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OPEN THREAD—Members of TEC Please Weigh In: Do you support communion of the unbaptized?

Sunday, April 19, 2009 • 7:36 pm

As predicted five years ago, communion of the unbaptized—in violation of the very clear and spelled out canons of the church—is occurring more and more frequently in parishes around TEC.  I’ve been perusing another thread about yet another instance of “open communion” and have thought to ask a question of our readers.

For all those people who are still members of TEC [those who have left TEC are going to be discounted as Primitive Neanderthals and therefore naturally opposed to Freedom and Justice and Inclusion and Happiness], please answer the following two questions.  I ask because I am sincerely interested in getting a read on just how popular “open communion” is amongst us pewsters and clergy still within TEC.  Please understand that “open communion” is not about “communion open to other Christians” which the Episcopal Church has offered for the longest.  This is about communion offered to those who are not Christian believers, and are therefore by necessity not even baptized.  For this reason, “open communion” is often described as “communion of the unbaptized.”

Feel free to either answer yes or no, or offer a brief explanation as to why or why not.  Also, though this blog obviously attracts many conservative readers, I’ll be interested in learning the answers of those who are revisionists/progressives and willing to come out of the woodwork.

1) Do you accept or oppose The Episcopal Church offering communion to all who wish it, including the unbaptized?

2) If no, because such communion is in violation of the canons of the Church, do you then accept or oppose the revision of the canons such that parishes may offer communion to all who wish it, including the unbaptized, legally and canonically? 

My answers to the above two questions are:

Oppose, and Oppose.

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Of course, it is universally forbidden in all of the early writings, and also in the RC, Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, etc etc etc traditions… even the TEC’s precious “canons” don’t permit it. Punto e basta.

[1] Posted by A Senior Priest on 04-19-2009 at 09:11 PM • top

Communion is only for the baptized and the canons if changed (they should not be) would still not make it right.  Communion can only be for Christians, this is how, minimally in an age of nominal Christianity, we mark the difference.  The way in which the unbaptized are invited makes a mockery of the notion of coming to Christ in repentance, receiving Christ, confessing Christ and being baptized.  All it takes is water and the desire - remember the Ethiopian Eunuch and Philip, the jailer and his family with Paul.
I am still counted as an Episcopal insider and priest though I serve now in Peru.  Hopefully that is good enough for the survey!

[2] Posted by Ian Montgomery on 04-19-2009 at 09:12 PM • top

I am opposed, and opposed.
Actually, Sarah, I might go a step (several steps) further.  Any cleric who knowingly communes the unbaptized has renounced his or her orders.  They have committed sacrilege, desecrated the Blessed Sacrament.  They are ex-communicate. They should be immediately deposed.  As should every bishop who allows it. 

If TEC “legalizes” communion without Baptism, they have destroyed their own apostolic succession and will cease to be a church in any meaningful way.

This is something far beyond a political decision.  They are playing with OUR immortal souls here.

Hopefully I have been sufficiently clear even for the progressives reading here.

[3] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-19-2009 at 09:15 PM • top

Oppose!  What is the point of receiving communion when one has not been initiated into the Body of Christ?


[4] Posted by Rudy on 04-19-2009 at 09:17 PM • top


[5] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 04-19-2009 at 09:19 PM • top

Nope.  I oppose.  Otherwise it becomes a free for all.

[6] Posted by B. Hunter on 04-19-2009 at 09:36 PM • top

Rudy (7) is surely right;  but what I don’t understand is why a non-Christian would even want to receive communion.  What’s the good of it?  Now, don’t reply saying, ‘But experience shows that some do.’  I know this.  I just don’t understand it.

[7] Posted by Soapy Sam on 04-19-2009 at 09:39 PM • top

Neanderthal alerts—two already on this very thread!  ; > )

AndrewA—I am not seeking a quantitative representative sample of TEC.  I have other motives.

[8] Posted by Sarah on 04-19-2009 at 09:46 PM • top

Oppose, and oppose…

[9] Posted by Nevin on 04-19-2009 at 09:54 PM • top


[10] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 04-19-2009 at 09:54 PM • top

One must be baptised and confirmed to receive Holy Communion. Why the change? It is annoying to see children jumping up and down the steps with communion wafers waving in their hands…..They need to be in Sunday School learning what this is all about, not squawking during the Oblation! Help!!!!

[11] Posted by Ribstone on 04-19-2009 at 10:03 PM • top

oppose and oppose

[12] Posted by SC Lady on 04-19-2009 at 10:07 PM • top

1) Oppose
2) Oppose revision in the canons.

Word to those who would say “Oh, just let them all in…” This stuff actually MEANS something. Being baptised means something, and it is clear, not something hidden, vague or even particularly difficult to understand. Communion isn’t simply an edifying reenactment of a long-ago myth, and if you actually believe in souls, unworthily receiving it can result in your damnation. Heck, even confirmation actually means something that is reasonably clear.

Unfortunately, changing canons won’t change the meanings of those things, and won’t erase the wrongness of completely open reception (i.e., including the unbaptised deliberately and even encouraging them to receive). You’re not in until you’re in, even if you desire not to make people feel uneasy. Er, “facts is facts.”

[13] Posted by ears2hear on 04-19-2009 at 10:07 PM • top

1.  Opposed.  For an unbaptized person to receive Holy Communion is to profane the sacrament.  It is also an offense against the dignity and integrity of the person receiving, unless they are completely unaware of what they are doing.

If such a person later becomes a Christian and is baptized, they will need to confess and repent of the sin of sacrilege, receive absolution, and ideally perform an act of reparation before the Blessed Sacrament, or some other act of penance, prior to receiving again.

2.  Opposed.  The General Convention of the Episcopal Church has no authority whatsoever to contravene the canons of the early Church on this matter.  It does not even have the competence to address the issue, except insofar as it affirms the Church‘s established position.  Any such decision would be null and void, no matter how many votes.

[14] Posted by episcopalienated on 04-19-2009 at 10:09 PM • top

This is about communion offered to those who are not Christian believers, and are therefore by necessity not even baptized.

Generally I OPPOSE and OPPOSE, but you’ve left out the possibility of Christians who are not baptized yet.  (E.g. those who have made a profession but have not yet been baptized, those of other denominations which do not emphasize baptism, etc….)  This can happen at interdenom worship events or when communion is used as an evangelistic invitation.

Best in Christ,

[15] Posted by henrymoustache on 04-19-2009 at 10:10 PM • top

Oppose, and oppose. 

This once and future Neanderthal has heard NO coherent arguments from the proponents of CWOB, other than the usual stuff about Jesus “sharing meals with sinners,” “the need for inclusion,” etc.  My question to the advocates for this canon-breaker:  if the Baptismal Covenant is SO precious, so fundamental to TEC’s theology and doctrine (and I use those terms advisedly), why do you degrade it by allowing the unbaptized to partake of the Eucharist?

Another question, based on personal observation:  why would progressives deny Communion to children who have been baptized, and have at least a basic faith in Christ, yet welcome unbaptized non-Christians to the Lord’s Table?

[16] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 04-19-2009 at 10:12 PM • top

I belonged to a parish that did it and left.

[17] Posted by LA Anglican on 04-19-2009 at 10:22 PM • top

Opposed on both counts. Participation in Holy Communion by the unbaptized demeans and profanes the body and blood of Christ. This is not some sorority ritual.
Those who are uncomfortable or feel left out might just be feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit.

[18] Posted by birminghamer on 04-19-2009 at 10:24 PM • top


[19] Posted by Karla on 04-19-2009 at 10:35 PM • top


[20] Posted by Sheep75002 on 04-19-2009 at 10:36 PM • top

Unequivocally OPPOSE and OPPOSE.  Coffee and doughnuts in the Fellowship Hall is a more meaningful form of “communion” than this abomination.

[21] Posted by Nikolaus on 04-19-2009 at 10:39 PM • top


When did the restriction on being confirmed to receive communion get deep-sixed?  I came into the Episcopal Church about 16 odd years ago.  Wasn’t confirmed until about 8 years ago.

[22] Posted by Bill2 on 04-19-2009 at 10:55 PM • top

1: Oppose with limited allowance for extra-ordinary/extreme circumstances.
2: Oppose

[23] Posted by Alex Resurgent on 04-19-2009 at 10:59 PM • top

Oppose and Oppose
a ban was even affirmed at the Last (extremely revisionist) general convention, calling for a moratorium on CWOB, you can see how important the acts of Gen Conv are when they stand in the way of “being prophetic”

[24] Posted by Soy City Priest on 04-19-2009 at 11:02 PM • top


[25] Posted by Lakeland 2 on 04-19-2009 at 11:10 PM • top

oppose and oppose

[26] Posted by frreed on 04-19-2009 at 11:13 PM • top


[27] Posted by driver8 on 04-19-2009 at 11:27 PM • top


[28] Posted by Richard Yale on 04-19-2009 at 11:37 PM • top

#28, it was in 1970 that the canons were changed to allow communion after baptism and without confirmation.

[29] Posted by Richard Yale on 04-19-2009 at 11:39 PM • top

HAH!  It’s trick question!  Since ANYONE can receive communion in an Episcopal church, EVERYONE *IS* an Episcopalian!  Including Muslims, as we know.  Thought you could catch me on a amateurish ruse like that?

[30] Posted by nwlayman on 04-20-2009 at 01:11 AM • top


[31] Posted by gaanglican on 04-20-2009 at 02:57 AM • top

If TEC “legalizes” communion without Baptism, they have destroyed their own apostolic succession and will cease to be a church in any meaningful way.

Oh yeah, right.  Like that hasn’t already happened.

[32] Posted by The Pilgrim on 04-20-2009 at 04:12 AM • top


[33] Posted by Just_Me on 04-20-2009 at 04:45 AM • top

I’m still on the membership rolls of one TEC church and do attend it some while in the U.S. though my primary allegiance is to a CANA church.

But for the record:
oppose and oppose

I’ll note also that several years ago the TEC parish I attend in SE FL did initiate a totally “all who seek God are welcome” kind of invitation and offered Communion weekly at a contemporary seeker’s service.  The bishop, Leo Frade, was encouraging such (he’d written an article about inclusion and hospitality to seekers in the diocesan newspaper).  When at least one conservative bishop called +Frade on this, +Frade issued a pastoral directive that the canons needed to be followed and CWOB should stop.  But he made it clear that he wants to work for change of the canons. 

The rector of the church in SE FL did stop and go back to a traditional “all baptized Christians” are welcome to receive invitation.  But to my knowledge, no one but me raised the issue with my rector before he stopped, though perhaps some just left quietly over the matter.  I was all set to leave, but definitely not quietly.

[34] Posted by Karen B. on 04-20-2009 at 05:18 AM • top

My short answer is Oppose and Oppose, but in 43 years of parish ministry I have found a few occasions where a policy of administering communion to all who come to the rail has had evangelistic results. We are finding more and more people who have come to faith in Jesus as adults from either unchurched or antipedpbaptist backgrounds. They come to an Episcopal or Anglican church where regular communion is the rule and are drawn, I believe by the Holy Spirit, to receive communion. I administer the sacrament to all who come to receive it. I believe I do so “rightly and duly,” making a practice of asking new members how they got to our church. For most that begins with a churched family and baptism; for some it does not. I take advantage of the opportunity to offer instruction and baptism, and have never been refused. At Christmas and Easter, and on other occasions where I recognize strangers in the congregation I’ll include in the mid-service announcements an invitation to all Christian people to receive communion.

But that is different from a general invitation,  “whoevery you are, wherever you are in your faith journey, we invite you to receive communion today.” The communion is a fellowship meal with Jesus, and our tradition is that participating in the meal is obeying Jesus’ command, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Baptism makes us one with him and opens the fellowship of the communion table. There is a long tradition of “baptism by desire,” and I am willing to extend that in pastoral situations, but our fellowship with the past requires us to refrain from inviting unbelievers to the table.  I think of Paul’s teaching the Corinthians that sex with a prostitute creates a spiritual bond with her like the bond of marriage. Receiving comunion creates a spiritual bond with the Lord. Obedience to him offers eternal life; unforgiven sinners eat and drink to damnation. As a priest I am called to offer salvation, not damnation.

[35] Posted by TomRightmyer on 04-20-2009 at 05:22 AM • top


[36] Posted by Jeff in VA on 04-20-2009 at 05:24 AM • top


[37] Posted by heart on 04-20-2009 at 06:05 AM • top

Oppose- Communion is for Christians. There is even a Scriptural admonition to those who upon receiving “do not discern the body of the Lord. The unbaptized can get a blessing at the rail.
Oppose - canons should not be changed.



[38] Posted by seraph on 04-20-2009 at 06:16 AM • top

Oppose and Oppose, and I would expect that is pretty much what you would get on this Blog.  Many people who come here actually believe the Scriptures and what Jesus said, i.e. “Lest ye are baptised etc, etc.

[39] Posted by Rev. J on 04-20-2009 at 06:18 AM • top

Oppose; Oppose.

[40] Posted by more martha than mary on 04-20-2009 at 06:26 AM • top

Opposed, now and forever.

[41] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 04-20-2009 at 06:27 AM • top

Oppose and oppose. 

The Eucharist is the “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” which our Lord gives to his children to remind us of his ongoing work of grace in our lives and bond us in faith to the Church Universal through the remembrance of His life, death, resurrection, and ascension.  Inclusion at the Table removes the boundary between Church and not Church and weakens the meaning of both Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by requiring no formal or spiritual relationship to the event taking place.  In open communion, what is the meaning of membership in the Body of Christ the Church, of Holy Baptism, of grace?

[42] Posted by JRandall on 04-20-2009 at 06:29 AM • top

And let’s not forget that being baptized is not some free pass to receive communion under any and all circumstances.  One should be prepared to receive and one should receive in a worthy manner.  And as much as many of us rail about discipline in the Anglican Communion, how many practice this in our own parishes?  We know there are those (possibly ourselves?) who are at times not in Grace and should not receive until we confess our sins and receive absolution from our confessor.

[43] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 04-20-2009 at 06:31 AM • top


[44] Posted by Athanasian on 04-20-2009 at 06:33 AM • top

Opposed and opposed.

[45] Posted by Tractarian on 04-20-2009 at 06:34 AM • top

I attended a church with an adult awaiting baptism and to see her approach the rail each week to receive a blessing was such a reminder to us all about the seriousness of Holy Communion.  You could just sense how she yearned for it.

[46] Posted by hebrews416 on 04-20-2009 at 06:49 AM • top

TJ (in 5): If TEC “legalizes” communion without Baptism, they have destroyed their own apostolic succession and will cease to be a church in any meaningful way.

