Apr 202017
 

One of the criticisms leveled at me by the online discernment ministries is that I’m ecumenical.

Guilty as charged.

This does not mean I believe in the brotherhood of all religions, it means that I believe that all who confess Christian orthodoxy are family.

The next question would be, how do you decide who is orthodox?

For me, (your mileage may vary) the early church defined the boundaries of orthodoxy in the creeds.

The one I confess in my daily prayers is the Apostles Creed.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Amen.

I also affirm the Nicene Creed.

WE BELIEVE in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

Those are the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith…if you can confess them, you’re family.

Granted, like all families, there are some weird relatives…

These creeds are the basis for Christian unity…most of us also have confessions that detail why we fellowship in different buildings.

Anglicans have The 39 Articles, the Reformed have the Westminster Confession and the Three Forms of Unity, Lutherans have the Book of Concord, etc.

All of the above also confess the creeds I posted.

I appreciate the confessions, but the creeds are the hill I’ll die on.

That’s what it means to me to be ecumenical…

 

  236 Responses to “On Being Ecumenical”

  1. Hmmm…I guess that makes me ecumenical too. Well said, Michael!

    Weird Uncle Captain Kevin

  2. Thanks, CK… just wanted to clarify my sin. 🙂

  3. “Guilty as charged”

    We hereby sentence you to years of hard labor on the Phoenix Preacher blog, without possibility of parole or pardon…

  4. Duane…that’s exactly what happened… 🙂

  5. Duane, now that’s funny!!

  6. Michael…I want to share in your chains if this sin and prison.

  7. “Of”, not “if”

  8. I am not ecumenical but I expect most people who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

    We say this following: We know where the Church is but we cannot say where it is not.

  9. Michael,

    How about a “What does this mean?” weekly series, consisting of a Q & A unpacking each line of a creed. If you or one of the creedal folks here would be willing to do so, it might be a nice sharing experience for the non-creedal folks.

  10. Great idea, Jean!

  11. Me to…. i believe what Michael said above

  12. Not a bad sin to be apart of… good company here 😉

  13. I think Jean’s idea is great, too!

  14. Love the Creeds….. a lovely daily affirmation/confession….

  15. For anyone who is not familiar with or may wonder why the Creeds are important or why Michael might have even mentioned them, it’s important to understand three things about their usage:

    1) Those who confess them do not place them above, in opposition to, as an addition to, or as an alternative to, the Scriptures. We confess them as a pure and truthful summation of the Scriptures.

    2) By memorizing them, those who confess them can compare anything else they hear against them and judge whether what they are hearing is biblical. If what they hear doesn’t align with the Creeds, that is an instant alarm that something is off.

    3) by memorizing and confessing them regularly, we have a ready and handy weapon at our disposal to vanquish the darts of the devil when it comes prowling.

  16. The Nicene Creed is a component of morning and evening prayers so it gets recited twice a day over here.

  17. Xenia, I’ve been following the construction of an EO Church right off the I-5 near Rogue River, OR. I pass by it twice a week on my weekly run to L.A. and back.

    They are really making good progress now after a slow start. Looks really good with a lot of intriguing detail and bigger than I thought it was going to be.

  18. Scooter,
    The church of which you speak has an amazing story with a faithful congregation and visionary leader, Father Seraphim. Many donations have been made to the construction and completion of the beautiful structure by people driving by on I-5, seeing it, and literally exiting the freeway and driving up to the site. Several of my students attend the church.

  19. Today I Was discussing the issue of communion with my best friend. He forwarded a link to a hand out he and his wife were given during a visit to a local Lutheran Church where they live in N.C.

    Very clear outline of their position. I appreciated reading it, and at this time, I would personally respect their request for me to refrain from communion if visiting their, or any other, Lutheran Church.

    http://godsoloved.org/should-i-commune/

  20. filbertz, that’s fantastic. It looks a little out of place, however, I think that’s one of the aspects of uniqueness.

