Paedocommunion?

Discussion in 'Sacraments, Sacred Rites, and Holy Orders' started by Lowly Layman, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. seagull

    seagull Active Member

    Posts:
    536
    Likes Received:
    90
    Country:
    England
    Religion:
    Anglican
    In the CofE practice varies (surprise, surprise) but the general rule is that people receiving communion should have been confirmed. In the church I attend that applies, but people in communion with other Churches may take the sacrament on an occasional basis.
     
  2. Fr. Bill

    Fr. Bill Member

    Posts:
    43
    Likes Received:
    31
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    Baptized children receive communion in my parish (1) by permission of our bishop, and (2) by permission of the parents. Spherelink's rationale from 1 Cor. 11 against communing children (viz. they are not capable of discerning the Lord's body) might be compelling were it the only datum from Scripture to guide us. But, there are a good many other Scriptural lights on this question, and considering them all, 1 Cor. 11 emerges amongst them as Paul's explanation for why certain sinful behavior by adults at Corinth was worthy of severe chastening by the Lord.

    The Eucharist arises out of the Passover meal, and behind that is a fairly elaborate background in OT worship of "communion" with God through various sacrifices in which the matter offered to God (grain, a lamb, an ox, etc.) was shared with the offerer. Indeed, the thrice-annual feasts of the Lord which the Law required all males to attend were thick with these kinds of offerings, which -- if the man brought his entire family to the feast -- were shared with the whole family. But, most important was the Passover itself from which the Eucharist emerges. It was a meal which the entire family consumed. There is no provision for excluding children from it.
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  3. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

    Posts:
    545
    Likes Received:
    246
    Religion:
    Unhinged SC Anglican
    Do we know of any children who consumed the Passover meal? I would be glad to read any scriptural passages if you may have them.

    The Passover feast required a firm vivid remembrance of salvation out of Egypt. While the children might've been present they certain could not fulfill that particular requirement, so the Passover was meaningless to them. Similarly, say the child partakes of the eucharist; he still doesn't have any Remembrance or understanding of who God is, so the Eucharist is meaningless to him.

    Since in our theology sacraments aren't mechanical but must be received By Faith, do you think God will be Present in that child's eucharist (even if we assume no damning ill-intent in the child)?
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  4. Fr. Bill

    Fr. Bill Member

    Posts:
    43
    Likes Received:
    31
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    Spherelink,

    "Do we know of any children who consumed the Passover meal?"

    I ask a different question: "Do you know of any children who were excluded from consuming the Passover meal because they were children?"

    If we agree (as I think we must) that the Scriptures do not expressly address the question of the inclusion/exclusion of children from either the Passover or the Communion, we're left with inferring an answer from notices that mention "households" or "families."

    Here's the text of Exodus 12:26: And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’”

    Do you suppose that the child who asks this kind of question is an adult? It's the sort of question very young children ask their parents all the time about this or that thing the child sees in the home (or at church worship), which thing he does not understand.

    Spherelink, you seem to reason about paedocommunion the way that my Anabaptist fathers in the faith reason about baptism -- because we have no express statement about baptizing infants in the NT, but we do have an abundance of examples of baptizing adults, then it follows that infant baptism is off the reservation. No matter about whole households being baptized; such notices do not specifically reference infants, so we must conclude that there were no infants baptized!
     
  5. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

    Posts:
    545
    Likes Received:
    246
    Religion:
    Unhinged SC Anglican
    Dear Fr. Bill,

    I assure you, I do not! I cringe from the baptistic arguments you've recited. However even then the case is strong for baptism, the OT children being circumcized, which is why I asked if there was a similar case for Passover.

    All I'd like to say this this: baptism doesn't require faith or discernment, whereas holy communion does. In Baptism, that's why we have Confirmation and Godparents, since they can See and be Aware in lieu of the child. But we don't have Godparents in the Eucharist. Unlike baptism where others can stand in for your lack of faith, in holy communion no one can stand in for your lack of faith, you either have it or you don't.

    Do you see what I'm saying?