Pilgrim (in 38): Oh yeah, right.  Like that hasn’t already happened.

Pilgrim, I don’t think any of my comments on this blog (approaching 3000 last I looked) would be misconstrued as an apology for TEC.  Clearly the national church is not a church in any meaningful way, as is clearly demonstrated by the fact that there is no enforcement whatsoever of the canons requiring Baptism as a precondition to receiving Communion.  However, I would suggest that the Church still exists in some dioceses, and in many parishes within TEC.  If communion without baptism is made canon law, then the likes of +Breidenthal and +Whalon will find themselves ecclesial criminals if they do not follow the national canons, just as +Iker and +Schofield and +Ackerman were branded over resisting WO.  Priests who refuse communion to anyone for any reason will be subject to inhibition and deposition by the liberal bishops.  No doubt a few enclaves will hold out for a while.
My point is that any bishop who has permits open communion has left the faith.  Not to be a donatist, but I think we have to draw a line somewhere.  By invalidating Holy Communion and their own precious Baptismal Covenant, they also lose the ability to confer Holy Orders and other Sacraments.  Which may explain the current circumstances in TEC- a large number of the bishops are not bishops in the Apostolic succession.

[47] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-20-2009 at 07:03 AM • top

oppose & oppose
I remember an article - not at my fingertips, unfortunately - that said communion without baptism is relationship without responsibility.  Couldn’t agree more.

[48] Posted by johnd on 04-20-2009 at 07:15 AM • top

I believe that any priest who knowing allows communion to persons who have not been baptized, and/or does NOT believe in the sacrament, also is responsible for false teaching, and therefor causing someone else to sin.


Grannie Gloria

[49] Posted by Grandmother on 04-20-2009 at 07:17 AM • top

I oppose communing the unbaptized and I oppose revising the canons to make it “legal” for reasons I’ve written about in another place:

[50] Posted by Creedal Christian on 04-20-2009 at 07:26 AM • top

Still TEC, with no escape plans.

Oppose. Oppose.

Adults received into Christianity ought to have had a good, old-fashioned catechumenate prior to baptism.

[51] Posted by Ralph on 04-20-2009 at 07:28 AM • top

Oppose and oppose. Communion for the unbaptized is an announcement that communion means nothing, IMO.

[52] Posted by oscewicee on 04-20-2009 at 07:59 AM • top

1) Oppose
2) Oppose

[53] Posted by David Bailey on 04-20-2009 at 08:28 AM • top


I still think first communion should occur when one is confirmed.

[54] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 04-20-2009 at 08:34 AM • top

Support, and Support, with enthusiasm!
As a lawyer, we have a saying: “When the reason for a rule vanishes, so should the rule.”

The requirement of baptism before communion was instituted in the early church when Christians were persecuted and killed.  In the old days, the unbaptized were dismissed after the Liturgy of the Word. The theory was that one did not come to the Altar unless one was willing to stick one’s neck out and join the Church. The Church did not let the unbaptized stay for the celebration lest they be spies for the Roman authorities.
In the constitutional democracy where TEC operates, where freedom to worship is protected by law, this requiremnent is no longer needed and should ba abolished.

As one raised in the ceremonial traditions of the Anglo-Catholic sector with a strong dose of inclusive theology, I support opening communion to all who present themselves thereat and inviting everyone to come forward. Jesus was all about inclusion—-he ate with tax collectors and consorted with women who had many sexual partners and other people considered “undesirable” in his day. The ultimate question is whether, based on the evidence we have about Jesus, would He turn them away? Finally, is not the Great Commission “job one” for Christians? If inviting everyone to communion will lead to baptising them, as we are commanded to do, we are carrying out Jesus’ penultimate purpose, exprssed unmistakably in the closing verses of the Matthean Gospel. Baptism is a goal, not a threshold!

[55] Posted by DesertDavid on 04-20-2009 at 08:35 AM • top

Baptism is a goal?  Geezz does that mean confirmation is a “stretch goal?”

[56] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 04-20-2009 at 08:39 AM • top

They will never know the joy of the first communion after confirmation. Why would the church want to deny them that joy for a confused pseudo inclusive moment?

[57] Posted by ctowles on 04-20-2009 at 08:56 AM • top

Still in TEC


[58] Posted by Old Soldier on 04-20-2009 at 08:58 AM • top

Still hanging on by a very slim thread in TEC (only because of a lack of local alternative).

the snarkster™

[59] Posted by the snarkster on 04-20-2009 at 09:11 AM • top

DesertDavid, you think there is no risk to just any schmo coming in and taking communion? After all, nothing happens in communion, right? It’s just a snack?

[60] Posted by oscewicee on 04-20-2009 at 09:16 AM • top

Be sweet to DesertDavid—no cuffing him about the head and shoulders.  I believe he is the first progressive to put a support on this thread.

[61] Posted by Sarah on 04-20-2009 at 09:18 AM • top

Oppose and oppose.

[62] Posted by Michele on 04-20-2009 at 09:20 AM • top


No time to comment; must take diocese survey for bishop search. Let’s see if the issue is on there.

[63] Posted by Bull Street on 04-20-2009 at 09:27 AM • top

Oppose - Communion before confirmation.  Confirmation at 13 years old at the earliest.

[64] Posted by JustOneVoice on 04-20-2009 at 09:28 AM • top

Apologies for cuffing DesertDavid. It’s a matter that concerns me deeply, but I shouldn’t have responded like an attack dog.

[65] Posted by oscewicee on 04-20-2009 at 09:35 AM • top

Still in TEC.  Oppose and oppose.  The “use” of Holy Sacraments as an evangelistic tool is a problem. It’s the same old business of where one is standing.  Do I place myself over the sacraments as a judge or under am I standing (or kneeling) under them as a sinner desperately in need of the grace and presence of the Living Lord?
It is true that good evangelism can and does often happen as a part of the preparation to receive the sacrament. Putting the sacrament before the evangelism (formation) is putting the cart in front of the horse.  Might be sweet to look at, but going nowhere.

[66] Posted by Village vicar on 04-20-2009 at 09:42 AM • top

DesertDavid writes,

Jesus was all about inclusion—-he ate with tax collectors and consorted with women who had many sexual partners and other people considered “undesirable” in his day.


Sarah, I think oscewicee was showing admirable, charitable restraint. To put it nicely, I think he needs to be theologically dismantled and reassembled. If not, call in Deacon Payne for the savage beatdown.

[67] Posted by Ralph on 04-20-2009 at 09:45 AM • top

Oppose and oppose.  I rememember a hearing on this topic at the 2006 GC.  Fr. Ed Bacon from All Saints Pasadena was pushing for change in this area and trotted out several people who gave very warm and fuzzy stories about their “experience” in receiving communion without being baptized.  In the end it will be the same pattern as with SSB.  Just do it long enough and the canons will surely follow the practice.  It is simply a matter of time.

[68] Posted by Don Curran on 04-20-2009 at 09:55 AM • top

Oh don’t worry, oscewicee—I was just warning future commenters.  I do not consider your comment to be cuffing DesertDavid about the head and shoulders.

Just warning the thread.  Arguing good.  Dismantling ideas good.  Cuffing DesertDavid about head and shoulders—not good.

Ralph, keep violent Deacon Payne in his closet.  He only gets to come out at seminaries—mainly just Nashotah House and Trinity.

[69] Posted by Sarah on 04-20-2009 at 09:55 AM • top

I’m a theological light weight, but Jesus had the Last Supper with his twelve disciples he told them to do it in remembrance of him when they met.  When he feed the multitude on loaves and fishes, he did not give the same command.

[70] Posted by JustOneVoice on 04-20-2009 at 09:56 AM • top

Oppose and oppose.

I’ve always fully agreed with Dr. Witt’s opinion that Baptism is a Covenant, not a membership card.  And Communion is not something that you just try on for size to see whether or not you like it. 

Proud to be a Dallas Neanderthalette

[71] Posted by Passing By on 04-20-2009 at 10:07 AM • top

John D. (#54) I wonder if this is the article you are thinking of.  It was at Episcopal Cafe in 2007 by blogger Derek Olsen:

[72] Posted by Karen B. on 04-20-2009 at 10:22 AM • top

I oppose both, although I used to think much as DesertDavid does.  What changed my mind, oddly enough, was going through the EfM program.  After looking at how the Church treated the sacraments for most of its history, I decided that it wasn’t a good thing to use them for evangelism.  And almost all of the really successful evangelical movements have used the word to bring people to the sacraments, not the other way around.

[73] Posted by Kubla on 04-20-2009 at 10:31 AM • top

Oppose, Oppose.

But don’t you all know, though, that the only point of Baptism is the Baptismal Covenant and once those words are said you have to “live into them” by becoming a crazed leftist?  That is the point, right?

[74] Posted by Nasty, Brutish & Short on 04-20-2009 at 10:33 AM • top

I will give a weigh in by proxy since I know how my in laws feel about this.  They are opposed to the first and I am not sure about the latter.  I also know they would support a return to first Eucharist being received after

Now I have a question would you support the Orthodox, Eastern Catholic Rite practice of all three Sacraments of Initiation being given at once, even in infancy?  I assume of course a program of orthodox religious education follows so the child’s understanding of the Sacraments becomes well developed. 

I know I am leaning more and more towards First Communion and Confirmation being celebrated more closely together ,perhaps around the age of 8, rather than the separation of appx 7 years we see now.  A separation that seems to have no theological or doctrinal grounds but arising only out of custom and convenience.

I know there truly is no reason dogmatically for not having all three sacraments of initiation at one time even for infants.  But I guess my Latin Rite comfort zone just does not stretch far enough to be comfortable supporting the reception of Communion and Confirmation before the age of reason.

[75] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 04-20-2009 at 10:37 AM • top

Oppose and Oppose. 

Having been raised in a nondenominational evangelical setting, the necessity of baptism (as opposed to its being merely a ‘public pronouncement’ or ‘witness’) was entirely foreign to me.  During college, I began attending a TEC church.  Owing to this upbringing, I felt free to partake of Holy Communion despite my not having been baptised.  While I found weekly Communion to be profoundly meaningful, and while one of the effects of this was to prompt me to seek to be baptised so as to more fully participate in the life of the church, I <i> deeply <i> regret having offended against the laws of God and his Church in this way, and I wish that I had not pridefully deceived myself into thinking that this requirement ought not to apply to me because I was ‘already a Christian.’

TEC is on very dangerous territory here.  I assume this will be the latest liturgical/ecclesiological fad to further sink TEC into the mire of irrelevance.

[76] Posted by Pigeon on 04-20-2009 at 10:41 AM • top

I hope this will not be regarded as a cuff of DD.  The reason the catechumens were sent out before the liturgy of the Eucharist was not because the Church was afraid they might be Roman spies. Or that they thought only those who were willing to sign up for Martyrdom 101 should cross the hallowed threshold.  It was because the Sacrament of The Eucharist was considered a sacred mystery that should not be profaned by the presence of those who were not Christians. 
Even the Pagans had a better understanding of the difference between the sacred and profane than many modern day Christians do.

[77] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 04-20-2009 at 10:45 AM • top

I’ll learn how to use HTML tags someday.  Sorry for the excess italics.

[78] Posted by Pigeon on 04-20-2009 at 10:45 AM • top

In most churches I have visited, TEC and others, the order of service has a note saying that all baptized Christians are invited to receive.

[79] Posted by oscewicee on 04-20-2009 at 11:21 AM • top

And, Desert David, Not in my court.

[80] Posted by john1 on 04-20-2009 at 11:22 AM • top

I am a member of the illustrious TEC Diocese of Minnesota, and I say HELL NO, to communion of the unbaptized,first it is against the canons, secondly no churches have really practiced it until recently. My mother grew up Swedish Baptist and there was no communion for the unbaptized as an example of extreme low church people being against communion of the unbaptized. And heck pretty much every major Church, Catholic,Orthodox and Protestant has been against it and countinues to be against it. And the Didache, one of the earliest Christian writings outside the Bible is clearly against. In other words it is something innovative like gay marriage, that seemed self evidently wrong, until the moral confused self indulgent,1960s radical begun their march through the institutions.

[81] Posted by Anglo-Catholic-Jihadi on 04-20-2009 at 12:02 PM • top

I believe that even those Denominations who do not teach Baptism as regenerative would view the taking of Communion unworthily as a grave risk to one’s soul.  At a minimum I think they would want to be assured the person is either Baptized into any Christian body or baptized and maybe confirmed as a church member. 

Though we Catholics tend to think some Protestants have a low view of Holy Communion I have yet to come across an orthodox Protestant who dismisses it as just a Sunday nosh to show their unity with fellow church members.  So we should be careful not to equate a view that Communion is a memorial with the idea that it is not revered and held with great esteem by other churches.

I have no doubt that serious Christians all examine themselves before reception so as to not eat and drink condemnation amongst themselves.

[82] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 04-20-2009 at 12:04 PM • top

Definitely opposed to all such “new things”.

[83] Posted by yankeeintexas on 04-20-2009 at 12:24 PM • top

Oppose.  Of course. 

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

[84] Posted by Stephen on 04-20-2009 at 12:38 PM • top

Just left TEC, sadly right before Palm Sunday, because open communion, laxity in the handling of worship and holy things and other “new” things just got to be too much.

[85] Posted by 7Light on 04-20-2009 at 01:18 PM • top


[86] Posted by PapaJoe on 04-20-2009 at 01:21 PM • top

Well, there goes the Baptismal Covenant…



[87] Posted by Wolverine on 04-20-2009 at 01:22 PM • top

Oppose, oppose. With deep concern for the souls of those who practice it, and more so for those who allow them to do so…

[88] Posted by FrVan on 04-20-2009 at 01:31 PM • top

Still TEC member.



I am ambivalent about paedocommunion… on the one hand, it was practiced by the early church; on the other hand, the ceremony surrounding First Communion seems worth keeping and cherishing, not to mention the practical concern of ensuring children are old/schooled enough to understand; on the other, other hand, there are some very young children in my parish who reverently partake every week and, well, they are baptized.

Of course, the way things are going, there may not be enough children left in the church soon to make this question relevant.

[89] Posted by AngloCath on 04-20-2009 at 01:49 PM • top


Not sure if my vote counts though.  We left two years ago, but TEC still counts us as members, even after we transferred our membership to the APA in ‘07.  I have been visiting a conservative Episcopal parish once a month to receive communion, now that our family is attending an EP church. (The kids begged us to go there since it’s got great preaching and is packed with youth; our APA church is mostly elderly.)
Interestingly, on Maundy Thursday I was shocked that the celebrant at this parish announced that ALL persons were welcomed in his (!) church to receive communion (Very intentionally and clearly communicating that baptism was not necessary.)  And I thought it was conservative/orthodox, partly because they often use the Rite I liturgy. 

