December 17, 2017

iMonk 101: Jesus + The Paperwork

paperwork.jpgHere’s a fairly recent post on the subject of closed communion: Jesus + The Paperwork. Yeah, it’s pretty blunt. I don’t know if I would write it this way now, but my mind hasn’t changed. In fact, with Alastair’s help, I feel even stronger.

I respect the practices of those who differ with me on this. I have no desire to change your mind. But this is where I am: if we can’t commune, we’re taking Jesus’ most powerful metaphor of inclusion in the Kingdom of God, and using it to slam the door shut.

Just to make you think. (This was the one you wanted, Kyle.)

Comments

  1. I’ll never forget the time I went with my friend to his RC church to check it out and him telling me, right before communion, that I couldn’t take it. At the time I had never heard of such a thing. That’s stuck with me this whole time, still don’t get it.

    And we basically had that exact conversation you wrote here.

    By the way, I discovered your site a couple months ago and it’s been EXTREMELY helpful in my journey. So thanks.

  2. Michael: as I’ve said before, if you can say “Amen” when the pastor places the wafer on your tongue with the words “Receive the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ” and gives you the chalice with the words, “Receive the true blood of our Lord Jesus Christ”, then I would have no objection to your communing at our church. But the point is whether you would be able to affirm that.

    That’s the point: it’s not about saying “You aren’t good enough to commune with us”; it’s about saying, “What can you participate in with integrity?”.

    I couldn’t receive communion in an RC church even if they’d let me, because I could not affirm the Sacrifice of the Mass or Transubstantiation in good conscience. Similarly I couldn’t receive communion in a Baptist church, because I couldn’t say “Amen” to the denial that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ.

    And talking of Baptists, let’s bear in mind that most Baptists deny that those baptised as infants are in fact baptised at all. To see someone who was baptised as an infant get “re-baptised” is at least as painful an experience for me – almost physically painful, literally – as your experience of being excluded from an RC or Lutheran altar. It feels like I’m having my own baptism denied and thrown back in my face at me. I know that’s not remotely what’s intended, which is why I don’t make a “thing” of it generally, but that is how I experience it.

    All I’m saying is that I don’t see why closed communion inherently is so much worse than denial of a fellow Christian’s baptism.

  3. Can we both read the same scriptures and say “Amen”?

    I agree with the Baptism point, and this whole discussion came about because I agree with the “Piper Proposal” on Baptism.

  4. I would want to ask a Roman Catholic Who Knows to be certain, but I’m pretty sure that the test for Eucharistic fellowship in their case is not sacramental theology, but rather authority – (dis)believe what you will about what one receives in the Mass, but I think the real issue is submission to papal authority. In Rome’s terms, you can only receive Communion if you are in communion with the Holy See.

  5. Michael—

    I’m glad you reposted this. This argument is very close to the problem I’ve had with closed communion. I think I can answer some of the objections to open communion raised by the commenters last year.

    For the record, I’m Methodist, and we practice open communion, and I’d had no experience with closed communion until I went to a Roman Catholic service a few years ago. And now there’s something almost like it at my wife’s PCA church. They invite all Christians who are members of a “Bible-believing church” or one that “proclaims the Gospel” (I think) to take communion. At first, I thought that meant all Christians, but now I think they’re meaning to exclude RC and EO. And children are allowed, but only after they’ve made a profession of faith to the elders. In my church, the little kids would go off to the children’s service about halfway through, but after you were five or so and stayed through the whole thing, you could go up with the adults and take communion.

    Anyway, my objection to closed communion is similar to Michael’s. And in response to those who say that there’s more to communion than, “Can’t we all just get along,” I say that there isn’t, at least as far as belief and doctrine go. Well, not if you’re talking about fellow Christians, anyway. Jesus didn’t command us to do this in rememberance of him, “as long as you apply the correct doctrinal tests on X.”

    Paul does put some restrictions on taking communion in 1 Cor. 11, but they’re not doctrinal. Read the whole passage, and you’ll see he’s scolding those who are behaving badly at communion. In fact, he’s scolding those who are being *exclusive*, forming cliques and shutting out their fellow Christians.

