The next step in open communion

Anglicans already share communion with other Christians.  In Canada, they are working on the next step:  Sharing communion with the unbaptized.  And people who follow other religions:

Canadian Anglicans will hold discussions this spring about whether baptism is necessary for taking part in communion — questioning a requirement of Christianity that has existed for 2,000 years.

“Official teaching is you have to be baptized first. But a number of clergy across the country feel strongly about this as an issue and many have approached their bishops about allowing for an ‘open table’ in which all could take communion,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, who is the principal secretary to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, head of the Anglican Church of Canada.

It will be discussed when the House of Bishops meet in April, but not as an official topic, he said.

The idea — already rejected as a dangerous step by more orthodox Anglicans — was raised in an article this week in the AnglicanJournal.com in which an Ontario church pastor argues that removing the requirement of baptism would help stop the decline in the number of Anglicans attending services.

Rev. Gary Nicolosi said that if Jesus did not discriminate about who he invited to his table, then the Church should follow his lead.

“How, in our multicultural and pluralistic society, can our churches be places of hospitality if we exclude table fellowship with the non-baptized? This is not an academic question,” wrote Rev. Nicolosi, the pastor at St. James Westminster Anglican Church in London, Ont., and an official Church consultant on how to build membership.

“In Canada, a growing number of the population is not baptized. Included are people from different religious traditions or people with no religious affiliation at all. Quite likely, some are our grandchildren or great-grandchildren, whose parents neglected or refused to have them baptized.

“How can the church effectively minister in a post-Christian world where a significant percentage of the population is not baptized? Some Anglican churches are attempting to meet this challenge by becoming open and inclusive faith communities, ready and willing to support people in their spiritual journeys.”

via Anglicans to consider opening communion to unbaptized | Holy Post | National Post.

HT:James Kushiner

Anglos don’t know Lutheranism

I was talking with an Anglican priest and, after we had compared notes about our churches, he expressed surprise that there are Missouri Synod Lutherans who worship with the liturgy. This, even though the typical Lutheran congregation is far more liturgical than he is, what with our chanted divine services and more elaborate practices! The day before I was reading Graham Greene’s excellent, profound, and highly-Christian novel The Power and the Glory . It includes some German-American Lutherans, whom Greene depicts as kindly and not put off by the whisky priest’s sinfulness, but who have no crosses, just Gideon Bibles, and reject all of its “non-essentials” that characterizes Catholicism. But German-American Lutherans have crosses–yea, crucifixes–and are replete with what other Protestants consider non-essentials! Earlier, I had been enjoyed the first-rate mystery series by C. J. Sansom, whose detective Matthew Shardlake in the reign of Henry VIII solves murders in the age of the Reformation. (Start with Dissolution.) Despite Sansom’s thorough research and his main character’s personal investment in the Reformation cause, Lutherans are portrayed as the most radical of the dissenting sects, known mainly for their doctrine of predestination!

I suppose the English are just unfamiliar with Lutheranism. They seem to assume it is the opposite end of Catholicism, the Protestant pole of the via media that they are always trying to achieve. I’m sure this is part of the reason Americans too are often oblivious to the Lutherans in their midst. Then again, part of the fault may lie with the Lutherans for keeping their beliefs to themselves.


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