Author Topic: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"  (Read 97524 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #540 on: September 20, 2014, 02:10:11 PM »
I've made this point in other forums and so I'll make it here....(apologies if someone else has made the point...I haven't had time to read all the posts)

The fundmental error in this discussion is understanding baptism as a requirement or prerequisite for communion, rather than both as fundamental to the rite of Christian initiation itself.  To call baptism a requirement or prerequisite is at best conceptually anachonistic.

When we look to adult baptism as the basic form we recognize that one's first communion is meant to be received with baptism, at the same service on the same day.  We have allowed the exception of infant baptism (made for perfectly valid and good reasons) to skew the fundamental understanding of the fullness of baptism as a rite within the eucharistic assembly.  When the ancients said that they did not give communion to those who were not baptized, it was because they the understood that these things were a unity, not stages in a progressive revelation of teaching or inclusion in the community.

For those in the East the relationship between baptism and eucharist has been maintained through infant communion.  But this topic has been a difficult and rocky one among Lutherans.  UMG moved the ball on this by lifting the ban on infant communion so stridently introduced into the joint ALC/LCA Statement on Communion Practice in 1980.  [It was practically a non-sequiter to the sentence that it followed.]

I am coming to believe that my intellectual support for "communion of all the baptized" needs to find more application in teaching and practice, if for no other reason but to demonstrate and reinforce in the church the connection between the two great sacraments of the church.

Baptism is not meant to lead to Eucharist;  Eucharist is not meant to lead to Baptism. 
They are meant to be of a piece.  They are meant to be received together.


An element that you left out of this, is that the non-baptized were dismissed prior to the Service of the Meal. Holy Communion was a private event for the baptized. Thus, in our liturgies; there is a type of second greeting with the passing of the peace that can be seen as beginning the Meal section. (It could also be seen as ending the Word section where it could be a "good-bye" gesture for those who were leaving. It marks a transition from the public - for all - to the private - for the baptized.) The offering was the presentation of the bread and wine which were not on the table up to this point.
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Dan Fienen

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #541 on: September 20, 2014, 02:27:33 PM »
Is there a better way to express this question of baptism before communion?

I cannot think of a passage in the Bible that demands that people become baptized before they take communion.  But then the institution of Holy Communion comes at the end of the Gospels and is explicitly celebrated only once in the Gospels (unless you assume, and it would be an assumption that every time that Jesus eats with His disciples after His resurrection Holy Communion was a part of the meal).  It is referred to as a common practice among Christians in the book of Acts but their practices were not further described.  However, when someone becomes a Christian in Acts, baptism is a  part of the process when the process is described.  Can anyone think of someone in the book of Acts who becomes a Christian but we know is not baptized?  The one other place in the New Testament where Holy Communion is discussed is 1 Corinthians.  There Paul does not command that Christians be baptized before they can commune.  But baptism was known to them and can reasonably be assumed to have been practiced.  Especially since earlier in the letter when Paul discussed divisions he wrote of in whose name they were baptized as though they all were.

The New Testament assumption seems to be (please show evidence if I'm wrong) that when someone becomes a Christian, baptism is a part of the process.  It is later that the practice of delaying baptism until a lengthy period of instruction or until the deathbed was introduced.  Since baptism is one of the more visible signs of becoming Christian and in our churches it is a good assumption that to be Christian is to be baptized.  So, one way to look at the question would be to restate the question of whether someone should be Christian before taking communion?

The Eucharist is Jesus' meal for His people.  Are their good reasons to give communion to the unconverted, the non-Christian?
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Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #542 on: September 20, 2014, 02:42:32 PM »
Dan, you are correct I think in what you say.  My only additional thought would be something of this nature.  The Ethiopian official says to Philip, here is water what keeps me from being baptized?  Nothing.  Baptism takes place.  If Philip had not disappeared then from further relationship and they had arrived at housing and a table with bread and wine, might he not have asked, here is bread and wine, can we not have the presence of Christ?  And they might well have done so.  Now this is all quite primal in the church's history, the event that happened and the one I contrived....  But I think it could say something of the how faith can move forward from the water and name to the word and supper.   Harvey Mozolak
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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #543 on: September 20, 2014, 02:59:49 PM »
Is there a better way to express this question of baptism before communion?

