The next step in open communion

In an effort to be even more inclusive than they already are, a diocese in the Episcopal Church has dropped baptism as a requirement for someone to receive Holy Communion.  The measure will go before the entire church body this summer.  From a conservative Anglican site:

The latest proposed element to chip away at core Anglican beliefs is the Diocese of East Oregon’s desire to offer Holy Communion to anyone who approaches the altar rail with their hands upraised. Baptism would not be a prerequisite. The Diocese of East Oregon has made it a matter of Communion without Baptism. . . .

Since the earliest of times, it has been the understanding, tradition and practice of the entire Christian Church to see Baptism as the first sacrament to be celebrated in the life of a new Christian. Baptism, therefore, is the foundation upon which the other sacraments and rites, including Holy Communion, are based.

The Episcopal Church already has a generous policy of Open Communion. Any baptized Christian in good standing in their own denomination is welcome to receive Communion at an Episcopal Church. However, there are limitations to that Open Communion rule as outlined in the Disciplinary Rubrics of the Book of Communion Prayer.

Those rubrics include denying Communion to anyone known to live a notoriously evil life, to those who have wronged their neighbors and are a scandal to the congregation, or to those who exhibit hatred and unforgiveness towards another. The priest is solemnly admonished to speak to these persons privately and then report why Communion is being withheld to the bishop within two weeks.

Retired Eau Claire Bishop William Wantland further explained, “although TEC has, by practice, adopted an “open Communion” stance, the Church officially adopted rules that admit to Communion only those who (1) are baptized and admitted to Communion in their own Church, (2) prepared by self examination and are in love and charity toward others, (3) understand the Eucharist to be a reflection of the Heavenly Banquet to come, (4) recognize the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and (5) reception of Communion must not violate the teaching of their own Church.” Not all Christian churches have an Open Communion practice. Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, some Baptists, the Amish, a variety of Lutherans comprised of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, as well as other conservative churches reject this broadminded approach to unrestricted reception at the Lord’s Table. Although, it is noted, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is in intercommunion (concordat) with The Episcopal Church.

Now the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon is bent on turning long standing theologically sound liturgical practice on its ear. On March 10, reportedly meeting online, Eastern Oregon’s Diocesan Council and Standing Committee took the bold step of re-doing two basic Anglican Sacraments – Baptism and Holy Communion — by ratifying a new resolution.

The Diocese of Eastern Oregon’s ratified Open Table Resolution reads: “Be in resolved, the House of _______ concurring, that The Episcopal Church ratify the rubrics and practice of The Book of Common Prayer to invite all, regardless of age, denomination or baptism to the altar for Holy Communion.” The Resolution also calls for the total deletion of TEC’s Canon I.17.7 which succinctly states: “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church,” as a minimum eligibility requirement for Communion. The Resolution also calls for “Canon 1.17.8 be renumbered Canon 1.17.7″ following the deletion of the currently numbered canon.

Eastern Oregon’s resolution is slated to be presented this summer at General Convention 2012 as Resolution C040. The newly filed Resolution is slotted for the legislative committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music after which it is kicked over to the House of Bishops for its initial action. . . .

The Diocese of Eastern Oregon’s explanation for its desire to see a change in the minimum requirements for receiving Holy Communion are that The Episcopal Church has continued to move forward as a more inclusive, open and welcoming religious body and should not to be encumbered by restrictive canons in its drive to be radically hospitable, boldly ecumenical, unconditionally companionate.

“In recent decades the Episcopal Church, with prayerful consideration and deliberation, has consistently moved to being a more inclusive, open and welcoming member of Christ’s Body. Such grace is riveted on the teachings and actions of Jesus and the compassionate embrace he had for all…no matter their creed or race,” the explanation states. “We believe it essential our Liturgy reflect the unconditional hospitality our Lord employed for his mission.”

