Communion Without Baptism: A Perfectly Consistent Practice
David Virtue, who for years has been documenting errors and problems across the worldwide Anglican communion, had an interesting article on this growing trend, which I’ve also seen popping up in ELCA congregations as well. For that matter, in those congregations that do not practice a serious approach to closed communion, I think there is little to prevent this practice, de facto, from happening. Your thoughts? Here is Mr. Virtue’s article.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy on Communion without Baptism
Date 2011/5/25 8:50:00 | Topic: Exclusives
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy on Communion without Baptism
By David W. Virtue
May 25, 2011
[Holy Communion] It is unofficial of course. No one is supposed to know it is going on and it is certainly not approved by the canons of The Episcopal Church – but it is happening around the country. Communion is being offered to people who are not baptized. It is known as Communion Without Baptism (CWOB).
The most blatant case was at a House of Bishops meeting in 2001 presided over by then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. In Arrowhead in March of that year, bishops were forced to sit through lectures by a Jewish faculty member from Griswold’s alma mater in Massachusetts on how to lead the Christian church. The man was truly offensive, according to a bishop who wrote to VOL at that time. Later, following the lecture, then Bishop of Vermont, Adelia MacLeod, dragged the speaker to the altar rail for communion.
The bishop wrote, “Others, the sicker kind, had a sick need to make up with this offensive person and actually forced him to receive Holy Communion, one dragging him on either side, managing to violate his integrity and the integrity of his religion and ours. The perpetrators were women who did not care that he was clearly not in love and charity with his neighbor and who see the sacrament as nothing more than ‘hospitality’.”
There was no apology for his behavior, no apology for the violation of the sacrament and we went on, he wrote. My story on this and other behaviors of Frank Griswold “GRISWOLD AGONISTES” appears here: (http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3367).
A decade later, CWOB is now more blatant than ever and publicly obvious. St. Mark’s in Washington, DC, describes itself on a billboard as The Church of the Open Communion – “wherever you are on your faith journey, whatever you believe or don’t believe, baptized or not, we welcome you to join us.” http://www.stmarks.net/who-we-are/about-us/about-st-marks/
Today with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink, liberal Episcopal parishes pay lip service to baptism as a pre requisite for taking Holy Communion. In The Episcopal Church, all baptized Christians-no matter age or denomination-are welcome to “receive communion. Episcopalians invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously. Visitors who are not baptized Christians are welcome to come forward during the Communion to receive a blessing from the presider. Nowhere is communion offered to an unbaptized person.
Episcopal Church Canon I.17.7 however, is unambiguous. It states: “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.”
But The Episcopal Church flouts canon law on a number of issues especially and including sexuality. CWOB is just one more issue where canon law and ecclesiastical polity have been tossed out the window.
In a video put out by the Episcopal Church, The Rev. Paul Lane of St. Paul’s, Chicago, says that “everyone is welcome to eat at this table…” no mention is made of baptism as a prerequisite for partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
The video mixes worship styles in a changing culture with strong emphasis on diverse contexts. “The community is gathered around the altar. Everyone is welcome to eat at God’s table…the table is wide open. [We] welcome everyone to the table without exception,” states Lane.
In reconfiguring the church to meet the growing diversity in the Chicago neighborhood, Lane determined the cross to be offensive. “The cross is non welcoming to non-Christians so it was put at the back of the church.”
St. Jude, Wantagh, NY, is also featured by The Episcopal Church as being a healthy Episcopal congregation under the rubric, “Transforming Churches, Changing the World”. The church bills itself as “a welcoming community of faith, embracing and serving all of God’s children regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability or socio-economic condition.” No distinctions of behavioral practice are mentioned.
A study released in 2005 by the Diocese of Northern California estimated that a majority of dioceses have congregations that practice CWOB. Of the church’s 110 dioceses, 48 responded to the Northern California survey. 24 reported they had parishes that practice CWOB while a seven dioceses were reported to “probably allow CWOB.”
The dumbing down of doctrine to make the church more acceptable to non-Christians might have short term gains. In the long run, however it will fail. The church is supposed to be a counter culture to the world’s values. TEC’s attempt to downplay its exclusive character will only make it indistinguishable from the world.
People who have not confessed Christ as personal Savior and Lord remain in bondage to sin and therefore, in the words of St. Paul, “anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Cor. 11:29) – NIV
The Rt. Rev. Dr. John Rodgers in his new book Essential Truths for Christians, A Commentary on the 39 Articles wrote of Article 28 that “to participate in unbelief, or in any other unworthy manner, is to profane the sacrament, to dishonor God and to bring judgment upon oneself. Repentant faith is essential to a right use of the sacrament because the nature of Christ’s self-giving is personal and because the Lord’s Supper is for sinner who receive unmerited grace therein.
“Jesus speaks about the importance of humble, repentant faith in connection to worship. The Apostle Paul warns us that to profane the Sacrament will bring serious consequences. It is far better to judge oneself and partake of the sacrament only in a worthy manner, in repentance and faith, than to offend the Lord,” concluded Rodgers.
The Episcopal Church’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy will prove to be yet another nail in its coffin.
This article comes from VirtueOnline