    “Discerning the body of Christ” is probably referring to realizing that you’re at church and ought to behave like it, not being rowdy and drunk at the agape feast. (See the preceding passages.) Or it could refer to recognizing the unity of Christians. Either way, it’s not a doctrinal test.

    And eating “unworthily,” if we regard it as a question of each man’s internal, mental state and his willingness to repent, then it’s something that that man alone knows–well, he and God. And Paul doesn’t say for the preacher to test the man, but rather (1 Cor. 11:28), “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” “Examine himself.” It’s ultimately between him and God.

    The idea that partaking in communion must have gate upon gate of doctrinal tests guarding it (beyond what it takes to be a Christian) is not supported by the Scriptures. If the Catholics want to add something to it beyond that, then we’re into a much bigger discussion on Scripture and Tradition and church authority. The ground rules of the debate change. But at least among Protestants, who are supposedly agreed on the source of doctrine, there can’t be any good justification of exclusivity.

    Because the Lord’s Supper is so basic and central to Christian church practice, and because it seems clear from both the Gospel and Paul’s letters that it is to be a unifying thing in itself, then I cannot agree with those who want to divide Christians at the communion table. I think that that is contradicting the very purpose.

  6. rr

    I said that I believe Baptists can, imo, adopt the Piper Compromise, i.e. recognizing other’s baptism for the purpose of fellowship only.

  7. Kyle,

    RE: “In Rome’s terms, you can only receive Communion if you are in communion with the Holy See.”

    This is not so. Eastern Orthodox Christians are invited to receive communion in Roman Catholic liturgies. Their ecclesial authorities typically forbid them from receiving communion in a Roman rite service however.

  8. Also, in certain rare instances (possibly death bed circumstances, certain celebrations, etc.) Christians who are neither Roman Catholic or Orthodox may recieve communion, perhaps with the proper permissions. They may at least need to have a belief in the eucharist that is consistent with Roman and Orthodox teaching.

  9. Michael,

    Fair enough. I think your adoption of the Piper Compromise is consistent with your original post on this. That being said, and maybe I am wrong about this, I think Piper’s position is only held by a distinct minority of Baptists.
    So while I can understand and sympathize with your views on closed communion, I’m not especially sympathetic to Baptists who re-baptize people joining their churches from padeobaptist churches and then turn around and express outrage at say the LCMS’ policy of closed communion.

    rr

  10. I should have added earlier as well that while I know from personal experience that it closed communion painful, I do favor it. Among conservative christians, open communion is generally practiced among those who take a Zwinglian or Calvinistic view of communion. By definition, those who take these views reject the Lutheran, RC and EO views as at best unbiblical and at worst heretical. Yet they get offended when the Lutherans, RCs and EOs ask them not to take communion in their churches! To me this is as strange as a Baptist getting offended because they weren’t invited to be a sponsor/godparent and participate in an infant baptism.
    Really, you should only want to take communion (or participate in any church rite/sacrament/public ceremony) in a church if you think what the church is doing is biblical in the first place. It seems sinful to me to partake in something you believe is unbiblical, and on that count I do think closed communion does prevent people from sinning.
    It’s not easy, but why can’t we just admit that we christians are divided on matters like baptism and communion and learn to live with it as best we can?

  11. Kyle on the RCC: not sacramental theology, but rather authority.
    Indeed. To reduce the issue merely to acceptance of theological doctrine is to impose a Protestant framework on the RCC and the EO.

    To urge RCC and EO to receive The Lord’s Supper in a Protestant congregation is to encourage them to make an act of infidelity to their ecclesial communion.

    Honestly, this whole discussion strikes me as not unlike that of an advocate of “free love” trying to persuade married folks to share and share alike…

  12. As a Catholic, and unable to go to a Catholic Mass on a Sunday, I could go to an EO church with no problem. Under RCC rules, I could recieve, under EO rules I could not. I, of course, would respect the EO rules.

    I think that there are several other smaller denominations where a Roman Catholic could recieve under our guidelines, but I’m not sure of the names.

    It doesn’t depend upon authority, but upon whether their leaders can be traced back to the Apostles.

