“Essentials”: The Didache by Duane Arnold, PhD
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
A month or two ago, I was sorting through some file boxes when I came across some notes on a course I taught on the Church Fathers at the University of Detroit (a Jesuit institution) in the mid 1980’s. A graduate level course, through the years it proved surprisingly popular, usually attracting 20 to 30 students. As it was held in the evenings, from 6:30 – 9:30, it was especially attractive to clergy who used it to fulfill the continuing education requirements of their particular church or denomination. As I looked among the papers, I found a class roster in which I had noted the affiliations of the clergy attending the class. There were four Roman Catholics (a Franciscan, a Benedictine, a Jesuit and a diocesan priest), two Anglicans, one Methodist, three evangelicals (one Southern Baptist and two non-denominational charismatics), two Eastern Orthodox priests, three Lutherans (two LCMS and a LCA cleric), and one lone Mennonite, with the remainder being lay people of various backgrounds.
As I looked through my teaching notes, the familiar pattern of teaching such a course emerged. The first class was taken up with introductions, going over the broad outline of the course, handing out bibliographies, a list of required readings and, finally, the first week’s assignment – “Read the Didache with special reference to context, dating and the main theological themes of the document and prepare to discuss next week.”
When we gathered the following week, the first order of business was a pop quiz (of course), just to ensure that they had read the material. I was relieved, they had read the text. Moving on, I presented the “mechanics” of the text.
The Didache is one of the earliest written witnesses of the shape and conduct of the Early Church. The exact date of its writing, or perhaps more properly, of its compilation, is difficult to establish. The earliest date suggested is the mid 90s of the Christian era and the latest date being no later than AD 160. Portions of the text, such as chapters 9-10 on the Eucharist and chapters 11-13 on church order appear to have arisen out of Syria. The earlier section outlining the “Two Ways, of Life and Death” may have had its origin in Egypt, although it borrows heavily from Jewish wisdom literature of the time. There are some scholars who even see a connection with the Essenes at Qumran, but it seems more likely that this was simply the result of the Essenes and the early Christians using common source materials. The document itself was addressed to mixed Christian communities, that is to Jewish converts to Christianity whose communities also included gentiles who had come out of the vast religious mix of the Roman empire. The anonymous editor placed together in one small handbook a number of texts, derived from tradition, which he thought would be of benefit to new converts. Indeed, it became a very popular handbook in the early Church. The church historian, Eusebius, indicates that it might have once been considered for inclusion in the New Testament canon. Athanasius of Alexandria, over two centuries after its writing, still considered it to be useful for the instruction of catechumens and made mention of it in one of his paschal epistles.
After presenting the material on the background and dating, we moved on to the text itself and a spirited discussion of the Didache’s theological themes. This, in my mind, was the most interesting part of the class, not for what it revealed about the Didache, but what it revealed about those of us discussing the themes.
For the Mennonite, it was the simplicity of the manner in which the early Church was ordered and the morality and practical concerns of the “way of life” (chap. 1-6). For the Eastern Orthodox, it was the priestly language used in reference to the Eucharist and the Eucharistic prayers. For the Roman Catholics, it was the sacrificial images in the instructions on the Eucharist (chap. 14). The Lutherans countered with the manner in which Christ was present in the Eucharist (chap. 7-10). Our lone Southern Baptist pointed out the preference for baptismal immersion and indicated that it appeared to apply to adult baptism (chap. 7). The two charismatics were, of course, intrigued by what appeared to be the admission of prophetic utterances (chap. 11). The Anglicans, in turn, looked to the instructions on the election of deacons and bishops (chap. 15). On and on the discussion went…
As Paul Simon said, “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”.
Now, I was not surprised by this turn of events. I had witnessed it on numerous occasions. All the observations were correct, in their own way; and all the observations were wrong, in their own way. They were correct in that the Didache shows us the beginnings of what would grow and develop through the centuries. They were wrong in that we cannot fit that developed understanding back into a first or second century document. As I explained, in the Didache we are looking at The Beatles playing in the Star Club in Hamburg, not The Beatles recording Sgt. Pepper with George Martin in the Abbey Road studios. It’s a matter of development. We can only look to find the essential qualities which provide a common thread that reaches from “then to now” and, importantly, set aside our current systems or confessional understanding and allow the text to speak for itself.
So, we approached the text once again to look for the essentials and came up with the following list. You may find more essentials or fewer. You may even disagree with this list, but this is what our diverse group agreed upon at the time and I offer it for your reflection.
1. The early Church was concerned with, and defined itself by, moral probity. What you did and said in the course of your daily conduct was the proof of your faith.
2. To be a Christian and not to be involved in a Christian community would simply have been considered an impossibility by the early Church.
3. Baptism in the name of the Trinity was the normative rite of entry in the early Church.
4. Individual and corporate prayer, fasting and alms giving were part of the normal rhythm of life in the early Church.
5. The Eucharist was normative Christian worship (likely followed by an agape meal) in which all baptized members participated. In addition to anticipating Christ’s return in the future, the Eucharist provided the assurance of Christ’s presence in the elements of bread and wine in the present “now”.
6. There was an ordered ministry of deacons and bishops (overseers) in local Christian communities that stood along side itinerant “apostles and prophets”. All in leadership (local or itinerant) had to prove themselves by their conduct, speech, humility and manner of life. Seeking any financial gain immediately disqualified one from such a role.
7. Finally, the Didache is all about the Church – how individuals relate to the Church, how the Church is ordered, and how we relate to one another within the Church.
The Didache is a short document. You can read it for yourself and it will take you all of ten minutes. I would, however, encourage you to read it “outside yourself”, that is, like a postcard from another age that you’ve discovered in the attic, only to be surprised when you realize the postcard is addressed to you. Then find your own essentials…
Remember, O Lord, your Church.
Deliver it from every evil and perfect it in your love.
Gather it from the four winds,
sanctified for your kingdom, which you have prepared for it.
For yours is the power and the glory forever.
Let grace come, and let this world pass away…
(Didache 10. 5,6)
The two things that strike me about this document are the importance of inter personal relationships in the church and the emphasis on personal holiness.
When we’re compiling the Linkathon! we rarely find any articles about either…
I noticed the same. I think today there’s great emphasis on “telling”, not very much on “showing”…
I think part of the problem is that there is no space in the common service for the development of the kind of relationships that this document seems to imply were common in this era.
I think when we only look to the externals of a church service – music, teaching, child care, etc. – we lose the sense that the ecclesia is primarily supposed to be about building relationships, with Christ and with each other…
Michael and Duane, I agree that the interpersonal factor is either minimized or missing altogether in the modern gathering. How do you propose that a local body of believers restore this?
I wonder how many respond to this piece of our history with more curiosity than conviction…
The 10 second segment “Turn around and say hello to the people sitting near you” after the first song doesn’t accomplish much, because as evidenced at the end of the service, everyone rushes off to their cars. 🙁
I think the first thing many would have to do is shrink…
The second thing would be a totally new understanding of what the gathering was about in the first place.
In too many cases, it’s a religious performance wherein the individual is “fed” a sermon and goes home.
The Didache sounds like trying to put 1 Cor. 12 into practice…
#5 Captain Kevin
To be honest, I’m not sure. I think, however, that there has to be some degree of “intentionality” – especially these days. Smaller group opportunities – Bible studies, Adult SS classes, nursing home visitation groups and similar subsets would help, I believe…
Agreed! Again, working in common with others seems to be the way to forge relationships these days…
I would imagine that in places in the world (as in the 1st and 2nd Century Roman Empire) where Christians are a minority (and especially if persecuted), there is probably a lot more desire and even necessity of building interpersonal relationships and inter-dependency among the local church.
Still, even in the Midwest U.S., Christians at my church are friendly, open to relationship, and the church provides opportunities through men’s and women’s weekly studies (and breakfast for the men). We also have Advent and Lent weekly potlucks, followed by evening Vespers. Early Easter breakfast. And some other events. These types of events are a lot easier to organize and implement if the congregation is relatively small (60-120).
I question how many would even want to be part of a church where they can know and be known…
That is very much the model that I have seen work. Even in a larger congregation, the “sub-sets” – ushers, altar guild, etc. – seem to be the places where relationships are established.
Spin that out a bit more, please…
For many, the anonymity of the large or mega church is considered a blessing.
There is no desire to be be a vital part of a separated community…indeed, I don’t believe that the concept ever crosses their minds…
Yes, I think that runs across the entire denominational spectrum. I know for myself, I prefer the relative anonymity of the 8:00 early service, although even there I can have a cup of coffee afterwards and take the opportunity to interact…
reading and thinking here… hmmm
aren’t we described today as a “mobile society?” … the church gatherings of the time of the forming of the Didache were groups of local folk with a common history, were they not?
today most of our commonality comes from the internet and the TV… a very unrealistic reality 🙂
interesting that one sees today a longing for homes with front porches
since the Didache is the target of this post, it might be good if we all knew the correct pronunciation of the word…. at least we’d all come away with something accurate LOL
If I’m not preaching, I’m staying home…so I’m part of the problem.
In some ways it was easier for the early church…it wasn’t split by sect and political affiliation.
I think we need to ask questions about identity as well…do we identify primarily as Christians and thus covet the fellowship and community of other believers or is our primary identification grounded elsewhere?
So perhaps we should abandon all the nonsense about unchurched ‘christians’ in our discussions. We should challenge them to either be in communion or admit they are excommunicated and thereby outside the faith.
Of course I am being provocative.
The last two weeks have been my favorite of this column.
As usual, there is a point to your provocation.
The Scriptures assume that believers will be part of a local body…
The question of identity will come up big time next week! I think it is sufficient, however, to say that the biggest issue – Jewish converts/Gentile converts – was subsumed in the greater identity of simply being a Christian and the real cost associated with that affiliation…
I love the Didache. Such a great picture of what the church was doing early on.
I have always had a fondness for chapter 12 where a prophet doesn’t stay more than 2 or three days. It like a Monty Python sketch where they would say that staying more than three days – “That’s right out!”
I agree with Michael on this one. Most of us have probably been hurt by churches to a lesser or greater degree. The wounds are real and, for some, take a long time to heal. Nevertheless, as I have been reading through the early literature again for this series, it is just inescapable. As we agreed in the class I was teaching, “To be a Christian and not to be involved in a Christian community would simply have been considered an impossibility by the early Church.”
… or after three days they threaten him with “the comfy chair”!
Most of us have probably been hurt by churches to a lesser or greater degree. <<<
Interesting that we all remember the times "the church" hurt us but our memories fail to remember all the times we hurt others in church.
Thank you for breaking this down for us Duane. Very interesting
“do we identify primarily as Christians and thus covet the fellowship and community of other believers or is our primary identification grounded elsewhere?”
I don’t covet the fellowship of anybody but my wife and kids. I’m part of the problem. Not sure how / if that will ever change.
I think Em makes a good point at #17. Our culture / lifestyles are so different than the early church. We’re all so busy with work, family etc.
Indeed… and we have all been guilty of that at one time or another.
Thank you Michael… I know that most here would know the prononciation, but some of us – like me – might try phonetics … ?
Dr. Duane, thank you also. ?
“Our culture / lifestyles are so different than the early church. We’re all so busy with work, family etc.”
I actually gave a good bit of thought to this as I was looking at the text and doing a bit of translation work. The times are different. Our lifestyles are different today. The culture, however, is becoming increasingly similar, especially in Europe, but increasingly in the US. What I mean by this is that we are increasingly finding ourselves in a post-Christian culture. The early Church was made up of, for lack of a better description, “intentional communities”. That is, they were formed with intent. The intention was to have a “society within a society”, one that was shaped by a differing belief system and differing moral values and conduct. It is possible that we may find ourselves much more like the early Church in the future.