Now I’m once again going to be thirsty for communion.  The saltine cracker and dixie cup with grape juice once a month at the EP church is SOOO difficult for me, and that is because I hold communion as a sacred feast of those who “commune” with Christ, and baptism is necessary to be part of His body, the Church


[90] Posted by cityonahill on 04-20-2009 at 02:20 PM • top

Oppose and oppose

[91] Posted by Invicta on 04-20-2009 at 02:38 PM • top

Iglesia Anglicana de México
Me opongo
Me opongo

[92] Posted by David |däˈvēd| on 04-20-2009 at 03:08 PM • top

What’s all the hubub about no communion before confirmation? As a second grader RC I had my first confession and communion and wasn’t confirmed until 6th grade.
As to Desert David - he may have a point. Communion to me is only a symbol.

[93] Posted by LA Anglican on 04-20-2009 at 03:09 PM • top

1. The canons forbid communion before baptism. The questions asked at the start of this thread concern that.

2. Of course, the more one’s theology understands the eucharist as an action by us (e.g. in human beings creating and using symbols) the more one may feel at liberty to do whatever one considers to be fitting in using those symbols.

[94] Posted by driver8 on 04-20-2009 at 03:21 PM • top

Okay Kind Peoples . . . . I see that several [ahem] Primitive Neanderthals weighed in on this thread, many of you with some excellent comments.

HOWSOMEVER . . . I desire a pure, cleansed-from-Primitive-Neanderthals thread [for my own reasons] and therefore will be trolling through this thread and deleting your comments some time this evening.


You can copy and paste your comments from this thread and post them on this nice, Neanderthal-Inclusive thread:

Please rescue your brilliant comments now from the cutting shears of The Meanest Blogger Ever.  Otherwise they will be lost to humanity Forever, as they will be cast from this thread into Outer Darkness Where There Is Weeping And Gnashing Of Teeth.

Thank you.

[95] Posted by Sarah on 04-20-2009 at 03:46 PM • top

Mike, how about if I toss a bouquet? Well said.

[96] Posted by oscewicee on 04-20-2009 at 04:01 PM • top

Dear Meanest Blogger,
Please be advised that pending the reading of today’s mail, I am a member of the Episcopal Church. Well, if I can be considered one as the closest bishop I recognize as such is several hours drive away. Will hold out til the consent to the bishop-elect and/or until the formation of some church of Anglo Catholic bent within 50 miles. However that may be, although I am, according to postings on the HoBD listserve, one of the five malcontents identified by diocesan officials as opposed to the bishop elect, the documents of excommunication have yet to be delivered.

When I leave (or am thrown out of) the Episcopal Church, I am sure you will be among the first to know, and you can remove my comments at that time.  PS- will a letter of resignation be considered adequate proof, or do I need to actually have my name erased from the rolls of the several parishes in which it is recorded? Something that I may not be able to accomplish in my lifetime.

[97] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-20-2009 at 04:27 PM • top

You cannot receive the body and blood of Our Lord until your sins have been washed away.

[98] Posted by Thomas on 04-20-2009 at 04:31 PM • top

TJ, you troublemaker! grin <g> Smile.

[99] Posted by oscewicee on 04-20-2009 at 04:37 PM • top

Oppose and oppose

And, Sarah [115]:

Where There Is Weeping And Gnashing Of Teeth

What of “wailing”—there must be wailing!

[100] Posted by leonL on 04-20-2009 at 04:53 PM • top

Dear Meanest Blogger, this is your site, not mine. As always, feel free, without guilt, to edit or blot my comments out of thy blog, but (I pray you) do not blot them out with bitter water, lest thy keyboard be short-circuited.

Your obedient servant,

(That being said, I don’t think that Nashotah House and TSM need Deacon Payne as much as some other places in TEC.)

[101] Posted by Ralph on 04-20-2009 at 04:54 PM • top

Oppose and oppose, and y’all know where I stand on some things.  Communion is a reinforcement and recommitment to following Christ.  What is the point if one is not already a follower?

[102] Posted by To the Left on 04-20-2009 at 05:01 PM • top

Oppose and oppose.  Three footnotes:

  1.  I haven’t decided on membership in TEC.  I haven’t been part of TEC in the past.  I remain uncomfortable in TEC given the prevailing liberal zeitgeist, but I have visited local Episcopal churches several times and there are things I like locally.

  2.  I think it is a very good thing that churches recognize Christianity in those of other denominations.  It is a major flaw, in my opinion, that the RCC treats the rest of the Christian world as heathens (by, for example, not letting them partake).  In that sense, Communion that is “open” to all who believe is a very good thing.

  3.  Most of the time, there’s no way for clergy to know whether those who partake believe.  I don’t favor theological quizzes, registration, or the like to keep Communion pure.  If the church states that Communion is for Christians and someone who does not believe partakes, that’s between that person and God.  But there’s a big difference between that and inviting non-Christians to partake.

[103] Posted by DavidH on 04-20-2009 at 07:57 PM • top

Opposed and opposed, but not sure how you enforce it.  Also, the need to define a “Christian” baptism.  We had a Mormon family come to the altar some time ago.  I never got a clear answer from the bishop about what we are supposed to do with respect to Mormons.

[104] Posted by Matthew on 04-20-2009 at 08:06 PM • top

Alright peeps, it’s been over four hours—plenty of time to snatch your comments from destruction and paste them over on this thread—the Neanderthal-Inclusive thread:

Speed along—the shearing will begin shortly.

[105] Posted by Sarah on 04-20-2009 at 08:16 PM • top

First a story.  In your introduction to these questions you say, “Please understand that ‘open communion’ is not about ‘communion open to other Christians’ which the Episcopal Church has offered for the longest.”  Well, not “the longest.” Only since the early 1970s as the church was developing its current BCP

I am a priest.  My father was a priest.  When I was growing up in the 50s, we vacationed in a lovely area in Michigan.  We always went to the 8:00 service at the local Episcopal church.  One summer a Congregational minister and his family started coming to church.  They were friends of ours, but I don’t think that we had invited them particularly.  They came on their own.  They regularly received Communion.  Then one Sunday, at the announcement time, the Rector read the rubric on page 299 of the 1928 BCP to us:  “And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion, until such time as he be confirmed, or be ready and desirous to be confirmed.”  After reading it he said, “please don’t make me violate my ordination vows.”  The Congregational minister and his family never came back.  My parents were outraged.  I still vividly remember that morning.

That was the mid-50s.  By the early 70s when the preliminary liturgies to the new BCP came out, our theology of Baptism and Eucharist had changed.  We were affirming that all baptized people are welcome to receive Communion.  The practice in many Episcopal churches had led the way to a rethinking of our theology of Baptism and Eucharist.

My hope in this instance is that our theology of Baptism and Eucharist will catch up with the practice of Baptism and Eucharist in an increasing number of Episcopal churches.

So, as to the questions:

•  Accept.  I believe what we have put in the bulletin of several of the churches I have served:  “All are welcome to receive Communion.  The invitation is the Lord’s.”

•  Hope it will happen as soon as possible.  This summer would be perfect.

Peace.  Ps 34.8

[106] Posted by bwd on 04-20-2009 at 08:29 PM • top

[124] DavidH,

Your comment

that the RCC treats the rest of the Christian world as heathens (by, for example, not letting them partake)

is seriously uninformed, or misinformed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following [underscored italics mine]:

1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: “For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.” “Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.”

Far from considering “the rest of the Christian world as heathens,” we consider you as our Christian brothers and sisters. The basis for not sharing the Eucharist, as I understand it as a new Catholic, is a question of the lack of communio in our understandings of the full significance of the sacrament. As one example, I would suspect that the Protestant view of the Eucharist as a simple memorial, a position consistent with Anglican teaching, is not consistent with the Catholic understanding of the “real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” i.e., in and under the elements of bread and wine.

Unfortunately, misrepresentations of Catholic teaching on such matters, such as your characterization, can be significant obstacles to mutual understanding and ultimate reunification of the Body of Christ.

Blessings and regards,
Keith Toepfer

[107] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-20-2009 at 08:42 PM • top

bwd #127 - so, based on an anecdotal example of classic TEC construction (“the church did what it was suppossed to do and thus innocent people, yeah, CHILDREN were traumatized forever”), the “theology” of TEC is to change not once, but twice in less than two generations (with modern life spans, we’re probably talking one generation.)

BTW would the “Congregational minister and his family” have been cool with an Episcopal bishop claiming his apostolic authority to walk in and make a formal visitation at their church, including inspection of their records?  What?  They would have claimed their Congregational identity?  Destroying the Bishop’s self-esteem and that of… well… The CHILDREN?!?!?!!?!?

Throw out your identity so that nobody else gets offended.  Lyrics about “shifting sand” and “the foolish man built his house upon the sand” come to mind right away.  Actually, the current General Convention Blue Book and its warning that we can’t even speak a common faith language with one another comes to mind.

One day, my victim story will trump yours.  And so the church will be called to change again until a new victim saga can be hymned.

[108] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 04-20-2009 at 08:55 PM • top

Q1 Opposed

Q2 Opposed

I might even go so far as to call for a return to confirmation/reception = communicant.  But, then, I’m a refugee from evangelical churches who had a very low view of communion and baptism.  (Neither was required nor expected of Christians.)

[109] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 04-20-2009 at 09:13 PM • top

I should also note that I was baptized and confirmed according the 1928 BCP back in the stone-age.  The Baptismal Covenant sometimes seems to be a bit weak at places where a robust defense of the Creed and Christian life would be more appropriate.

[110] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 04-20-2009 at 09:22 PM • top

Oppose and oppose (please don’t let’s change the canons to suit the practice in some places).  I agree with comments above about welcoming non-baptized newcomers in other ways (coffee hour, church events, invitations to study and confirmation groups, etc).  Thought Kubla’s comments were interesting (#73).

[111] Posted by celindascott on 04-20-2009 at 09:57 PM • top

‘I would suspect that the Protestant view of the Eucharist as a simple memorial, a position consistent with Anglican teaching, is not consistent with the Catholic understanding of the “real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” i.e., in and under the elements of bread and wine.”

Of course, like all things in the TEC, what Anglicans on this side of the pond actually believe is difficult to discern.

Many episcopalians believe the eucharist is just a lovely memorial.

Many more, when upon occasion they do think about it, seem to believe in the real presence of Christ in consubstantiation.

Yet, there are even some that believe in the full-on RC version of transubstantiation (but, regrettably, in most parishes that’s considered some kind of Popish myth hardly appropriate for discussion at the yacht club, much less in the parish hall).

Although little noticed by most episcopalians, in 2001 the TEC and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America entered into a number of agreements, including a declaration by both parties that the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, as well as the TEC BCP, were “essential teachings of the Christian Faith”. 

Luther, unlike that slippery Cranmer, never doubted the real presence of Christ in the host.

So now, even though it might be hard to determine from the decontented catechism buried in the back of the BCP, it seems that all we Episcopalians really do believe in the real presence of Christ in the eucharist !

[112] Posted by Dharma Bum on 04-20-2009 at 11:10 PM • top

What about Article XXIX that warns that those who lack a living faith when they receive the body and blood of Christ are not truly partakers, but by so eating and drinking bring condemnation upon themselves? 
Oops!  I forgot that the Twenty-Nine Articles are merely historical documents.  How could they possibly inform our decisions? :~(

[113] Posted by lambswool on 04-20-2009 at 11:18 PM • top

Only 29 now?  Which ones did they get rid of?

[114] Posted by AndrewA on 04-20-2009 at 11:21 PM • top

Thanks for the correction AndrewA [116].  I hope “they” didn’t get rid of any of them!  We need all thirty-nine!

[115] Posted by lambswool on 04-20-2009 at 11:40 PM • top

1) oppose
2) oppose
It’s interesting that some posters are also saying they would not object to returning to 28 BCP practice of requiring confirmation before Communion. I would not object to that and would in addition propose a Communion-wide agreement on the content of pre-confirmation instruction.  The older I get the more certain I become that my own instruction was sadly lacking. I just saw a thread title in the “recent comments” column as I was previewing: “Church has only itself to blame for ignorance of Christianity”. Sadly, I agree.

[116] Posted by kyounge1956 on 04-20-2009 at 11:57 PM • top

Timothy Fountain # #108
I did not intend my recollection to be a victim story.  I remember this event not because I felt sorry for the Congregational minister and his family.  I remember it both because it was such a vivid and formative illustration for me of exclusion in the church, and as an example of how local liturgical practice can lead the way toward formal liturgical and canonical change.  In the 50s and 60s many parishes, in noncompliance with our Canons, permitted people who were not confirmed Episcopalians to receive Communion.  Now that practice is canonically valid and almost universally accepted (except among some Stand Firm commenters).  Today, many of us welcome people who are not baptized to receive Communion.  I trust that in the next decade or so this will be widely accepted and affirmed.  And in 25 years we will wonder what all the fuss was about.

[117] Posted by bwd45 on 04-21-2009 at 12:02 AM • top

Does being a member of the ACoC count? How about a member of the Diocese of New Westminster??


Both of my parishes, one with a gay rector, the other with a policy of don’t ask don’t tell, have a notice in the leaflet saying not only is baptism required but so is belief in the real presence to receive the Sacrament!

[118] Posted by IsaacThorpe on 04-21-2009 at 02:17 AM • top

Blimey, so very sad to see ordination oaths broken with such insouciance.

[119] Posted by driver8 on 04-21-2009 at 02:36 AM • top

It will probably come as no surprise to anyone that I am opposed on both counts.  But what I want to point out is the connection between this question of “open communion” and the theology of Kevin Thew Forrester that has been discussed on several other threads.

The connection has to do with the concern noted by Bishop Breidenthal when he explained his “no” vote to his diocese:

According to Thew Forrester, Jesus revealed in his own person the way that any of us can be at one with God, if only we can overcome the blindness that prevents us from recognizing our essential unity with God. The problem here is that the death of Jesus as an atonement for our sins is completely absent, and purposely so. As I read Thew Forrester, nothing stands between us and God but our own ignorance of our closeness to God. When our eyes are opened, atonement (not for our sins, but understood as a realization of our essential unity with God) is achieved.

Or, to quote Thew Forrester directly:

Zen offers a method, you might say, to see what Jesus saw in his own baptism: that we are indeed beloved by God. There is no need to cling to anything in the desperate hope that it is what will make us acceptable before God. All of creation is always already accepted by God as it is.