  13. I think a few of the people here are still missing the point. Can you justify closed communion from the Bible? Or if you say that you can justify it without the Bible, then don’t you still run afoul of Paul’s criticisms of divisions at the communion table?

    I know the Roman Catholic arguments (“discerning the body” taken literally, despite Paul’s explicit metaphorical usage elsewhere in 1 Cor.; treating communion together as the end of ecumenism, not the beginning; and just plain appeals to church authority). But I’m more interested in Protestants who argue for closed communion. How do you square that with the Biblical material?

  14. Heteroclite says:

    Though the church I attend belongs to a very strict reformed denomination, the pastor is a fan of Mercersburg Theology, so I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised (tho I am nonetheless) at the crypto-RCC language he uses in reference to communion (and also some other issues). I keep thinking that he should simply follow the obvious trajectory of his thinking and go the “whole 9 yards,” right into the Roman fold.

    The more I attend different reformed churches (I am often out of town), the more I finally understand a then-puzzling, passing comment many years ago by an independent Baptist minister: “Presbyterianism retains a lot of Catholic traits.”

    (Does anyone else out there get the sense that, not too far down the line, the hard-core Reformed churches might join the ECT?)

  15. I think a few of the people here are still missing the point. Can you justify closed communion from the Bible?

    While it doesn’t relate directly to communion, Romans 14:23 is quite helpful here:

    But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

    If you come to a Lutheran church, very clear and distinct statements will be made to you about the nature of what is happening. It will be made clear in word and deed throughout the communion liturgy that we believe the bread and wine in the Supper actually to be the body and blood of Christ, received and consumed orally.

    In addition, we don’t believe that the faith we are to exhibit in communion is a general faith in Christ, but a specific faith in the promise that the bread and wine are his body and blood given and shed for our forgiveness.

    The question is whether you participate believing those claims or whether you do so disbelieving them. If you do not believe them then you are not participating in faith, and that is sin – in just the same way that if I participate in an RC or Baptist communion service then I will be participating without faith in what is publicly declared there.

    As I said above, it’s a matter of integrity – of not saying “Amen” to things you don’t believe in – and of the church lovingly insisting that people act with faith in what the church declares.

  16. I wonder what Jesus actually thinks of me if I take communion at everybody’s church, ignoring everything else except that He invited me to do “this” with others who believe in Him?

    I’m willing to risk it.

  17. I understand that this is an emotional topic for many, but most churches practice some version of closed communion, the question is how broadly (or narrowly) one draws the circle.

    So it’s not that one group draws a lines and the other group does not. We all draw a line. The question is, how do you justify drawing the line here (the Apostles Creed) rather than there (the Book of Concord), or anywhere in between (the Apostles Creed plus the justification by faith alone, or . . .).

    So it seems to me that we all believe at some level that altar fellowship is connected with pulpit (or doctrinal) fellowship.

    While I might draw the circle somewhat wider than my denomination (LCMS), nonetheless I agree with the beginning point that altar and pulpit fellowship are co-determinative.

    I might also point out that the LCMS does not, in fact, require that you belong to the LCMS in order to commune. It doesn’t even require that you be Lutheran.

    For those interested, I think a relatively winsome presentation of the practice can be found in the LCMS monograph, “Admission to the Lord’s Supper: Basics of Biblical and Confessional Teaching,” which can be found at:

    http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/CTCR/admisup.pdf

  18. Patrick Kyle says:

    John H,

    I agree with you. Also, I find this notion that people should be able to commune in churches where they believe differently about the Lord’s Supper is rather insulting and disrespectful. It basically says ” You guys are wrong on this matter,and I really don’t care what you believe about it. I know better than that, and you need to let me come to the table.”
    I have attended many different churches and have not taken communion when it was offered because I couldn’t give a hearty ‘Yea and Amen’ to what they were teaching.

