“open” communion

I haven’t read as poorly thought out and willfully ignorant a piece as this in a long, long time. Not sure you who visit have been exposed to this particular brand of thinking, so here it is in all its ignominy. What follows is a letter from a heretical priest in the Episcopal Church. I will shield his name to protect his colossal theological blunders…

Dear Friends,

At the Bishop’s session with the clergy, we had a valuable opportunity to discuss the issue of open Communion in the Episcopal Church. Since the nineteen-seventies, Episcopal policy has been what we announce here… every Sunday, “All baptized persons, baptized in any church, are welcome to receive Holy Communion.” [In fact the church says to be baptized means “with water and in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” not what he claims.] Yet particularly in the last ten years, we are seeing a significant evolution, away from, “All baptized are welcome to receive” to “All who desire are welcome to receive.” [in other words: “whatever you want”] And, I should hope obviously, Episcopal clergy are very disinclined to be some sort of “cops” at the altar rail; even in parishes with the former practice, when people draw near to receive, we don’t send them away empty handed. We are stewards of this Table, not its Lord – a Lord who said, “Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37) [what a fantastic misapplication of this text!]

It has been pointed out that in the generation since our “new” Book of Common Prayer, nominal church membership has steadily declined. [ALL church membership has declined!] Therefore, fewer in the population happen to have been baptized; so, a rubric that had the intention of highlighting the importance of Baptism now, in fact, is likely to be experienced as a barrier by many who would visit an Episcopal congregation. [First it isn’t merely that baptism is “important;” it is essential. Secondly, He erroneously imagines that it was merely Episcopal practice that precluded the baptized from Eucharist??? How ignorant of the entire Church’s history can a priest be??] Since one of the most important ways we share our faith is sharing our worship, the problem is evident.

Frankly, I have been able to appreciate both sides of the discussion. I can affirm both the Christly [sic] mandate of welcome – the generous (and sometimes risky) sharing of our life – and also the Christly [sic] seriousness of the Sacrament – which, if we’re true to ourselves (and our Lord) can’t be reduced to a mere hospitality ritual. The life we have to share, after all, is the life of faith; faith specifically in Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen, who – wondrously and graciously – calls us, gives us his own life, and thereby commissions and empowers us for active discipleship on his Name.

What is clear, unambiguously, is where the Episcopal Church is going with the question. [Boy, is that the money quote or what?] While there is still diversity of perspective, to be sure, more and more, throughout the country, open Communion is becoming the norm in our congregations and among our clergy. [Is this his wishful thinking, has he visited and discovered this to be true? And who said it was a matter of what others are doing? My parents taught that just because someone else is doing something wrong doesn’t entitle me to do something wrong as well…] And, here in [this heretical diocese], [this soon-to-be heretical parish] is now among the very few where this is not yet the case. In fact, we are, at this point, the only one remaining from the larger, more established parishes still restricting Communion to those already baptized.

[Our diocesan hæresiarch] stated at our meeting that she has been fully aware of different practices in [our heretical diocese], that she has accepted this [the bishop accepts this!!!!!], kept to local practice in her visitations, and does not intend to issue a Diocesan policy on the matter [another “bishop” having abdicated the “guard the faith” part of their vow]. I was grateful to her for raising the issue for discussion in what proved to be a remarkably informed [according to whom?????], helpful forum. I expect, further, that open Communion will both be addressed and confirmed (in one way or another) at our next General Convention.

For me, it’s not simply doing “what everyone else” is doing. [I’m SO comforted! And yet also not very believing…] I have profound confidence in the Episcopal Church. [sarcasm on: Oh, don’t we ALL! Sarcasm off.] Despite all the very human (and frustrating) elements of fellowship in the Spirit, such fellowship is still, for us, the way of life – held in God’s gracious purpose. With all reflection, with all discernment – and with all the on-going questions that come with faith – I believe, in the life of our Church as a whole, that we may trust the Spirit’s leading. [But not the Holy Spirit]

Therefore, [this now-heretical parish], continuing to honor the sacredness of both Baptism and the Eucharist, [“merely because I desire to say this, not because of what we have heard the Church say”] I believe that the time has come for us to adopt this new [uncanonical, divisive and heretical] practice. As we do so, I’m also convinced that we need to emphasize our mission with renewed focus: from the heart and character of our own Christian tradition – to share our faith, welcome visitors, incorporate new members, support vital spiritual education, reach out into the community, and equip one another for ministry. [No matter what we believe…]

“All who need and desire to draw near to Jesus Christ, to receive the life which Christ gives, are welcome to receive Holy Communion.” [I love the sentiment, however that’s all that it is: sentiment. He’s so far over the line: all who need and desire to draw near to Jesus Christ need to be baptized in order to receive Holy Communion!!!]

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