I guess we will need to search further into the ancient documents to see how these same folks reacted when independent church planting Pastor Joe opened his own version of a “Christian Church” (emphasis on the ‘his own version’) – if the right hand of fellowship was extended along with an invitation to the table.
I would gather this is what we face today that they did not at the turn into the 2nd century.
re #33 – Can’t document, but I believe that there were teachers/organizers cropping up with aberrant doctrines almost from the beginning of Church history
It appears that the Gnostics were the first threat, but they were easily identified as heterodox. It’s really when we get to the Montanist, Donatist and Meletian controversies that that we see the issue arising. Interestingly enough it is a charismatic issue (Montanist), a “purity of confession” issue (Donatist) and leadership issue (Meletian)…
Some things never change…
Em – that is my point – and they were not welcomed as brothers. I am sure they were run out of town.
This is why we have differences between denominations that come across as unloving and not like the early church. These writers of the Didache seem to have drawn a sharp and deep doctrinal line in the sand that could not be crossed.
1.) to participate in the Supper you had to be a Christian.
2.) To be a Christian, you had to be baptized.
3.) Baptism is what made you a Christian.
I do not think they would open up to anyone who did not fit the profile.
Somehow, today we are unloving if we participate in a closed communion.
Thank you Duane @32
Your description of these “intentional” communities sounds a little like the modern day “Benedict Option” proposal. Do you think this is a fair comparison?
“Interestingly enough it is a charismatic issue (Montanist), a “purity of confession” issue (Donatist) and leadership issue (Meletian)…
Some things never change…”
You are doing well; no need to jump the shark with any association whatsoever between Donatism and rigorous confessionalism. Night and day (literally).
Think it is similar, but a bit more outward looking. The Benedict Option seems to me to be a bit too inward focused…
I was dealing with “confession” in terms of persecution – those who were confessors and those who were not… has nothing to do with Lutherans!
On the subject of baptism, how did we move from immersion to sprinkling?
“But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptised in the Lord’s Name.” (The Didache 9, 5)
Most early baptistries seem set up for full immersion (before that often in rivers or lakes).
Having first rehearsed all these things, “baptise, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” in running water; But if thou hast no running water, baptise in other water, and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head “in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” (The Didache 7, 1-3)
As baptism moved from certain places and certain structures (dedicated baptistries) baptismal fonts were introduced and sprinkling became widespread. Often the fonts were placed just inside the entrance of the church, indicating that entry to the Church was through baptism. I’ve always liked that architectural imagery.
Luther was inclined to full immersion if possible – but when the anabaptists came along binding people’s conscience by proclaiming it had to be full immersion, Luther said “screw it, I will sprinkle.” (at least that was my translation of the German)
There are other examples of this, such as the color of the wine. Luther and Lutherans object to “self-chosen” works, which we see often today. If Jesus demanded full immersion or red wine, he would have told us.
Em, bringing up phonetics seems an unnecessary jump from the early church to L. Ron Hubbard. ?
> 6. There was an ordered ministry of deacons and bishops (overseers) in local Christian communities that stood along side itinerant “apostles and prophets”.
The deacons and bishops were ordered, but were apostles and prophets? I guess ruling out financial gain would have weeded out at least some of the ones they didn’t want.
Yes, we find the things we like.
Perhaps it’s the translation I read, but where does one find Christ’s presence in the elements?
on baptism again… Well, Jesus was immersed
but in a cold river? there’s a cold river about 400 feet from where I’m sitting and I’m pretty sure that immersion there would make you renounce the Faith.
Captain K… ?
“Apostles and Prophets” are one of the mysteries of the text. They seem to be itinerant. Some think of them as missionaries and teachers, but (full disclosure) no one seems to know precisely. We do know, even from the NT, that some had, for lack of a better phrase, letters of introduction from someone known to the church (think of the Titus). Beyond that it is difficult to say.
Em, can you show where Jesus was immersed? I don’t find it.
“Perhaps it’s the translation I read, but where does one find Christ’s presence in the elements?”
Jesus saying this IS my body – the IS my blood – but you knew I would say that 🙂
“Thou, Lord Almighty, didst create all things for thy Name’s sake, and didst give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that they might give thanks to thee, but us hast thou blessed with spiritual food and drink and eternal light through thy Child.”
A differentiation is made between “ordinary food” and the elements of the Eucharist… the exact mode of that presence is not made explicit unless you connect the prayer for Christ to come to the Eucharistic prayer, which many scholars have done.
I’m crazy busy, but want to make one obvious point.
There was a church acceptable to God and full of His people long before any of our sectarian confessions and associated dogma.
That gives me pause when choosing to separate from brethren who don’t agree with me on some things.
At each Eucharist I would always say, “All baptized Christians are welcomed at this altar.”
So will I…
I must depart for a bit and pickup my bulldog, Maise, from the vet (most likely needing to take out a second mortgage on my home)… but I’ll be back.
#52 – “coming up out of the water” … I guess one could interpret that as wading out of the river …. one could … if one wanted to make the case that John was out there in the river with a gourd that he’d hollowed out for the purpose of pouring river water on some portion Jesus’ anatomy that seemed appropriate. … but then … why go out and stand in the river in the first place?…?… dunno. ?
MLD, I was referring to the Didache.
why go out and stand in the river in the first place?
It would be easier for John the B to refill the gourd. But again no one here is opposed to a full dunk – the question is it required?
I wish that I could recommend a good volume covering this topic. Unfortunately, as in my class, most materials on the subject have been written from a confessional point of view, i.e. trying to fit a current confessional view into the text of The Didache. As I said in the article, this is the Beatles in Hamburg, not the developed Beatles at Abbey Road. The most that I think we can say is that,
1. They viewed the Eucharist as a sacred act and used the language of “sacrifice”, “spiritual food and drink”, etc., to emphasize this view.
2. Only baptized Christians were admitted.
3. The Eucharist was connected to the coming of Christ – in the moment and at the end of the age (realized eschatology).
I hope this may help to clarify.
“That gives me pause when choosing to separate from brethren who don’t agree with me on some things.”
You said above that if you’re not preaching, you’re staying home. Haven’t you separated from the brethren?
It’s ironic, to say the least, that the only Christians who I see take a legalistic position on Baptism (i.e., full immersion) are the ones who don’t think it does anything. Is there any denomination which actually believes that Baptism is a means of grace and requires a full immersion?
“2. Only baptized Christians were admitted.”
One of my 3 kids have been baptized. We went to church yesterday for the first time in months at an evangelical church that opens the communion table to all. I grew up in a denom that practiced open communion (partake if you believe) and received communion for years before being baptized at age 24.
Question: based on what we’re learning here, should I tell my 2 kids who haven’t been baptized to stop receiving communion?
“At each Eucharist I would always say, “All baptized Christians are welcomed at this altar.”
I am just asking the question – no agenda or gotcha. Duane / Michael – in your teaching are there unbaptized Christians? If so, why the exclusion from the table?
How about, asking them if they would like to be baptized?
That is a fascinating question! I know there was a pretty wide divergence of practice in the East pre-schism… I also know that there was often full immersion in northern and western Europe pre-schism. Currently, I’d be hard pressed…
“…in your teaching are there unbaptized Christians?”
I was pretty certain that this would come up. I would say, baptism is the normative sacramental sign of the Faith. Could there be exceptions… perhaps, but determining that is way above my pay grade. I go to Augustine, “It is not the lack of baptism that damns, it is the despising of baptism.”
“Haven’t you separated from the brethren?”
Not in the sense of declaring them unorthodox based on our differences.
In the sense of I’d rather stay home than go to most local churches…yes.
That probably says more about me than them…
My son did express interest years ago but was told he “wasn’t ready”. They are both still interested. It’s messy because I view baptism more like you do Jean, as a means of grace, but my wife isn’t comfortable in any church outside of evangelical and I feel an obligation to stay where she’s comfortable.
As a matter of good practice, I would not knowingly commune someone who was not baptized.
#69 = very good
“…in your teaching are there unbaptized Christians?”
The godliest woman I ever knew and a pillar of our church wasn’t baptized until she was 90, I think.
I had the honor of doing so.
I didn’t ask God why he allowed this…didn’t much matter.
The Eastern Orthodox baptize both babies and adults by full immersion.
Michael – so why would you keep her from the communion table?
I saw large fonts in Russia which could accommodate infants. How do they accommodate adults?
Our little parish has a tub-like vessel on the front porch, hidden under a large bench, large enough to accommodate an adult.
Other parishes use horse watering troughs drug right into the Church.
All parishes have fonts for baptizing babies.
I have been at many baptisms, both baby and adult, and never saw anything other than full, triple immersion.
As my theology developed to weekly communion,she agreed to be be baptized.
If I had people in the service I didn’t know today I think pronouncing the expectation of baptism before communion would be wise.
It’s not about drawing hard lines, it’s about setting a standard according to Scripture and tradition.
Sometimes, there are exceptions made in the name of grace…
Many thanks! Pulling out The Rudder as I write…
Now perhaps a more salient question…
If Michael called a “gathering of the clan” – Michael, me, Jean, MLD, Kevin, etc. – I would find it very strange that we could not participate together in the Eucharist. All baptized, all creed affirming, all with a high view of The Lord’s Supper…
I find that odd as well…but it’s sadly true.
If Xenia and Joel are included in the “etc.”, then I would would be happy to buy us all a round at your favorite pub.
I would have issue communing with the group and it says nothing about one’s Christianity or if they are a worthy person. We can be great friends and perhaps do great work together.
Heck, I don’t commune with my mother in law and she is a Lutheran – but she is one of ‘those’ Lutherans. 🙂
Now, I will commune with anyone who confesses that the true physical body of Christ is present in the elements (without their fingers crossed, holding out for some spiritual presence) and the one who confesses that Jesus is forgiving their sin through this consumption of the elements.
To those I say “y’all come”.
Jean I don’t belong in that group. I’m just some poor schlubb stumbling his way into into eternity with a lot of questions. 🙂
#82 Michael… yes
I believe that “the true physical body of Christ is present in the elements” and that “Jesus is forgiving their sin through this consumption of the elements.” (Ask Michael for any doubts on this…) And, I uphold the Creeds… So?
You have a deeper spirituality and sense of conviction than many people I know… Just saying, high regard.
Duane, but you may believe that as a personal preference but not as an objective standard as to what Christ has given – otherwise you wouldn’t commune those who hold a different position.
Xenia I think would agree with my position. We could do Taco Tuesday together 🙂
I agree with Duane at #86…and I also suspect that Jesus confers those blessings even on those who don’t have their Eucharistic doctrine down pat the way I do… 🙂
Yes, I agree with you, MLD.
I think – FWIW – that it is far more important to understand that you are remembering Who purchased your redemption and the unfathomable price – remembering with reverence and honesty (sins confessed and heart contrite) than it is to accept the teaching that you are about to ingest Jesus, Himself… evangelical or “traditional”
One thing I can assure you of is that in churches that ingest the body and blood of Jesus, He is the Alpha and Omega of every service. This centrality of Jesus, not flags or Israel or the rapture signs or politics or modern psychology, is what is you’d find at such a church.
Michael, I have no issue with folks doing communion their own way
I just don’t know about not having their communion doctrine down right as much as having an agenda – but that is a different story. The point is they can do what they want without my approval nor participation and I would not allow myself to be guilted into being unloving.
“Duane, but you may believe that as a personal preference but not as an objective standard as to what Christ has given – otherwise you wouldn’t commune those who hold a different position.”
Not a personal preference, but a deep held conviction as to the nature of the Eucharist. Secondly, not sure how you would ascertain that I commune with those who hold a different position… especially as I don’t. It is a problem… but not for me…
I have awful, dreadful news for you. Prepare yourself… I think you might be an Anglican.
Duane, you said all baptized believers are welcome at the Lord’s table you would preside over. I made the assumption that included any and all baptized believers regardless of communion view.
Unless, you identify Christians as those who hold your view of baptism.
