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Source: (consider it) Thread: "If you love the Lord Jesus"
Nenya
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# 16427

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Last Sunday in the communion service the invitation to take communion was extended to "anyone who would like to take it and who loves the Lord Jesus." I wondered then, and am still wondering, what if you don't? If someone at the gathering is not a person of faith but is still at that gathering, for whatever reason, should he or she be excluded? I know there's a verse about not taking the bread and wine in an unworthy manner. What does that mean?

There was a time when I would have said communion is only for believers, but I am changing my thinking about a lot of things and now I'm not so sure. What do other Shipmates think?

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Ad Orientem
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Of course, I would argue that only those who have been fully initiated into the Church (that is, those who have been baptised and chrismated) can receive Holy Communion. But then I say that as an Orthodox and indeed that is what we practice.
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LeRoc

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You'd be welcome to partake in my church (excluding isn't really our thing), but I'd also ask myself: why would you want to?

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Pomona
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I was under the impression that open/closed communion was a Dead Horse topic. I don't say this to junior host, genuinely asking if this has changed.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Nenya:
Last Sunday in the communion service the invitation to take communion was extended to "anyone who would like to take it and who loves the Lord Jesus."

I'd have spent the rest of the service agonising over whether the speaker and I meant the same thing by the word "love".

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Cottontail

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A few years ago, I had just preached on God's unconditional forgiveness when I came to that part of the communion service. I was about to announce that the Table was open to "all who love the Lord", when I realised that I was just about to set a condition of my own - my own little fence around the table. So on the spot I adjusted it to "This Table is open to all whom the Lord loves", i.e., everyone, no preconditions. I still use it.

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"I don't think you ought to read so much theology," said Lord Peter. "It has a brutalizing influence."

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Sipech
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quote:
Originally posted by Nenya:
Last Sunday in the communion service the invitation to take communion was extended to "anyone who would like to take it and who loves the Lord Jesus." I wondered then, and am still wondering, what if you don't? If someone at the gathering is not a person of faith but is still at that gathering, for whatever reason, should he or she be excluded? I know there's a verse about not taking the bread and wine in an unworthy manner. What does that mean?

There was a time when I would have said communion is only for believers, but I am changing my thinking about a lot of things and now I'm not so sure. What do other Shipmates think?

That's exactly how it is phrased at my church. The gist of it is that it's up the individual's own conscience. If they want to, they are welcome. Sometimes, it might be supplemented with a reference to Matt 5:24 about leaving your offering and saying that if you have a quibble with someone else, then it may not be wise.

Yet since communion is a symbolic act by which we demonstrate our unity, I find the idea of turning people away abhorrent.

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Eutychus
From the edge
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hosting/

quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
I was under the impression that open/closed communion was a Dead Horse topic. I don't say this to junior host, genuinely asking if this has changed.

Yes it is, and thence goes this thread.

The best way not to junior host is not to junior host. If you have questions about what topics go where, please raise them in the Styx.

/hosting

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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The Phantom Flan Flinger
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I blogged about this very topic a while ago...

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http://www.faith-hope-and-confusion.com/

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Ad Orientem
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The practice of the RC and Orthodox lies more in its ecclesiology (as most of these things do) than anything else, including the verse you cite in your blog piece. Actually, that verse says nothing of membership, so I would agree that the Apostle is referring to each person searching their conscience (and for that we have confession).
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Albertus
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I don't really see the problem in the OP. I would have thought that with those words of invitation, anyone who wants to receive could, unless they were being especially- and I would say unneccessarily- scrupulous about the meaning of 'love the Lord Jesus'. It goes with that, of course, that anyone who for any reason does not wish to receive should not be placed under any pressure to do so.
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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
The practice of the RC and Orthodox lies more in its ecclesiology (as most of these things do) than anything else, including the verse you cite in your blog piece.

Isn't it also their theology regarding the Eucharist? Lutherans in the US do not hold themselves to be the only church but many have closed communion because they wish to ensure that only those who share their beliefs on what happens during the Eucharist partake.

I'm not aware of the RCC requiring people to have been confirmed before taking Communion. I grew up in a heavily Catholic area and most people had their first Holy Communion (often followed by parties that put most weddings to shame) much earlier than Confirmation.

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Latchkey Kid
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quote:
Originally posted by Cottontail:
A few years ago, I had just preached on God's unconditional forgiveness when I came to that part of the communion service. I was about to announce that the Table was open to "all who love the Lord", when I realised that I was just about to set a condition of my own - my own little fence around the table. So on the spot I adjusted it to "This Table is open to all whom the Lord loves", i.e., everyone, no preconditions. I still use it.