    What would you say is the role for Confirmation, if babies and children are already fully equipped to Commune and participate in the life of the church?
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  6. Fr. Bill

    Fr. Bill Member

    Posts:
    43
    Likes Received:
    31
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    Spherelink, you're right to say that in the administration of baptism to an infant, no faith (at least not in any sense we ordinarily mean by that term) is required by the infant, but faith is nevertheless required by the (g0d)parents, whose faith and vows are made in the name of the infant. But if baptism can be validly conveyed/administered to a child via a proxy faith, why not communion as well?

    Admitted, the Church has not -- at least in the West, so far as I know -- formally incorporated proxy faith into the rite for communion as it has in the rite of baptism for infants. If the faith of parents suffices for infants to be baptized, why not the same faith in parents who bring their validly baptized children to the communion rail? And, thus far in my Anglican pastoral experience, I've only dealt with young children (age 3 or so) who were validly baptized by me with both parents baptized as well. I'll frankly admit that I'd be hesitant about a parishioner rounding up the kindergardeners from VBS at the Baptist church next door and presenting them for commnion absent their parents! But, with parents whom I know are in the faith, validly baptized themselves, present when I had baptized their infant son or daughter? Why is their faith, their discernment of the Lord's body, of no consequence for their baptized children during the communion rite when the same parents' faith was of determinative consequence in that child's baptism?

    Somewhere else someone (you? I'm sort of awash in a lot of grazing at warp speed through these threads!) construed confirmation as a kind of extension of, or completion of, infant baptism, wherein the person baptized as an infant takes the baptismal vows under his own agency rather than receiving the benefits of baptism via the agency of his spiritual head(s), viz. his parents. I have no quibble with this at all.

    I notice that our Orthodox friends finesse the whole thing by baptizing/confirming the person (adult or infant) in the same rite.

    I don't want to unpack what I'm about to say in this thread. But, lurking below these pastoral issues is likely a more prickly theological issue surrounding what baptism actually accomplishes for the one who receives it.

    Some believe baptism has merely "social" efficacy, to mark out the baptized person as belonging to a community with a relationship to Christ that He does not have to the unbaptized. It is, at least but no more than, an initiatory rite into a community. It would be, in this regard, strictly analogous to circumcision as marking out Jewish men and their families (when they have them) as members of the community relating to the God of Abraham. The line dividing the elect and nonelect, the redeemed and the damned, believers and unbelievers -- that line would run right through the middle of Israel, just as Paul tels us in Romans 9:6. And in the same way the same line would run right through the community of the baptized. This is how the Anabaptists understand the rite, but they're not the only ones. My Presbyterian friends, who baptize their infants, believe that baptism is, fundamentally, of social efficacy alone.

    Others (e.g. our Roman friends and many Anglicans) believe baptism bestows a number of saving graces -- regeneration, or cleansing from Adamic sin, etc. -- which graces may ultimately fail as the baptized person logs further years of life beyond the administration of baptism. Or, our Roman friends would insist, baptismal grace results in eternal life if it has not been forfeited by later culpable transgression.

    For some, baptism confers a regeneration by the Holy Spirit which perseveres unto eternal life; for others it's a regeneration which may or may not persevere until eternal life, the secret election of God being the "determinative factor" in perseverance. My Baptist friends are horrified by any notion that baptism saves (Peter's statement notwithstanding). My Presbyterian friends (some, at any rate) are horrified that any humanly administered rite confers any salvific grace of any moment, their horror of ex opere operato trumping any such idea.

    All this to say that relating election, predestination, justification and sanctification, and the ordinal sacraments -- all this has proven to be a hotbed of complexity and disagreement. Paedocommunion, therefore, is likely to unravel a wide ranging number of thorny theological controversies if one pulls on that thread very hard!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  7. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

    Posts:
    545
    Likes Received:
    246
    Religion:
    Unhinged SC Anglican
    I agree with what you say, nor do i really want to pull and unravel anything. I'm also concerned about the theology of other churches which should in no way affect our doctrine of the sacraments.
     
  8. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    724
    Likes Received:
    717
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    High-Church Laudian
  9. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,811
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    May I be the fly in the ointment, to ask if in receiving communion the infants come up and kneel at the communion rail?
     