Jean, re #93 – that well may be so, but the individual participant may, just may, be confessing with their mouths only… the focus of one’s heart is when taking communion is the point I was addressing…
No matter how sound your doctrines are, I believe that the efficacy of the communion table is heart dependent…
To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth I, I cannot open a window into people’s souls…
I look at mixed communion similar to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the LA Rams decide to play a game.
The Dodgers show up with their bats, balls and gloves while the Rams show up with their helmets, pads and football.
What game are they playing together? What are the rules and how is the game scored.
Mixed communion causes similar confusion.
Rumor has it… 🙂
There are almost as many explanation of how Christ is present in the Eucharist as there are Eucharistic views.
They are all … creative.
I don’t waste any time with such mystery anymore.
I just tell my people Jesus is here and good things are gonna happen … 🙂
“Mixed communion causes similar confusion.”
Not for Jesus…
And I am to ascertain their correct view of baptism… and of the Eucharist! Should I check on their tax returns as well? I think I’ll stick with the early Church – “all baptized in the name of the Lord”.
Michael / Duane – This is all fine and differing views do not offend me at all. I am only explaining why in love I cannot commune with you… If only for the reason to not soil what you attempt to do – and still remain friends.
That is gracious, and I do understand…
In Eternity, if there is a need for a sanitation department tasked with keeping those streets of gold clean, I suspect I know who will be driving the trucks ?
I’m just a simple guy I guess – I’ve just plain never understood what in the world gives some Christians the right to think they can deny communion to other believing Christians.
Back about 10 years ago I visited a Lutheran church which would not serve me communion. Now, I had been a believer in Jesus for many years, but they would not serve me communion unless I talked with their pastor first which I did. But while I had even been confirmed in the Lutheran church, I wasn’t confirmed in their SPECIFIC brand of Lutheranism (they were Wisconsin synod and I was not). Thus I was judged not fit to take communion with them. From the time I walked into the church until the time I walked out, I was made to feel as someone who was not a member of “their club”, rather then a member of the Body of Christ who loved the same Lord they did (or said they did, anyway!) I told the pastor that I would have been Honored to stand beside him and take communion with him, my brother in the Lord, and that I was disheartened that he would not do the same. Sadly, it wasn’t just about communion – the entire “air” in the church was one of exclusivity.
I just don’t understand what makes some pastors think they have a right to deny the elements to someone that confesses their same Jesus as Lord. Why in the world does it really matter if one really believes that Jesus is physically present, present with mystery, or just as a symbolic act? I don’t see Jesus putting qualifiers like that on it. And these kind of fights only serve to distract from what communion is really about: communing together with our brethren in communing with Jesus in remembrance of what He has done for us.
Why do us silly humans constantly think we have to complicate everything and take a simple thing and add a bunch of conditions you must meet? Jesus told His followers to partake in remembrance of Him. I sure wouldn’t want to be that pastor that denied me communion having to stand before Jesus and explain why I denied His other children from partaking of what Jesus commanded us to do. Because I don’t care what a denomination teaches, there’s no excuse for that nonsense with Jesus…
[P.S. to MLD: I wanted to apologize for my comment to you a few days ago re now vs 40 years ago – I was mostly joking with you as I said about not wanting to continue dialoguing because you always just keep going to beat people into submission, but it’s still been bothering me since I said it because I felt like I didn’t express it right. I just felt like we had both said positions and it seemed neither of us were going to change the other so it seemed unfruitful to keep going – but I hope I didn’t instill any hard feelings. 🙂 I do have to say though: In the 8 years or so I’ve been reading here, I can’t think of a single time that anyone EVER persuaded you to come around to their point of view on something… Though I could be wrong of course! 🙂 🙂 ]
Hi Chris – don’t worry, I held no bad thoughts to your comments last week – all is good there.
I am a little disappointed that you don’t think can be persuaded. For 25 years I was a boilerplate evangelical who taught the company line – 25 years, that’s a long time.
But then I was persuaded to someone else’s point of view, so I did change and here I am some 13 years later.
As to baptism, I don’t understand that you would think a pastor was wrong in wanting to discern a person’s understanding of the Christian faith in general and towards the Supper in particular. Are all forms of communion legitimate. I have attended so many services where the supper was no more than a toast to Jesus and the communion hyould have been “for he’s a jolly good fellow.” I have been to so many services where the commiunion elements are just passed down the aisle for anyone to grab, parents giving to their kids to keep them quite.
I have told the story several times where Skip H taped the little travel communion sets to the bottoms of the chairs so he did not have to cut his sermon short to go through the institution and distribution of the elements. I have been in settings where the bread and juice were set up front and people told that when they felt moved any time during the service ‘just get up and help yourself.’ – In 25 years I can name hundreds of times where communion was treated sloppily as just another step to get through.
Now I can’t speak to that particular WELS pastor but at least he made an attempt to assure that it was indeed Christians approaching the table.
Paul spoke about doing communion wrong – one in being pigs about it and two about failing to discern the body of our Lord – which would be just what we are talking about – denying that Jesus is bodily present in the supper.
Both Greg Laurie and Church Smith – and I am sure there are many others, interrupt themselves during the institution of the supper – interrupt themselves when they say Jesus said this is my body / blood – and say Jesus did not really mean that it was his actual body. Absolute insanity goes on around the Lord’s table during generic evangelical churches. So yes, I favor caution.
And what is this grape juice thing? 😉
At the beginning of the 2nd paragraph I said baptism but meant communion.
Closed Communion – when we joined the So, Baptists back in 1961 in Kansas we were warned that there were So. Bap. congregations in the South who would not serve us …
I have attended a couple churches that would serve me, but would not fellowship because I didn’t fit their mold…. and they were pretty … moldy
I don’t know how the Lord will deal with the various exclusionary congregations come judgement, but, while I have often felt superior ? I’ve never felt free to act like it …
… surely I joke? yeah I do LOL …
I don’t know if I can be anymore clear. The objective is not to keep people from communion but to bring people to Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sin —- but in the right way.
The supper is not a food fest buffet open to all (and since no one is allowed to question the stranger in our midst, then this is what you believe). Has anyone why the initial communion was not the feeding of the 5,000? Why did it not include all who were in the upper room? I guess Jesus was narrow minded also.
“I don’t know how the Lord will deal with the various exclusionary congregations come judgement, but, while I have often felt superior I’ve never felt free to act like it …”
Here’s what I find is exclusionary in the majority of American Christianity: American Christianity predominately excludes the Gospel which teaches salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, according to Scripture alone.
Contemporary Protestantism, which blends or is purely Arminian or Reformed, dominates American Christianity. It doesn’t have this Gospel. Even Lutheranism, throughout its history, has in some strains drifted away from this Gospel. All too often it suffers the death of a thousand cuts.
If a Lutheran walks into a Baptist, Reformed or non-denominational evangelical church and starts talking about the Gospel (assuming both you and they understand what the Gospel of the three solas really means), he or she will be excluded by the majority, who will want nothing to do with it. This Gospel sounds nice, but just not in the real world.
To clarify my #112, I’m not saying that the Lutheran definition of the Gospel must be followed by every church, only that many churches and denominations are exclusionary in their own ways. Most of you know that, but may not want to admit it here.
Lutherans treat the “altar” as a location where the congregation comes together to make a unified confession of the faith in communion with God and each other. We are inclusive of everyone who joins in that confession. People are free to exclude themselves from this communion. However, the exclusion is voluntary on the part of those who believe differently.
What would a Baptist church say if I requested sprinkling rather than immersion for my Baptism? What would it say if I requested Baptism for my baby?
What would a Calvary Chapel say if I requested wine for Communion?
What would an Anglican church say if I requested that no females be permitted to preach on Sunday mornings?
“We are inclusive of everyone who joins in that confession.”
Clarify “that confession”, please… Correct view of baptism? Correct view of the Eucharist? Creedal confession?
I find it hard to believe Jesus would withhold his meal offering from anyone who wants to partake because they believe in Him. I will never forbid my unbaptised kids from His Hospitality. If that puts me at odds with tradition and the Didache so be it. I’ll err in the side of His Grace and Hospitality rather than religious boundaries regarding baptism and definitions of the elements. This place has become unhealthy for me.
Joel, don’t feel endangered – stay and discuss.
You must realize that Jesus did have a standard for fellowship. Check out the rich young man who so much wanted to be a part of the 1st century Jesus people – or the followers in John ch 6 who Jesus chased away.
Jesus wants everyone … But on his own term, not ours.
I’m doing my best with where I am and where we are as a family. The thought of forbidding my kids His offer breaks my heart. I hope they get baptized sooner or later. If I was raised Lutheran or Anglican they’d have been baptized as a baby. But we are what we are. So I will encourage my kids to eat His Meal because I really don’t think Jesus would want it otherwise. If He wants to send me to Hades because of it He’s not the God I thought He was.
For a communicant it is my understanding that one should affirm the content of the Small Catechism. That is what I was taught as an adult and that is what our youth are confirmed in.
Joel it seems odd that you would make a demand on a church to have open communion for your children but you will not make a demand on your own church to baptize your kids at your request and on your time frame not theirs. So if they would do your command baptizing your kids when you want then your kids could take communion properly
I don’t make a demand. They offer it. And there’s plenty of Spirit filled leaders that believe it’s permitted in light of His Hospitality. I should speak to them (the church) about baptism rather than waiting for them to offer it, you are right. Until then I will hope for “the scraps” for my kids despite the demands of some.
This is a short essay from Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk. I know he’s one of those dreaded ELCA Lutherans, but I think he nails it when he writes:
“Communion is primarily a meal for those who are baptized, but all are welcome because it is the Lord’s Table and Jesus invites everyone to come to him.”
I’m will never stand in the way of anyone and Jesus.
Yes, you know what’s coming… I can affirm the Small Catechism and even practice things like the morning and evening prayers (content in the Anglican Daily Office) and private confession, which many in LCMS do not.
What I’m trying to get to here is that closed communion, for those who practice it, is a matter of church order or ecclesial structure, not one of theological purity. Through the past four decades I have been invited to partake of communion by officiants in many different churches, including LCMS, RCC and yes, even EO. In all cases my decision was to not partake… not because we differed in theology, but out of respect for their church order, their rules, so to speak. If I went to church with you, I would go forward to the altar, cross my arms over my chest and hope to receive a blessing from the officiant. I would do this, however, not owing to theological differences between us, for there are few if any, but out of respect for your particular type of church order.
I’m not sure, however, that church order or structures should be raised to the level of “make or break” theology. Additionally, in light of our Lord’s prayer for the unity of the Church, I sometimes feel that our “rules” concerning such matters must bring Him sorrow. I know that it breaks my heart…
The Apostle Paul said some things that would lead us to believe that taking communion “unworthily” is not without risk to the one partaking.
“That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”
(1 Corinthians 11:30 ESV)
To act responsibly in light of this, the church had to make some distinction between those who could receive the Eucharist and those who could not. Baptized folks seems like a reasonable place to draw that line.
I would gladly commune your children as the Scripture tells us not to forbid the children from coming to Jesus.
I would gladly baptize them as well.
thinking on #112… times have changed i know, but with the exception of a small handful of dear friends who loved to talk about the Lord and their walk wiith Him and the year we spent fellowshipping in a Local Church group, i found that church people were put off if you were inclined to want to talk about the Faith, period. Most seemed to think that only the preachers had the right to talk about the Faith, “just who did you think you were talking about God?”… we could, however, discuss those “other” people… the ones who didn’t belong to your group
Michael said, “I would gladly commune your children as the Scripture tells us not to forbid the children from coming to Jesus.” amen to that – they’re children!
now, having said that, i think it is incumbent upon a believing parent to make sure that their children are aware that the bread and the wine symbolize the body and blood sacrifice at Calvary by God the Son… make sure they understand this isn’t just a niggardly snack break
“i think it is incumbent upon a believing parent to make sure that their children are aware that the bread and the wine symbolize the body and blood sacrifice at Calvary by God the Son…”
What you are describing is an unbelieving parent.