Open communion is what I/we share at our house church.

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'You must never give way for an answer. An answer is always the stretch of road that's behind you. Only a question can point the way forward.'
Mika; in Hello? Is Anybody There?, Jostein Gaardner

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opaWim
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quote:
Originally posted by Nenya:
There was a time when I would have said communion is only for believers, but I am changing my thinking about a lot of things and now I'm not so sure. What do other Shipmates think?

In my view Communion is meant for anyone who wants to belong to (the Body of) Jesus Christ.

There are valid arguments for and against restricting Communion, hence presumably why this is in Dead Horses, but for me the arguments pro do not outweigh the arguments contra anymore.
If people are helped on their journey to/with Jesus Christ by receiving Communion, that's good enough for me, and I'm convinced it's good enough for God too.
And that the powers that be in my church, the RCC, decree otherwise is a problem I do not lose any sleep over anymore.
There will always be people who receive Communion and shouldn't. Restrictions do not prevent that. But restrictions might prevent people who would benefit from receiving Communion. And that to me would be the greater evil.

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It's the Thirties all over again, possibly even worse.

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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:
I'm not aware of the RCC requiring people to have been confirmed before taking Communion. I grew up in a heavily Catholic area and most people had their first Holy Communion (often followed by parties that put most weddings to shame) much earlier than Confirmation.

That's because that archreformer Pius X (at least I think it was him or Leo XIII) changed the ancient practice. The sacraments of Christian initiation always went thus: baptism, confirmation, holy communion. Somewhere along the line (in the West at least) confirmation became linked to the "age of reason" (whatever that is) but holy communion wasn't. So, Pius X (or Leo or whatever) changed the order. Another one of those innovations of the worst kind founded in the ultramontanism of Roman bishops.
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opaWim
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It was pope Pius X, canonized, by pope Pius XII, on 29 May 1954.

Remarkably this "archreformer" is also the hero of the arch-traditionalists of the FSSPX [Killing me]

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It's the Thirties all over again, possibly even worse.

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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by opaWim:
It was pope Pius X, canonized, by pope Pius XII, on 29 May 1954.

Remarkably this "archreformer" is also the hero of the arch-traditionalists of the FSSPX [Killing me]

Yes, I find it most ironic too, but an archreformer he was. Look what he did to the Psalter also.
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Baptist Trainfan
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The invitation to "all who love the Lord Jesus" is commonly used in Baptist churches; but it may raise a question in the mind of the hearer as to what this might mean (or if their love is "sufficient" to find acceptance).

We often use the first two of these invitations (taken from the Baptist Manual "Gathering for Worship", but not copied here for copyright reasons). I don't know who originally wrote them.

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opaWim
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
We often use the first two of these invitations

Thank you. You just brightened my day.

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It's the Thirties all over again, possibly even worse.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Thank you. Bearing in mind that (like most Baptists) we serve people in their seats for Communion, and use wee cuppies for the wine, we also say something along the lines of, "Please eat the bread as you receive it, as a mark of your personal faith in Christ; but please wait until all have received the wine, and we will then drink together as a symbol of unity with his Church. If you prefer not to eat or drink, simply allow the plate and the cups to pass you by".

[ 21. August 2014, 14:31: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Lyda*Rose

Ship's broken porthole
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Our vicar always says at the beginning of the Sunday Eucharist service, "Wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are welcome at the Lord's table". She often adds, "If you do not wish to receive Communion, you may come up for a blessing if you prefer".

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"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by opaWim:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
We often use the first two of these invitations

Thank you. You just brightened my day.
Me too - I like those.

We have an open table but words About loving Jesus is not our style.

Indeed, i don't always love Jesus all that much. sometimes |i wish he'd go away - and i think that is a fairly common experience on the Christian 'walk'.

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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opaWim
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[QUOTE]Indeed, i don't always love Jesus all that much. sometimes |i wish he'd go away - and i think that is a fairly common experience on the Christian 'walk'.

Isn't that normal in any serious relationship?
And of course He asks/suggests quite a lot, doesn't he?
Quite often I don't feel really willing and/or up to it. The trick, I guess, is to allow yourself to be loved and do what you are able to do. Not to let yourself be paralyzed by your inability to live up to an unattainable standard that is probably of your own making.

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It's the Thirties all over again, possibly even worse.

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Steve Langton
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I must admit I'd always understood "All who love the Lord Jesus" or similar words simply as a statement of an open table - that is, if you're of another denomination or church, don't worry, you can still share with us. I never really thought it should be given the kind of deep analysis it's had in this thread....
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Gamaliel
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That's the Ship for you, I'm afraid, Steve.