    Tim S. I don’t barge into my cousin’s house and demand to be fed just because we belong to the same family.(I don’t do that at any relatives’ house for that matter.) Personally,(being a convinced Lutheran)I believe that the Lord’s Supper is really a Lord’s Supper and is the body and blood of the Lord even at Christian churches who don’t teach or believe in the Real Presence the way we do. (Just like baptism is baptism regardless of which Christian church it was done in.)However, I would never take communion at a church that taught differently, because by my actions it would say I was confessing something that I did not believe. Furthermore, out of respect for those who disagree with me I would not demand to be served at their altar. I would hope that those visiting my church would extend me the same respect. The divisions in the Church are grievous, but honest men disagree honestly, and many of us, although we long for unity, think that to paper over differences in so important a doctrine would result in a false unity and an erosion of the truth.

  19. Patrick Kyle,
    You’ve nailed it. Communion is not just union with Jesus, but it’s also union with particular persons. Taking Communion wherever one wanders presumes upon a unity of persons that is not there. Communion is a gift to be received not a right to be taken…

  20. Two of my favorite tactics for defending closed communion.

    1) Elevate the whole thing as high as possible.

    2) Suggest that anyone who believes in open communion is bashing in where they really don’t belong.

    I’ve been at hundreds of open communion services. It’s Jesus’ table. All baptized believers are welcome.

    If we’re wrong, by the way, and the agape meal people are right, then we really should be around a table inviting people to join our fellowship with Jesus.

  21. Michael,

    You write, “All baptized believers are welcome.”

    I’m trying to understand: For you to recognize someone as a believer, they must believe . . . what?

    Would you exclude from the table (or not invite to the table) those who do not meet your definition?

  22. Patrick Kyle says:

    Michael,

    I did not say I believed that anyone who believed in open Communion was “bashing in where they don’t belong.” Open communion among those whose doctrine of the Lord’s Supper is the same or similar to each other is fine, and its their own business. But when people visit the church I attend(or write articles about churches like mine) and reject what we believe, teach, and confess the Lord’s Supper to actually be, and then demand to share Communion with us, or say we are being unChristian when the Pastor politely asks those who do not believe in Jesus’ physical presence in the Supper to refrain from taking it, what am I to think?

    Michael, in truth, do you really want to receive the Lord’s Supper at the church I attend? The Pastor will look you in the eye and say ” Michael,
    take, eat, the true body of the Lord, broken for you.” And with the Chalice, “Take, drink,the true blood of Christ, shed for you,for the forgiveness of sins.” Knowing that the Pastor means by those words that Christ’s flesh and blood are really there for you, just like He was with the disciples.
    Wouldn’t your participation with us be seen by your Baptist brethren as advocating our teaching?
    You have stated elsewhere that you deeply disagree with Lutherans and the RCC on Christ’s presence in the Supper. Wouldn’t you then have to intellectually disregard or deny(or completely reinterpret) large parts of the Liturgy and the Pastors words and exhortation concerning the Sacrament? In your heart you would have to say”Its not what they say it is, it is really something else.”,or more charitably,”It is what they say it is, just not in the way they understand it.” How then are we in communion with each other if this is the case? The Scriptures say ” How can two walk together unless they be agreed?”
    Its not my intent to be rude or acrimonius. These are real questions that many Christians deal with, and I would be interested in your reply.

  23. Jim: You might go to a Baptist church on the rare Sunday they do the LS and check it out.

    1) Everyone is instructed in the meaning of what’s being done.

    2) Baptized believers (Apostle’s/Nicene level) are invited to participate, but if you are a guest, it’s an honor system. Since you are a guest, no one is going to ask you 20 questions. We’re all guests of Jesus at his table.

    3) If you are a member, then the elders should know your profession of faith. If you are a young person, the parents should know.

    There’s the danger that someone who believes differently than we do might take the LS. That’s perfectly fine.

    I know this is hard to grasp when you’ve only done it in congregational settings with full confessional agreement required, but that’s not how most evangelicals approach it.

    BTW- the only place I’ve ever been turned away at the altar was at an LCMS church.

    Patrick:

    You are on the wrong page, brother. I have no desire to commune at any church that doesn’t want me to commune. You’re right. A church that requires more than a Yes to the words of institution alone is not a church where I would ever crash the altar or seek fellowship in the LS. (As I said above, I’d be laundered out anyway.)