  10. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    724
    Likes Received:
    717
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    High-Church Laudian
    anglican74,

    I don't know if your question was addressed to me. In the Orthodox Church there are no communion rails. You walk up to the priest with your arms folded over you chest and he takes some of the bread with the wine and places it in your mouth with a spoon. For really small children the parents hold the child in their arms when they approach the priest.
     
  11. Fr. Bill

    Fr. Bill Member

    Posts:
    43
    Likes Received:
    31
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    Anglican74,

    In every instance I've seen (limited perspective, admitted), the child comes to the communion rail with the parent(s). Mothers with infants typically have them with us in worship rather than in a nursery. In fact, we don't have a nursery! At any rate, I've never been asked by any parent to commune an infant -- frankly, I'd not know what to do if I were! And, so, I make the sign of the cross on their foreheads with my thumb, after communing the parent(s), then move on to the next communicant.

    When the child is a toddler, his head will barely reach the communion rail, and if he raises his hands to receive bread, it's almost raising them over his head! So, no, the toddlers don't exactly kneel -- it's far safer in distribution of bread and cup if they're standing, the parent's arm around their shoulders to steady them.

    And, unless I already know, I ask the parents if they'd like the child to commune, doing this before the service to also ask if the child is baptized.
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  12. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,811
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    Thank you.
     
  13. Rev2104

    Rev2104 Active Member

    Posts:
    169
    Likes Received:
    56
    Religion:
    Anglican
    This is a back and forth between east and west. I know the catholics bounced around the date.
    All i can say is we with hold Eucharist tell a child reaches an age of reason. They perform first confession than Eucharist. We have a high regard for the part about condemning are souls if taken wrongly. Place the understanding if the real presence and not wanting to waste any.
    So tradition dictates what we believe and what we do not scripture with regards to age.

    Also never thought about this tell now. How do we dispose of extra fragments of the Eucharist.
     
  14. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,557
    Likes Received:
    2,369
    At my church the priest consumes the extras, if any.

    I've heard this "age of reason" point made before. Can anyone tell me what that age is? Is there somewhere in scripture that speaks about this in regards to taking sacraments? It seems to me that if there is an age of reason for one sacrament, it must apply to the other as well. After all, communion is just as essential baptism in salvation, right?
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
    Rev2104 likes this.
  15. Rev2104

    Rev2104 Active Member

    Posts:
    169
    Likes Received:
    56
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Baptism is the rite of Christian initiation. It is the first and most important one.
    And good question thou. We are told that in order to have eternal life we must consume the body of Christ. At the same time it says if we partake of it unworthy we condemn are self. Never says that about baptism. So in western othodoxy we struggle with that and came up with the idea of age of reason. You must have done confession to be in a state free of sins and in order to do that you must have some sort of accountability.
    That is the ordinary means of receiving sacraments.
    In other traditions they do things differently. It is better to embrace one tradition than wanting to adopt piecemeal from others. So for exemple some said Methodist do it a certain way, but Methodism broke away from orthodoxy. The eastern churches do it different than us, but they do a lot different than us. If you embrace there ideas on sacraments than not to be snide maybe you should look into them. There as orthodox as Anglican, but come from a different history, tradition, and assumptions than we do. You can't do yourself or them justice embracing a few ideas.
    So i believe in what the western church teaches. There is a rational behind, there is tradition behind it.
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  16. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,557
    Likes Received:
    2,369
    Good points, but I don't think that exploring paedocommunion is so much an attempt to conform to Eastern Orthodoxy as it is an attempt to live out orthodoxy as an Anglican, which means, among other things, semper reformanda. We must always look to and be guided by the traditions of the historic Church, but only insofar as and inasmuch as it conforms to scripture. For me, as an Anglican, scripture is the sufficient authority, such that "whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith". This would apply to the concept of age of reason. Perhaps,this concept was used by advocates of anabaptism to remove children completely from the grace imparted from either of the Dominican sacraments. I read in scripture that baptism is required for salvation just as I read communion is, I also read that Jesus instructed his disciples, and us through his Word, to let the little children come to him and to not hinder them. What I don't read in scripture, and can't because it isn't there, is any mention of children needing to attain an age of reason in order to validly receive any or either of the sacraments necessary for salvation. But I am still prayerfully considering the issue.
     