I cannot think of a passage in the Bible that demands that people become baptized before they take communion.  But then the institution of Holy Communion comes at the end of the Gospels and is explicitly celebrated only once in the Gospels (unless you assume, and it would be an assumption that every time that Jesus eats with His disciples after His resurrection Holy Communion was a part of the meal).  It is referred to as a common practice among Christians in the book of Acts but their practices were not further described.  However, when someone becomes a Christian in Acts, baptism is a  part of the process when the process is described.  Can anyone think of someone in the book of Acts who becomes a Christian but we know is not baptized?  The one other place in the New Testament where Holy Communion is discussed is 1 Corinthians.  There Paul does not command that Christians be baptized before they can commune.  But baptism was known to them and can reasonably be assumed to have been practiced.  Especially since earlier in the letter when Paul discussed divisions he wrote of in whose name they were baptized as though they all were.

The New Testament assumption seems to be (please show evidence if I'm wrong) that when someone becomes a Christian, baptism is a part of the process.  It is later that the practice of delaying baptism until a lengthy period of instruction or until the deathbed was introduced.  Since baptism is one of the more visible signs of becoming Christian and in our churches it is a good assumption that to be Christian is to be baptized.  So, one way to look at the question would be to restate the question of whether someone should be Christian before taking communion?

The Eucharist is Jesus' meal for His people.  Are their good reasons to give communion to the unconverted, the non-Christian?


Something mentioned here is worth an excursus.  Imo, in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17, St. Paul does seem to assume that those addressed in his letter are baptized.  The first issue St. Paul deals with in regards to the divisions within the One Body have to do with the fact that it seems baptism is an assumption, that those who are a part of this "church" are already baptized and that baptism is an incorporation into the risen Christ, who is One Body (thus the scandal of divisive behavior among the Corinthians).  IMO as a result of reflection on the texts, it is a natural flow from baptism, incorporation into the Risen Jesus (ie. His Body) and finally into the deep intimacy of reception of Holy Communion.  But again this is my critical opinion based on my reading of both the New Testament as well as early Christian history.

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #544 on: September 20, 2014, 03:12:24 PM »
So then, if one follows what you say, Jim Krauser, if someone comes without ever intending to be Baptized and of course therefore not being baptized... then he should not partake of the Supper, right?  Or wrong?

Right...  The first reception of the supper takes place with baptism.

Jim Krauser

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #545 on: September 20, 2014, 03:27:40 PM »


The fundmental error in this discussion is understanding baptism as a requirement or prerequisite for communion, rather than both as fundamental to the rite of Christian initiation itself.  To call baptism a requirement or prerequisite is at best conceptually anachonistic.

 


Anachronistic? For a Lutheran to speak of the Sacraments as "fundamental to the rite of Christian initiation" is anachronistic.....


Not on this page at all.....


Lou

I'm not sure what your objection is.

Perhaps my meaning was not clear.  The use of the words "requirement" and "prerequisite" are anachronistic because the early church would never have understood he reception of baptism and eucharist to be separated from each other.  As in the East, the very notion that a baptized Christian is not a communicant is absurd--thus parallel that no communicant is unbaptized.  The language of the "radical hospitality" argument that eucharist can lead to baptism is be absurd because one cannot be separated from the other.

Is not a liturgy of baptism, confirmation (laying on of hands), chrismation, eucharist (the liturgical structure of the Vigil of Easter) appropriately called the rite of Christian intitation--the begininng of new life in Christ? 

Jim Krauser

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #546 on: September 20, 2014, 03:29:45 PM »

An element that you left out of this, is that the non-baptized were dismissed prior to the Service of the Meal. Holy Communion was a private event for the baptized. Thus, in our liturgies; there is a type of second greeting with the passing of the peace that can be seen as beginning the Meal section. (It could also be seen as ending the Word section where it could be a "good-bye" gesture for those who were leaving. It marks a transition from the public - for all - to the private - for the baptized.) The offering was the presentation of the bread and wine which were not on the table up to this point.