Perhaps unbelieving in a certain dogma about the Eucharistic, but not necessarily an unbeliever in Christ.
I was a believer long before I understood the Eucharist as sacrament…and I still don’t hold to Lutheran dogma concerning it.
#127. That is correct.
So…in what way is the parent Em described “unbelieving”?
Michael, I was agreeing with you. But to be clear, Jesus did not institute a symbolic meal. That’s not what He said, and that is not the meaning the early church understood either.
If someone teaches symbolism, she doesn’t believe what Jesus in his own clear words says, without any indication that he means something symbolic.
All one has to do is read what Paul wrote in Chapters ten and eleven of First Corinthians to see that Paul also gives no hint of symbolism:
“Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”
But we are Post Enlightenment.
Beyond the Eucharist, I make no statements about unbelief.
Just as a caveat, there is a long history from Clement of Alexandria to Vatican II on referring to the Eucharist as BOTH symbol (as in a philosophical “sign”) and actual. They are not mutually exclusive…
But most moderns of today if they hold to symbol at all truly deny actual – but they are not honest enough to admit that the Jesus talk is actual.
What I don’t get is that people feel comfortable playing with the words of scripture on the 2 sacramental biggies but would never budge from the words of Jesus in caring for the poor as actual or the words of Paul on the qualifications of an elder.
#126 – as i was writing #125, i thought about a caveat… but then i thot, “no, one of the transubstantion folk here would then be deprived of the chance to say something” 🙂
for the record, i don’t much care what God does to the elements as they go down my throat, what i do care about is where i am spiritually (as opposed to doctrinally) when i take communion… pretty sure that when Jesus said to take and eat, these are my body and my blood, the disciples did not literally ingest him or think that they did … if that was changed after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ …?… well, then so be it… it doesn’t need my affirmation to make it so … either way, it is a moment that is holy and God is there
As I said, very clearly, they are not mutually exclusive. Both Tillich and Rahner are good on this…
Em, 2 points,
1.) I don’t think there is a single person here who holds to transubstantiation.
2.) each time you talk about the Lord’s Supper you always mention a proper heart etc. In this #134 you state; “is where i am spiritually (as opposed to doctrinally) when I take communion…” You make the Supper more about you and not Jesus for you.
My confession at communion is that my spiritual life is in the dumper and I am there for the cleansing blood of Jesus – each week, you would think it gets old. 🙂
Duane – as I said, today’s moderns who hold to a symbolic view will not confess an actual view – not at all.
Lutheran doctrine allows for it as we make reference to the symbols in all parts of the liturgy.
MLD @ 108: “But then I was persuaded to someone else’s point of view, so I did change and here I am some 13 years later.”
So in other words, “So you see, I did change once 13 years ago.” Just teasing – had to make that joke! 😉 🙂 Seriously, just joshing you!
Regarding communion, I do agree with you that many churches are very cavalier in their approach. It’s very laid back in many evangelical circles where it almost seems like an afterthought and just something that “we’re supposed to do but we don’t really know why so we just do something to get our checkmark” thing. So I do agree with you on that specific point.
Regarding the WELS pastor, I also agree with you that I don’t have a problem with a pastor talking with someone to ask about their faith. A pastor asking whether someone believes in Jesus before serving is fine to me (tho I don’t think is necessary since even without, the communion elements just won’t have effect for those people since there is no faith mixed with it on their part), But I’m fine with a pastor inquiring as to a person’s salvation. But that’s different from a pastor grilling someone about whether they were confirmed in their specific brand of Christianity and whether they fully adhere to the exact same theology regarding communion (i.e. whether Jesus is physically present in the elements etc) before agreeing to let them partake. The only thing a pastor needs to know before letting me take communion is that I am a child of the same King they are and we are in the same family bought with Jesus’ precious blood. That’s all they need to know. Anything else are qualifications that religion has tacked on and is absolute nonsense and only serves to exclude other believers in Jesus from partaking. Jesus would NOT EXCLUDE any of His children (regardless of denomination) from partaking and I believe it absolutely grieves his heart when He sees that happening from those thinking they are keeping things pure in His name. It’s nothing but religious nonsense.
Oh and the grape juice is yummy! 😉 Seriously, I’ve always found that a tad strange too – but I don’t have a real beef with it.
But If you want to have a discussion on how things have changed, how bout talking about how we got from having communion being a full meal in fellowship with bread and glass of wine to a pastor putting a little wafer on your tongue and giving you a tiny ultrasmall shotglass of wine. Most churches, including yours I would highly bet, don’t do communion like Jesus did it or the early church as recorded in Acts… So in light of that, whether one uses wine or grape juice (all from the same fruit) isn’t as high on my concern list… 🙂
MLD – “You make the Supper more about you and not Jesus for you.” absolutely not, in no way is a person absorbed in themselves when they are contemplating a holy God and their own shortcomings… that is the spiritual condition to consider, not at all one of “how good am i?”
glad to see the need for a clarification, tho… and sorry that the i used the term transubstantiation carelessly… one thing, tho, if i am ingesting Christ’s body and blood, i hope that my digestive system suspends operation as it processes because in my flesh dwells nothing good… i am not ever going to sanctify this flesh, this “body of death” – it is corrupted and dying
Whenever the Lutherans complain but people not believing the words of Jesus, I love to post this verse that they explain away just as some do Eucharistic texts…
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
(John 6:37–39 ESV)
Everybody sees some things a little differently than others do…and they still “believe”.
Those verses “clearly” teach divine election and eternal security. 🙂
Michael – what is the point – Jesus does not cast out anyone after they come to him.
Also, the point you are trying to make shows that you failed the course on the proper distinction of law & gospel and that you have probably blacked out all of the warning passages of Jesus.
So much for the Full Counsel of God
Jesus “will lose none” of those given Him.
If one can “lose” or walk away from salvation, that would be a loss..
Jesus is the full counsel of God…
Yes, I have failed all attempts at confessional Lutheranism.
I’m passing confessional Anglicanism… 🙂
My point is that Reformed people think that verse couldn’t be clearer…you don’t.
This is why charity is in order…
I love that John 6 passage. Goes great with the second half of Romans Eight too.
Now how does the Father give someone to Jesus? Where do you know for certain that He has elected you?
I didn’t intend to get into a theological scrum.
Just wanted to make a point about scriptural “clarity”…
I took the course, and Lutheran Confessions as well… got an “A”…
It’s just that I could not place it on the level of Holy Writ as you seem to want others to do.
Are there valuable things to learn? Yes.
Are there important insights? Of course.
Is it the only way to look at Christian life and doctrine? No. At least not for me and some hundreds of millions of other creedal Christians.
I’m glad God brought you to a home. It is just not my home. This is not a criticism or attack, it is simply allowing God to lead each of us to, hopefully, the place of His choosing for each of us.
I think it is a very clear gospel passage – to be used side by side with the law passages of warning.
The Calvinist takes that passage and the Ephesian election passage as the manner that God populates heaven and hell – a strict doctrinal statement. (I have chosen/called you and I have not called / chosen you.
A Lutheran uses that passage and the Ephesian election passage as gospel – used solely to give comfort to the terrified believer. Something such as “I know you are worried about your salvation – but let me tell you how Jesus has chosen and saved you and will keep you.
To the person who is prideful in his salvation, he gets no gospel passages – he gets the law warning passages. Walk carefully!
It was the big difference between Calvin and the power & sovereignty of God and Luther’s the mercy of God.
The Father gave the elect to the Son in eternity past…I have no clue what the mechanism looked like.
Duane – did I make an appeal to the Lutheran Confessions? I don’t think I did but the memory lamp within me is fading.
I don’t blot anything out…I live with the tension.
Add the Confessions for emphasis… your memory lamp is fine.
We don’t know the mechanism, but we know Christ’s sacrifice spans eternity… “before the foundations of the world”.
I will say the Lutheran doctrine of assurance is much better than the Reformed one…in terms of looking outside oneself for what Jesus has done.
The wicked can never be secure – the anxious righteous need never be afraid.
So what was your purpose in going to the WELS church? We you just driving by and thought it would be a good place to stop and have communion – or were you shopping churches.
I find it strange that people want to commune with strangers they know nothing about. Although the sign said WELS what if they were devil worshipers at heart? Wouldn’t you want to get to know them? I had the opportunity when I was going for membership at my church to go through 12 weeks of catechism. The pastor said in the end it was to get to know us but more importantly that we got to know them so we could decide it this was home. Perhaps you were offended by that pasor’s attempt.
About the elements, I think the original Jesus Supper was after the Passover meal and the bread used was not a loaf but an unleavened flat bread – just like those little wafers. We do use real wine, most take in the little shot glasses but we do also offer the common cup. I don’t think much has changed – except in those churches that do pizza and coke.
MLD @ 160: I went with my grandparents for a visit because that was their church and I was in town to visit them. Yet despite the fact that I had been a believer for 12 years at that juncture, the church would not let me take communion. Besides grieving my heart and making me feel a little righteously angry, it also was an awkward family moment.
You keep seemingly trying to make excuses for what at the end of day is something very simple: No pastor should EVER be denying ANY follower of Jesus from partaking in what Jesus Himself commanded us ALL as believers to do! Like I said, I would NOT want to face Jesus with that on my rap sheet.
I should be able to visit my family members (I’m talking spiritual family members now) in ANY setting and be able to partake communion with them because we are all in the same family and have the same Jesus. I shouldn’t need to have a 10-part class to understand how they view communion and sign a waiver of agreement with every doctrinal point of how they view it first.
Obviously if one is looking for a church home, I of course agree that it behooves one to know something about the church before deciding to plant themselves there. But I don’t need to do that to take communion…
And while I know you have found a home in the Lutheran church after being elsewhere, I’m the opposite – I had my start in the Lutheran church and one (of several) reasons I left is precisely because I got really sick of the exclusive holier-than-thou “we’re the only real Christians” vibe (not all of the ones I attended/visited had this vibe but enough did).
As for the elements/original communion: In Jesus’ day and the early church, they all got together for a meal and then there was bread (unleavened) and wine – it was a whole communion process. So do you get together in your church for a fellowship meal with communion? Do you use unleavened flat bread that gets “broken”? No you don’t. Very very few churches do all that. If your Lutheran church is like most of the ones I’ve been in, the congregation is called up somewhere for communion where the pastor gives you a paper-thin wafer the size of a quarter and a small shot-glass of wine and that’s your “communion time”. I was just making the point that it most certainly IS different from what the early church did and what Jesus did. And your church doesn’t do it like they did either. I’m not making a major point of that – only to say that when people complain about grape juice instead of wine, I’m gonna point out that they aren’t doing communion as it was originally portrayed either… 🙂
Chris – that is a big assumption that you set yourself up as the one who determines church order. So does your church commune Mormons – who when asked the only question you seem acceptable “are you a believe?” The Mormon gets served. Perhaps I want to be cautious if I wander into your church.
The point Jean made earlier, is a grape juice friendly church required to offer wine if I am there? What if I don’t think grape juice is real communion? Wouldn’t that be keeping me from the table?
Are all churches require to baptize babies at my request?
Just some thoughts.
One more thing. The Lord’supper was not a part of the communal meal. Two completely separate events. We know this because Paul would tell the people if they couldn’t properly share the dinner part of the evening to eat at home instead. I doubt he was telling them to commune themselves at home.