Those of you who believe in open communion, would you go this far?  Should non-Christians be given the Sacrament?  I know of a group of Episcopalians who took to the streets, giving communion to passersby on the sidewalk.  Thus they considered that they were taking Jesus and the gospel out into the world to those who needed Him.  Is that a good evangelism activity?

The thing is, Episcopalians tend to have a relatively “high” view of baptism and Holy Communion, so this shift is notable.  How about those of you who think baptism and the Lord’s supper don’t really do anything?  You think the sacraments are only symbolic, but you must think they are symbolic of something that gives them meaning.  Would you go as far as these liberal Episcopalians?

I know how we confessional Lutherans react to this sort of thing and I don’t want to necessarily stir up a big argument on this day commemorating our Lord’s institution of this on-going feast, in which (we believe) He gives us His body and blood in a tangible and personal way in the church for the remission of our sins.  Our churches get routinely bashed, including on this blog, for only  communing members and those with whom we are in theological agreement.  I’m curious about those who criticize this practice.  Are there any limits you would place on how open you are willing to be?  And if there are some basic requirements you would insist on, what’s so wrong with requiring complete agreement as confessional Lutherans do?

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    “We believe it essential our Liturgy reflect the unconditional hospitality our Lord employed for his mission.”

    Precisely – and that unconditional hospitality consists of the admonition to baptize all nations.

  • Pete

    “We believe it essential our Liturgy reflect the unconditional hospitality our Lord employed for his mission.”

    Precisely – and that unconditional hospitality consists of the admonition to baptize all nations.

  • larry

    What they are doing is “official” under a more “top down” style of church government. Truth be known, however, this happens a lot in the protestant churches, especially among the Baptist today. Nobody wants to ‘close the communion’ in spite of their confessions and in so doing they deny their own confessions on this matter and this is linked to muddling over doctrine for the sake of “unity”.

    E.g. in the historic Baptist confessions, specifically the LBCF and the SB F & M, it explicitly requires believers baptism (method and adult only) to have occurred before admittance to their supper. It’s very explicit in those confessions. But in reality the doors are variously gapped wide open. E.g. they will admit those baptized by another method and/or as infants. That effectively nullifies their definition of baptism and to any reasonable person watching would say, “baptism doesn’t really matter then”.

    John Piper struggled with this a few years ago (as did Bunyan back in the days), his church holds to closing the communion still (last I heard), but he was wrestling with the fact that he could not commune his closest reformed friend/theologians like RC nor could he hypothetically admit his heroes of the faith like Luther, Calvin and Augustine (nor his beloved CS Lewis). He was considering the idea of “opening the doors more”. The elders of the church held to the confessions and convinced him otherwise. From the point of view of principle they were correct in doing so.

    It is an exceedingly gloomy day when the sacraments are taken away from the church, either physically or doctrinally. Luther points out that this is a judgment of God’s upon large segments of a society that have despised His gifts, the sacraments. And to despise them is to not believe they are what they are. Slowly over the decades that is what we see happening. It only hits our radar when a crass version of it, like this decision, comes about.

  • larry

    What they are doing is “official” under a more “top down” style of church government. Truth be known, however, this happens a lot in the protestant churches, especially among the Baptist today. Nobody wants to ‘close the communion’ in spite of their confessions and in so doing they deny their own confessions on this matter and this is linked to muddling over doctrine for the sake of “unity”.

    E.g. in the historic Baptist confessions, specifically the LBCF and the SB F & M, it explicitly requires believers baptism (method and adult only) to have occurred before admittance to their supper. It’s very explicit in those confessions. But in reality the doors are variously gapped wide open. E.g. they will admit those baptized by another method and/or as infants. That effectively nullifies their definition of baptism and to any reasonable person watching would say, “baptism doesn’t really matter then”.

    John Piper struggled with this a few years ago (as did Bunyan back in the days), his church holds to closing the communion still (last I heard), but he was wrestling with the fact that he could not commune his closest reformed friend/theologians like RC nor could he hypothetically admit his heroes of the faith like Luther, Calvin and Augustine (nor his beloved CS Lewis). He was considering the idea of “opening the doors more”. The elders of the church held to the confessions and convinced him otherwise. From the point of view of principle they were correct in doing so.