[Biased]

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Paul.
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I started going back to church about a year ago and they - a baptist one - use this formula. I'm extremely glad they do because it allows me to partake in clear conscience. I would never try to take part somewhere where I know the table is "closed".

Even so there have been times when I've wondered if they really know what I believe, or how much I sometimes doubt, whether I'd still be welcome. But it's meaningful to me so I go ahead.

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Margaret

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Another Baptist one I heard in my mother-in-law's church and liked very much - he invited us to receive communion "if you're serious about God", which gets round the problem of worrying whether you feel you love him very much at that particular moment.
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Nenya:
Last Sunday in the communion service the invitation to take communion was extended to "anyone who would like to take it and who loves the Lord Jesus." I wondered then, and am still wondering, what if you don't? If someone at the gathering is not a person of faith but is still at that gathering, for whatever reason, should he or she be excluded? I know there's a verse about not taking the bread and wine in an unworthy manner. What does that mean?

Methodist ministers sometimes use a formula of this type to invite people to Communion. It's always presented as a very inclusive, promiscuous invitation. After all, it could include people from a number of different religions, and theoretically even 'Atheists for Jesus' types!

Moreover, by using non-alcoholic Communion wine (recovering) alcoholics, teetotalers and Muslims can participate - although those who believe 'grape juice' to be inauthentic or disrespectful, etc., might feel excluded - as would anyone with a very High view of Communion/the Eucharist. An American Catholic once told me he'd never take Communion in a Methodist Church. Telling him that he'd be just as welcome as a Muslim or an atheist probably wouldn't change his mind!

It's interesting that secularisation has enabled religious symbols, rituals and even particular theological ideas to be 'appropriated' by people who otherwise reject church authority and orthodox church teachings. The clergy must be ambivalent at best about this, but the whole concept of the Open Table seems to encourage it, because everyone who participates in such a context might have quite different, and maybe totally bizarre, ideas about what Communion 'means'.

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
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Our (Methodist) Minister simply says 'all are welcome'. I think Jesus would say the same.

[Smile]

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Albertus
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Didn't Wesley famously say something about having a very open table because he believed that the eucharist could be a 'converting ordinance'? Not, even now, the CofE/CinW approach but one I like very much.
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Baptist Trainfan
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He did: this article seems to be an interesting comment on the phrase (I have no idea who the author is, except as referred to in said article).
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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
Didn't Wesley famously say something about having a very open table because he believed that the eucharist could be a 'converting ordinance'? Not, even now, the CofE/CinW approach but one I like very much.

Holy Communion, I would have thought, is for believers only, however one wishes to interpret "believers". If there is such a thing as a "converting ordinance" then surely it's baptism? I know I have a high view of the sacraments but surely those with a lower view have an order to them also?
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la vie en rouge
Parisienne
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Wesley's precedent was the dinner with the disciples from the Emmaus road, who recognised Jesus at the moment of the breaking of bread.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Holy Communion, I would have thought, is for believers only, however one wishes to interpret "believers".

Which is why the Strict Baptists (and Exclusive Brethren) have "closed tables" - and why, in times past, the Church of Scotland so rigorously "fenced the tables" at their pre-Communion gatherings that only a small percentage of people actually "communed".

quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
If there is such a thing as a "converting ordinance" then surely it's baptism?

I can see where you're coming from. But baptism can't be a "converting ordinance" if you believe - as Wesley did - that conversion implies a conscious decision by the "convertee" to turn to Christ. Don't forget that Wesley himself came from an Anglican background and had been baptised as a baby, also that Methodists to this day practice Infant Baptism.

[ 22. August 2014, 09:18: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Albertus
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Thanks for the link, BT- a very interesting article. ISTM that very rarely will anyone, at an ordinary clebration of the Eucharist, present themself for communion without having at least some mustard seed of faith and, in such a case, a desire for more of it.
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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
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Not in my experience--I've seen plenty of nonbelievers watch the people they've come with stand up to go to communion and they think they ought to go too, because that's what everybody else is doing. Others are embarrassed to be left the only ones in their seats. Some may even think they are showing solidarity with a grandchild who's being confirmed that day, or whatever.

You really have to ask them to know why they are going up.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Nenya
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Thank you for all your interesting and thoughtful replies. I apologise for putting this thread in the wrong place.

I'm reassured that my current wondering whether we should actually put any conditions on taking communion does chime in with what some others think. Cottontail, Lyda*Rose, Boogie - I'd like to come to your churches but I think you're all rather too far away. [Biased]

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They told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.

