Do you support open communion?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Dallas Rivera, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. Dallas Rivera

    Dallas Rivera New Member

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    Open communion is receiving Eucharist without baptism. As communion is a sacrament, in accordance with church tradition, I say it should be reserved for the baptized. What are your thoughts on open communion?
     
  2. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Of course not!...
     
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Hi, in the first place I think you are redefining the term, which traditionally means that communicant members (and therefore baptised members) of other Christian Traditions are invited or specifically not excluded from receiving the blessed sacrament. The practice is entirely in conformity with what we say in the Nicene Creed we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. It affirms the commitment to the principle of 1 Church, 1 Baptism, 1 Faith, 1 Lord.

    Baptism, is the primary rite of entry to the life of Christ we share in the Holy Sacrament, so in that sense communicating the unbaptised would have to be understood as an alien practice.
     
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  4. Dallas Rivera

    Dallas Rivera New Member

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    Please pardon my misunderstanding. Thank you for your correction.
     
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  5. Achilles Smith

    Achilles Smith Member Anglican

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    agreed
     
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  6. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    No, communicants should be baptized.
     
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  7. DivineOfficeNerd

    DivineOfficeNerd Active Member Anglican

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    The traditional Anglican thought required both Baptism and Confirmation prior to receiving the Blessed Sacrament. We must not come to Christ unworthily, but must first examine ourselves and of course, be members of his Holy Church. Anything else desecrates the Sacrament.
     
  8. Ide

    Ide Active Member

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    No, I don't think that it should be open. The reason for this is not to exclude people, but to help them understand and respect what the Christian life and Eucharist is truly about. I think we should also follow the wisdom of the early church who understood that it takes time to truly understand all of the benefits and responsibilities involved with the Christian life. I think spiritual discipline is good. The Didiache states:

    But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptised in the Lord's Name. For concerning this also did the Lord say, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."

    So this teaching goes very far back into the churches past. It's not a new invention and not for us to change.

    However, I have read of persons who were not baptized or prepared to received communion and found it totally transformative and led to their conversion. I think that God touches everyone who takes communion as it is the true Body and Blood of Jesus, but it is important for the church to maintain it's structure and order to benefit of all. For individuals who have benefited from communing outside the parameters set by the church, it is a way to help them meet Christ and align with the deeper meaning of the Eucharist they first found.
     
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  9. peter

    peter Active Member

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    Open Communion with non-baptised people should not be practiced. Thinking about what St. Paul said about receiving unworthily, which was quoted in the Prayer Book's Third Exhortation, I think its quite clear that lack of faith sits alongside unrepentant sin as conditions that could make receiving the Eucharist a dangerous activity for the recipient.

    Open Communion between different denominations however would be eminently desirable and would put an end to the petty elitism of groups that claim that only they have a "valid" Eucharist.
     
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  10. newsoul

    newsoul New Member Anglican

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    I for one do not think Christ would have turned away anyone from his table however I feel communion without baptism is less meaningful to the person receiving it
     
  11. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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  12. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    A difficult subject where it is possible to be in two minds on the matter, in my opinion.

    Generally speaking I would prefer an 'open table', particularly with visiting believers of other denominations. I don't think any of the crowd were interrogated by Jesus to ascertain their sincerity at the feedings of the multitudes. He just fed them, no questions asked, just because they were hungry. Communion though is a little different, being a commemoration of His death and passion. The litergy itself provides enough information to inform anyone who has hearing and understanding though what it is all about, so approaching the table in complete ignorance would be very unusual. But should the deaf, blind be excluded? I don't think so.

    Our aversion to Communion being taken 'thoughtlessly' and without due consideration is supported in scripture by St Paul though, but it is not our job to police the situation, only for a responsible leader to take necessary steps to preserve the dignity of the occasion if an obvious abuse is observed.

    Our sensibilities can be sometimes too easily offended though. I and my wife, when we were in ministry, celebrated communion in care homes for the elderly unable to ever attend church, and there were occasions when some participant clearly did not know the necessary etiquette or had long forgotten, but still wanted to be included. One resident once asked me, when the wafer was placed in her hand, "What do I have to do with this"? I replied "You just eat it and enjoy". Which she did. The most difficult situation was when someone had put it in her mouth, disliked the taste or texture and spat it out on the floor. It was merely the reaction of a person not totally in possession of her wits, but what should one then do with the remains?

    It was a distressing situation but I figured, if Jesus Christ willingly subjected his body to be scourged and nailed to a cross for this person, he would happlily take in his stride, being spat on the floor in a wafer by the occasional Altzheimers patient.
    .
     
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  13. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    This is a difficult subject, @Tiffy. I agree with what seems to be the general opinion here that communion should be open to all believing baptized Christians regardless of denomination. It has been the practice in TEC for as long as I can remember. However, I have a hard time justifying offering it to the unbaptized. That certainly wasn't the practice in the early church. Having said that. I don't necessarily think confirmation is necessary though it has been the rule in the west since the 1200s I believe.
     
  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    If our Anglican church didn't have open communion, I probably wouldn't have ever attended. My feeling has been, if I'm not welcome to share in the communion, the members don't regard me as a genuine brother in the Lord and I wouldn't feel welcome in the church. Which is exactly why I previously had attended the nearest Baptist church exactly one time and had never gone back; they have closed communion.