  21. I am very much with Xenia when she says;
    “I am not ecumenical but I expect most people who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    Ecumenical is much like the way the word tolerance used to be used. I may accept you as a brother / sister but you are doing it wrong — in fact some of what you do mocks God. Come on, admit it – you all feel that way.

    But we can play nice – but many of us cannot by conviction or confession even do missionary work together.

  22. “Come on, admit it – you all feel that way.”

    Actually, I don’t.

    Humility and history suggest that I might be right, you might be right, Xenia might be right, or more likely, we all have a combination of truth and error.

    I have found the right place for me and that is all I’m going to claim.

  23. Michael,
    Sure you do. If you teach anything as “your way” and don’t teach all options as equal and valid, then your are saying that something is wrong with (or lesser) the other person or their teaching.

  24. But we can play nice – but many of us cannot by conviction or confession even do missionary work together.
    __________________________________________________________________

    But you can spend a huge chunk of your time blogging with all these other varieties of the Christian faith. Hmmm, I do see a bit of a contradiction here. I would imagine if this country ever faces persecution, there will be a lot more ecumenical-ism going on. This is where the rubber hits the road in my opinion and people will be seen more valuable than man made institutions and Jesus will be glorified.

  25. I teach what my best understanding of the text is after consulting lots of other teachers and traditions.
    I don’t have to be dogmatically “Anglican” or “Reformed”…there’s a broadness in Anglicanism that allows for diversity and humility.

  26. Jean, at #16, thank you for sharing the three points re: the creeds. I’ve often wondered about those very things.

  27. Steve, there is no contrdiction – the first part of my comment you quoted was that we can play nice together – so that is what I am doing.

    I also said agreeing with Xenia – “people who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
    But because people are saved does not mean that we can worship together.

    How many here if they went on a long term missionary trip, once we have worked with the village towards salvation are going to join with me in baptizing the whole village unto salvation? How many here will stand with me while I teach these new believer that when they come to the Lord’s Table that they will be consuming the actual body and blood of Jesus for the actual forgiveness of sin?

    If not, wouldn’t you be causing division?

  28. MLD, I have a friend that just visited his girl friend in Scotland. She lives in a small town that has two churches and a pub and everyone knows each other. Her mother plays the organ for both the RCC church in the morning and the Anglican church in the afternoon. In the evening everyone (all 50) of the town residents hang out at the pub. I guess if you live in this kind of town your down the creek without a paddle if your Lutheran. Better worship alone until you can move out of that town.

  29. from where i sit, it is a sad thing to tell a fellow Believer that they are doing “it” wrong, assuming that you, having in a superior wisdom, chosen the group that are doing “it” right are therefore anointed to condemn another’s walk and expression of the Faith… i, for one, tolerate what i see as ignorance or naivete in that approach by any person or group and pray for their achieving more wisdom and growth (even as i pray for my own).

    yes, there are, as Michael noted, ‘uncompromisable’ absolutes
    the creeds are beautiful and when i wrote a short autobiography for my immediate family (several of us old folk have done or are doing so – no one’s life is too dull for such an effort, so think about doing so yourselves – your family, your grandchildren will appreciate it someday**) i ended my effort with the Athanasian Creed and with a couple footnoted caveats said, “if you get this creed, you understand The Faith”
    I couldn’t do better in leaving them an explanation of the Faith that my late husband and i built our lives on

    **unless you are famous and then others will do it for you 🙂

  30. Em, so are you going to join me in my missionary journey to make disciples by baptizing them… the whole village? Or are you going to tell me I am wrong.

  31. I have wondered what I would do if I ever found myself living in an area with no Orthodox Church for a very long distance. I’ve decided that I would:

    1. Visit the Anglicans or Catholics on Sunday mornings, sing with them and make friends, but I would not take Communion.

    2. I would involve myself with whatever charitable work churches might be doing, as long as it’s a Trinitarian church. Again, no Communion.