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JoannaP
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Not in my experience--I've seen plenty of nonbelievers watch the people they've come with stand up to go to communion and they think they ought to go too, because that's what everybody else is doing. Others are embarrassed to be left the only ones in their seats. Some may even think they are showing solidarity with a grandchild who's being confirmed that day, or whatever.

You really have to ask them to know why they are going up.

Indeed my mother (who is confirmed but does not describe herself as Christian) was quite shocked when I told her that I would prefer it if she did not receive communion at my wedding.

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"Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow." R. H. Tawney (quoted by Isaiah Berlin)

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
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And that right there is what's wrong with closed communion.
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LeRoc

Famous Dutch pirate
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I don't know your mother, but I can understand her so well.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Ad Orientem
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Yeah, whatever. Because there should be no prerequisites ever for anything, innit, especially concerning matters of faith...even if you have no faith.
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opaWim
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Yeah, whatever. Because there should be no prerequisites ever for anything, innit, especially concerning matters of faith...even if you have no faith.

This is not so much about prerequisites as it is about plausible excuses to be exclusivistic.

[ 23. August 2014, 07:17: Message edited by: opaWim ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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I think it is also something to do about deciding who draws boundaries and makes assessments on matters of personal faith. Does the Church lay down the rules about who can be admitted to Communion (those who are baptised, who are members in good standing etc.) Or is this left to individual conscience ("Let a person examine themself")?

Perhaps the churches that do not offer an open table should ask themselves if their criteria are too simplistic: a baptised member may have a totally nominal faith or be living in deep sin while an excluded person may be a faithful but hesitant disciple. And perhaps the churches that offer an open invitation should stress the solemn nature of the sacrament and ask people to examine their hearts before partaking.

But even this isn't ideal. And, thinking of Jesus' attitude to people generally (not to mention ecclesiastical legalism!), I think I'd prefer to "invite" rather than "hinder".

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St Deird
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Holy Communion, I would have thought, is for believers only, however one wishes to interpret "believers".

Well, there's the rub. How does one define "believers"? I'm not sure there's a clear dividing line where you go from no to yes.

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They're not hobbies; they're a robust post-apocalyptic skill-set.

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Raptor Eye
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Who is the judge? Closed communion means turning people away from the table of Christ on the judgement of a human being, albeit one who supposedly is listening to God. In the same way as he or she cannot be judged by those coming to the table as to worthiness to minister, so he or she cannot judge who is worthy and who is not worthy to receive it.

I would prefer the words 'if you want to follow the Lord Jesus' to 'if you love' him, as it ties in with baptism and the first steps of faith as well as remaining appropriate for those mature in faith.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by St Deird:
quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Holy Communion, I would have thought, is for believers only, however one wishes to interpret "believers".

Well, there's the rub. How does one define "believers"? I'm not sure there's a clear dividing line where you go from no to yes.
Membership, for a start. But as I said earlier, membership is largely defined by ecclesiology.
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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
Who is the judge? Closed communion means turning people away from the table of Christ on the judgement of a human being, albeit one who supposedly is listening to God. In the same way as he or she cannot be judged by those coming to the table as to worthiness to minister, so he or she cannot judge who is worthy and who is not worthy to receive it.

I would prefer the words 'if you want to follow the Lord Jesus' to 'if you love' him, as it ties in with baptism and the first steps of faith as well as remaining appropriate for those mature in faith.

As I just said, I think ecclesiology largely defines the practice.
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orfeo

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I've always seen communion as being for believers, but at the same time I've never thought it was a good idea to subject people to some kind of on-the-spot cross-examination as to whether or not they should be taking communion, to ascertain their belief.

My church always said something along the lines of "if you're from another church, you're welcome". If someone believed it was appropriate for themselves to have communion, we pretty much trusted their judgement.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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LeRoc

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Although I theologically don't agree with it and wouldn't want to be a member of a church with closed communion, at least in a way I can respect that every club can have some activities which are 'members only'.

But earlier on this thread we were talking about a wedding service. In such a service, it's quite normal that people are invited who are not members of the church. Why invite them and then have a section that is 'members only'?

It seems incredibly rude, for starters.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by JoannaP:
...Indeed my mother (who is confirmed but does not describe herself as Christian) was quite shocked when I told her that I would prefer it if she did not receive communion at my wedding.

Understandably so. Indeed I think that if I had been her I might have told you where to stick your bloody wedding. But perhaps your mother is a better person than I am- for all that you did not think that she should receive the Sacrament alongside you.
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