    It is an exceedingly gloomy day when the sacraments are taken away from the church, either physically or doctrinally. Luther points out that this is a judgment of God’s upon large segments of a society that have despised His gifts, the sacraments. And to despise them is to not believe they are what they are. Slowly over the decades that is what we see happening. It only hits our radar when a crass version of it, like this decision, comes about.

  • Tom Hering

    The only example of Christ we have in this matter is the Last Supper. All the disciples at that table were baptized.

    Without the requirement of Baptism, these Oregon Episcopalians are going to be communing non-Christians, who will be eating and drinking judgment upon themselves. So there will be inclusion all right, but not the kind these unbaptized communicants would want if they understood the Sacrament.

  • Tom Hering

    The only example of Christ we have in this matter is the Last Supper. All the disciples at that table were baptized.

    Without the requirement of Baptism, these Oregon Episcopalians are going to be communing non-Christians, who will be eating and drinking judgment upon themselves. So there will be inclusion all right, but not the kind these unbaptized communicants would want if they understood the Sacrament.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    I guess I don’t get it. Why are Christian churches bowing down to pressure. The ancient church steadfastly withheld communion for many reasons.They certainly did not try to grow the church by giving it away like a food shelf.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    I guess I don’t get it. Why are Christian churches bowing down to pressure. The ancient church steadfastly withheld communion for many reasons.They certainly did not try to grow the church by giving it away like a food shelf.

  • SKPeterson

    I suppose the next step will be Episcopal priests wandering the streets with platters of communion wafers and plastic shot glasses of wine and offering “free samples” of Jesus Christ to the various passers-by.

  • SKPeterson

    I suppose the next step will be Episcopal priests wandering the streets with platters of communion wafers and plastic shot glasses of wine and offering “free samples” of Jesus Christ to the various passers-by.

  • Tom Hering

    SK @ 5, see here.

  • Tom Hering

    SK @ 5, see here.

  • Forty-two

    With respect to churches with a symbolic understanding:

    Anecdotally, many with a high barrier to baptism – there’s quite a few requirements in order to be judged ready to be baptized, such as a public profession of faith in front of the whole congregation, a serious (not pro forma) examination by the elders wrt proper belief and proper living – in short, very much like confirmation to Lutherans, and for a similar reason – can be very loose (in practice at least) with who they allow/disallow to the table. Kids who aren’t ready to be baptized (for whatever reason) are allowed to commune, for general open communion reasons.

    Now, in most cases I heard of it was parental choice in the absence of official guidelines otherwise. But it seems odd that groups that guard baptism so zealously, that only the worthy are permitted to do such a (completely symbolic yet of highest import) thing, are so loose as to allow non-baptized, potentially unregenerate children to the table. Many of the parents had this sense that maybe one ought to be baptized first, but their church had no such (known) teaching, and they wanted their children to be including in *something*, and their kids really seem to love God, so….

    Rather backwards to two millennia of established custom, none of which they were aware of, or chose to credit.

  • Forty-two

    With respect to churches with a symbolic understanding:

    Anecdotally, many with a high barrier to baptism – there’s quite a few requirements in order to be judged ready to be baptized, such as a public profession of faith in front of the whole congregation, a serious (not pro forma) examination by the elders wrt proper belief and proper living – in short, very much like confirmation to Lutherans, and for a similar reason – can be very loose (in practice at least) with who they allow/disallow to the table. Kids who aren’t ready to be baptized (for whatever reason) are allowed to commune, for general open communion reasons.

    Now, in most cases I heard of it was parental choice in the absence of official guidelines otherwise. But it seems odd that groups that guard baptism so zealously, that only the worthy are permitted to do such a (completely symbolic yet of highest import) thing, are so loose as to allow non-baptized, potentially unregenerate children to the table. Many of the parents had this sense that maybe one ought to be baptized first, but their church had no such (known) teaching, and they wanted their children to be including in *something*, and their kids really seem to love God, so….