    You keep talking about me communing in the churches whose theology I reject and whose practice rejects me. I’m happy to be a “separated brother” or whatever I am in those churches, should I find myself there.

    But how I treat those brothers in my church is a different story. I intend to recognize Jesus’ ownership of all of us before I say your theology must be right before I recognize you.”

    If we can’t fellowship around the low bar of the Apostle’s/Nicene creed and the words of institution, then shame on us I say.

  24. “I have no desire to commune at any church that doesn’t want me to commune.”

    Funny way to put it. It suggests that there is something about your personality that they find objectionable. That they would not commune you under any circumstances. They would be happy to commune you. They fear, however, that you are not properly “discerning the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 11: 29). For those who believe in the Real Presence, it is not difficult to think that “discerning the body of Christ” means recognizing that what you receiving is not mere bread and wine, but the true body and blood of Christ. Now, I could conceive the idea that their exegesis of this verse might be wrong even if the Real Presence is a true doctrine. But even if that were the case, they are not being antisocial. They are being careful for you.

    That was how it looked to me when I was a Zwinglian before I accepted their doctrine. That outlook made sense to me long before the Real Presence was something I was committed to.

  25. Patrick Kyle says:

    I often find myself on the wrong page. I thought the discussion was revolving around certain Churches having closed communion and therefore barring Christians who believe differently from participating in Communion, and was basically an apologia for the idea that these churches should let all Christians partake of the LS with them. Hence, by my example of you communing at my church, I was trying to bring the discussion from a general or theoretical one to a real life application.
    In reality, my Pastor asks guests two questions of those he does not know at the rail: “Are you Baptized?” And “Do you believe the Body and Blood of Jesus are present in the bread and wine?” (Basically if they believe the words of Institution.) Many Gospel minded pastors of the newer generation in the LCMS do the same thing. Our systematic theology is tight, but in Pastoral application there is often leeway. Contrary to how it may seem, there is a great deal of discussion in our circles concerning “how much is enough” in regards to doctrine etc. when it comes to communing people at the rail. Many Pastors I know are looking for ways to be as inclusive as possible while still upholding the doctrine of the LS.
    I’m sorry that you were hurt or offended by being denied communion in an LCMS congregation. Some of our more old school guys can be hard “headed”, and have been known to make a delicate and sensitive situation worse. I hope this was not the case in your experience.

  26. Wow. By what some have written here, I can’t imagine that a guest would be welcome in their churches at all, if he didn’t believe in each of the doctrines they hold! After all, by going to that denomination’s services, wouldn’t you be at risk of your own denomination accusing you of upholding these “strange doctrines”? No.

    As to the retort that it *should* be a problem from the point of view of us who hold to open communion:
    I have gone to other denominations’ churches, and I have no qualms about receiving communion there, even if they believe in transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or any other doctrine for what I take as Jesus’ metaphorical language. Why should I have qualms about receiving communion when I disagree with their interpretation of it, any more than I should have qualms about listening to their preaching when I disagree with some of their doctrines? *They* might have qualms about giving it to me, but I should have no qualms about taking it.

    The *only* remotely-Biblically-based excuse I can see for closed communion is the “discerning the body of Christ” phrase Paul uses, but I don’t see that excuse used very often. More often, I see these extrabiblical reasons given, which don’t seem very logically sound to me.

    And furthermore, since Paul is quite explicit (and runs on at length) elsewhere in 1 Cor. about the “body of Christ” being the church and its members, most of us don’t see this phrase in 1 Cor. 11 as having anything to do with a doctrine of trans- or con-substantiation. (Rather, we see it being a scolding about behaving onesself at church and not forming cliques. Rather like closed communion forms cliques, on a larger scale.) So the reasoning given for closed communion depend on one already accepting one of these specific doctrines about what the Lord’s Supper means, and it therefore is generally not persuasive to people who don’t hold to that.

  27. “Why should I have qualms about receiving communion when I disagree with their interpretation of it, any more than I should have qualms about listening to their preaching when I disagree with some of their doctrines?”