This notion also underlies the idea of “open communion:”  All people are already accepted by God.  There is no being “outside” or “inside” of the people of God.  There are only the barriers of exclusion that we put there—either through our exclusion of others or through our own self-exclusion by not realizing our essential unity with God.  Therefore the purpose of open communion is to be radically inclusive and, by inviting all people to God’s table, to help them realize their acceptance and unity with God.

It is, of course, true that we are beloved by God (John 3:16).  But Scripture also reminds us that, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Our condition before and after we came to Christ is described this way:

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—-if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. (Colossians 1:21-23)

What is absent from Thew Forrester’s theology is an understanding of the lostness and sinfulness of humanity, and the necessity of the Atonement and conversion.  When reception of the Holy Eucharist is offered to those who have not repented of their sins and put on Christ in Baptism, the very supper that represents what God has done for us in Christ to bring us to Himself is instead presented in a way that denies our separation from God apart from Christ.  In such a way, the Communion is made to deny the necessity of the very Atonement it is supposed to represent. 

I know that there are some who offer the Holy Eucharist to everyone in attendance because they have been taught that inclusion is always good, or because they simply feel it is bad manners not to invite guests to the table.  But they need to realize that there are far more serious issues at stake.  The universalism that is all too common in the Episcopal Church and that is explicit in the theology of Kevin Thew Forrester is implicit in the practice of open communion.

[120] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 04-21-2009 at 02:46 AM • top

I wonder how our liturgical life might change if we all heard this at every communion service: “Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and
walking from henceforth in his holy ways:  Draw near with faith, and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.” 

Tom Rightmyer Aeheville NC

[121] Posted by TomRightmyer on 04-21-2009 at 04:16 AM • top

Oppose, and oppose.  However, I would like to point out that to oppose the second proposal on the basis that it runs contrary to the canons, then oppose revision to the canons, is really to oppose communion for the unbaptized based on higher principals and precedents.

(read:  canons, schmanons)

[122] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-21-2009 at 05:19 AM • top

no/no…how can you commune with a group you do not belong to

[123] Posted by ewart-touzot on 04-21-2009 at 06:47 AM • top

Oppose, Oppose.
Holy Communion is not just a nice visual aid that helps us remember Jesus Christ.  It is an anamnesis of the death of Jesus on the Cross and his Resurrection on the 3rd day.

Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Jesus where the Body of Christ is fed with the Body of Christ to more become the Body of Christ.

Like so much else in TEC, this is the result of bad theology and insufficient ecclesiology, soteriology, christology, and either arian or modalistic thinking.  With such poor formation as priests, it is any wonder that they have insufficient sacramental theology?

Phil Snyder

[124] Posted by Philip Snyder on 04-21-2009 at 07:03 AM • top

Left wing fascist baptismal covenant lovin’ Episcopalian here.
Oppose and Oppose.  99.9% of the time, I don’t think Communion without baptism makes sense at all.  For the other .1% of the time, I’m in agreement with Tom Rightmyer.  I know a lot of my left wing fascist Episcopalian peers agree with me.

I also believe that those who support open communion do so out of a profound respect for the Sacrament, misguided though they may be.

And, since this site love tossing hand grenades, I believe any priest who refuses communion to a baptized non-confirmed person just because they aren’t confirmed should face discipline.  That is the equivalent of excommunication, and is also against the doctrine and discipline of the church, which they swore at least twice to uphold.

Dirk Reinken

[125] Posted by dcreinken on 04-21-2009 at 07:09 AM • top

I am opposed to open communion, but this thread got me thinking and I have been trying to find Scripture that defines Communion only to the baptised believers and excludes believers that have not had the opportunity for a public baptism. It was three months between my conversion and my baptism. Would it have been improper for me to take Communion in the time between? I would like Scriptural evidence of either view point.

[126] Posted by Another Pilgrim on 04-21-2009 at 07:10 AM • top

We agree with Phil Snyder… He is soooo correct.

[127] Posted by Tom Dennis on 04-21-2009 at 07:11 AM • top


In answer to your questions, oppose and oppose.

What we are talking about are Sacraments of the Church.  They are not available to those who are no Christians and baptized.  What is so shocking as how so many are ignoring the Canons of the EC with impunity.  We must include the Presiding Bishop in this group of people.  Yet, a Diocese cannot leave the EC even though there is no Canon to stop them….

This is a crazy world we live in!

[128] Posted by Creighton+ on 04-21-2009 at 07:24 AM • top

Opposed and opposed

[129] Posted by Church Mouse on 04-21-2009 at 08:07 AM • top

I am against CWOB and changing the canons to permit CWOB.
CWOB is dangerous for the recipient.  (See 1 Corinthians)
  “Holy food for holy people” (OK), but until people are made holy by the blood of Christ, “holy food” is dangerous.
I’m a member of TEC.

[130] Posted by John Boyland on 04-21-2009 at 08:14 AM • top

Can members of the Salvation Army (non-water-baptized) receive Communion in an Anglican Church.  Check out this story:

[131] Posted by star-ace on 04-21-2009 at 08:29 AM • top

Absolutely not!  It makes complete nonsense of “the church” and throws catholicity right out the window.

[132] Posted by JBallard on 04-21-2009 at 09:00 AM • top

[11], [16], [22] [29] and others: Communion is not a “Happy Meal” and should not be given to the unbaptised.  I don’t think it should be offered to children before suitable preparation (first communion classes or confirmation classes) and definitely not under the age of 7.  I did not receive communion in the Methodist Church before I was confirmed at age 12. There has to be some expectation of informed consent.

1. oppose
2. oppose

[133] Posted by The Little Myrmidon on 04-21-2009 at 09:12 AM • top

Still in TEc.
Oppose; oppose
I agree with Phil Snyder, #124.

[134] Posted by tomcornelius on 04-21-2009 at 09:31 AM • top

Both of us:

Our former rector said he would theoretically give it to someone who had been moved by the sermon to accept Christ. 

I think our/TEC system of baptism is at odds in our society of must have it now.  Having baptism scheduled for only certain dates or times limits the availablility of it.  I have to admit I like other denominations who will do a baptism in the service the next week.  Then the person can have communion. 

We must not and can not lessen the importance of what communion is, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is so important that Paul admonished its use, and taking it inapporiately is damaging to the (our) soul.  1 Corinthians 11:27

27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Unless we (clergy and laity) teach that communion comes with responsibility to examine yourself before taking it, we are doing even more harm to the Body of Christ.

And that is why we both oppose and oppose.

[135] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 04-21-2009 at 09:36 AM • top

I agree with Lakeland Two on their vote. However,  I Cor 27-32 is applied by the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church to members of ECLA (and any other Christian denomination not Missouri Synod) to forbid communion.  Friends of ours visited their children in another state (parents and children all Lutheran, but the children were attending the Lutheran church nearest them, which happened to be Missouri Synod).  They were told by the usher that verses 29-30 could apply to them, putting them in grave spiritual danger,  unless they were recognized members of Missouri Synod.  The children consequently joined the Episcopal Church, because baptized loved ones would not be turned away there.

[136] Posted by celindascott on 04-21-2009 at 09:48 AM • top

Let me clarify my comments in [133], I still belong to a TEC church, although I am working to start up a new Anglican Church in our area.  The church I currently attend has an extremely conservative priest (in an ultra liberal diocese) who will only give a blessing to small children who are trotted up to the altar rail at communion. I’ve never seen him turn anyone away, but I imagine he would speak privately to anyone that he thought should not receive.  Both his preaching and his teaching in Lenten and Advent make the church’s orthodox position clear.  He makes a point of speaking to all newcomers (he thinks that’s his job, not some committee’s) and probably asks new people if they have been baptised (and if their children need to be baptised.) We always preface our communion with an invitation (spoken and printed in the bulletin) that specifies “all baptised Christians” are welcome to receive.

In the last TEC church I attended, there was CWOB and it sometimes was a free-for-all.  Children were allowed to play with or drop the hosts, an alcoholic “visitor” went up for seconds on the wine, etc, etc.

[137] Posted by The Little Myrmidon on 04-21-2009 at 10:21 AM • top

Jody +, there’s one further thing you may wish to consider on the declared Anglican/TEC/RC view on the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine.

Check out the following statements from the “Anglican/Roman Catholic Joint Preparatory Commission” (that was a panel exploring the deepening of the special relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church that included some very senior representatives of the Vatican, the TEC Presiding Bishop, and the Archbishop of Canterbury) report of 1981:

“We believe that we have reached substantial agreement on the doctrine of the eucharist.

Communion with Christ in the eucharist presupposes his true presence, effectually signified by the bread and wine which, in this mystery, become his body and blood.

The Lord’s words at the last supper, “Take and eat; this is my body”, do not allow us to dissociate the gift of the presence and the act of sacramental eating. The elements are not mere signs; Christ’s body and blood become really present and are really given. But they are really present and given in order that, receiving them, believers may be united in communion with Christ the Lord.

According to the traditional order of the liturgy the consecratory prayer (anaphora) leads to the communion of the faithful. Through this prayer of thanksgiving, a word of faith addressed to the Father, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit, so that in communion we eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood.”

Of course, no member of the theologically-free Episcopal church I attend in Connecticut has ever even heard of, or much less actually subscribes to, this document (we have lots of hedge fund managers who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand and are easily upset by too much discussion of theology or ethics).

Of course, our church has long been on the cutting edge of building a post-eceumenical religious community – when my wife and I were married there 30+ years ago, I was able to successfully negotiate the insertion of Taoist texts into the ceremony !

[138] Posted by Dharma Bum on 04-21-2009 at 10:38 AM • top

If confirmation were necessary before receiving communion, practically no American Anglicans properly received eucharist between 1607 and 1785, since there were no bishops in the colonies to confirm.  Just a thought.

[139] Posted by James Manley on 04-21-2009 at 11:03 AM • top

For those unfamiliar with the 1662 Prayer Book, I have included the applicable rubric from the end of the Confirmation Service:

“And there shall none be admitted to the holy Communion, until such time as he be confirmed, or be ready and desirous to be confirmed.”

As you can see, it does not bar the unconfirmed from the Lord’s Table if they are ready and desirous to be confirmed. The problem of the post-Revolutionary War Church was not no bishops to confirm but no bishops to ordain. Only Seabury and the Connecticut High Churchmen felt any need for bishops to govern.

[140] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-21-2009 at 11:24 AM • top

Opposed to Communion for unbaptized!
Opposed to any change in the canons or rules to allow communion for unbaptized!
Why in the World would anyone make such a change?

[141] Posted by Bob+Retired on 04-21-2009 at 12:34 PM • top

Exactly so, AnglicansAblaze 140.  There is similar language in the 1928.

[142] Posted by James Manley on 04-21-2009 at 12:36 PM • top

Oppose and oppose
From a knuckle-dragging post TEC’er

[143] Posted by aterry on 04-21-2009 at 01:00 PM • top

Oppose and oppose.  Reasons are SCRIPTURAL.  St. Paul is clear that Holy Communion must be received with faith.  The unbaptized have not demonstrated that faith as yet, and that demonstration is needed prior to receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.  Also, St. Paul says if you receive the sacrament unworthily (without faith), you take it to your condemnation.  So priests and so forth who invite people to partake in Holy Communion are actually asking them to condemn themselves!  Not cook, and definitely NOT Christian!

[144] Posted by Goughdonna on 04-21-2009 at 01:38 PM • top

#106 - I am curious, what is “our theology” and how do you know it needs to be changed?

[145] Posted by Festivus on 04-21-2009 at 01:45 PM • top

Festivus—What a wonderful question, “what is our theology.”  I’d think the best answer might be what could be gleaned from a careful study of the rites in the Book of Common Prayer, and the creeds, both of which come from scripture.  What are the direct statements of theology, and what are the implications that can be drawn from the liturgies? —Canon IV.15 contains a definition of doctrine which refers to the aforesaid.  How wide can the interpretations of the creeds and rites be, and still have us be part of the same communion, and within Canon IV.15? —#106:  are you talking about errors and changes in theology when you refer to the Episcopal priest who suddenly denied the Eucharist to unconfirmed but baptized Christians in the 1950s who’d been attending the church for weeks—and the fact that for many years, perhaps since the 1970s,  the eucharist is officially open to all baptized persons? And today, admitting all persons, Christian (by confession, through the rite of baptism) or not, is desired by some and seems a natural progression in eucharistic practice?  If theology has to do with the nature of God, do these changes in practice really have to do with theology—or are they pragmatic, having to do with how—practically speaking—to evangelize?

[146] Posted by celindascott on 04-21-2009 at 02:59 PM • top

#106 BDW
It appears that your argument is based on since TEC was wrong about no communion without being a member of TEC and peoples’ feelings were hurt that justifies opening communion to all.  Just because the church was wrong about something in the past and changed, doesn’t provide an excuse to change anything you don’t like.  Each issue needs to be decided on its own merit.  Being wrong about slavery does not mean we are wrong about homosexuals.  Being wrong about no communion to non-member of TEC does not mean we are wrong about no communion to the un-baptized.  Many on this thread have present logical, traditional and scriptural reasons why the unbaptized should not have communion.  The only reason I have read that they should, is that not getting it might hurt their feelings.

For the sake of argument I’ll agree that confirmation or being a member of TEC should not be a requirement for communion.  However I think it is better when one is confirmed first.

[147] Posted by JustOneVoice on 04-21-2009 at 03:12 PM • top

JustOneVoice, I think you put that well. The errors aren’t connected. I’m still trying to work through whether the 1950s priest made a theological error.  Did his ordination vows really did include forbidding communion to the non-confirmed—or was that simply a common, unwritten practice?

[148] Posted by celindascott on 04-21-2009 at 03:20 PM • top

147 and 148-
As noted by the posts #140 and 142- confirmation before communion was a prayer book rubric- essentially from Cranmer through 1979. Hence the priest in the 1950’s was just doing his job of upholding the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church.

[149] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-21-2009 at 03:38 PM • top

#146, 147 - no longer being Episcopalian or Anglican, I asked because I would think that if one if going to change theology, you ought to know why you know something is done and from whence it came, as well as what is correct so you, well, correct it. And yes #147, because it “it might hurt their feelings” leaves me rather unimpressed as a basis for changing theology.

[150] Posted by Festivus on 04-21-2009 at 03:53 PM • top

Oppose & oppose.
But, I am moved by the pastoral response of #35, Fr. Tom Rightmyer.

As for children, I like the idea of 1st communion classes around the age of 7/first-grade spring.  Until then, a blessing at the rail. 

I’m all for the announcement that all baptised Christians are welcome to receive and all others are welcome to come to the rail, cross their arms, and receive a blessing. 