    Rather backwards to two millennia of established custom, none of which they were aware of, or chose to credit.

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, I suppose I’ll chime in if only so I can track this conversation as it unfolds.

    No orthodox Anglican would support this move. My own parish in the not-so-conservative Diocese of Milwaukee in the not-so-conservative city of Madison, Wisconsin still explicitly observes the policy of reserving the sacrament for baptized Christians. There are good reasons for this, of which I am sure you are all aware.

    On the other hand, let’s be charitable here: I can easily understand the impulse to broaden the image of hospitality communicated by the Church. Jesus Christ should be shared with all men.

    But there are millennia of well-articulated theological principles that explain the necessity for “semi-closed” communion.

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, I suppose I’ll chime in if only so I can track this conversation as it unfolds.

    No orthodox Anglican would support this move. My own parish in the not-so-conservative Diocese of Milwaukee in the not-so-conservative city of Madison, Wisconsin still explicitly observes the policy of reserving the sacrament for baptized Christians. There are good reasons for this, of which I am sure you are all aware.

    On the other hand, let’s be charitable here: I can easily understand the impulse to broaden the image of hospitality communicated by the Church. Jesus Christ should be shared with all men.

    But there are millennia of well-articulated theological principles that explain the necessity for “semi-closed” communion.

  • Booklover

    In the Baptist churches which I’ve attended, partaking of communion seems to be a personal choice. It is simply stated that you shouldn’t partake if you are not a Christian, because that wouldn’t make sense. So the person decides for himself. Baptism does not enter the question. Neither does confession or anything like that.

  • Booklover

    In the Baptist churches which I’ve attended, partaking of communion seems to be a personal choice. It is simply stated that you shouldn’t partake if you are not a Christian, because that wouldn’t make sense. So the person decides for himself. Baptism does not enter the question. Neither does confession or anything like that.

  • Tom Hering

    How many non-Christians are rejecting a church’s welcome for the specific reason they’ll be denied Communion? Isn’t Communion kind of meaningless to them? I mean, if they’re looking for community, wouldn’t stuff going on in the fellowship hall, rather than the sanctuary, be the deal-breaker for them?

  • Tom Hering

    How many non-Christians are rejecting a church’s welcome for the specific reason they’ll be denied Communion? Isn’t Communion kind of meaningless to them? I mean, if they’re looking for community, wouldn’t stuff going on in the fellowship hall, rather than the sanctuary, be the deal-breaker for them?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    If the issue is ecumenical unity, it’s precisely Baptism that gives Christians the unity they have, according to the Bible, which is the unity fellow believers have in Christ and the Gospel. There is “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    If the issue is ecumenical unity, it’s precisely Baptism that gives Christians the unity they have, according to the Bible, which is the unity fellow believers have in Christ and the Gospel. There is “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5)

  • Dan Kempin

    It sounds like they are really just modifying their doctrinal statement to reflect what is already being practiced. Maybe they should get some credit for honesty.

    (Boy, what would our doctrinal statements look like if we had to reconcile them to actual practice?)

  • Dan Kempin

    It sounds like they are really just modifying their doctrinal statement to reflect what is already being practiced. Maybe they should get some credit for honesty.

    (Boy, what would our doctrinal statements look like if we had to reconcile them to actual practice?)

  • CRB

    It never ceases to amaze me that those who deny the real presence in the Sacrament continue to travel down that road of slippery, social gospel ideology. The longer they, as church bodies, deny the words of our Lord, the more, it seems, they drift away from the one true faith.

  • CRB

    It never ceases to amaze me that those who deny the real presence in the Sacrament continue to travel down that road of slippery, social gospel ideology. The longer they, as church bodies, deny the words of our Lord, the more, it seems, they drift away from the one true faith.

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB@13:

    The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion do not deny the Real Presence.