Your point is well taken...the unity of baptism and eucharist was clearer when the eucharist was not shared in the "public" portion of the liturgy.  Given that baptism itself was conducted somewhat in camera (being in the nude and all) one might also wonder whether baptism was performed as a public act before the unititiated (save for those about to be baptized).  Who was admitted to the baptistry to watch?
Jim Krauser

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #547 on: September 20, 2014, 07:32:10 PM »


The fundmental error in this discussion is understanding baptism as a requirement or prerequisite for communion, rather than both as fundamental to the rite of Christian initiation itself.  To call baptism a requirement or prerequisite is at best conceptually anachonistic.

 


Anachronistic? For a Lutheran to speak of the Sacraments as "fundamental to the rite of Christian initiation" is anachronistic.....


Not on this page at all.....


Lou

I'm not sure what your objection is.

Perhaps my meaning was not clear.  The use of the words "requirement" and "prerequisite" are anachronistic because the early church would never have understood he reception of baptism and eucharist to be separated from each other.  As in the East, the very notion that a baptized Christian is not a communicant is absurd--thus parallel that no communicant is unbaptized.  The language of the "radical hospitality" argument that eucharist can lead to baptism is be absurd because one cannot be separated from the other.

Is not a liturgy of baptism, confirmation (laying on of hands), chrismation, eucharist (the liturgical structure of the Vigil of Easter) appropriately called the rite of Christian intitation--the begininng of new life in Christ?


"Initiation" has a vexed history. A beginning, for sure, but baptism is also the completion of the "New Life In Christ". One never is any more or less than a "Baptized Christian." "Initiation" in many traditions is the beginning of a lifelong process moving towards some sense of a fulfilled state to be obtained through trial, testing, and tribulation-- a notion of a progressive journey toward the "Holy" which should not be encouraged. Lutherans have generally objected to the notions connected with personal progression in Holiness.


Lou


Steven Tibbetts

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #548 on: September 20, 2014, 09:32:49 PM »

In actual practice, say a neighbor, a Buddhist, comes to church with me because my kid is singing a solo and he or she wants to hear my kid sing.  And say the Eucharist is being celebrated.  Why would my neighbor want to go to Communion? ... 


I'm trying to imagine a ritual act where a visitor attends with the presumption that he will participate to the full extent of those who are "insiders" to the ritual.

Pax, Steven+
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Dan Fienen

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #549 on: September 20, 2014, 10:57:24 PM »
Only if the ritual is being presented as an "experience" like visitors tasting native cuisine.  Or, I've read, some tours of Machu Picchu invite the tourists to take part in Inca religious rituals to experiment with Incan spirituality.  It doesn't really mean anything, just a part of the Machu Picchu experience.  Why not experiment with quaint Christian rituals, ;it's all a part of being cosmopolitanly spiritual.  I've also read that at Native American Pow Wows, many Native Americans resent whites who want to dabble in their ritual dances that actually mean something spiritually to them.  Should we put on shows for the tourists?

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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #550 on: September 21, 2014, 12:26:38 AM »
Only if the ritual is being presented as an "experience" like visitors tasting native cuisine.  Or, I've read, some tours of Machu Picchu invite the tourists to take part in Inca religious rituals to experiment with Incan spirituality.  It doesn't really mean anything, just a part of the Machu Picchu experience.  Why not experiment with quaint Christian rituals, ;it's all a part of being cosmopolitanly spiritual.  I've also read that at Native American Pow Wows, many Native Americans resent whites who want to dabble in their ritual dances that actually mean something spiritually to them.  Should we put on shows for the tourists?