  17. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

    Posts:
    545
    Likes Received:
    246
    Religion:
    Unhinged SC Anglican
    Note that the requirement for Scriptural basis only refers to something which is "an article of the Faith." This doesn't talk about Natural Theology, i.e. deductions and claims that can be true, without reference to a particular verse of Scripture. We know, for example, that 2 x 2=4, although nowhere in Scripture does it say that. Those deductions cannot be held to be salvific, obviously, but they can nevertheless be true.

    From nature we know that men gain understanding only after a certain point. We even know that Jesus when he turned 12, was taken by his parents to Jerusalem for the Passover, and there he was in the Temple questioning the doctors.

    So the Church has traditionally withheld communion from infants, because they simply can't discern anything, and therefore, couldn't discern the Lord's Body. But it was something that the Church (and not God) established, and so falls under Church Discipline to be followed, even though, it is possible to entertain different opinions. Note that a bishop can permit the practice in his own diocese, even though, as I've said, it falls outside traditional Church discipline on the matter.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
  18. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,557
    Likes Received:
    2,369
    Are you seriously equating math facts with when the sacraments are appropriately received?

    I think your argument opens the door for every extrabiblical papal and anabaptist claim ever made. not in the bible? well in that case it's clearly an issue of natural theology (also not in scripture).

    Surely we can agree that Nature, even as it proclaims the glory of the Lord, is cursed, and thus is an imperfect revelator, and should not be a source of theology seperate and apart from scripture.

    But, considering this, is 12 the age of reason? Is this gospel story the basis of the age of reason
     
  19. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

    Posts:
    545
    Likes Received:
    246
    Religion:
    Unhinged SC Anglican
    In Christianity we've always had the light of scripture and the light of nature. That is the primordial origin where Science was given birth; within the Christian idea of the light of nature. From this idea we also derive concepts like natural law, the inalienable rights of man (which America was based on), etc. All of these things are certainly connected with Scripture (Man made in the image of God and given the ability to reason), but they aren't all delineated in Scripture. Think even of the Anglican rejection of the Regulative Principle. Unlike the Calvinists, we don't hold that everything must be contained in Scripture for it to be true, even in ecclesiastical or theological matters. Some things (like homoiousion, Perichoresis (interpenetration within the Trinity) are concepts which the Church has developed over the millenia, and which are not contained in Scripture.

    The big point is not whether truths discovered via reason (nature) are true, but whether they're salvific, mandatory as an Article of the Christian Faith, where, we'll agree, of course they aren't. Here is why it's different from the Papacy, which feels it can declare salvific Articles of Faith based only on its own authority, like new Commandments, new Sacraments, etc.

    And so I'll agree that whatever we say the age of reason is, or even if we disagree on it at all, it isn't a Salvific article of our Faith, declared by Revelation for all time. It is something that's arrived to via Nature. Using it, the Church has made a dictum in the realm of church discipline. All matters in church discipline are mutable, not given by revelation, and thus open for revision.

    So to your particular question of 'when' that age of reason comes, the consensus in church discipline has been to make it at puberty. At the discretion of the parents, when they bring the child to Confirmation around 12-13, the church consents that that child may be at the Age of Reason. Then he is tested to the utmost, on his knowledge of the Catechism and the Christian faith, and if he passes, he's known to be a fully-grown member of the Christian church.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
  20. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,557
    Likes Received:
    2,369
    Ps- the ancient church practised paedocommunion, and EO retains it, so how tradtional does a "discipline" need to be to truly be a part of Sacred Tradition and not merely a tradition of men? Using Our Lord's clear command in Scripture to let children come, any church practice that goes against that command appears to me as contrary to holy writ, and thus is not something the church is free to do. Moreover, I would argue that the Church only has " authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority". And since the Lord's Supper is a Rite instituted not by man but by God himself, it cannot be changed in any substantive way. Restricting the baptised Christians who can partake in the rite is a change from the ancient custom, one that appears to me to run counter to scripture. Thus it would be impermissible from my perspective.