    Which is why this practice is potentially problematic, right? If it were just a non-substantive symbolic practice (as it is in Baptist churches, etc.), it wouldn’t be a big deal to share it with heathens.

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB@13:

    The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion do not deny the Real Presence.

    Which is why this practice is potentially problematic, right? If it were just a non-substantive symbolic practice (as it is in Baptist churches, etc.), it wouldn’t be a big deal to share it with heathens.

  • CRB

    Cincinnatus,
    If that is true, then I don’t undertstand why Lutherans are not in altar and pulpit fellowship.

  • CRB

    Cincinnatus,
    If that is true, then I don’t undertstand why Lutherans are not in altar and pulpit fellowship.

  • CRB

    Cont’d: with the Reformed.

  • CRB

    Cont’d: with the Reformed.

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB: Well, yes. I’ve said that before many times, on this blog in fact.

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think we are in some kind of fellowship with the ELCA. Last summer, a local ELCA pastor preached in my parish, so some sort of agreement must exist.

    But the absence of such fellowship isn’t evidence that we spurn the Real Presence, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB: Well, yes. I’ve said that before many times, on this blog in fact.

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think we are in some kind of fellowship with the ELCA. Last summer, a local ELCA pastor preached in my parish, so some sort of agreement must exist.

    But the absence of such fellowship isn’t evidence that we spurn the Real Presence, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

  • CRB

    No, I’m not suggesting that. What I wonder about is, if the Reformed believe that Christ’s body and blood are actually (sacramentally) present in and under the bread and wine and they are in fellowship with the ELCA, how can that honestly happen?
    The ELCA, regarding the Lord’s Supper, believes what…???

  • CRB

    No, I’m not suggesting that. What I wonder about is, if the Reformed believe that Christ’s body and blood are actually (sacramentally) present in and under the bread and wine and they are in fellowship with the ELCA, how can that honestly happen?
    The ELCA, regarding the Lord’s Supper, believes what…???

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB:

    Who’s talking about the Reformed? I though you/we were discussing the Anglican Communion/Episcopal Church? There are major differences between the two–starting precisely with the Anglican insistence on the Real Presence.

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB:

    Who’s talking about the Reformed? I though you/we were discussing the Anglican Communion/Episcopal Church? There are major differences between the two–starting precisely with the Anglican insistence on the Real Presence.

  • CRB

    Sorry, I should have been clearer. Do not the Anglican Communion/Episcopal Church follow under the general heading of, Reformed. That is, they are neither Lutheran nor Roman?

  • CRB

    Sorry, I should have been clearer. Do not the Anglican Communion/Episcopal Church follow under the general heading of, Reformed. That is, they are neither Lutheran nor Roman?

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB,

    They are neither Lutheran nor Catholic–nor Reformed, at least not as a group. There are some Anglicans who consider themselves reformed, but, in general, historically, theologically, liturgically, and practically, Anglican worship has much more in common with Catholicism (and Lutheranism) than with Calvinism.

    I’m not sure this question is relevant to the matter at hand, however. We could debate all day whether the Anglican Communion is more Reformed or more Catholic (I sadly know this from experience), but the bottom line is that Anglicans, as a body, affirm the Real Presence. The Reformed do not. Let’s proceed from there.

  • Cincinnatus

    CRB,

    They are neither Lutheran nor Catholic–nor Reformed, at least not as a group. There are some Anglicans who consider themselves reformed, but, in general, historically, theologically, liturgically, and practically, Anglican worship has much more in common with Catholicism (and Lutheranism) than with Calvinism.

    I’m not sure this question is relevant to the matter at hand, however. We could debate all day whether the Anglican Communion is more Reformed or more Catholic (I sadly know this from experience), but the bottom line is that Anglicans, as a body, affirm the Real Presence. The Reformed do not. Let’s proceed from there.

  • CRB

    Thanks, you’ve clarified what I was wondering about the Anglican view of the real presence.