    If you had a situation in your church where a visitor thought that the Deity of Christ doctrine was the result of reading some metaphorical passages too literally, would you feel happy if that visitor went up for baptism if in his mind all he was doing was going through the motions of a first century ritual to see what it felt like? This is about what it seems like from our end.

  28. Patrick Kyle says:

    Tim H,
    The idea that Paul uses the words ‘body of Christ’ only and exclusively to refer to the church is weak.I Cor. 10:16 talks about communion being a participation in the body and blood of the Lord. Later he speaks of sinning against the ‘body and blood of the Lord'( I Cor. 11:27) in the context of ‘recognizing the body of the Lord’ (vs.29) These references clearly show that he is also talking about something more than just the church.
    As to Scriptural support for the real presence, in addition to the Words of Institution( which are often interpreted with a rationalistic bent in evangelicalism) try John 6. Jesus says that to have eternal life, we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. The final time He says it (vs. 56) He uses the word that means ‘to grind with the teeth’ Yeah , its there. Go look it up if you don’t believe me. Thats why many of the disciples turned back and didn’t follow Him any more. They were clear on what He was saying and it was a stumbling block to them. Note also that all of John 6 is about eating, starting with the feeding of the five thousand.
    Finally, the universal witness of the early church upholds the doctrine of the real presence. Even the really early stuff like the Didache and Ignatius. These people were disciples of the Apostles, and although we don’t look to them as the final authority in faith and practice,its a pretty far reach to believe they went so wrong so soon on such an important thing as the LS. So there you have it, the Words of Jesus, the Apostolic teaching, and the witness of the early church.
    On another note entirely, I find your willingness, to trample upon and violate what other Christians hold sacred to be really flippant and disrespectful You are basically saying “I don’t give a crap about what you people believe.” You are guilty of what you accuse us( those who hold to closed communion) of doing

  29. Patrick,

    Fair enough comment, and even though I do not want to promote this centuries old debate again, your comment is there intact because it makes a valid point.

    But here’s the other point: When someone tells me that I don’t believe Christ is really present, I’m offended, and I feel I’m getting the “nah nah nah nah nah I believe that Christ is really present and you do-ooon’t” treatment. There could even be a trace of pride in the statement.

    If Christ isn’t really present- and I believe he is really present- then how is he more really present to some Christians than to others. Jesus said that it was better for us if he went away physically so that the Holy Spirit would come. He promised that in this way he would be REALLY PRESENT with us. OK. I believe that. He’s present, and he’s really present, and I really believe he’s really present.

    Now are we going to argue about HOW he’s really present?

  30. Patrick–

    I didn’t say I had a “willingness to trample on and violate what other Christians find sacred.” I did say that I have no qualms about receiving communion from a church who understands it differently than the rest of us do. I didn’t say I was advocating barging in and forcing myself on them, but that there was no issue from my side.

    Now, something I thought of today: Are y’all are really *only* interested in our welfare and saving us from hell for partaking of communion when we trample and violate its sacredness by misunderstanding its true nature? I.e., for eating and drinking damnation onto ourselves by not discerning the body of Christ? (Why not the blood, too? Hmmm… Perhaps Paul really was talking about the church, there. But I digress.)

    If so, if this is merely out of concern for us, then you should be just as adamant that we not take communion in *any* church. Not even our own! Because it doesn’t matter where we commit this grave sin. We’re damning ourselves just as surely if we do it back home in a Methodist or Baptist church as we would when we did it in a Lutheran or Catholic church.

    Now, possibly it’s only a sense of meekness and politeness that stops y’all from giving us this warning. It might seem rude, no? But it could surely be worded in a polite and brotherly manner, and presented in a way that makes clear it’s for our own good. And if we’re eating damnation onto ourselves, shouldn’t your care for our souls outweigh these minor qualms?

    Incidentally, as to your references to 1 Cor. and John 6, I’m already familiar with everything you’ve written, including the interpretation of the Greek on the “grinding with the teeth.” And I still believe it’s a metaphor. In fact, John 6 especially convinces me of this.

    You’re welcome to disagree. We’re still fellow Christians, and you’re welcome in my church and at our communion table any time, brother.