If I were a priest, I’d occassionally add, if you were not baptised but so desire the sacrament, I’d gladly talk with you after the service, baptise you right then if we so agreed, and give you communion from the sacrament about to be consecrated.


[151] Posted by miserable sinner on 04-21-2009 at 04:17 PM • top

Oppose, and oppose.  No point in my commenting on why, as so many others have so eloquently elaborated on that.

My family and I are still in TEC, but we also now have one foot planted outside TEC in an Anglican parish.  It pains, saddens and grieves me to say this because our TEC parish has been our spiritual home and family for so many years, but I considered our stepping partway outside TEC to be necessary for the sake of the spiritual safety for our children.  At times, I have been horrified by what I have heard spoken from the pulpit on Sunday mornings; at other times, I have been incensed.  At no time, however, could I say that I was really surprised.  I tried to speak to at least some of this while I served on the vestry, but I feel that the others on the vestry heard me without ever really <u>listening</u>.

I am just so sick of the stark contrast between the parish’s welcoming vision statement and the animosity and veracity of the attacks on nonconforming viewpoints by many of the laity and some in leadership.

And yet ... we know that we need to stand wherever the Lord leads us, for as long as He sustains us.

[152] Posted by Charles Maggs on 04-21-2009 at 04:49 PM • top

Does a first grader have faith in Jesus needed to rightly receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? Is he capable of showing repentence toward God and of being in the right relationship with others?I think that a better practice is to dismiss the children with the adult catechumens to which category the children belong. The priest can bless the catechumens before they depart, or say a prayer over them. This is preferable than a priest blessing a child at the communion rail.

[153] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-21-2009 at 04:51 PM • top

Oppose and oppose.

[154] Posted by doogal123 on 04-21-2009 at 04:55 PM • top

Oppose and oppose.  No surprise, as I grew up in LCMS, and if you weren’t a baptized and confirmed member of a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation, and known to the pastor, you didn’t get communion.  LCMS pastors generally will skip people at the rail who they don’t know or who have not come to them prior to the service.

[155] Posted by Charles III on 04-21-2009 at 05:12 PM • top

Charles #152

I was asked to resign my leadership position in my Episcopal parish because I was openly sympathetic with the AMiA. The AMiA was actively involved in church planting while the clergy in my deanery showed no interest in starting new churches and the bishop refused to authorize a new church in the deanery, one of the fastest growing parts of the diocese, from fear a new church might draw members from existing churches in the deanery and weaken them. One of the churches in the deanery had actually requested that the bishop not authorize any new works in its part of the deanery for this reason. My own parish had experienced a church split and had lost almost a third of its member households, and the bishop feared a new church plant in my part of the deanery would weaken my parish. In the meantime, other denominations were successfully planting new churches in both parts of the deanery, taking advantage of the growing population. Now I find that I am not welcome in the Anglican Church in North America because I am a conservative evangelical who subscribes to the doctrinal beliefs that have historically defined classical evangelical Anglicanism, including the belief that episcopacy is of the “bene esse,” not the “esse,” or essence, of the church, and who values the autonomy of the diocese, especially in the election of the bishop or bishops of the diocese by the diocese, and a synodical form of church government.

If you are not familiar with the term “bene esse,” it refers to the view that episcopacy is an ancient and commendable form of church polity but the church can and does exist without it. It is a view of episcopacy held by conservative evangelicals in the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Australia, and other provinces of the Anglican Communion. A synodical form of church government involves the clergy and the laity in the governance of the church with the bishops.

The draft canons of the ACNA require subscription to the ACNA Fundamental Declarations for membership and exercise of ordained ministry in the ACNA. They also require groups that wish to partner in mission with the ACNA to also “unreservedly” subscribe to the ACNA Fundamental Declarations. The latter includes a declaration that episcopacy is of the “esse” of the church.

I have posted two papers examining the draft canons on my web site Anglicans Ablaze drawing attention to this problem and other problems with the canons. The papers, “The ACNA Draft Canons: An Analysis of Their Provisions with Proposed Changes - Part I” and “The ACNA Draft Canons: An Analysis of Their Provisions with Proposed Changes - Part II,” are on the Internet at:  and 

I have also posted a paper, “The ACNA Provisional Constitution: A Blueprint for Radical Innovation in Church Government,” examining the provisional constitution on the same website. It is on the Internet at:

The ACNA is not turning out the umbrella church for conservative North American Anglicans that I had hoped that it would be. There is only room under its canopy for conservative North American Anglicans who subscribe to its partisan position on the historic episcopate, a position that has been historically held by Catholics, and who are willing to relinquish diocesan autonomy and to accept an authoritarian form of church government. The latter are seen as a deterrent to liberalism and heteredoxy and represent a heavy reliance upon church order rather than sound doctrine to preserve the integrity and authenticity of the church.

I hope that you fare better in your new Anglican church home than you have in the Episcopal parish where you were a communicant and vestry member.

[156] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-21-2009 at 05:51 PM • top

Does a first grader have faith in Jesus needed to rightly receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? Is he capable of showing repentence toward God and of being in the right relationship with others?

I feel I see an inconsistency here… TEC practises infant baptism, plus open communion to all baptised christians, then denies communion to baptised children? I don’t get it.

[157] Posted by The Pilgrim on 04-21-2009 at 06:02 PM • top

Interesting observation by The Pilgrim.  In my opinion, there’s a lot of pragmatism behind the practice of infant baptism and what used to be viewed as its culminating stage, confirmation, which would admit to communion.  Salvation reasons aside (which of course were of first importance), as the family became a more stable norm in society parents and sponsors could “promise and vow” at baptism that the children would be brought up in the faith.  At 12, the idea was that the children were now old enough to do a little reasoning about the faith, and to have a pretty good idea about keeping promises—enough, anyway, to make a more “mature affirmation” of faith than they could have as infants, of course, but also than they could have as 7 or 8 year olds (who can repent and forgive, but aren’t ready to understand the creeds, as at least some 12 year olds are).  Confirming in early adolescence seems on the way out, sadly—some have said until full-fledged adolescence, 16 or 17 (when one is old enough to drive, run away from home, etc.) a faith commitment isn’t possible.  But we all know that faith waxes and wanes all our lives, as scripture makes clear.  In my opinion, early adolescence is a very good time for young people to have the instruction that leads to confirmation.  For many, it’s a ballast as they grow through adolescence, even if for a time they don’t (sadly) “have time”—or make time—for church.  Whether confirmation is a “ticket” to communion or not, I think it’s a very good rite of passage for young people, and an excellent way for adults to learn about the faith when they join an Episcopal Church and are not already confirmed.

[158] Posted by celindascott on 04-21-2009 at 07:01 PM • top

Pilgrim #157
First, I am no longer TEC. What I am suggesting is a reappraisal of the policy of admitting children to Holy Communion. This is consistent with the doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles that the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper must be rightly received in order for the recipient to benefit from them and to rightly receive these sacraments one must have faith. Faith may not be required of the child at baptism but without faith in the child’s life his baptism cannot be regarded as effectual. The Thirty-Nine Articles reject the notion that the sacraments automatically and invariably confer grace. A child must come to faith to appropriate the grace of his baptism. Otherwise, that grace is like a family estate which the child has inherited and has title but has never laid claim to or occupied.

To rightly receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, if you wish, a child must not only be baptized but he must also have come to faith. Without faith he receives no benefit from the sacrament but as one devoid of faith receiving the sacrament may actually do him harm.

Baptized adults are admitted to the Lord’s Table on the assumption that they are believers, that they have come to faith. If they have not, they too eat the bread and drink the wine to their undoing. Since they have reached the age of discretion, we leave whether they receive to their discretion, first warning them what it means to rightly and worthily receive the sacrament.

Children, on the other hand, have not reached the age of discretion. If they are devoid of faith, they do not benefit from receiving the bread and wine of the Holy Commnion. There is no blessing conferred upon the unbelieving and as the Thirty-Nine Articles warn, the unbeliever who receives the elements does so to his undoing.

This view of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ties any benefit that the communicant receives from it to faith and recognizes that faith itself is not a human work but a gift from God. Only a child that shows evidence of repentence and faith should be admitted to the Lord’s Table. While some seven years may evidence repentence and faith; others may not. Setting a fixed age at which to admit a child to the Lord’s Table should be then avoided. Every child should be examined for evidence of repentence and faith before he is admitted to the Lord’s Table. Only a believing child can appropriate the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice of which the bread and wine are the signs and tokens.

[159] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-21-2009 at 07:04 PM • top

Already stated my opposition way above.  I’m sure that we can all come up with exceptional circumstances but sacramental theology MUST be grounded in the relevant Scriptures not experiences that are out of the ordinary. 

I’m fine with First Communion…but we have to agree on what Communion means (in other words NEVER).  Also First Communion really must follow First Confession. 

Several have noted Methodist policy but from what I can see the United Methodists are way ahead of TEC in table fellowship.  Besides, why should a denomination that is supposed to teach the doctrine of the Real Presence model itself after a denomination that is memorialist?

While I hate importing the spiritual practices of others - primarily because of TEC’s tendency to fail to properly teach and explain what it imports - but I like the Othodox practice of “blessed bread.”  Communion is strictly for the Orthodox but the priest also blesses a second loaf that may be shared with others.  In the parish I am frequenting the communicant makes their communion then picks up a few pieces of the blessed bread that they take back to their pew and share with visitors or others.

[160] Posted by Nikolaus on 04-21-2009 at 07:07 PM • top

Celinda #158,
In the 1980s in one Episcopal church in Texas the preparation for confirmation lasted several months and was an intense course in the Christian faith and concluded with a weekend retreat at which the youngsters were asked to consider their own readiness to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and the implications of that commitment for their lives. The confirmation preparation included interviews with the candidates to determine whether they were not only desirous of confirmation by actually ready. During the 1980s I prepared teenagers and young adults in my own parish for baptism and confirmation and I focused upon helping the young people understand what they were doing and what it meant in relation to their salvation and their relationship to God. My objective was that for them baptism and confirmation would be a real profession of their faith in Jesus Christ.

[161] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-21-2009 at 07:20 PM • top

I think the existing canon is reasonable. 

If as I suppose might happen, a person came to us whose home denomination admitted communicants without baptism, I suppose I can conceive of a possible short term exception.  I actually have a hard time imagining that and cannot think of from where that person might appear.  But conceptually, I can imagine it. 

So I guess my answer is the same as yours Ms. Hey.  It is my view that the current canon should stand and even be obeyed.


[162] Posted by jimB on 04-21-2009 at 07:24 PM • top

Nikolaus # 160

John Wesley was not a memorialist. He had a realist view of the eucharistic presence. Contemporary Wesleyans vary in their views of the Eucharist. John Wesley, however, did teach that the Eucharist was a “converting ordinance,” by which he meant that the grace of the sacrament could draw the unconfirmed closer to Christ. Hence, he admitted unconfirmed individuals to the Lord’s Table. In Wesley’s day almost everyone in England was baptized.

[163] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-21-2009 at 07:28 PM • top

Anglicans Ablaze, the confirmation instruction you describe sounds ideal.  About interviews—I wonder if Presbyterians still require young people to go before Session, when they are ready, to answer questions to determine whether they have made a real commitment to Christ.—About communion for very young children:  just read Jim B’s post. An orthodox church in our community very sadly split on that issue.  Those who didn’t approve of it got hold of the finances of the church, fired the priest just before he was to get his pension, went shopping for a bishop who would take them (had to go to another state to find him), and built a new church.  The whole thing separated families, pitted some members of the congregation against others, etc.

[164] Posted by celindascott on 04-21-2009 at 07:37 PM • top

MA, 107, thank you for that post.  I must disagree respectfully but vehemently, however.

First, I acknowledge that I know fairly little about the doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Your quote from the Catechism immediately makes me wonder though.  Is that any baptism?  Or is it RCC baptism?  If the latter, it hardly helps your case.

I’m happy to be acknowledged as a Christian by Catholics.  It would be far more meaningful, however, if such a theoretical acknowledgement were actually backed up with action.  (You say I’m a brother, but you won’t share a sacrament with me.)

Re: Communion, as others on this thread have told in their interesting and revealing stories (see, e.g. 136), the RCC doesn’t let non-Catholics partake.  Your doctrinal theory is interesting, but I am not aware of any Biblical basis to deny Communion to those who do not subscribe to substantiation / view it as a sacred memorial.  See, e.g., the words of our Lord—“do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:19.

Re: marriage, two examples.  The criteria to have a priest conduct your marriage service is to promise to raise your kids Catholic, not Christian.  If, as a Catholic, that forces you to get married elsewhere, you’re not married in the eyes of the church.

I submit that it is the RCC itself that is a major obstacle to “mutual understanding and ultimate reunification.”  (And we’re not even up to the usual doctrinal obstacles…)

[165] Posted by DavidH on 04-21-2009 at 08:01 PM • top

I talked to a Roman Catholic a few years ago at a workshop classmates of my husband sponsored on Faith and Science.  He said that transubstantiation—the belief that the elements actually become the physical body and blood of Christ (“hoc es corpus meus”) taken literally—was the doctrine that separated our two faiths. “Real presence,” I thought—the expression commonly used by Anglicans—was halfway between transubstantiation and remembrance (“do this in remembrance of me”) as a memorial similar to other memorials.  `Neither the one nor the other, but something Cranmer managed to convey in the liturgy ambiguously;  the communicant could take it either way. Elizabeth I famously said “His were the words that spake it, He took the bread and brake it, and what His words do make it, that I believe and take it.”  She dodged the issue, one could say.  Cranmer gave his life partly because he dodged the issue.  Perhaps one could say that Jesus was ambiguous too on that point, and that the faith expressed in the meaning of the elements of the Last Supper can take different forms and still be valid.

[166] Posted by celindascott on 04-21-2009 at 08:23 PM • top

I’m Catholic and I believe that at the Consecration there is transubstantiation. The substance of bread and wine are completely gone and only Jesus remains, however there are still the species (Latin for appearance) of bread and wine present.

I was under the belief that Anglican believed in consubstantiation, where the substance of the bread and wine is joined by the substance of Jesus Christ.

[167] Posted by kailash on 04-21-2009 at 08:40 PM • top

David H: “If, as a Catholic, that forces you to get married elsewhere, you’re not married in the eyes of the church”

Well, like all things in the RCC, it depends.

First, the RCC views all marriages with respect. Thus, it considers the marriage, for example, of two Protestant, Jewish or even nonbelieving persons to be absolutely binding in the eyes of God. .

Two, if, as a RC, you do get married outside the RCC, your marriage is not recognized as a valid RC marriage and you are barred from receiving communion; nonetheless, you would remain a RC in good (but obviously not great) standing.

