The Diocese of Eastern Oregon Report Supporting Communion of the Unbaptized

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Christendom was waning, the Episcopal Church ratified a new identity in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. This new identity brought us to practice baptismal ministry and made the Eucharist the central part of our Sunday worship. Now, after living this theology for over 30 years, we are faced with the growing practice of Open Table in the Episcopal Church. The two are not unrelated. Perhaps we did not anticipate that we would arrive at the place where we are considering the reversal of the traditional order of Sacraments. Yet, as more and more congregations practice Open Table, we are called to confront the incongruity between practice and traditional theological thinking.

Read it all carefully (Word document). [Please note if you have any trouble go there, then go down to resolution C040 and you will see the document link on the far right (you can get it as a pdf if you prefer)].

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention * TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:00 am

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1. A Senior Priest wrote:

These people are approaching the subject communion like many twenty-somethings approach sex. Just as in the traditional Christian doctrine of marriage sex is seen as the fulfillment and sign of a previously existing liturgically empowered spiritual union between a man and a woman, so communion is the fulfillment and sign of spiritual union with Christ which is first liturgically expressed in baptism. Today, sex is used as part of the dating process to see how well a pair of individuals gets along rather than as the culmination of a marital union. Sex, in effect, has become merely a bonding agent in the dating process. The soi-disant Diocese of Eastern Oregon proudly assert that they are not representative, either theologically or politically, of the part of Oregon in which they live, which makes them a cult, to my way of thinking. [This I read in their self-study when I was head-hunted as a possible nominee for bishop.] They are essentially seeing communion as part of the dating process whereby a possible candidate for membership in their little club gets the privileges of membership while he or she is trying them out. It just shows they have no standards as well as not understanding of how religion works as a system of transformative change.

May 24, 10:40 am | [comment link]
2. Dan Crawford wrote:

Why did I honestly think a quarter of a century ago that becoming an Episcopalian would bring me closer to Christ?

May 24, 12:05 pm | [comment link]
3. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

I can trace the rhetorical trajectory that allowed it to be said (“post-Christian”, and all that) in this document coming from Eastern Oregon, but I just have to question it anyway,
“As Christendom was waning…?”
The 1979 BCP was - suddenly - the answer to waning Christendom?
This makes me appreciate the phrase all the more - as Senior Priest implied - “yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

May 24, 12:39 pm | [comment link]
4. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Not recognizably Christian.  TEC discarded Christian baptism in 1979, and now the Eucharist is going the same way.  Thank goodness I grew up under the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, and have a Christian understanding of the sacraments.

May 24, 1:56 pm | [comment link]
5. Saltmarsh Gal wrote:

I wonder…one of the favorite tactics of the left wing of TEC as it approaches Gen Con is to create a razzle dazzle distraction while slipping something else by..could this be a diversionary tactic?

May 24, 7:48 pm | [comment link]
6. A Senior Priest wrote:

No. It’s not a diversionary tactic. It will pass, and then I’ll get to teach extensively why it’s incorrect and ignorant.

May 24, 9:32 pm | [comment link]
7. Sarah wrote:

My prediction—it will pass the House of Deputies, but not the House of Bishops.

The House of Deputies will be absolutely filled with weeping wailing stories about exclusion and suicide and despair and friends of friends and relatives who would have been well-served by this practice but now are dead.

And that will be the extent of the “reasoned debate about doctrine and tradition.”  Heh.

Or whatever.

I can practically write the “debate” myself.

May 25, 7:48 am | [comment link]
8. A Senior Priest wrote:

My prediction- same-sex unions will pass both, but this won’t since the Bishops will want to avoid having too much change at once.

May 25, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
9. bettcee wrote:

I wonder if opening up the communion table is just a way of closing the path to baptism?
It seems to me that those who have not been baptized and wish to take communion would be delighted to learn the benefits of Christian baptism and to realize that they are welcome to participate in the important rite of Baptism.
Even though some people have not been given the opportunity to be baptized, this should not doom them to never being baptized. It seems to me that the perfect opportunity to offer the benefits of baptism is when an unbaptized person seeks to take communion.
Matthew Chapter 28, Verse 19-20
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

May 26, 4:34 pm | [comment link]

© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

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