  • CRB

    Thanks, you’ve clarified what I was wondering about the Anglican view of the real presence.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article:

    Any baptized Christian in good standing in their own denomination is welcome to receive Communion at an Episcopal Church.

    And yet, the Episcopal Church also apparently has rubrics that deny Communion

    to anyone known to live a notoriously evil life, to those who have wronged their neighbors and are a scandal to the congregation, or to those who exhibit hatred and unforgiveness towards another.

    Hmm. Sounds to me, per this latter quote, like nobody is welcome to receive Communion there!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article:

    Any baptized Christian in good standing in their own denomination is welcome to receive Communion at an Episcopal Church.

    And yet, the Episcopal Church also apparently has rubrics that deny Communion

    to anyone known to live a notoriously evil life, to those who have wronged their neighbors and are a scandal to the congregation, or to those who exhibit hatred and unforgiveness towards another.

    Hmm. Sounds to me, per this latter quote, like nobody is welcome to receive Communion there!

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD:

    Nice try, but the intent–as in the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and other congregations that maintain such rubrics–is to prevent those wallowing in sin they have not confessed and for which they have not repented from receiving communion. You know, in keeping with explicit scriptural recommendations to that effect.

    Which, incidentally, is yet another problem with Oregon’s little open communion experiment.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD:

    Nice try, but the intent–as in the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and other congregations that maintain such rubrics–is to prevent those wallowing in sin they have not confessed and for which they have not repented from receiving communion. You know, in keeping with explicit scriptural recommendations to that effect.

    Which, incidentally, is yet another problem with Oregon’s little open communion experiment.

  • Jon

    I always heard that with the Episcopal church and sacramental theology, it was sort of a wide variance from parish to parish, as far as what is taught on real presence. Some being mostly the reformed view of spiritual presence, to others being more closely aligned with the Lutheran view of in-with-under.

    Otherwise, yes, to say that the ELCA connection to Episcopals settles anything on the issue of real presence and who comes–that only adds to the confusion. ELCA is, by and large, y’all come!

  • Jon

    I always heard that with the Episcopal church and sacramental theology, it was sort of a wide variance from parish to parish, as far as what is taught on real presence. Some being mostly the reformed view of spiritual presence, to others being more closely aligned with the Lutheran view of in-with-under.

    Otherwise, yes, to say that the ELCA connection to Episcopals settles anything on the issue of real presence and who comes–that only adds to the confusion. ELCA is, by and large, y’all come!

  • Jon

    @24, but what of when when a church body like ELCA, which is in fellowship with Episcopals, has declared that things formerly understood as sinful and needing repentance, are no longer so. If an Episcopal parish was not in concordat on that point would they still have to commune such an ELCA Lutheran?

  • Jon

    @24, but what of when when a church body like ELCA, which is in fellowship with Episcopals, has declared that things formerly understood as sinful and needing repentance, are no longer so. If an Episcopal parish was not in concordat on that point would they still have to commune such an ELCA Lutheran?

  • Cincinnatus

    Jon,

    I’m going to punt on that question, for two reasons:

    1) The Anglican Communion, as I’m sure you well know, is itself embroiled in a deep struggle over these very questions, to which you refer as “things formerly understood as sinful,” within its own structure. So debating about whom the Communion should commune with, as it were, on the grounds of what other church bodies declare to be sinful is unfortunately putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

    2) Frankly, I don’t much care about ecumenicism. While the goal is, from some perspectives, admirable, and while Christ counsels us to pray for unity, ecumenicism in practice has a different meaning for each and ever church body that uses the term. In other words, ecumenicism seems to mean (again, in practice) forging bonds of fellowship with other congregations after we convince them that we’ve been right all along. And so I’ll be honest: I feel the same way. I happen to believe that the Anglican liturgical tradition is sufficient, and I have no interest in congregating with other church bodies, especially not if such congregation involves violence to the tradition. In the meantime, I welcome theological diversity. The chief fault of the Catholics, after all, is in proclaiming to have an infallible and comprehensive grasp of all religious truth.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jon,