Three - in the RCC there are always escape clauses from the superficially draconian strictures of canon law (the nuns don’t usually mention them, though - wouldn’t be good for classroom discipline).
- IF (that’s a very big if) the Bishop of your diocese gives you a very-rarely-given-dispensation and you meet for a few months with a RC priest in a pre-cana period,you, as a RC, can be validly married in the eyes of the RCC by a non-Catholic minister, and in a non-Catholic ceremony.
- If you didn’t get that dispensation for a non-RC ceremony before the marriage, you can still have that marriage recognized by the RCC by easily getting a RC “convalidation” (sort of a mini RC wedding ceremony after the fact) or by getting with greater difficulty a “radical sanation” requiring no additional ceremony (and, in some cases, not even the knowledge of the non-RC spouse).

[168] Posted by Dharma Bum on 04-21-2009 at 09:24 PM • top

[167] DavidH,

In answer to your question

Is that any baptism?  Or is it RCC baptism? 

It is any trinitarian baptism, i.e., “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” in which the person performing the Baptism has the same intention as the Church, which is simply that the person should be baptized in Christ for their conversion and salvation. This even includes baptism meeting those standards which is preformed by a person who is not baptized.

As to letting others partake in the Eucharist in a Catholic Mass, you are correct, but the reverse is also true, an observant Catholic will not partake of the Eucharist in a church not in communion with the successor to Peter. The reasoning is quite straightforward. If the Eucharist in one body is viewed in a significantly different light than in the other, then partaking of it by a member of the second body is inherently contradictory. Failure to believe in the “real and substantial presence of Christ in both species” would probably be considered the classic example of that inherent contradiction for a Catholic. Likewise, if you believe that it is just a memorial, why would you wish to share in a rite in a Catholic parish wherein the opposite belief is a doctrine of that body? Considering the implicit message of such participation, would you thing that an honest course of action?

When I am accepted into the Catholic Church, probably in about a year, my marriage will be “regularized” (I apologize that that is not the precisely correct term, which I was told but did not write down and have forgotten.) The Catholic Church recognizes that my marriage is legally valid and binding, it simply wasn’t necessarily conducted as a sacrament (which it is in the Catholic Church). Ideally, I will have been accepted by September 2010, and we can have the ceremony in September as a 30 year anniversary of our wedding as well as the “regularization.”

I hope that provides some additional clarity on what the Catholic Church teaches.

Blessings and regards,
Keith Toepfer

[169] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-21-2009 at 10:08 PM • top

Addendum to my [171]:

Dharma Bum at [170] used the correct term. It is convalidation. I simply hadn’t yet read that comment.

Keith Toepfer

[170] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-21-2009 at 10:11 PM • top

Whether the Wesley’s were memorialists 300 years ago or not is of little relevance to contemporary Methodism.  The Wesley’s also held that Mary was ever-virgin (as did Luther and most of the original reformers).  Contemporary Methodist doctrine as published on their web-site is clearly memorialist.

[171] Posted by Nikolaus on 04-21-2009 at 10:34 PM • top

My apologiies.  I did not mean to imply that my question was directed to you personally, it was directed to all TEC people.  I too am no longer TEC.

To rightly receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, if you wish, a child must not only be baptized but he must also have come to faith. Without faith he receives no benefit from the sacrament but as one devoid of faith receiving the sacrament may actually do him harm.

I find it interesting in that waiting for the age of reason to kick in is a practice of the Western Church from about 1100 or so. The Eastern Orthodox and the Uniate Churches in communion with Rome all give children communion immediately after their baptisms.  In fact, children too small to walk are to receive immediately after the clergy.

[172] Posted by The Pilgrim on 04-22-2009 at 03:30 AM • top

DB, 170, again I see a significant gap between words and action: views all marriages with respect, but you’re not married in the eyes of the Church and have to jump through some hoops and have another ceremony.  Perhaps my original wording of treats others as heathens was overstating it, but I don’t think there can be much question that the RCC treats non-RCC Christians as 2nd class citizens.

MA, 171, wrote: “if you believe that it is just a memorial, why would you wish to share in a rite in a Catholic parish wherein the opposite belief is a doctrine of that body?”  Because (warning: Protestant-ism ahead) the important parts are that Communion is an act for Christian believers as a whole and for me as an individual.  I don’t need to, and don’t in fact, give a hoot about whether all of my beliefs line up with whatever the full set of doctrine is at the church where I receive.  (Of course, if a church, like the RCC, wishes to exclude me, I am not going to force myself upon them.  I will exercise my right to stay away and think less of them.)

“Considering the implicit message of such participation, would you thing that an honest course of action?”  Yes, see above.  My participating in Communion is not designed to send a message.  Also, it is only because the RCC focuses on its own church structure and doctrinal nuances above the essentials of the whole Church / Body of Christ that your question even arises.

[173] Posted by DavidH on 04-22-2009 at 06:14 AM • top

What exactly Anglicans believe depends on which Anglicans you are talking about.  Many of us raised as Anglo Catholics indeed hold to transubstantiation, although in some provinces where the 39 Articles are strictly enforced, the Anglo Catholic might answer “I believe in the Real Presence as characterized by….” and then proceed to define transubstantiation.  See Tract 90, authored by Newman.
  Probably the most common take within the Communion is Real Presence, somewhat more loosely defined.  As with all things Anglican, the definition here is looser than it is in Catholicism (or Roman Catholicism, for my Protestant friends).  In Anglicanism, it still means the actual presence of Christ in the Sacrament, but it does not require that one believe in a particular metaphysical process by which that happens.  Some who have taken the time to study might take a more Orthodox (capital O) approach.
  There are also consubstantiators, memorialists, and (unfortunately) some who give it all the spiritual importance of a Happy Meal.  Some who see it as a “symbol of unity” or “demonstration of our willingness to share the table with our fellow humans”.  Remember that the origins of the Church of England really are acts of the Crown and Parliament to unify Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists and Anabaptists under one roof, while rejecting foreign oversight of any citizen of Great Britain. The breadth of Sacramental belief within the Communion encompasses almost every belief system of Western Europe of the last 5 centuries.
  And in this diocese (N. Michigan, sorry Sarah, can’t help myself) encompasses Islam and Buddhism as well.

[174] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-22-2009 at 07:02 AM • top

Pilgrim #174
Whether or not a church practices infant communion reveals a lot about its understanding of baptism. In the 1980s there was a trend in the Episcopal Church to not only admit small children to communion but also give communion—at least the wine—to infants. I was one of those who supported this development. I am well-acquainted with the arguments for infant communion. However, I have changed my mind since that time. If one holds a Reformed Anglican view of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which I do, infant communion is not consistent with that view. The Thirty-Nine Articles emphasize that the sacraments must be rightly received, that is to say, they must be received with and by faith. An infant is not capable of faith beyond a simple trust in its parents and this is not the kind of faith to which the Thirty-Nine Articles refers.

Behind the open communion movement is the notion that the Eucharist is a meal of welcome. In inviting everybody to the table we extend a welcome to all. However, Jesus did not institute the Lord’s Supper as meal of welcome. He instituted it as memorial or commemoration of his atoning death upon the cross. First and foremost the Lord’s Supper points to this central act of the saving work of Christ. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, he did not invite the crowds that had followed him or the outer circle of his disciples. He invited the most innermost circle of his disciples—the twelve disciples that had been with him for most of his ministry. They were the ones that he had been preparing to be messengers of the gospel. As Paul draws to the attention of the Corinthians, when we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim Christ’s death until he comes again in glory. We make known this central act of Christ’s saving work, not to God but to our fellow human beings. As a proclamation of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross the Lord’s Supper means nothing to the unbeliever unless the gospel message has been proclaimed to him and he has accepted that message. The Lord’s Supper is for believers. It reminds them of what Christ has done for them and through it the Holy Spirit quickens and strengthens their faith and by faith they appropriate the benefits of Christ’s atoning death upon the cross.

Anglicans do not have a single theology of the Eucharist. Anglicans who have been influenced by Catholic theology tie Christ’s presence in the Eucharist closely to the eucharistic elements. To them Christ is present in some way in or with the bread and wine. This way of looking at Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is known as realism. Anglicans who hold to the Reformed view of the Eucharist that was prevalent during the English Reformation in its Edwardian and Elizabethan phases and which has historically been held by Anglicans who stand in the evangelical and Reformed tradition of Anglicanism do not tie Christ’s presence in the Eucharist to the elements. For them the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine is a spiritual transaction. When the believer receives the bread and wine in faith, he reaches out to Christ in faith, and Christ responds to the believer’s faith and is present to the believer. Since the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament and not a bare memorial, the Holy Spirit is operative in this transaction and not only is he responsible for the faith of the believer but he is also the means by which Christ is present to the believer. The faith of the believer is not a human work.

In both ways of looking at Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, Christ is no less real. His presence is not imagined. Before the nineteenth century Anglicans did not feel the need to describe how Christ is present in the Eucharist as has been the case from the nineteen century on. This can be attributed to the influence of the Oxford movement, which was very insistent that Christ’s presence was closely tied to the eucharistic elements.

[175] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-22-2009 at 09:04 AM • top

Thanks very much, Anglicans Ablaze.  To add to your last paragraph:  there is a relevant article called “Beyond Transubstantiation: New Theory of the Real Presence” in TIME, July 02 1965.  That was two years into the pontificate of Paul VI and just after that of Pope John (1958-63).  Dutch theologian Smits and Belgian theologian Schillebeeckx were arguing for a way of looking at the Real Presence which would avoid “overemphasis (on) a magical change in the bread and wine while ignoring an essential element in the mystery: the faith of the Believing Church, in which the action takes place.” The author says that “early Christians (like the pre-19th C. Anglicans you mention above) gave little thought as to precisely how Christ was present in the bread and wine…”  The term “transubstantiation” was not used until the 11th century, and was based on Aristotelian logic using the concepts “substance” and “accidents.”  No claim was made that the “accidents” of communion, the visual bread and wine, had any different composition; rather, it was the “substance” which became the body of Christ.  Cranmer et al reacted against the terminology of this medieval scholasticism, but Cranmer did confirm the Real Presence.  in the 16th century,  the Council of Trent made the transubstantiation phraseology an article of faith, over and against the protestant reformers, including the Church of England.

[176] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 09:39 AM • top

Celinda #178,
“True spiritual presence” might more acurately describe Cranmer’s view of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Here is a link to an interview with Ashley Null on the Anglican Church League web site in which he examines Cranmer’s views on the Lord’s Supper:

[177] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-22-2009 at 12:50 PM • top

Thank you so much for the link to the Null-Cranmer article!  The part on Christ’s presence in the Eucharist (Cranmer’s view) was very helpful, but most especially helpful was the section on Justification by Faith.  I have tried and tried to explain to people what is central to me in Cranmer’s theology as expressed in his contributions to the BCP (and why Rite I is a more merciful liturgy to me than Rite II).  Null expresses it thusly:  “for Cranmer, the glory of God is to love the unworthy—that’s his fundamental theological tenet.  He understood that medieval theology, despite its clear intellectual breadth and brilliance, had a distinct Achilles’ heel—its insistence that you had to made personally worthy for God to accept you. (Diarmaid MacCulloch shows Cranmer going round and round with Henry VIII on this issue, the king being still convinced of the medieval point of view).  Cranmer believed (sorry, but I’m going to put this in caps) that THIS EMPHASIS ON MERIT PRODUCED ONLY TWO POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES—EITHER THAT YOU HAD GREAT PRIDE THAT YOU WERE WORTHY—OR YOU HAD GREAT DESPAIR THAT YOU COULD NEVER BE WORTHY.  NEITHER ONE, OF COURSE, INSPIRED LOVING OBEDIENCE.”

[178] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 01:16 PM • top

I would agree that you have to be made worthy for God to accept you.  But, the agent that makes you worthy is the Holy Spirit and the Grace of God, mediated (in part) through the Sacraments.  God requires us to be worthy of Him, so He makes us worthy!  The Roman Catholics would call this being made worthy “Justification” (actually being made righteous).  The Protestants would call the declaration of righteousness “justification” and the being made righteous “sanctification.” 

One of the “means of grace” is the Sacrament of Holy Communion - in which the Church (the Body of Christ) and the personal member (limb) of the Church is fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus to become that which they are - the Body of Christ.

I divide the theologies of Holy Communion into three main parts

1.  Memorialist - Holy Communion in no way changes the bread, the wine, nor the believer.  It is a nice visual aid in remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The problem I have with this view is that Jesus and Paul state otherwise.  This view is not scriptural.

2.  Receptionist.  The bread and wine are unchanged by the Words of Institution, but become the Body and Blood by the believer’s faith.  The problem I have with this view is that it faith becomes another work for the grace of God to be received.  How much faith is required?  Is any doubt permissible?  Is the faith to be just an intellectual assent or must the faith be manifested in the life of the recipient? 

3.  Real Presence (including Transubstansiation and the Eastern Orthodox views) - this view holds that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and that the believe receives them either to his benefit or to his detriment.  The problem I have with this view is that it can lead to a magical view of the Sacraments.  This must be guarded against. 

If I held a memorialist view, I would see no problem with the unbaptized receiving the bread and wine.  There is nothing special about it.  If I held a receptionist view, then I could also see communing the unbaptized because they are only eating bread and drinking wine.  But I hold a doctrine that says Jesus is truly present in the Bread and Wine and, so, I must deny them to the unbaptized out of love for the unbaptized.  For a person to receive Communion and not discerning the Body and Blood of Jesus is spiritually dangerous for them.

Phil Snyder

[179] Posted by Philip Snyder on 04-22-2009 at 02:09 PM • top

I would make one exception for giving communion to the unbaptized which would be last rites before death. We need to keep our politics to ourselves when someone is going to meet their maker.

[180] Posted by ctowles on 04-22-2009 at 02:17 PM • top

Comment to Phil:  you seem to be denying traditional Anglican beliefs.  Perhaps that is what many people and groups are “about” today:  reconfiguring historic Anglicanism from various angles in order to shape it into a set of beliefs more in tune with their own experiences, theological and otherwise, past and present.