MLD: You said “that is a big assumption that you set yourself up as the one who determines church order. ”
Where did I do this? I don’t see ANYTHING in Scripture establishing specific criteria that I’m aware of. The obvious assumption is that it is for Christian believers in Jesus so I don’t have a problem with establishing that. Obviously Mormons are a different category. But I do know that Jesus wouldn’t be down with excluding His children from the table simply because they had differing understanding as to whether Jesus was actually present in the body/blood or not. That’s religious nonsense. Jesus is much more inclusive than you (and I dare say many Lutherans also) seem to think. Believe it or not, He has children outside of your group. 🙂 And He ain’t all that thrilled when one of His group’s of children denies fellowship or communion with another of His groups. Yes I will declare that with authority 🙂 If I’m wrong, Jesus can bonk me on the head, but I ain’t wrong on that. 🙂
As to your other point about the meal, the actual “communion act” might be separate from the meal, but in Scripture they were paired together. My only point is that very few churches do that. The picture of how communion went down in Scripture is NOT the way most churches do it (including yours I dare say). Show me in Scripture where the believers got together listened to a message and then went up front while the pastor put a wafer on their tongue and gave them a shot glass of wine… It ain’t there brother! 🙂 Again, I don’t say that to make an issue of it only to again point out to you (which I guess you keep missing) that if one’s going to claim grape juice isn’t the way the early church did it, it’s also totally legit to talk about other ways that churches today don’t do it the same way…
As to your questions: “is a grape juice friendly church required to offer wine if I am there?” Answer: No although I personally am in favor of churches at least having wine as an option. “What if I don’t think grape juice is real communion? Wouldn’t that be keeping me from the table?” Answer: That’s on you then. If you want to make a stickler issue about whether grape juice is real communion or not, then that’s on you, not the church DENYING you from partaking communion with them. If you don’t like the way they take it, then you don’t have to do it but that’s on you. That’s different from THEM denying YOU the ability to partake with them as fellow family members in Jesus.
“Are all churches require to baptize babies at my request?” Answer: Of course not. Because everyone knows infant baptism is pointless. HAHAHAHAHAHA
Chris, you set yourself up as the arbiter of church order when you say ‘no pastor has the right…” Oh course they do – he has been called to serve the spiritual needs of that local congregation and to protect from wolves on the prowl.
The fact that you don’t hold your pastor to that is a bit surprising.
Now if we are going to play hardball – you are not questioning if Jesus is present in the elements, you are questioning the very words of Jesus.
MLD, how exactly does a pastor being “called to serve the spiritual needs of that local congregation and to protect from wolves on the prowl” translate into “preventing other children of God’s that believe in Jesus from partaking of the Lord’s Supper that Jesus commanded?” Sorry, they aren’t the same to me…
I made no plays about church order per se – my only argument is that pastors don’t have the right to decide that members of God’s family that believe in Jesus can’t partake of communion. I’m not talking about legal rights or congregational rights – I’m talking they don’t have the right with Jesus to do that…No pastor has the right to say to one of Jesus’ sheep: “sorry you can’t partake of what Jesus said to do to remember Him” – I mean they can do it – maybe the word “right” isn’t the best choice – but I imagine Jesus isn’t all that happy about it – that’s all I was saying. Please don’t extrapolate more than that.
As for the elements, I made no statement one way or the other as to what I believe regarding Jesus being present in them. I haven’t questioned the words of Jesus at all. If anything, I am arguing that churches that do closed communion have ADDED to Jesus’ words and made conditions that cannot be backed up in Scripture.
By the way, when I said above “And He ain’t all that thrilled when one of His group’s of children denies fellowship or communion with another of His groups.” The reason why is because to Jesus they aren’t different groups – He doesn’t have Lutheran groups and Presbyterians and CC – He’s got one family. And regardless of how we’ve screwed it up down here, His desire is still unity (John 17) and however we may identify our expression of Christianity here, we are still supposed to be able to commune with and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If a person can only commune with believers that are “LCMS Lutheran” or “WELS Lutheran” or “Calvary Chapel” or whatever, then they are missing the mark…
Chris – here is the point that I think you and many others miss when you think a pastor is body checking you away from communion. First let me say that I will not judge who is right and who is wrong because for this discussion it doesn’t matter but to highlight the differences.
It is very possible that you and I together may be doing 2 completely different acts when we say we are coming to communion – that we may not be there for the same purpose, that we may not be using the same instruments and we may not be expecting or anticipating the same results.
Would you not agree that if this were the case that in actuality we are not communing with each other?
The simplest test is to ask – when Jesus says “Do this in remembrance of me.” – what are you doing and what am I doing? Now is it possible that the WELS pastor in question is doing his job to assure that first you know what they as a church body is doing before allowing you to actually be breaking communion with them?
By the way – when Jesus say “Do this in remembrance of me.” what exactly are you and your church mates doing?
MLD, You bring up a legit issue. It IS entirely possible the 2 people sitting next to each other (even within the same church and denom including in yours) might be on entirely different pages as to what communion means to them. In fact, I would argue that it’s even likely. A lot of people I don’t think even really give much thought to communion beyond just that it’s a ritual thing they are supposed to do. So yes, I agree that 2 people might not be approaching it the same and might not in that sense be communing with one another. This is completely irrespective of our discussion regarding open/closed communion because it happens even within closed communion churches because people are individuals and what they think and where they are putting their faith may be different.
Communion to me isn’t really as much about communing with my fellow congregants though as communing with Jesus. Communion is an act we do corporately together but I do not concern myself with whether every single person there is on the same page. For me communion is corporate but also very personal and while I can’t control how others view it and approach it and what they are believing, I can control how I view it and approach it and where my faith is at.
Communion to me is a corporate act we do together, but it’s very personal in application between me and Jesus with my faith in Jesus. Thus I have no problem communing with someone that believes that Jesus is present in it, someone who believes it’s just symbolic, someone that believes it changes mysteriously, etc. That’s irrelevant to me – the church can teach whatever it wants on that – it isn’t going to affect my ability to take communion with people regardless of how they view it. If I’m with people that believe in Jesus and are taking communion in obedience to Jesus, I don’t really care a whole lot that we agree on every last issue. I can be in “communion” with believers in a general sense without 100% agreeing with them on every doctrinal stance.
If I’ve got to 100% agree with someone before I can be in communion with them, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have anyone to be in communion with because I haven’t yet met a person that I 100% agreed with theologically. And despite what conservative churches like the LCMS teach as church doctrine, on an individual level the members may vary on any number of issues. In any church setting, not everyone’s going to fully be on the same page. They might have a different view than the church teaches (and they may stay in the church for other reasons and just choose not to make it an issue) or they might just be ignorant. There’s plenty of people I would argue that are as Michael said he was – believers in Jesus long before they really understood about communion etc.
So the reality is, despite what you might think, in an LCMS church (I believe you are LCMS if my memory is correct), you are likely communing with any number of people that don’t view communion exactly as you do, irrespective of what the official church position is. Does that bother you? It probably should by your logic, but it doesn’t bother me. I have no problem communing with ANY believer in Jesus Christ – if they want to take communion, I will happily take it with them. We together can talk about what it means and so forth but at the end of the day, when they eat the bread and drink the cup, what is going on in their heart is between them and Jesus and the same goes for me, and I’m not going to worry myself about it. I’m much more concerned about what I’m doing.
A pastor doesn’t need to be going around to each individual member and grilling them: “Do you believe Jesus is physically present in the elements?” “No you don’t? Oh well then you can’t partake with us!” That’s just absurdity.
It’s not just about the WELS or LCMS or Lutherans so please don’t take this personally – I have a beef with any group that allows their pet interpretations of doctrines to block them from fellowshipping and communing and interacting with other believers in Jesus. When pet doctrines get elevated above Christ there is a problem. If a church is going to block other believers in Jesus from receiving communion because they don’t hold to their specific view then what they are really doing is elevating their interpretation above Jesus and His command to His followers. They are saying their view of the elements is so important that they need to block people from communing with Jesus who don’t adhere to it. They are placing their doctrine above Jesus. And let me just tell you on a personal level as one that experienced that personally being told I couldn’t partake, it also just makes them seem like absolute jackasses who are just running a private social club…That church was the most unloving and unwelcoming church I ever saw in my life.
Chris, I hate to break it to you but the RCC and the EO also hold to closed communion. Are you telling me if you went with a buddy to an RCC service you have an expectation of being communed?
But hey, aren’t you glad that there are thousands upon thousands of churches in this country that have no standards or expectations of belief or practice except one – the sanctity of the kumbaya experience?
Chris – I do need your help on a couple of points;
1.) I know nothing of you and you seem to know much about me. What type of church do you attend and do they serve communion weekly?
2.) You have mentioned probably a dozen times that pastors and churches are putting their particular beliefs above Jesus’command that we all observe the Supper together or that all believers are commanded to be welcomed at the table together. Can you show me the scripture passages that spell out those commands?
You guys embrace the shadows and traditions, well done. But what about the risen One who is returning for His bride at first and then bringing Israel to Himself during the 70th week of Daniel? Lot’s of evidence in old and new testament scripture. And by the looks of things it’s not too far off! Angelical Philosophy won’t hold up during the tribulation when the saints are taken from the earth to the sky before the seven years, in a moment, the moment of a twinkling of an eye! But you’ll still be able to debate it after it’s too late, Said in LOVE, ( the song … Get Ready – Sweet comfort Band!!! you tube)
Off topic… take it elsewhere.
There’s an understatement.
Thank you Michael @ 9:22 yesterday.
What do you all think about the context of 1 Corinthians 11:30 when thinking about Paul’s description of eating “unworthily”….
Before 11:30 : “So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!”
After 11:30: “So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.”
These sound like very practical instructions to discern to be generous towards fellow members of the Body of Christ.
The common understanding is that two things are being discussed here –
1. An Agape common meal, normally practiced after the Lord’s Supper and
2. The Eucharist, or The Lord’s Supper proper.
The central passages 11:23-30 are about the Eucharist itself.
The theme, in my mind, for both is 11:18 “I hear that there are divisions among you…” Both the Eucharist and the Agape meal were to be about the unity of the Church and the equality of its members. Very similar to the themes in the Didache. The passage is also a song endorsement of the view of the physical presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.
Does that help at all?
Yes thank you Duane.
“The passage is also a strong endorsement of the view of the physical presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.”
I don’t want to argue that in general. However it seems this particular passage from Paul has been taken out of context to argue this theological view of the Eucharist. I may be off, I know. But I don’t think it unreasonable to question in light of the context.
The context is, of course, important. For me the two indicators are –
1. The realized eschatology of “you show the Lord’s death till he comes”. Again, like the Didache, linking the Eucharist to the parousia.
2. “Whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
The context provides two possibilities here – a violation of the unity of the Church or the elements of the Eucharist… or both. At Vatican II when discussing the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist, the theological commissions identified numerous ways in which Christ is physically present – in the elements, in the people of God gathered at the altar in unity, in the person of the celebrant, etc. These descriptions are not mutually exclusive. All can be true and point to the same reality of Christ among us…
Ok thank you.
In the very next chapter, Paul talks about the parts of the body, leaving no doubt as to what he meant by “the body of the Lord”… the weaker members (of which I am one) etc.
Again, I don’t want to argue definitions of the Eucharist. I’m just questioning how the Church has used this passage. I know I’m going against 2000 years of tradition. Yikes.
Again, one is not mutually exclusive of the other…
Thank you Duane
Not really. The Church Fathers used figurative and allegorical interpretation of scripture for over a thousand years. Passaged may have a “plain” meaning as written and also point to something more. Think of Christ referencing Jonah. He wasn’t using it to make a point about Jonah (plain meaning), but how it pointed to his own resurrection (figurative and prophetic).
Duane, I am no expert on RCC dogma and in fact as a Lutheran I am on the run from them while still being under the anathemas of Trent – 🙂
But is their claim about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist to be understood that it may not be inclusive of what you take in your mouth? That it could be that Jesus aqt times is only present in those coming to the altar or in the celebrant but could be void of being in the elements?