    3. I would make contact, by email if necessary, with the priest of the closest EO parish and would consider myself to be a member of that parish, even if I was only able to attend quarterly.

    4. Meanwhile, back home I would keep up my morning and evening prayers, keep the fasts and observe the liturgical calendar. On Sunday morning I might watch a live Liturgy on the Internet.

    5. I’d still consider myself to be an Orthodox Christian.

  32. MLD, why would i tell you that you are wrong? – repent and be baptized
    speaking of telling you what to do… you and Xenia should get busy and write your life history for your grandchildren… i think it would/will encourage them in the Faith greatly as time passes for them

  33. Not a bad idea, em.

  34. Em, I am quite pleased in this spirit of ecumenism that you are willing to come with me on mission trip to baptize babies into salvation. Good for you. 🙂

  35. #35- be careful, MLD, God is watching you… never said that to my children – kinda wish that i had… i bet Lutherans do that all the time 🙂

  36. Xenia, i really hope you do write a memoir whether just for your family or to share with all who’ve known you (the two would be a little different and, i suspect, the one directed just to family would be the richer of the two)… there are so many questions that come to mind as we think back on the lives of our parents and grandparents from simple things like when did you live in a certain place to the more complex that seem without answers… it was interesting to read one of my uncles reminiscence and seeing how differently he saw his childhood as compared with the memories that my mother had shared of the same time period
    come to think of it, in the times in which we now find ourselves – such an unsettled world, with an understandable growing hostility toward faith, but sadly lumping The Faith in with all the others – maybe, it should be every Christian’s duty to write a family memoir – that is a memoir for their family – for those of us outside the literary world it is unbelievable easy to publish (less than $10 got me a soft cover 8 x 10 copy of mine) needless to say, that is not the route to take, if you wish to write something for the general public, tho

  37. Xenia,

    I like your 32. What about baptisms, would you come at least watch? My church is a bit strange but we do both infant baptisms and believer baptisms. In fact on Easter morning we had three different modes used. Sprinkling, pouring and immersion. Babies were poured over. Adults were sprinkled and the youth were immersed. The church lets the parents decide whether to dedicate or baptize their infants. Its their choice. Its a bit chaotic but I loved it.

  38. This is one of the better parts of wisdom I have found lately by Thomas Ryan:

    What does it mean to be ecumenical? Colleagues and more years of experience will surely supplement what follows, but these are some of the things which, in my experience, “being ecumenical” means:

    To pray regularly for the unity of the Church: As Christ wills it and when he wills it. As theologian Yves Congar said, “The way through the door of unity is on our knees.” Prayer is important because prayer’s effect is in us. Prayer changes our hearts, and it is our hearts that most of all need to be changed.

    To be rooted in a particular Christian tradition: To know it well, and to be able to present the coherency of that tradition’s response to the Gospel to others. The genuine ecumenists are not at the margin of their church’s life, but at the heart of it. They know what is important in the Christian life, and can recognize those elements in other churches even if they may be differently expressed.

    To take an active part in the careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done for the renewal of one’s own church: Ecumenism is not a specialty within the church, but an expression of every dimension of its life. It helps the church to be more the church and to be faithful to her calling. Dialogue is the meeting of churches. The purpose of dialogue is to help one another renew the churches in order to carry out Christ’s mission for his one Church.

    To be fascinated and curious about that which is different: To risk peeping out of our provincial perspectives and opening ourselves to the bigger picture. Ecumenism is a way of living that dares to think globally and live trustfully with differences in community.

    To be willing to learn: Truth is seldom discovered in isolation but rather through dialogue in diverse community. Each Christian tradition has preserved better than others one or more aspects of the mystery of God’s work in Christ. The work of unity aims at restoring the fullness of our common appreciation of that mystery.