    I’m going to punt on that question, for two reasons:

    1) The Anglican Communion, as I’m sure you well know, is itself embroiled in a deep struggle over these very questions, to which you refer as “things formerly understood as sinful,” within its own structure. So debating about whom the Communion should commune with, as it were, on the grounds of what other church bodies declare to be sinful is unfortunately putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

    2) Frankly, I don’t much care about ecumenicism. While the goal is, from some perspectives, admirable, and while Christ counsels us to pray for unity, ecumenicism in practice has a different meaning for each and ever church body that uses the term. In other words, ecumenicism seems to mean (again, in practice) forging bonds of fellowship with other congregations after we convince them that we’ve been right all along. And so I’ll be honest: I feel the same way. I happen to believe that the Anglican liturgical tradition is sufficient, and I have no interest in congregating with other church bodies, especially not if such congregation involves violence to the tradition. In the meantime, I welcome theological diversity. The chief fault of the Catholics, after all, is in proclaiming to have an infallible and comprehensive grasp of all religious truth.

  • SKPeterson

    I think that it is also important to note that the ECUSA is not indicative of the theology and practice of the Anglican Communion as a whole, in the same manner that the ELCA is not indicative of worldwide Lutheranism. In many respects, both bodies are aberrations and not normative expressions of either tradition. Insofar as the ECUSA still holds to Anglican orthodoxy, they do ascribe to the Real Presence, but I believe it is more than tinged with a more Reformed/Calvinist understanding of “real” and “presence” than would be found in Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism, or Eastern Orthodoxy. That being said, the Anglicans are probably the closest of any body that might even be loosely labeled as Calvinist to the traditional, orthodox position on the Eucharist.

  • SKPeterson

    I think that it is also important to note that the ECUSA is not indicative of the theology and practice of the Anglican Communion as a whole, in the same manner that the ELCA is not indicative of worldwide Lutheranism. In many respects, both bodies are aberrations and not normative expressions of either tradition. Insofar as the ECUSA still holds to Anglican orthodoxy, they do ascribe to the Real Presence, but I believe it is more than tinged with a more Reformed/Calvinist understanding of “real” and “presence” than would be found in Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism, or Eastern Orthodoxy. That being said, the Anglicans are probably the closest of any body that might even be loosely labeled as Calvinist to the traditional, orthodox position on the Eucharist.

  • Jay

    The last paragraph of this post includes the the following “… in which (we believe) He gives us His body and blood in a tangible and personal way in the church for the remission of our sins. ” As sinful humans, what “we believe” can be in error, but what the “Bible teaches” cannot be in error. The above statement would have been much stronger had it stated “in which the Bible teaches He gives us His body and blood in a tangible and personal way in the church for the remission of our sins. “

  • Jay

    The last paragraph of this post includes the the following “… in which (we believe) He gives us His body and blood in a tangible and personal way in the church for the remission of our sins. ” As sinful humans, what “we believe” can be in error, but what the “Bible teaches” cannot be in error. The above statement would have been much stronger had it stated “in which the Bible teaches He gives us His body and blood in a tangible and personal way in the church for the remission of our sins. “

  • http://epeuthutebetes.wordpress.com/ Lue-Yee Tsang

    Dr Veith, from experience I can say that at least a sizable number will say one baptism refers to spiritual and not physical baptism. Many people will simply pass over it quickly and, if a little more careful, mutter something to the effect that Christians ought to get baptized.

    As for open communion, I have definitely been in places where the requirement for communion was a (presumably cognitive-existential) belief in Christ as Lord and Saviour. That this is now happening in TEC is hardly surprising to me, since they so love to be open and affirming.

  • http://epeuthutebetes.wordpress.com/ Lue-Yee Tsang

    Dr Veith, from experience I can say that at least a sizable number will say one baptism refers to spiritual and not physical baptism. Many people will simply pass over it quickly and, if a little more careful, mutter something to the effect that Christians ought to get baptized.