I could see (but not accept) that Jesus is always present in the elements and may also be experienced in the other two – but never not in the bread and wine.
Ok that takes me back to the subject of closed communion. It is clear that generosity is a high value in the Kingdom. Why would anyone deny the Lords Table to anyone that believes, even if they haven’t been baptized yet. I’ve heard it said that one cannot believe outside of a work of the Spirit. Since I think this is true, I find it offensive to deny any believer communion. Doesn’t sound very generous to me. I will end at that because I get too upset.
No, always and preeminently present in the elements. Owing to the Eucharistic devotions that some RC theologians had grown excessive, they were trying to indicate other modes of Christ’s presence – in the gathered congregation, celebrant, etc. – as well. It’s actually pretty good theology. It really goes back in some ways to the John Chrysostom quote that you can’t adore Christ in the chalice if you can’t see Christ in the beggar at the door of the Church.
Some one should do a study on all the places Christ promised to be present – The Eucharist, the Church, the least of these… It would be fascinating.
Duane – I agree that it must include the elements – but again we are talking the actual physical bodily presence – not a spiritual manifestation that we are taken up to (the Calvinist position)
Joel – while you are considering closed communion add this to the thoughts. Jesus communed only those he had personally trained. Think of this – he did not even include his own mother.
I will consider your thoughts MLD and Duane. Thank you.
Oops one more question..
“Some one should do a study on all the places Christ promised to be present – The Eucharist, the Church, the least of these… It would be fascinating.”
Can you recommend a starting point for this study?
The obvious answer is the Bible but I am jut curious if you’d recommend a specific book or study guide with this particular focus.
I can’t think of one off hand… The NT, as you said, is obviously the place to start.
Ok thank you Duane. I am intrigued.
MLD @ 170/171: “Are you telling me if you went with a buddy to an RCC service you have an expectation of being communed?” Yes, I have that expectation. Even if I know they won’t do it.
“But hey, aren’t you glad that there are thousands upon thousands of churches in this country that have no standards or expectations of belief or practice except one – the sanctity of the kumbaya experience?” Yes. 🙂
“I know nothing of you and you seem to know much about me. What type of church do you attend and do they serve communion weekly?” That’s fair. I only know about you since I’ve been reading your posts for years, but you don’t have the same luxury since I rarely post. I currently attend an evangelical church that’s kind of a cross between a CC and a Vineyard. They are one of the churches that like you, I believe take communion TOO casually. They do it corporately once a month though the elements are always available at each service. My typical church experience in churches I’ve been at in the past had it every other week. I’ve never been a member at a church that did it every week (not even my LCMS did that).
“You have mentioned probably a dozen times that pastors and churches are putting their particular beliefs above Jesus’command that we all observe the Supper together or that all believers are commanded to be welcomed at the table together. Can you show me the scripture passages that spell out those commands?” It’s assumed MLD. Jesus didn’t have Lutheran followers or EO or CC etc. He just had followers and He told them to “do this in remembrance of Me”. He didn’t say “now welcome all believers” because THAT IS ASSUMED! 🙂 He’s talking to His followers there. You don’t need a Scripture from Jesus that says: “Take communion with all my followers and don’t forbid any fellow believer from partaking with you”. Jesus’ desire for His Church has never been the mess that we’ve made of it with all our petty nonsense and splits and divisions (you can read HIS desire in John 17) – He only has One Church – One Family. The fact that we’ve set up these divisions is on us, but Jesus only has one family. And if you are my BROTHER or my SISTER in the family of God, I should be able to commune with you regardless of what local church you attend. 🙂 If we can’t commune in Christ, then we shouldn’t be in a family together united by Christ, should we?? If Jesus is my Lord and I’m in His family and Jesus is your Lord and you are in His family, then what possible legit reason can there be for me to tell you that I won’t allow you to partake communion that both your Jesus and my Jesus commanded us to do?
Chris, I love that theological term ” It’s assumed”
To the RCC, if they allowed you to would you take communion with them knowing what I assume you should know about what is happening on their altar?
So you go to a church that refuses to commune you, one of their own, 3 of every 4 weeks and you have been falling apart because a pastor said “let’s talk” before opening the table to you – a stranger to him / them?
Let’s go back to it is assumed – why didn’t Jesus invite all of his followers to that first Lord’s Table? As I pointed out earlier, he did not even invite his own mother – can you imagine a Jesus being that closed minded and divisive that he shames his mother and makes her feel terrible? 🙂
Great discussion all around. I must confess that this is not the first time that I have been thoroughly impressed by how MLD handles himself on a difficult topic.
I’m curious as to why Pauls position on special feasts and diets wouldn’t include the discussion on proper communion? It seems as though Col 2 has much to say about passing judgment on what some folks believe. I am not saying that anyone here is passing judgment. What I am saying is that there is grace and liberty in what we do.
I was asked to take a church from So Cal into Haiti for a week to work with a very large orphanage that I am blessed to be connected with. As guests of the Pastor, 30 of us sat on the stage as the entire congregation (around 1500), faced us from the pews. We were served communion and when the folks I was with found out it was real wine, they all proceeded to pour their cups out into a planter in front of everyone! There isn’t enough time in the day to share how angry and embarrassed I was.
Or because at a first century Seder, it was the protocol that only men reclined at table as the women served, which was considered normative and honorable.
Duane – still that makes my case that Jesus restricted the communion table …. even if for cultural considerations.
It’s a real stretch…
Assuming (since we are allowed) that there may have been a half dozen women, followers / believers in Jesus there in the room doing food prep and service – Jesus could have stopped the proceedings and called the women over and said “ladies, gather around, I want you to watch and participate in this new thing I am doing and leaving with you are being part of my church.”
But it seems that he did not – he communed those who he felt were properly instructed.
I said yesterday, if Jesus wanted open communion he could have done so at the feeding of the 5,000 (mega church style 🙂
Was Jesus really instituting some new thing, or was He simply observing Passover?
It’s a REALLY big stretch… Did you get some ruby glasses, or stories on gold plates?
BTW, Mary was with the disciples on the Day of Pentecost in what we consider the inauguration of the Church.
Goose – long time no see. definitely some new!
MLD – good to see you!
Why would Jesus need to institute something new at this point?
What exactly did He institute that was new?
“What exactly did He institute that was new?”
“for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
“And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
Goose, I was raised Jewish for the first 32 yrs and went to many, and still do occasionally go to Passover Seders. Not once have I heard the leader say the bread was his body nor that the wine was his blood – and the roof would have collapsed if he would have mentioned a new covenant.
Oh, Jean beat me 🙂
it took 32 years to raise MLD?
MLD & Jean,
Those are great things you mention, but they don’t speak to the actual creation and implementation, by Jesus, of this new exercise you call the Lord’s Supper.
Where in the text does Jesus institute this new exercise that you call the Lord’s Supper, separate from, or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration?
Goose – are you making the case that the Eucharist and the Passover are the same?
Passover was part of the old covenant.
One other thing – if you are going to tie it to the Passover, then would you suggest that we only come for communion once a year?
Really pleased that this has been received so well.
I would also note that the eschatology here is clearly post trib/ amill….
I sort of shocked beyond belief by your questions. Is your questioning of the Lord’s Supper something you came up with on your own, or is what your asking the actual teaching of a church? I don’t think there is any Christian church I have ever heard of which questions whether Christ instituted a ritual called the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion or the Eurcharist.
There are a multitude of reasons the Lord’s Supper is distinct from the Jewish Passover. For one thing, there’s the narrative in 1 Cor 11 which gives no hint whatsoever that what the church was doing was once per year or the Passover.
Second, there is no promise of a New Covenant attached to the celebration of Passover. The whole theology of the Lord’s Supper is that it is the sacred sign or Sacrament of the New Covenant promised in the OT.
The Passover, as well as the passage through the sea and defeat of Pharaoh, were are types of the better covenant which God made in His own blood.
I hope that you are just pulling MLD’s leg for a laugh and that you are not seriously in doubt about the work of Christ and what the Lord’s Supper represents (aside from whether you see it as a physical presence, spiritual presence or just a remembrance). I would say that the Lord’s Supper as a historical event in which Christ declared the New Covenant in his blood for the forgiveness of sins is an essential Christian doctrine.
MLD @ 197: So now we have reached the point for me where it is clear you are just going to continue down a narrative to the point that you are making real stretches and seemingly arguing just for the sake of arguing – even in the face of basic logic. Not that I ever REALLY thought that I would change the mind of a staunch Lutheran mind you 🙂 – but this will be my last response on this subject. You can come back with whatever deflecting questions you want (I’ve long observed it’s a favorite tactic of yours). 🙂 Ones like these:
“To the RCC, if they allowed you to would you take communion with them knowing what I assume you should know about what is happening on their altar?” First, When I said assumed, I wasn’t talking about ME assuming anything – I was talking that JESUS assumed – maybe I shouldn’t have used the word assumed because that got you going a direction of people assuming what the Word says which is not what I was referencing. Go re-read what I wrote. I was saying there was no need for Jesus to say “do not forbid any of my children from partaking communion with you” because to Him He only has 1 family of followers, not Lutherans, Methodists, etc. You also missed the entire point I made and didn’t answer/address the very logical questions I asked in my #196. To answer your question though about the RCC (the RCC is obv a unique case for many reasons and a whole different discussion) but personally IF I was visiting an RCC and IF they allowed me to take communion, then YES, I would take communion with them because I know what *I* believe between me and Jesus and where *I* am putting my faith.
“So you go to a church that refuses to commune you, one of their own, 3 of every 4 weeks and you have been falling apart because a pastor said “let’s talk” before opening the table to you – a stranger to him / them?” My church has not REFUSED to commune me. They never said to me: “You can not partake communion with us because you were not confirmed in our specific sub-denomination of a denomination.” They partake together once a month and I can partake on my own or in concert with my own family or group there anytime as the elements are available (I’m not saying I’m a fan of this method – only that they do offer it). They certainly have not refused me communion like that WELS church did. And I didn’t “fall apart” over it. It grieved my heart and made me righteously mad (both of which I believe it does to Jesus also).
“Let’s go back to it is assumed – why didn’t Jesus invite all of his followers to that first Lord’s Table? As I pointed out earlier, he did not even invite his own mother – can you imagine a Jesus being that closed minded and divisive that he shames his mother and makes her feel terrible? ?” First, I doubt she was shamed or felt terrible. But setting that aside, you could also say: “Why didn’t He do the first communion with all of his thousands of followers? Wasn’t he excluding some of his followers?” He had to start somewhere friend – He instituted it with His 12 disciples – the ones He had entrusted Himself and was teaching it first to. To say that just because Jesus only did the first Lord’s Supper with the 12 means that Jesus favors you as a believer choosing to refuse communion or fellowship with me as a believer in Jesus is a stretch beyond a stretch. Those 12 men took what they had learned and when we see it in operation in the early church, you didn’t have one church refuse to partake with another church. Can you imagine if the Apostle Paul went to one location and they refused to serve Him because they didn’t 100% agree with every position he had? Can you imagine Paul going from city to city – from church to church – and each church deciding they couldn’t commune with the believers from the other churches? That’s closer to what YOU are promoting. That because Jesus did the first Lord’s Supper only with the 12 that therefore your church can refuse to serve me as a fellow believer in Jesus and in the same family of God as you. Sorry, that’s not in line with the Jesus I know – it’s not in line with His clearly expressed heart for His body/followers in John 17 and not in line with the love between the brethren that’s supposed in operation.
Rather than extending loving fellowship to me as a fellow believer in Jesus Christ (despite whatever theological differences we may have had on one point or another), that WELS church made me feel like I was a complete outsider with whom they could not associate. That is NOT the heart of Jesus MLD. It’s just not. And that kind of nonsense goes on far too often. Like I said, that underlying vibe is ONE of the several reasons I left the Lutheran church which I had grown up in (sadly I went on to discover those same attitudes in pretty much every other part of the Body too including CC). When I read John 17 and then I look at the state of the fractured church today and how each little part thinks THEY are the only ones with all the true revelation and the true church and everyone else is just misguided at best or of the devil at worst and they are all little islands unto themselves, it makes me want to cry. And I believe it grieves the heart of God too.