[181] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 02:27 PM • top

Although more Reformed beliefs were very popular during the Edwardian and Elizabethan periods—the belief in the spiritual real presence in the Consecrated Elements was by no means excluded in these early post-Reformation years of the Anglican Church. As has been noted at length in some previous threads—Bishop Guest, who shared with Queen Elizabeth herself a “realist” understanding of the real presence, was a primary author of Article 28 (the Article was altered from its original version under Cranmer). Bishop Guest noted the following in relation to what he had written in Article 28 about Christ being present in Holy Communion “only after a heavenly and spiritual manner”—“I told him plainelye that this word onely in ye foresaied Article did not exclude ye presence of Christis Body from the Sacrament, but onely ye grossenes and sensiblenes in ye receavinge thereof: For I saied vnto him though he tooke Christis Bodye in his hand, receaved it with his mouthe, and that corporally naturally reallye substantially and carnally as ye doctors doo write, yet did he not for all that see it, feale it, smelle it, nor taste it.”

Bishop Guest is likewise considered to be the leading reviser of the BCP from its 1552 version. The changes he made to the BCP were small but significant in relation to expressing a more “realist” understanding of the real presence (and the 1662 BCP retains the most significant of these changes under Bishop Guest—namely in the restoration of the words “The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life” and “The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life” in the distribution of the Sacrament).

[Also—although Bishop Guest at first objected to the original Article 29 he affirmed our present version of Article 29 shortly thereafter. (In his initial objection he provides an apparent exact quote which is not found in our present version of Article 29 and it has been speculated that the original version of the Article was altered particularly as a result of the prominent Bishop Guest’s initial objection)].

Finally, the section of the BCP Catechism on the Sacraments was written by another “realist”—Bishop Overall in 1604 (although Bishop Overall relied heavily on Nowell’s Smaller Catechism for overall structure and content he did not at all follow it to the letter and it seems quite obvious that he freely departed when he so desired from Nowell).

In commenting on the Sacrament in the Catechism and the Office of Holy Communion Bishop Overall notes:
“Bread and Wine.] It is confessed by all Divines, that upon the words of the Consecration, the Body and Blood of Christ is really and substantially present, and so exhibited and given to all that receive it, and all this not after a physical and sensual, but after an heavenly and incomprehensible manner. But there yet remains this controversy among some of them, whether the Body of Christ be present only in the use of the Sacrament, and in the act of eating, and not otherwise. They that hold the affirmative, as the Lutherans (in Confess. Sax.) and all Calvinists, do seem to me to depart from all Antiquity, which place the presence of Christ in the virtue and benediction used by the Priest, and not in the use of eating the Sacrament.” – Additional Notes to the Book of Common Prayer

“In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper, the Body and Blood of Christ, and therefore the whole of Christ, is verily and indeed present, and is verily partaken by us, and verily combined with the Sacramental signs, as being not only significative, but exhibitory; so that in the Bread duly given and received, the Body of Christ is given and received, the Blood of Christ is given and received; and thus there is a communion of the whole of Christ, in the communion of the Sacrament.”

“Yet not in any bodily, gross, earthly manner, as by transubstantiation, or consubstantiation, or any like devices of human reason, but in a mystical, heavenly, and spiritual manner, as is rightly laid down in our Articles.” (As quoted and translated in Knox’s Remains, vol. ii. p. 163.)”

Blessings in Christ,
William Scott

[182] Posted by William on 04-22-2009 at 02:54 PM • top

Celindascott - What “traditional Anglican beliefs” am I denying?  From what I have read in the Caroline Divines and in Holy Scripture, “memorialism” has not been traditionally held Article XXVIII denies this specifically.  Receptionism is traditionally Anglican as is Real Presence.  Both are allowable under traditional “comprehensiveness” (the real kind of comprehensiveness where there are actual limits).  I don’t hold with “transubstantiation” because I don’t believe that the world is composed of substances and accidents like Aristotle did.  I have shown my reasoning for not holding receptionism (as “faith” becomes another work) but I also show the dangers in Real Presence (an allowed view).  I believe in the Real Presence because it is in line with what the Church has always taught regarding Holy Communion.  Combine Article XXVIII with XXIX (where the wicked “ their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament…) and you see, even in the 39 Articles, the idea that the Bread and Wine are changed as they cause condemnation to the wicked.

Phil Snyder

[183] Posted by Philip Snyder on 04-22-2009 at 02:58 PM • top

146] : “What a wonderful question, ‘what is our theology.’  I’d think the best answer might be what could be gleaned from a careful study of the rites in the Book of Common Prayer, and the creeds, both of which come from scripture.”

That’ is precisely what I thought…until I recently read the catechism (“a brief summary of the Church’s teaching”) in the BCP and the creeds.

What I think I found (I’m still trying to make sense of it all) was how much of the TEC “doctrine” as disclosed in the 1928 BCP (that seemed to be mostly consistent with the core of TEC teachings since its organization as an association) had been dropped from, or had dramatically “evolved” (no doubt derived from revelatory theological innovations, I guess) in, the 1979 BCP.

Check out just this one delicious comparison of 7th commandment commentary in the 1928 vs in the 1979 BCP:

1928: “To keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity”

1979: “ To use all our bodily desires as God intended.”

[I recently spoke to a Episcopal seminary professor that is a leading authority and commentator on the Decalogue – he had no idea where that 1979 BCP 7th commandment interpretation came, or possibly could have come, from. Maybe somebody found a new Greek word for adultery ?  Do any of you what the basis is for the new interpretation ?]

And then there’s the accompanying “Articles of Religion” still lurking in the back of the 1979 BCP (the liberals had been trying for almost a century, but even in 1979 couldn’t get them excised from the BCP, but I think the GC in 1980 or 1981 announced that they were no longer operative or some bureaucratic-speak like that) that seems to take a radically different (some might say hard-line) approach.

It’s got all that harsh (well, at least superficially harsh) stuff about predestination and election, quasi-original sin, good works not springing from faith in Jesus being inherently sinful, the physical (not merely metaphorical) resurrection of Christ, etc. 

After polling about 15 regular church-goers in my parish (including the two most recent heads of adult education), I have found no one here over 40 that can recall having read the 1979 catechism or anyone that believes all of even the Apostles Creed (or, for the majority, have any aspiration to explore the meaning of the creeds more deeply or read the catechism).

And I’ve concluded that there’s simply no point in making our parish priest uncomfortable by asking him his views on any of this this, since he thinks Kierkegaard pretty much obviated the need for that kind of inquiry a long time ago.

As declared on the TEC web site quite a while ago, the Presiding Bishop is now the “Chief Theologian” of the increasingly hierarchical (well that’s what the TEC says in its property litigation) TEC

So while some parishes may still be relying on what seem to the sleepy majority to be vestigial liturgy, creeds, and catechism, the new, improved version of “our theology” has recently been clearly stated by the Presiding Bishop as “comprehensive” (I think, but I’m not sure, that that may be even broader than “inclusive”) and no longer assigns Christ a singular role in our collective salvation.

So, that’s my understanding of what is “our theology”  (not necessarily yours or mine) actually now is in the TEC.

[184] Posted by Dharma Bum on 04-22-2009 at 03:00 PM • top

Hello Phil,

Your nice response seems as good as any to use as an entry point into this conversation (I was away last week).  You wrote,

For a person to receive Communion and not discerning the Body and Blood of Jesus is spiritually dangerous for them.

Now you know as well as most here that I do my theology through pop culture, so here is my question.  Is that kinda like the Nazis and Belloq looking at the “presence” coming from the Ark in Raiders?  In what sense are you saying it is “spiritually dangerous?”  I am not being argumentative, but sincerely asking.

When I started thinking about Sarah’s question, my initial response was oppose squared (can’t do the superscript thingy that someone used above).  But then I thought back to the late great Rich Mullins who wrote about Jesus, “The whores all seem to love him and the drunks propose a toast.”  That got me thinking and thus was glad to read your response. 

I cover your thoughts, as some used to say.

[185] Posted by Widening Gyre on 04-22-2009 at 03:03 PM • top

Phil—I wasn’t talking about the Real Presence.  What I was talking about was
“worthiness”, and Cranmer’s arguments with Henry VIII about whether you had to be morally worthy or not for God to accept you (which MacCulloch describes in his biography of Cranmer.  Cranmer thought that was not scriptural, and reflected a weakness in medieval scholasticism.  Null picked up on that in his article about Cranmer.  You seemed to disagree strongly with Null’s interpretation of that issue in your response, and that’s what I was referring to.

[186] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 03:20 PM • top


“ [T]he RCC treats the rest of the world of heathens ”

“ I submit that its is the RCC itself that is a major obstacle to ‘mutual understanding and ultimate reunification’ “

“ I don’t think there can be much question that the RCC treats non-RCC
Christians as 2nd class citizens. “

I’m beginning to see a theme here.

As you humbly point out and is consistently evident in your comments, you “acknowledge that [you] know fairly little about the doctrine of the Catholic Church”.

Yet, you’ve taken almost every opportunity in this thread to dismiss virtually every constructive comment about parallel or differing theological interpretations of the RCC and then follow it up with sometimes tangential and/or belittling comments.

Now, like most of us, I know inter-nicene religious disputes can quickly get quite venomous and inspire the self-righteous in all of us (I confess, as is clear from the very production of this blurb, I can’t resist being more than a bit self-righteous myself).

And I think that a bunch of us, overtly or in our dark little hearts, that have spent a lot of time thinking about this doctrine stuff, think, as you clearly do, that those institutions that propagate creeds that might mislead the faithful are probably “2nd class” and “obstacle[s]” to mutual understanding.

But it just seems to me that, before you go ripping into another faith, armed with little more than a caricature of its tenets (certainly understandable – the RCC these days is only marginally better at spiritual formation of even its own members than the TEC), you might want to throttle back on some of the more intemperate and dismissive comments.

I do think you have been consistently raising excellent issues about RC practices.

And, if I had a lot more time (and a dose more learning so I could bat more than .500 on this stuff), I would attempt to respond to each of them.

If you are really interested in understanding RC doctrine and have the time, the quickest way to get clarity on most of the topics you’ve raised is to read the RC catechism on the Vatican web site – it’s exhausting and detailed but, unlike the TEC catechism, it does address most issues head-on. 

Another more casual approach is just to lob in some of your concerns (or things that evidently make you angry at the RCC) into any of the multitude of RC blog sites. Like here, you’ll trigger a cacophony of informed, semi-informed, and fanciful answers that ultimately will coalesce into something approaching a real answer.

P.S.  There’s lots of stuff the RCC rarely publicizes (often, I cynically suspect, because, if it were mentioned too frequently, its disclosure might reduce some of the baser incentives for electing to join the RCC rather than some other faith group).

For example, the RC catechism explicitly states the existence of God’s plan for salvation for muslims and jews.

And it also states that “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

That’s a heckuva lot sweeter deal for the “heathens” than you’d find represented in much of the Anglican tradition !

[187] Posted by Dharma Bum on 04-22-2009 at 03:22 PM • top

Dharma Bum:  how did Kierkegaard “obviate the need for that kind of inquiry some time ago”?  I thought Kierkegaard had a pretty strong sense of original sin, the need for salvation, etc. and thought the church in Denmark in his day was trying too hard to “pretty up” and water down the faith.

[188] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 03:24 PM • top

celindascott - I think you misunderstood my point.  My point is that God does require us to be righteous before Him.  But God Himself makes/declares us righteous because (and only because) of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and by our faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Wrongly understood, Protestantism can devolve into a “say these magic words and you are forever saved.” - fire insurance salvation.

Wrongly understood, Catholicism can devolve into “earn it” salvation - white knuckle Christianity where we are constantly trying to earn our Father’s love.

The Truth is that we are saved by Grace thru Faith.  Salvaiton is not a work, but never is only it a point in time event.  Salvation is an event and a process.  Protestants divide this into justification (the event) and sanctification (the process).  As I understand it, Roman Catholicism call it all justification. 

I am not willing to debate terminology (justification only or justification and sactification).  I can happily agree with both.  As my Systematic Professor said, we are not saved by our works, but we are not save without our works.  Or, as James said, “faith without works is dead.”

We need to be aware that God continues to work in us to remake us into the people He created us to be - as He knows us and loves us in Jesus Christ.

Do we need to be righteous before God to enter communion with Him - to enter Heaven?  Yes!  Can we do that ourselves?  No!  How can that happen?  Only by the Grace of God are we made righteous before God.

Phil Snyder

[189] Posted by Philip Snyder on 04-22-2009 at 03:31 PM • top

in 191, that should be “salvation is not a work, neither is it only a one time event.

[190] Posted by Philip Snyder on 04-22-2009 at 03:33 PM • top

Phil—thanks, but I much prefer Null and Cranmer’s way of putting it; it seems more true to scripture and our rites, less terminologically dependent, and I can’t tell whether you read Null’s remarks or not.

[191] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 03:38 PM • top

Although the discussion on this thread has taken little if any notice of Dean Munday’s comment back at #120, I’d like to call attention to it.  I appreciate that helpful comment because in it the head of Nashotah House makes a very clear, strong, and important connection between the controversies over giving comunion to the unbaptized and unconverted, and the uproar over giving consent to the election of the Buddhist bishop-elect in Northern Michigan.  I’d like to see more people respond to that important observation he made.

As Dr. Munday+ convincingly shows, the root problem underlying both of these controversies is the same false gospel being sahmelessly promoted by many well-intentioned but spiritually blind leaders in TEC.  That is, this false gospel of inclusivity is a non-salvific gospel, one that waters down the good news into mere affirmation of people as loved by God as his creatures (which is true enough as far as it goes).  Instead of the true gospel of salvation and transformation, this culturally driven false gospel is one that implicitly (in the case of CWOB) or even explicitly (in the case of the heretical Kevin Forrester+) denies that all people are hopelessly lost apart from faith in Christ.  The common assumption underlying the “progressive” position in both cases is that the consistent biblical teaching that we are all sinners who desperately need a Savior is simply not true.

Well said, Dr. Munday.  Keep up the good work.  There’s never been a time when we needed good theological education more.  And there’s never been a time when it was more important for seminary faculty to see their role and vocation as extending far beyond the confines of their seminary campuses and reaching deeply into the Church at large.

David Handy+

[192] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2009 at 04:05 PM • top

Dr. Munday is right about Forrester+‘s theology. His sermons and liturgies have been demonstrated by Bishops Breidenthal and Marshall, and others, to lack the essentials of our faith:  that our salvation is accomplished not through our own works, but through Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection.  As +Marshall says, “the bishop-elect makes it clear (in his writings) that the doctrine of the Trinity as confessed in the Creed and explained in the Catechism is not what he holds…(and) his understanding of the atonement…appears to be something like gnostic enlightenment…The point is that there has been no time like the one we inhabit for bishops to proclaim unambiguously the gospel of Christ in all its fullness.” It’s important to point out, as +Breidenthal and +Marshall do, that the practice of meditation techniques used in Buddhism is not the issue.  Those techniques, as long as Christ is the center, have been used by orthodox Roman Catholics (like Thomas Keating+) and Episcopalians for many years.  The problem is, as +Breidenthal explains at some length, that “the death of Jesus as an atonement for our sins is completely absent…” and that he is developing a rejection of that doctrine in the rites he uses and recommends.