  31. >”Can you justify closed communion from the Bible?”

    As a Catholic e-pologist answering a non-Catholic, who was insisting that he could receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass, I had the parable of the King and the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14) cited as a scriptural basis for the Eucharist being open to any and all. The Mass and the Eucharist is, after all, the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-9).

    The non-Catholic rightly noticed that the wedding banquet was filled with any and every one, Jew and Gentile. Thus, our non-Catholic friend asserted his right to not only attend Mass, but to receive the Eucharist as well.

    I pointed out that that he had conveniently stopped at verse 10, which up to that point made his case. However, reading past verse 10 we read that the king cast out someone not wearing wedding garments. In other words, all were invited, but not everyone was able to feast. I encouraged the non-Catholic to attend Mass, but to refrain from the Eucharist until he was “properly attired.”

    While personal interpretations on the meaning and applicability of Matthew 22 may vary, the Catholic Church does have a scriptural basis for restricting reception of the Eucharist.

    Now I’m sure that there is plenty of discussion as to what “wedding garments” consist: belief, baptism, denomination, etc. Personally, I’d go back into history and the early Church writings to find out what was practiced. Communion was closed from the earliest days of the Church:

    “And this food is called among us Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done.” (Justin Martyr)

    God bless, one and all…

  32. jmanning says:

    When Jesus instituted the “Lord’s Supper”, “Communion”, “Eucharist”, his disciples did not take “flesh” and “blood” in a literal sense. Obviously, a Jewish person could not eat the flesh and blood of another human. Although in John 6 the crowds took it literally, the disciples did not. Here’s why I believe that: they didn’t object in terms of “that would be unclean!!”
    Yet Peter in Acts would not “eat anything unclean” or fellowship with Gentiles until Jesus told him it was clean in a vision. That would have been a puny objection on Peter’s part if he had really meant “besides eating your flesh and blood Lord, I have never eaten anything un-kosher”.
    Why would Peter object in Acts to something unclean, and not in Luke when Jesus instituted the supper?
    The disciples may have been dense at times, but they weren’t obtuse literalists. They understood the symbol of baptism, they understood hyperbole in Jesus’ teachings, they understood the symbolism of the entire Jewish sacrificial system, let’s not put it past them to be symbolic on this as well.
    I believe his real presence must be experienced within the rubric of a symbolic communion.

  33. Patrick Kyle says:

    Michael,
    It has never been my intention to mock or humiliate those who believe differently on the LS. Of the Pastors I know,not a one of them views our differences with prideful disdain for those who believe differently. Please consider that your feelings may result from the hearing rather than what is being said,at least in this context. I realize that Christians can be hateful in these matters, and that elsewhere you may have run into someone who was genuinely rude. They do not represent me or the church I attend or those I associate with.

    As to your last question about ‘How He is present’, finally we are at the crux of the matter. Its all about the Christology. We all believe that God is omnipresent. We all ( the Christians among us) believe that Jesus is God (The Incarnation)and is therefore omnipresent. The Lutherans, Catholics, et al, believe that Christ is omnipresent according to both the human nature and the divine nature, ESPECIALLY where He has promised to be in the LS for the forgiveness of sins. (Yeah, I know that this drives the Reformed nuts) The Reformed and many evangelicals believe that Jesus’ human nature is sitting on a throne at God’s right hand, and that only His divine Nature is the “fullness that fills all things.” (Other traditions view God’s right Hand as a position of authority, not necessarily a physical location.)
    So ultimately this discussion revolves around Christ and how He comes to us.
    It is not my wish to keep hashing this out in the hopes that we will solve this centuries old debate in a comment section on a blog. There were some serious questions raised about the practice of closed communion and it was my intent to answer some of these objections.
    I had a discussion with my Pastor about this stuff, and he was talking about the church being in a ‘post congregational’ era, at least in some parts of the country,and what this means for communion practice in particular, and pastoral practice in general. (By ‘post congregational’ he’s talking about the advent of commuter congregations like ours, the internet, the demise of church membership etc.) We didn’t come up with any answers but I think it will be a fruitful line of inquiry in the future in regards to church fellowship issues.