    That reminds me, my pastor's wife happened to comment today (in Sunday school) that she was raised Baptist, and that "Baptists make good Anglicans." :)
     
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  15. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I was originally a methodist and they would give communion to anyone who could fog a mirror, as did the TEC I grew up in. It was very inclusive but I do worry about St Paul's warning about folks receiving unworthily. It's a conundrum, I don't want "him that is thirsty" not to come, but are we letting those who are ignorant of the import of the sacrament unknowingly bring judgment on themselves?
     
  16. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    That's too bad, because closed communion (and why most traditional Churches have always practiced it), was not meant to be about excluding a brother, or not counting him a brother in the Lord.

    I feel like people are too emotional these days; we can't discipline our children, we can't discipline our brethren, we can't discipline ourselves. Denial is seen as rejection, a mortal offense, a declaration of hate, etc.

    Closed communion and the barring of the altar is not meant as any of those things. We don't offer confirmation to a newborn, and he doesn't partake of the Eucharist but that doesn't mean he (at 1 year old) isn't already a brother in the Lord. He is, and yet he doesn't receive. Those who are divorced and live in sin, also must be barred from the Sacrament. Etc. There are many reasons and kinds of denial. Why deny a person off the street from communion? Not through hate or rejection or anything like that. But even assuming they're Christian, they may have such a confused notion of the holiest mystery in all of Christianity; such a muddle regarding the Eucharist in their minds, that they may eat it to their own damnation.

    It's a really scary prospect.

    So what needs to happen is, they need to come in, sit politely and respectfully without demanding things for themselves; they should go through Catechesis and formation to understand what it is that takes place. And when they're ready, then by all means, partake in the highest of Christian mysteries.
     
  17. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    While this is off the subject somewhat, paedocommunion is a different topic altogether than communion open to the unbaptized or notorious, unrepentant sinners. Restricting communion to only the confirmed or those who have attained the fabled "age of reason" is strictly a phenomenon of the West. Eastern Churches, meaning Eastern Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox, all practice paedocommunion, or infant communion. No doubt the difference in practice between Eastern/Western Churches is a product of the Roman influence. But that is changing it seems. TEC, at least in my parish, allows baptized children to receive as their parents permit. My children have partaken, though I have gone back and forth on the issue... What it came down to for me was: if we have scruples about children taking communion because they seem to lack the capacity necessary to understand what is going on in the ceremony should likewise refuse to have them baptized, because the danger of receiving a sacrament unworthily is present in all sacraments not just communion (see the fourth paragraph of Article XXV). Yet in paedobaptism, we trust the parents' faith to sustain a child until he is able to make a mature profession. Why is that different in the case of communion? After all, as Stalwart said, the baptized infant is already a brother in the Lord.
     
  18. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    And while we're on this digression, let me add a blog post from APA bishop Chandler Jones back in 2006:

    https://philorthodox.blogspot.com/2006/02/paedocommunion.html?m=1

    I wish the priest at the APA parish I attended had shared this bishop's opinion on the matter. He refused to give my son communion, just a blessing, because he said he was too young, even though he was more than happy to have him as an altar boy assisting with the Mass. I didn't understand his logic....other than being short of altar boys.
     
  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Very simple, because in Baptism, the Godparents are the ones who make the profession on the behalf of the child. The children themselves don't actually own their faith, they don't understand or know what they believe. At baptism they are only born again, from the nature of the flesh to the nature of heavenly kingdom. They come to own their faith at Confirmation, which is the first time that the Holy Ghost descends upon them, and dwells in them. That is the age of reason, and after that point, they can be held accountable for their actions; and they can partake of the Sacrament.

    In any case this isn't a debate on paedocommunion. I'm only explaining the rationale for why it was considered as wrong by everyone except some churches in the East. All of the Western Churches rejected it.

    With baptism you don't own your faith, you don't profess it, you're practically dumb and brute on account of your own salvation. It's done to you; only at Confirmation do you for the first time take it up.

    With Communion it's the opposite: no one can take it for you. You own it, from day 1. So if you are blasphemous, or idolatrous towards it, or about it, or about yourself, or if you take it wrongly, or think wrongly, then you could be taking it to your own damnation. That's why it is wrong to let just anyone do it.
     
  20. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    The distinction seems forced Stalwart, you don't own your faith in baptism? What about when an adult is baptized? Surely, that logic doesn't hold up in that case. So if you don't have to own or profess your faith in paedobaptism but you do in adult baptism but in either case receiving baptism is acceptible, why would that same logic not apply equally to communion?

    As far as the issue regarding the east-west issue, the undevided church always encouraged infant baptism (see the Apostolic Constitutions). As I understand it, the practice fell out of favor in the West after the Great Schism. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries confirmation was turned into a rite only performed by bishops, which generally meant it was separated from baptism. Since one had to be confirmed to receive communion, the idea of age of reason came into play. Again, all of this occurred around the of time of the 4th Lateran Council, which is the apex of Papal power and medieval novelties like transubstantiation, etc. creeping in making communion less and less accessible. Clearly, the West owes this to Romish influence.