Anyway I’ve said all I’m going to on this subject. 🙂 For the record, I usually tell myself that I will not get into theological discussions with people on communion or baptism precisely because my observation is that it’s rarely profitable and just a waste of time. So I broke my own rule for you. 🙂 So feel special! 🙂 🙂 Anyway, you may have the last word brother. Peace out! 🙂
“All baptized Christians are welcome at this altar.” Not all agree, but, in my opinion, we should.
So, Duane, are you overruling 1 Cor 11:27-31?
Let’s be transparent.
Chris – good conversation – you summed up your position well and I think this is our great divide. You said in tis last comment;
” IF I was visiting an RCC and IF they allowed me to take communion, then YES, I would take communion with them because I know what *I* believe between me and Jesus and where *I* am putting my faith.”
See, it is about you and what you want with no regard for the larger organism – the church. For you the church is so irrelevant that you can stand among others (the RCC) who are presenting a bloodless resacrifice of Christ on their altar while you do your own thing being among them.
We can have difference, I just want you to know what those differences are.
Duane – how do you determine who is a baptize believer if you don’t stop them and talk to them first?
This also takes some work on the part of the parishioners also when they bring visitors to explain to them why they must stay seated – and not put it on the pastor. When I bring my kids and grandkids – I tell them to sit and they know why … my kids are all double baptized as babies (before I was a believer) and as youths later. But I have them sit.
I would think if you invite baptized believers to partake, then you take them at their word.
My intuition about Jesus is that He’s not going to get mad if He’s offered to someone in faith.
Michael – here is the senario.
Mormon Mark is at church with his favorite aunt Matilda. She loves him so much that he cannot believe that Mormons are not Christians.
Pastors Duane and Michael are co officiating the Eucharist and they invite all baptized believers to come, approach the table and be served the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mormon Mark perks up “hey, I am a Christian and I am baptized, hey wait for me auntie.” Probably not good. 🙂
Thank you… Here in the midwest, it’s time for cocktails and prep for Thanksgiving.
Giving thanks for all here… even MLD:)
Probably not good for Mormon Mark…and that’s on him.
There is a point where you have to remember that Jesus didn’t set up a mechanical system for the Supper…He comes in person, personally giving Himself to His own.
He can handle Mormon Mark.
Might even convert him… 🙂
I say this with no disrespect. In your line of work (as the PP), you have investigated, heard about and reported on the worst of the worst clergy. I think because of this, you don’t trust clergy with historic pastoral responsibilities. I get it and don’t particularly blame you. But, I want you to know that not all pastors are jerks, filanderers, greedy SOBs, egotistical bastards, etc. In congregations where honest, faithful pastoral work is being done, work such as the administration of the keys, watching over the flock and examining visitors and new members is a blessing to the congregation. We would want nothing less.
Michael – do you think that the first century church did not stop an unknown visitor who was just passing through town – perhaps let him sit through the announcements 🙂 and the sermon but ask him to leave or wait outside while they did the Eucharist?
I alluded to this in a thread a few days ago, but to my knowledge churches that permit open communion have opened themselves and actually fallen prey to false doctrine. When you let anyone in with his or her beliefs on this or that doctrine, before long the church is a blend of who knows what. I offer the UMC as a case in point.
I am now taking up the historic duties of a priest.
I have always been an advocate of small churches and personal relationships with all in the church.
In nothing I have said have I ever denied anything you have said.
There are times when examining visitors on the spot isn’t practical…the roof won’t fall in.
Perhaps they did.
We survived any that didn’t.
I look forward to having a church with differing views on things…it’s part of the Anglican way.
Great news Michael. I know you were always an advocate of small churches.
I thought a year or two ago that you were not in favor of things like individual confession, but my memory fades more and more every year, and I am happy to be wrong. My apologies.
If anyone would make a good pastor, I have no doubt you will be a fantastic one.
If only I like cats…
“We survived any that didn’t.” – If survival is the goal then that is a good definition of open communion.
I would love to learn from Duane or Michael how in the Anglican tradition, pastors carry out the following responsibility:
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.”
How specifically does the Anglican priest do this? It’s not a gotcha question, but we see from looking around that American Christianity left unchecked is out of control and, as Michael has often said, practically unrecognizable to Biblical Christianity.
MLD @ 220: I said you could have the last word, but I lied! 😉 You may STILL have the last word though 🙂 …after I address this:
“See, it is about you and what you want with no regard for the larger organism – the church.”
First, yes, good discussion. 🙂 And yes there’s difference which is fine. I just felt I needed to respond to this last point of yours to clarify that I would say that for me the “larger organism” isn’t so much the church but the Church. And that IS the divide. 🙂 While I do care what individual churches teach and obviously I don’t agree with every denomination’s teachings, I don’t use those as my standard for whether I can or cannot partake communion with them. You do. To you, as far as I understand it, if you take communion with those that disagree with you on various theological issues (not only how you see the elements but certainly including that), then you are basically saying you are in communion with those things too. To me, if they are believer in Jesus Christ (and sure, I’d be willing to throw the baptized qualifier in too as proof of their belief a la Duane/Michael), I can partake with them regardless of whether I agree with them on every last theological issue. If they’ve got Jesus and they’re my brother or sister, I can partake with them. It’s that simple for me. If they think the elements are just symbolic and I think there’s more to it than that, I can still partake just fine with them. Communion time isn’t me saying that I 100% agree with every person around me – it is my communion time with Jesus, being done corporately where we are all affirming our faith and trust in Jesus and His sacrifice together. But ultimately I’m not really all that concerned with what Joe next to me is doing or where his faith is at, but what *I* am believing and where *I* am putting my faith. So yes, communion is a personal thing for me and no I am not as concerned about the church (little c) structure organism as I am about the fact that all believers in Jesus Christ are in ONE organism: The Church. And I’ll happily partake with any of my fellow family members regardless of what church (little c) they’ve chosen to set up shop in.
And yes that’s the divide we have I think. The divide actually affects much more than just communion as it comes down to how little c churches interact with the big c Church – the entire Body of Christ outside of their little world.
Agreed – good discussion brother and yes we can have difference. And I agree we both probably have stated it now pretty clear (though you may still take the last word as promised 🙂 ) . Blessings to you and may you (and everyone else here for that matter) have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂
Chris – ” I can partake with them regardless of whether I agree with them on every last theological issue.”
But you make that sound like – I don’t need to agree with them onall the little nit picky theological points – but I telling you there are huge divides on some of these make of preak issues.
Did Jesus promise his body and blood in the bread and wine. Again, I will not say who is right and who is wrong – but that is huge.
Does the Eucharist actually do anything? Are you gaining the forgiveness of your sin in the Eucharist? Is the Eucharist efficacious in what Jesus says.
Are the sacraments my work for God or am I receiving his promise and gifts in baptism, the supper and confession / absolution.
I would think that you would agree that I probably take one position and you take the other – those are huge issue not the “on every last theological issue” type difference.
If those differences are so huge, I cannot understand why you (not you particularly but the plural you of all those opposed) would want to commune with us in the first place.
I go several times a year with old high school buddies to their CCs and they are never offended that I just place the plate down the row and I feel no animosity towards the church for doing communion their way – I just say “well, no communion for me this week.”
But, we could go to Taco Tuesday together anytime and that is fellowship that can last for hours until the bar shuts down – 🙂 – are you in?
There is nothing to keep any church from going off the rails if they want to do so.
That includes Anglican and Lutheran churches.
For conservative Anglicans who choose to be true to Scripture and tradition and faithful to what we’ve been given we have wondrous tools.
We have the church calendar .
We have the catechism.
We have the wondrous Book of Common Prayer.
We hopefully have the heart and calling of pastors to care for the flock.
And Taco Tuesday is the great equalizer. I said the other day I do not commune with my mother in law who is ELCA.
She has been her visiting with us the past week and I took her out shoes shopping last night. She is 93 and she walked me all over. When we were done she took me out for Taco Tuesday and we had great fellowship for a couple of hours, a couple of plates of tacos and a pitcher and a half of margaritas. (now in some evangelical circles that does qualify as the communion elements.)
We had a great time – we are one, we just can’t commune together.
So…at the end of the day we come to this conclusion.
All orthodox Christian sects are going to be inclusive and exclusive to a degree.
Exclusivity is more important to some than others.
We can still have respect for each other even when we can’t commune together.
Jesus will fix all that when he gets back.
We also have those who will be priests with the heart of God for those under their care… like yourself. Another reason to be truly thankful…
I’m thankful for a mentor who has been faithful in all this before me and in front of me…and the man who mentored you, as well.
Apostolic succession is more than bishops… it’s people who, even as we stumble, try to remain faithful and keep faith with those who have gone before us…
No one (well someone can find some) but no one practices closed communion to keep people out – we want all to come to the table, we just want them to know why they are coming, and that they agree with those reasons so they will understand what benefit they gain and then they are in true communion both vertically and horizontally.
This discussion sent me to 1Cor. 11 and I see no instruction to the pastor to examine the communicants – rather it does seem that the pastor should give the warning to those about to participate, to remind them according to what this chapter says…
And I find zero indication that the unlearned bread and the wine turn into flesh and blood … but then I’m at the mercy of the English translation… I guess the translators neglected to insert the word ‘literal’. …?… dunno, tho – do i?
Most important of all – it seems from here – is to remember the price of our redemption … Never forget the cost of this unspeakable treasure
Unlearned bread? say what? This auto correct is demonic!!! ? unleavened bread
God keep all safe and thankful…
Taco Tuesday it is MLD! You can bring your 93yo apostate ELCA mother-in-law too 😉 😉 Your mother in law and me will gang up on you and beat you into submission and force tacos down your throat until you cry Mercy and agree to let us take communion with you. LOL LOL
Em @ 245: unlearned HAHAHA. That’s the stupid bread that flunked out of school! 😉 And Amen to your “Most important of all – it seems from here – is to remember the price of our redemption … Never forget the cost of this unspeakable treasure” 🙂 That after all is the whole point of communion. 🙂 It’s easy to get down in the theological weeds and lost sight of the simplicity. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂
Em, just as I told you the other day no one here believes in transubstaniation, still today no one here believes that the bread turns into flesh or that the wine turns into blood.
“And I find zero indication that the unlearned bread and the wine turn into flesh and blood …”
Neither do Lutherans.
“but then I’m at the mercy of the English translation… I guess the translators neglected to insert the word ‘literal’. …?”
I guess you just disproved the entire Bible.
Chris, you have it wrong again. The purpose of communion is not to remember our redemption ( do you forget and need a once a month reminder? Does grape juice fight Alzheimer’s?).
Jesus stated the purpose – to continually forgive our sin and by his blood to be kept in the new covenant. At least that is what Jesus said.
Chris, my mother in law is not apostate – she is a fine Christian lady… who just hangs with the wrong crowd. But we understand each others theology and this is why we can have a fine, non agitated loving relationship. (I am much closer to her than I am to my own 90 yr old mother)
You on the other hand have your panties in a wad because someone said “let’s talk”. 🙂
MLD @ 250/251: Relax brother, I was joking with you!! 🙂 Didn’t you see the 2 winkies 😉 😉 ? Having been in LCMS, I know how they view the ELCA 🙂 It was a joke brother, nothing more! I obviously (or at least obvious to me anyway) was not suggesting your mother was REALLY apostate! 🙂 Nor to be clear do I think that you think she’s apostate! 🙂 Again, I was just teasing brother – obviously that joke wasn’t well received so I apologize for that… But I’m not sure why when the discussion turned very lighthearted you are wanting to get all back in the weeds again. I ain’t gonna follow you there brother…. Jesus said: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” In agreeing with Em’s statement, I wasn’t saying there aren’t other benefits to communion (though I am not aware of the purpose being stated by Jesus what you say it is), but that remembering Jesus and His sacrifice for us is a big part of it seeing as that’s what Jesus said… Now that’s all I got to say on the matter. Do I still get a taco or not? 🙂 🙂
Guess the translators forgot the word ‘continually’ also. …. ?
that said honest, contrite confession always brings forgiveness
Chris, I was being lighthearted with you to try to relieve your angst in not getting your way by showing how you can have great Christian relationships and still respect the differences.