I think that offering to serve "tourists" those wafers would encourage non-participation. :)



"The church Ö had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #551 on: September 21, 2014, 06:27:55 AM »
I do not, Steven, unfortunately have to push my imagination.  Americans are like that.  While touring a old cabin where once slaves lived, the guide or docent indicated to us some sign on a leather string that slaves once had to wear.  It was hung over the bed in the room.  As we tourists were leaving one of the men among the group reached over and lifted the terrible necklace off its nail and put it around his own neck for some reason.  (Of course, he was white.)  I was deeply offended, trying on for size such a horrible thing was presumptuous beyond the level of touching a museum exhibit.... you can wear a crucifix but if Christ's cross were ever found intact, trying it out would be sacrilegious...     Harvey Mozolak


In actual practice, say a neighbor, a Buddhist, comes to church with me because my kid is singing a solo and he or she wants to hear my kid sing.  And say the Eucharist is being celebrated.  Why would my neighbor want to go to Communion? ... 


I'm trying to imagine a ritual act where a visitor attends with the presumption that he will participate to the full extent of those who are "insiders" to the ritual.

Pax, Steven+
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Eileen Smith

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #552 on: September 21, 2014, 08:01:05 AM »

In actual practice, say a neighbor, a Buddhist, comes to church with me because my kid is singing a solo and he or she wants to hear my kid sing.  And say the Eucharist is being celebrated.  Why would my neighbor want to go to Communion? ... 


I'm trying to imagine a ritual act where a visitor attends with the presumption that he will participate to the full extent of those who are "insiders" to the ritual.

Pax, Steven+

I've seen this played out.  A member of a congregation who has a family member raised in the Christian faith, now a Buddhist for many years now.  He attends weddings, funerals, and perhaps one or two other services during the year and does receive communion.   Just the fact that the ELCA is debating this question leads me to believe the sacredness of the Sacrament is, for some (I hope not many) a thing of the past - both clergy and laity alike.  It's more of a dinner where everyone is welcome.

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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #553 on: September 21, 2014, 08:06:27 AM »
Especially when the celebrant urges all to participate, proclaiming, "All are welcome!"

OTOH, what's the big deal if what is being served is, as Rev Stoffregen states, "those wafers"?
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Re: ELCA's "Table and Font: Who is welcome?"
« Reply #554 on: September 22, 2014, 07:16:00 AM »
"Initiation" has a vexed history. A beginning, for sure, but baptism is also the completion of the "New Life In Christ". One never is any more or less than a "Baptized Christian." "Initiation" in many traditions is the beginning of a lifelong process moving towards some sense of a fulfilled state to be obtained through trial, testing, and tribulation-- a notion of a progressive journey toward the "Holy" which should not be encouraged. Lutherans have generally objected to the notions connected with personal progression in Holiness.


Lou

I don't guess I was ever a Lutheran then.  This is not how I was taught, nor how I understood the Book of Concord.  I've read some Lutheran pastors and laity here object to the notion that the new man can cooperate with the Holy Spirit, too, so I suppose there is a strain within Lutheranism that holds to some notion that we are always and forever dead in sin, even after we are alive in Christ, but that's not how I ever understood simul justus et peccator.  I think the Formula is clear on this point -- we are not only expected to bear fruit, but in fact, we are able to exercise our will to do so.

I would agree that Lutherans always return to their baptism in times when they are accused.  We do the same.  So I don't object to saying "we are never more or less than a baptized Christian." But I do think that one can minimalize baptism to the point of meaninglessness.  What does it mean to be "never more or less than a baptized Christian" if one also believes one must partake of the Eucharist, as Lutherans do?  Which is why I find Pastor Krauser's words imminently on point.  It seems to me that viewing the Eucharist as somehow separate from baptism is ripping apart that which our Lord would have us maintain together.  The Large Catechism certainly seems to take the latter view:  "On this account it is indeed called a food of souls, which nourishes and strengthens the new man. For by Baptism we are first born anew; but (as we said before) there still remains, besides, the old vicious nature of flesh and blood in man, and there are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes also stumble."  This seems to suggest we need more than baptism in order to progress/move forward/exist/persist (pick the term you like best) in the Christian life.
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