    As for open communion, I have definitely been in places where the requirement for communion was a (presumably cognitive-existential) belief in Christ as Lord and Saviour. That this is now happening in TEC is hardly surprising to me, since they so love to be open and affirming.

  • JunkerGeorg

    Again, as I’ve said in other posts here, this is understandable given their faulty presupposition that the Lord’s Supper is the Sacrament of Union/Unity, i.e., which causes/brings about Unity with Christ and each other, rather than Holy Baptism—as we Confessional Lutherans correctly teach (with then the Lord’s Supper being the ‘realization’ of that unity already established in Holy Baptism, in terms of resultant communion/community = first the branch needs to be grafted onto the Vine, united with it, before it can then begin to receive the life-giving/sustaining nutrients from the Vine, and hence also then bear the fruit of the Vine). So it doesn’t take much for them to advocate not only open communion, but also to reject any prerequisite of being baptized, since, as I say, they wrongly believe their participation in the Lord’s Supper is the one and only place/way by which such union/unity with Christ and each other is brought about, and brought about by THEIR work, i.e., their common act of participation in it no less! Yeesh.

  • JunkerGeorg

    Again, as I’ve said in other posts here, this is understandable given their faulty presupposition that the Lord’s Supper is the Sacrament of Union/Unity, i.e., which causes/brings about Unity with Christ and each other, rather than Holy Baptism—as we Confessional Lutherans correctly teach (with then the Lord’s Supper being the ‘realization’ of that unity already established in Holy Baptism, in terms of resultant communion/community = first the branch needs to be grafted onto the Vine, united with it, before it can then begin to receive the life-giving/sustaining nutrients from the Vine, and hence also then bear the fruit of the Vine). So it doesn’t take much for them to advocate not only open communion, but also to reject any prerequisite of being baptized, since, as I say, they wrongly believe their participation in the Lord’s Supper is the one and only place/way by which such union/unity with Christ and each other is brought about, and brought about by THEIR work, i.e., their common act of participation in it no less! Yeesh.

  • Michael B.

    “In an effort to be even more inclusive than they already are, a diocese in the Episcopal Church has dropped baptism as a requirement for someone to receive Holy Communion. ”

    I don’t understand how you would handle the logistics otherwise. Before communion is given, do the church say “baptized persons only”, or something to that effect? Are there any churches that don’t take people’s word for it?

  • Michael B.

    “In an effort to be even more inclusive than they already are, a diocese in the Episcopal Church has dropped baptism as a requirement for someone to receive Holy Communion. ”

    I don’t understand how you would handle the logistics otherwise. Before communion is given, do the church say “baptized persons only”, or something to that effect? Are there any churches that don’t take people’s word for it?

  • Cincinnatus

    Michael B.@32:

    Um, that’s exactly what they say. In my parish, the bulletin includes a clear direction: communion is open to all baptized Christians (but only to baptized Christians). Sure, some congregations are more particular than others about ensuring that only baptized Christians come forward to receive communion–in my experience, Protestant churches usually “take people’s word for it”–but the standard exists.

    Was that a serious question? Knowing you, probably not.

  • Cincinnatus

    Michael B.@32:

    Um, that’s exactly what they say. In my parish, the bulletin includes a clear direction: communion is open to all baptized Christians (but only to baptized Christians). Sure, some congregations are more particular than others about ensuring that only baptized Christians come forward to receive communion–in my experience, Protestant churches usually “take people’s word for it”–but the standard exists.

    Was that a serious question? Knowing you, probably not.

  • Michael B.

    Yes, it was serious. The Lutheran church I attended in my younger years never made that requirement. On second thought, it may have been on the books, but we just didn’t know about it.

  • Michael B.

    Yes, it was serious. The Lutheran church I attended in my younger years never made that requirement. On second thought, it may have been on the books, but we just didn’t know about it.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X