[193] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 04:37 PM • top

[190]: Dharma Bum:  how did Kierkegaard “obviate the need for that kind of inquiry some time ago”?

Well, I truly have no view about whether Kierkegaard “obviate[d] the need for that kind of inquiry some time ago” - I just know that that’s what our TEC priest thinks (because that’s what he told me when I asked him if he could direct me to some definitive source of TEC beliefs and then followed up with that charming “you’ve got to lose your faith to gain your faith” thing from him as a postscript to my query).

However, I suspect that our minister, like many people when confronted with the works of heavy duty thinkers that write big books with long sentences describing paradoxical and baroque theories, chose to focus on primarily those aspects of Kierkegaard’s works emphasizing the things that made sense to him (or that his divinity school prof emphasized).

As I somewhat understand it, Kierkegaard did articulate a radical view of subjectivity (subjectivity is truth) in stark contrast to Hegelian rationality (the rational alone is real).

Kierkegaard believed that for many (including him), a necessary precedent to making a wonderfully irrational (or maybe not just bound by the rational) leap of faith to make a whole-hearted commitment to God was the understanding that there can be no objective certainty about the truth of any expressed Christian doctrine.

Seemingly paradoxically, Kierkegaard then went on to say that, once having achieved (or having been graced with) faith in God, one should, notwithstanding the improbability that any particular comprehensive theology was actually “true”, live according to that doctrine as much as could be subjectively understood - he thought that some one who believed in the objective truth of a religious doctrine and didn’t grasp its inherent doubtfulness wasn’t faithful, just credulous.

He had a major influence on a pack of 20th century protestant theologians that increasingly dominate the current divinity school curricula and he even provided Heidegger with an intellectual catalyst for his Principle of Uncertainty !

Whew !

Anyhow, whatever it was that Kierkegaard really said or really meant, some clergy exposed to his brand of Christian existentialism these days seem to think, rightly or wrongly, that our individual experiential relationship with God mostly trumps any of that complex doctrinal baggage that has weighted down the church for a couple of millennia.

Back in the day you had to go to the Unitarian Church (not the Unitarian Universalist Church) to get the benefit of those insights !

[194] Posted by Dharma Bum on 04-22-2009 at 04:40 PM • top

Thanks, Dharma Bum.  Somehow I never got that idea of Kierkegaard, but it explains why one of my sons (whose oldest son is named Søren because the family wanted to choose a very specifically Danish name, because the baby’s mother was Danish) told me recently that he’d read that Kierkegaard had lost his faith.  I’d been thrilled about the baby’s (now 17) name because I’d liked Kierkegaard so much when I first read about him in the late 1950s.  What I read about K. didn’t seem to deny faith at all—just that “pat answers” couldn’t replace the experience of the heart.  It never dawned on me that some would interpret it to mean that the “pat answers”—if that was the term used to express doctrine—were wrong or useless, as the generation of priests you describe seemed to have thought or been taught.

[195] Posted by celindascott on 04-22-2009 at 04:57 PM • top

[181] Philip Snyder,

It seems to me that the understanding of the memorialists and the receptionists makes St. Paul’s warning to those who take the sacrament unworthily apparently incoherent. That is to say, if it is only a memorial or if it requires my faith to make Christ present, how can the absence or defect of faith in me result in me taking the sacrament to my eternal damnation? Would it not simply be ineffectual?

Blessings and regards,
Keith Toepfer

[196] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-22-2009 at 05:47 PM • top

I oppose communicating the unbaptised.  I believe my parish has it close to correct when it invites all baptised Christians to receive communion.  I oppose any change to the canons that would alter this understanding.  My parish, by the way, is fairly liberal.  My understanding of open communion is open to baptised Christians.

[197] Posted by jaroke on 04-22-2009 at 08:48 PM • top


As a priest I am called to offer salvation, not damnation.


And yet, if you offer “salvation” in the form of communion to just anyone, are you not REALLY offering them damnation?

1 Corinthians 11:23.For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Being a bear of very little brain, I could be wrong here, but it seems so clear to me…..

[198] Posted by Anam Cara on 04-23-2009 at 06:54 AM • top

The arguments that are being here are one collosal waste of time. The promotion of one brand of Christianity, or a particular theology of the Eucharist, over another is no part of the message of Jesus. Job One for Christians is to make more Christians and make Christ’s Kingdom on earth a reality—liberating captives, giving sight to the blind, good news to the poor—excluding people is not part of that.  Everyone should be welcome to receive communion in every Church of every denomination, no questions asked, period end of story. I recall about ten years ago, I was in Anacortes, WA, on a Sunday where the only Episcopal Church had morning prayer and not Mass. So instead, I went to the local RCC which of course did have Mass. And I did receive communion. Whether or not the RCC liked it was of no consequence to me. What counted was receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus (yes, as an Anglo-Catholic, I do believe in transubstantiation). The bottom line is let’s focus more on Jesus and less on ecclesiasal preferences and structures.

[199] Posted by DesertDavid on 04-23-2009 at 12:06 PM • top

DersertDavid – Thanks !

I couldn’t agree more with you that all of the rest of us that have made, or have read, some of the 200 comments on this topic have clearly been engaged in “a colossal waste of time”.

In retrospect, what were we all thinking ?

It was really quite generous of you to take even just a few precious minutes away from your main job of liberating captives and the blind, etc to intervene here to put the kibosh on all us silly folks with misguided priorities that have been foolishly engaged in the patently trivial activity of trying to better understand aspects of our faith.

Thank goodness you evidently experienced some kind of full-blown epiphany that allowed you to skip the “colossal waste of time” process of reflecting on the nature and contours of your faith that most less-enlightened Anglo-Catholics typically put themselves through.

And I can tell that, even now,  you’re still basking in that afterglow of what must have been all-encompassing adolescent satisfaction at your iconoclastic crashing of that RCC communion juiced up on your vaunted indifference as to whether the RCC liked it or not.

I know that, from your description of your behavior, some might conclude that you’re just one more self-absorbed religious thug whose selectively inclusivist form of religious fundamentalism has no respect or tolerance for differing boundaries of other denominations’ doctrines and liturgies.

But I bet there are others that might think that your novel in-your-face approach for helping those of different denominations to “focus more on Jesus” should have a broader reach and go far beyond even the presently churched.

How about singing “Jerusalem” in a mosque (after all, God loves all our songs of praise – who cares what some Imam thinks) ?

How about reciting the “Our Father” in a zendo (after all, it isn’t like anybody was saying any other prayers there) ?

OK, I’ll let you get back to spreading the good news !

[200] Posted by Leonard 10,000 on 04-23-2009 at 04:03 PM • top

DesertDavid, would you tell us what, exactly, the eucharist means to you and what, if anything, happens during it?

[201] Posted by oscewicee on 04-23-2009 at 04:12 PM • top

Keith #198,
Phil is making the presumption that faith is a human work, which from the Reformed point of view it is not. In the Reformed view faith does not make Christ’s present. The Holy Spirit makes Christ present but the Holy Spirit is only present in those who believe and the believer believes because the Holy Spirit has given him new life. Otherwise, he would be spiritually dead and incapable of belief, or faith. Faith, on the other hand, is a necessary condition for the believer to benefit from the sacrament because it is faith that appropriates the benefits of Christ’s atonement on the cross of which the bread and wine are signs and tokens. Phil in his discussion of the Lord’s Supper leaves out two other ways of looking at Holy Communion—dynamic virtualism and John Calvin’s own view.

To understand what Paul wrote about unworthy reception, one must look at the context of the passage in which he refers to those Corinthians who were treating the Lord’s Supper as if it was a typical Roman orgy and were eating and drinking to excess and saving nothing for the poorer members of the Corinthian Church who were slaves and brought no food or drink of their own. As Reformed commentators point out, the first group was failing to discern the body of Christ in these late arrivers, the poorer members of the Church. Catholics presume that Paul was talking about Christ’s body in the bread. They bring their own understanding of the Eucharist to the passage and read it into the passage.

[202] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-23-2009 at 05:03 PM • top

In your own statement you expressed a preference for a particular theology of the Eucharist, a preference that is so strong that you would prefer to attend a Roman Catholic Church to an Episcopal Church where the service was Mornig Prayer. In having expressed that preference and how far you would go to practice that preference, you have put yourself in no position to criticize others in discussing their views of the Eucharist. Your statement is also reminiscent of so many that I have heard from liberals and revisionists in the Episcopal Church. Instead of talking about ....., you should be engaging in mission, serving the poor, etc. They are trying to divert attention from the subject under discussion on which they have a decided point of view. They are not open to other points of view other than their own. If you have a ministry in taking the gospel to unbelievers what you teach about the Eucharist matters. As some people would argue, if you are proclaiming the sacraments and sacramental salvation, you are not proclaiming the gospel, salvation by grace by faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sins. You are preaching “another gospel.”

[203] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-23-2009 at 05:18 PM • top

To respond to the queries:
1. I believe in transubstantiation per St. Thomas Aquinas as modified by Edward Schillibeecx. I believe Jesus is objectively and physically present in the Bread and Wine and that the change occurs by the operation of the Holy Spirit after the entire Eucharistic Prayer is completed.
2. My atonement theology is a combination of Peter Abelard (Moral aka Subjective Theory) and Gustaf Aulen (Christus Victor). I don’t buy into Satisfaction, Ransom, or Penal Substitution—all three are some version of cosmic child abuse. Human compassion is more important than justice by the rules. Jesus went to the cross because He loved us, and in the resurrection, he conquered sin and death and triumphed over evil. We are saved by Jesus message, not his death. The resurrection is Jesus flipping off the devil.
3. Unlike Rome, the beauty of Anglicanism is that we all get to state our views. I don’t like to see intolerance for others expressing their views, whether emanating from left or right. Both sides need to learn respect for those with whom they disagree.
4. The leadership of the Church should put its time, energy and money into hands-on pastoral ministry, making more Christians, opposing oppression, and celebrating daily Mass at which all are welcome to partake.
5. Jesus message is more important than the gender and sexual orientation of the clergy. That’s where the focus should be.

[204] Posted by DesertDavid on 04-24-2009 at 02:51 PM • top

DesertDavid: ” Human compassion is more important than justice by the rules…I don’t like to see intolerance for others expressing their views, whether emanating from left or right. Both sides need to learn respect for those with whom they disagree…Jesus message…That’s where the focus should be.”

I’m still trying to figure out how your triumphalist recount of knowingly violating the RCC canons on the eucharist could possibly square with your plea for respect for others and your repeatedly stated commitment to Jesus’ message.

Just a thought - the next time you say your prayer of confession/repentance in advance of your next communion (in whichever church you think transubstantiation may be occurring) you might wish to take the opportunity to ask Jesus whether committing in someone else’s church something believed by its congregants to be a sacrilege to their faith is something Jesus thinks is part of his message.

[205] Posted by Leonard 10,000 on 04-24-2009 at 05:09 PM • top

I don’t buy into Satisfaction, Ransom, or Penal Substitution—all three are some version of cosmic child abuse.

You don’t consider that as a person in the Trinity, it was a matter of choice? God chose to become man?

Human compassion is more important than justice by the rules.

Please consider that some of us see it as an act of compassion to prevent anyone taking the eucharist to their harm. Because we believe in the Real Presence, because we believe it could in some way harm the person who is not a baptized Christian. This is not legalism. It’s not arrogance. It’s love for the other person.

Jesus went to the cross because He loved us, and in the resurrection, he conquered sin and death and triumphed over evil.

If our salvation doesn’t lie in Jesus choosing to take up the cross, how is it a proof of love that He went there and not simply an unfortunate occurance?

The resurrection is Jesus flipping off the devil.

And that’s an awfully flip way of looking at it.

[206] Posted by oscewicee on 04-24-2009 at 05:24 PM • top

The Body and Blood of Jesus belong to Jesus alone and not to humans. Jesus is no one’s private property over which to exercise dominion and control.  No church has a right to be a “gatekeeper” to Jesus, ever, at any time, for any reason. For any Church to do so is sinful as contrary to Jesus’ teachings. Canonical scripture recounts several instances where someone wants to see Jesus but those around Him try to keep that person or persons from him. Witness Jesus and the children. Those around him tried to discourage Jesus from blessing the children, but Jesus said to let the children come to Him. Jesus had little patience with the religious rules of his day when they obstructed the Kingdom he was sent to bring. To repeat: EVERY Christian Church should, and must, welcome EVERY person to communion, without exception.  No other position is consistent with the direct teachings of Jesus himself. It is HIS ALTAR, NOT OURS!

[207] Posted by DesertDavid on 04-26-2009 at 07:46 PM • top

And yet Jesus didn’t throw open the doors of the upper room and say, Y’all come.

[208] Posted by oscewicee on 04-26-2009 at 07:56 PM • top

#209 DesertDavid - there were also times when Jesus did not make full self-revelation because those seeking him “were not ready for it”, and many times when he explained that his disciples were blessed to receive what he could not give to the crowd.  Look at Matthew 5 - even the Beatitudes are given to a restricted group, after Jesus distances himself from “the crowd”.

From early times, there has been broad welcome for all who want to come and hear Jesus in the liturgy of the word.  But to participate in sacramental worship requires preparation - not out of legalism but because dabbling in the the deep commitments of faith is dangerous and it does not establish a relationship of any depth or value.

And the reality is that when Jesus announced himself openly as “the bread of life”, many walked away from him.  The folks who don’t come to our churches are not sitting home sobbing that they can’t get communion.  They are off doing other things that they find more important.  They are not beating down the church doors, nor are they out picketing churches chanting “We want the host!” They are off doing whatever honors whatever worldview they’ve accepted.

The Lord’s sacraments are not any one man’s property, but they have been entrusted to the church by Christ to be ministered in his name.  He says, “Go and baptize”, not, “Put out a tub and let whoever jump in.”

But I suspect you know all this and are just yanking our chains.

[209] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 04-26-2009 at 08:07 PM • top


You cannon give communion to non-Christians.

Communion is a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.  You can offer the bread and wine to an unbeliever, but unless they are Christian, they are not experiencing the inward and spiritual grace.  You are cheating they by confusing them into thinking that what they are doing is experiencing communion, when it is not.  Communion is so much more.

As many have pointed out, there even more at risk than cheating them of real communion, if you believe the Bible.

[210] Posted by JustOneVoice on 04-26-2009 at 10:23 PM • top

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