Em, the continually is part of it. This is why my blood of the new covenant is repeated each week. It goes on and on like the energy bunny.
But let me ask this, if the translators left out the word literally you have trouble taking it literally?
Thee) passage I am the resurrection…then you don’t take that literally. Is it that Jesus is not the resurrection, but he is only a symbol or a representative of the real person who is the resurrection?
254: “relieve your angst in not getting your way” Thank you MLD! I hate not getting my way! 😉 Like I said though I wasn’t really under any illusions from the getgo that I was gonna change your view. 🙂 I know Lutherans well and change is a word they don’t know. (A joke again!) 🙂 And since I’ve been running a ministry to believers around the world of all denominations for over 18 years, I long ago learned to have relationships despite differences 🙂 So I can do the same with you 🙂 It might even surprise you to know I even occasionally still show up at my old LCMS church! 🙂 And despite any concerns I may have had regarding the Lutheran church I was in, it had some good things going for it too – things that I still miss all these years later. So just so you know, I’m not really as “anti-Lutheran” as I may appear 🙂 And of the WELS, LCMS, or ELCA, I’m still more comfortable with the LCMS 🙂 Now, I’ll take 3 tacos please! 😉
And apparently I like smilies a little too much! 🙂 LOL
Oh and make that 6 tacos. I LIKE tacos!
MLD @ 213 & 214 said…..
“are you making the case that the Eucharist and the Passover are the same? Passover was part of the old covenant. One other thing – if you are going to tie it to the Passover, then would you suggest that we only come for communion once a year?”
MLD — all I am saying is that the texts in the gospels know nothing of a Lord’s Supper separate from, and/or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration.
The gospel texts do not support the idea that some new practice, which you call the Lord’s Supper, was created and/or implemented by Jesus at that time.
So, please let me ask you my original question again, where in the text does Jesus institute this new exercise that you call the Lord’s Supper, separate from, or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration?
Jean @ 216…
No need to be shocked Jean, just go read the gospel accounts and then answer the question I originally asked….
Where in the text does Jesus institute this new exercise that you call the Lord’s Supper, separate from, or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration?
I think Michael has somewhat answered your question at #237, but I think it deserves a more fulsome reply.
The first thing that you do is catechesis that continues throughout the life of your parishioners. Secondly, you seek to be faithful in the exercise of the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Thirdly, you have to accept that lay people are capable of obeying the call of conscience and you hope to equip them for the struggles that they face in their individual lives.
There are many places, with small congregations, that can easily become a “club” – sort of “us four and no more”. I think that model is as antithetical to authentic Christianity as the mega-church model.
I have served in two churches, with attendant congregations between 1,000 and 2,500 each Sunday. Both were in metropolitan areas, one in Detroit the other midtown Manhattan. In each, it was the formation of smaller groups (usually centered around service) that allowed for real pastoral care. That said, it is almost impossible in such situations to “know” everyone, much less vet each person who approaches the altar. In NYC there were three daily eucharists. You had people in town on business, visitors, etc., every day. For the midnight eucharist on Christmas Eve numbers swelled to double the norm. In such circumstances you trust in the conscience of those approaching the altar rail as you have indicated “all baptized Christians are welcome”. I understand that you believe in closed communion, but, unless I am wrong, you have not exercised priestly/pastoral ministry or encountered such situations. You may agree or disagree, but it will be in the abstract and not based in actual experience.
I might add that I have seen similar situations among RCC and EO. At some point you have to trust in the conscience of the laity and believe that the sacraments are not merely signs of grace but infuse grace as well.
I hope this helps.
Goose – check with any knowledgeable person and ask if any of what Jesus did that that point in Matt 26 is part of their Passover.
MLD – that doesn’t answer my question.
Maybe Jean will have answer.
Goose, you are making the same case Em was making last night – that the apostles when writing the gospel accounts of the Lord’s Supper should have used the word ‘literally’ when Jesus spoke of bread / body and wine / blood.
You are suggesting that they should have told the story as – “hard stop, change of topic – now we move from Passover to the Lord’s Supper.” They did not write that way.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. I am beginning my 6 hr trek across the desert to South Orange County and will today I will meet my new 2.5 month old grandson who is coming down from Napa CA.
Don’t eat too much — oh heck, life is short, have seconds! 🙂
MLD — all I am saying, at this point, is that a new exercise known as the Lord’s Supper, separate from, and/or in addition to Passover, was not created or instituted by Jesus at that time. It can’t be supported by the gospel texts.
That should be clear to you by now because you are not able to provide an answer to my question.
I will wait to see if Jean can answer the original question for us.
Happy Thanksgiving to you MLD and safe travels!
Before I try to answer your question, let me ask you to clarify something so I understand what you’re asking:
Is it your understanding that the first generation churches and Paul instituted the “Lord’s Supper” as something separate and distinct from Passover, which was not Jesus’ original intent when He declared the New Covenant in His blood?
#255 – may just be a matter of perspective or semantics, MLD…
What you call continually, I call the finished work of Christ – but I think we agree that we are required to confess (our sins) continually. – dunno … ?
I don’t know what taco Tuesday is… But I miss sharing a mess of tacos with my hubby… love tacos, introduced to them by my Texas uncke…. back then we’d drive all the way from Glendale to the Balboa ferry dock where there was a little stand that knew how to make them – taco shell fried and folded first then refried beans, then seasoned ground beef, then tomatoes, then shredded lettuce, then hot sauce, then cheese, then sliced ripe avacado, then real sour cream. Yummm
Jean @ 266,
Respectfully, my answers to your questions @ 266 aren’t needed for you to provide an answer to my original question about the Lord’s Supper, as my question is incredibly simple and stands on its own.
Where in the gospel texts does Jesus institute this new exercise/practice that you call the Lord’s Supper, separate from, or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration?
As I am sure you know, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians predates the writing and dissemination of the Gospels. Chapter 11:23-26 outline what Paul delivered to the Corinthians as it had been delivered to him by those who were eyewitnesses of the event, that is, the disciples. The Gospels, written later, provide the historical narrative for the institution with both Paul and the Gospel of Luke referencing the particular phrase, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. In extra-canonical literature of the first and second century, it is accepted by all Christian communities.
If, in being pedantic, you wish to ignore Paul, the Gospels and the witness of the earliest Christian communities, no amount of discussion is likely to convince you.
Thank you Duane.
You’ve answered the question.
Duane, thanks for your reply.
Unfortunately, you really haven’t answered the question I have posed. I am simply asking whether the gospel texts provide evidence that Jesus instituted a new exercise/practice that you call the Lord’s Supper, separate from, and/or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration.
I am amazed at how difficult it has been to get a simple answer to this question, using chapter and verse from the gospels themselves, especially considering how important this exercise/practice is to so many of you from a doctrinal/theological standpoint.
Contrary to your opinion, the gospels do not provide a historical narrative that speaks to a new exercise/practice known as the Lord’s Supper that is separate from, and/or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration. The context of all three gospel passages is simply that of Passover, as a plain reading of the passages reveal. Suggesting more than that from these passages is simply reading into the texts ideas, concepts, and practices that just aren’t there.
When Luke records Jesus saying “do this in remembrance of Me”, it is simply within the context of Passover, and not some new exercise/practice known as the Lord’s Supper separate from, and/or in addition to, Passover. Paul’s reference point likely would have been the same when mentioning those same words in 1 Cor 11, which we can deal with in the future, if anyone is interested.
For now, maybe Jean, or you, can ponder my original question a bit more and provide us with an answer. Maybe MLD can circle back and take another stab at it too.
Where in the gospel texts does Jesus institute this new exercise/practice that you call the Lord’s Supper, separate from, and/or in addition to, that of the Passover celebration?
I will simply repeat… “If, in being pedantic, you wish to ignore Paul, the Gospels and the witness of the earliest Christian communities, no amount of discussion is likely to convince you.”
Additionally, find me one Passover/Seder text (I assume your Hebrew/Yiddish is good) in which the main narrator is instructed to say the words recorded in St. Paul and in the Gospels and then we can have a discussion.
Goose – you don’t realize how dishonest you are in conducting this conversation. We have all asked you to clarify your question by asking you a question. Your reply is not something that is acceptable in conversation or debate – your reply being “my question does not require clarification.”
It sounds like you are suggesting that the lord’s supper is nothing more than amendment 3b to the Passover. This cannot – be, the Passover ended with the new covenant – so what you would be saying (and I think this is the case) that what ever Jesus did at THAT Passover ended with it.
So is your position that today (1) we should be observing the ‘weekly’ Passover, (2) we should only observe the Eucharist annually when the Passover is observed or (3) we should observe neither?
Note – my original reply still stands – we see clearly in the gospels Jesus establishing something new at that time as we know for fact that no Jewish group has ever incorporated the Eucharist into their Passover.
Goose – why don’t you put us out of our misery and just state your position you wish to establish by your question?
I suspect Goose is a purveyor of the Torah keeper heresy…
Duane @ 274 said….
“Additionally, find me one Passover/Seder text (I assume your Hebrew/Yiddish is good) in which the main narrator is instructed to say the words recorded in St. Paul and in the Gospels and then we can have a discussion.”
Duane, is a Passover/Seder text the best place for us to locate Biblical truth on this issue? I would still be curious as to your take on the 3 gospel texts and how you see it is that they themselves are speaking about this idea of a separate Lord’s Supper. Maybe you could focus on just the texts for us and leave the extra-canonical aside for the time being.
MLD @ 275 said….
“Note – my original reply still stands – we see clearly in the gospels Jesus establishing something new at that time as we know for fact that no Jewish group has ever incorporated the Eucharist into their Passover.”
MLD, here’s why you are struggling. You are starting from the premise that there is clearly a separate Lord’s Supper provided for within the 3 gospel texts and then you are building your case from there. But you are reading too much into the gospel texts that just isn’t there. Try this…. go read the 3 gospel texts, while pretending you know absolutely nothing about Christianity as you read them. If you do this, and you are honest about it, you will never see a separate exercise/practice that you call the Lord’s Supper. You will simply see a Passover celebration/observation.
The reason that no Jewish group has ever incorporated the Eucharist into their Passover, as you suggest, is because they do not see some exercise/practice separate and/or distinct from the Passover celebration presented in the text. I suspect the Jewish group you mention would simply continue to observe the Passover, as that is the context of all 3 passages and their directive.
Michael @ 276 said….
“I suspect Goose is a purveyor of the Torah keeper heresy…”
If, by your statement above, you are suggesting that I am someone who tries to adhere to Torah commands such as loving God with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind and loving my neighbor as myself then I am guilty as charged. I trust you are of the same ilk, which would make you a Torah keeper as well. Welcome aboard!
I have little (no) patience with disingenuous people.
Bottom line…would you define yourself as a Torah observant Christian?
Yes or no?
Goose, so the host of the Passover Seder saying “this is my body broken for you…” and “this is my blood of the new covenant…” and whatever else Jesus spoke in what some of us here call the institution of the Supper, in actuality had been said for generations before (1,500 years) and has been carried on in Jewish households for the next 2,000 yrs of generations?
Again I will ask, why don’t you just state your theology on this?
Circular reasoning is no reasoning at all.