the responsibility. My Concordia Self Study Bible (NIV) tells me in the explanation of v. 29 dealing with judgment: judgment, not God's eternal judgment which is to come to the unbeliever, but such disciplinary judgment as physical sickness and death (V.30). So my question then is why is close communion understood by most pastors as "eternal punishment?"

Allow me to clarify a couple of assumptions.  I do not believe our pastors view the practice of closed communion as an expression of their understanding that they are totally responsible for communicants’ actions or attitudes.  That was never my approach as a parish pastor.  Communicants are instructed to examine themselves before receiving the sacrament (1 Corinthians 11:28).

Pastors do take seriously the instruction to “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).  Pastors do take seriously the instruction to carry out their responsibilities faithfully (1 Corinthians 4:2).  Part of a pastor’s concern is doing what he can so that no one “eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner” (1 Corinthians 11:27), or that a false picture of unity is presented when the Lord’s Supper is celebrated (1 Corinthians 10:17).  The practice of closed communion addresses those concerns.

With your last statement I take it that you are referencing the situation of a person receiving the sacrament in an unworthy manner and bringing “judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:29).  In the verses that follow, the apostle lists examples of some temporal, and not eternal, judgments people brought on themselves.

In summary, closed communion is the historic and biblical practice of the Christian Church.  The practice has the purposes of ensuring that, as far as humanly possible, those receiving the sacrament do so to their benefit and not their harm (1 Corinthians 11:27-30), and that the oneness that is expressed in receiving the sacrament is genuine and not contrived (1 Corinthians 10:17).