    To cultivate an historical consciousness: We’re on a journey. The church we have is not the church God wants. An ecumenically minded person refuses to worship false gods, and the present expression of the church is not God. Similarly, there is a refusal to make absolute a stage of development which is only the next step on the way to something greater.

    To be ready to celebrate vitality in the Body of Christ wherever it is found: What advances the reign of God in any church helps all churches. The churches are not like competing corporations in the business world, so that the stakes of one rises as the lot of others falls. Any loss of divine truth and life is a loss to Christ and his Church. The only triumph a Christian seeks is that of Jesus and his cross. Our rivalry is not with one another, but with sin.

    To be willing to work together: Ecumenism is an understanding of human society that identifies fear of the “other” as one of the greatest evils we face. The principle given to all the churches for their life together is: Do everything together as far as conscience permits.

    To feel the scandal of our divisions: Unity is for mission. Our primary mission is to announce the good news. The message we joyfully proclaim is that we are reconciled to God and to one another through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But our divided state as we announce it deprives the message of credibility. “Being ecumenical” means feeling a holy unrest at our failure to live consistently with our message, and more interested in proving our “rightness” and the other’s “wrongness” than in seeking together to know what the Spirit is asking of us, and to do it.

    To be open to God’s will for the Church: Our unity in Christ is God’s gift, and the way to give more visible expression to that gift will also be God’s gift. But we will have to empty ourselves of our self-righteousness and let go of our power games in order to let this be God’s work. Our contribution is our willingness to uncover and surrender whatever prevents our being filled with God.

    To appreciate the important role of provisional regulations and church structures in our evolution from alienation to reconciliation: To accept that the only constant is change, and the only refuge is the insecure security of faith. To struggle against the temptation to live in a closed, same, secure system that reduces our level of fear and satisfies our desires for control. God is a verb. And in the dynamism of the provisional, God’s Spirit is at work, endlessly correcting, improving, adjusting, reorienting. Like a pilgrim’s tent, our best efforts today must be recognized as provisional and be ready to give way to better forms tomorrow for advancing our life together.

    To have an appreciation for the hierarchy of truths in Christian doctrine: A belief has greater or lesser consequences in the measure in which it relates to the foundation of the Christian faith. Grace has more importance than sin, the Holy Spirit more than Mary, the mystical aspect of the Church more than its juridical nature, the church’s liturgy more than private devotions, baptism more than penance, the eucharist more than the anointing of the sick. Placing the greater stress on those doctrines in closest relation to the heart of Christian faith enables us to build further agreement on the firm foundation we share.

    To try to understand others as they understand themselves: To avoid any expression, judgement or action that falsifies their condition. Ecumenical honesty means we do not look upon others through the prism of their weakest elements, or over-generalize their positions with statements like, “Protestants say …Anglicans do …Orthodox are …Catholics will…” Rather, our ideals are put next to their ideals, our practices next to their practices, as opposed to our ideals next to their practices.

    To be alert to the presence of God and the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of other Christians and members of other living faiths: The Church of God does not have a mission as much as the mission of God has a Church. The Church is the sign and sacrament of God’s presence in the world, but God’s activity is by no means limited to the Church and its members. The Church serves the advance of the Kingdom, but is not tantamount to it.

    To have a biblical patience: Biblical patience calls for creative waiting, doing now what we can instead of moaning about what church disciplines will not allow us to do. It means being willing to accept or absorb negativity so that the person who is the source of it will eventually go beyond it. Christ suffered for unity. At times so will we. Biblical patience involves staying with it, seeing it through, searching for the healing that comes from understanding and forgiveness. Everyone is in favor of Christian unity. Some are even willing to work for it. But few are willing to suffer for it.

  39. Gosh Michael you nailed it! I am on board with you on this all the way. We certainly have brothers and sisters in some strange places with some strange ideas. I am one of them!

    I suppose that is why I am drawn to this blog, because I have an affinity in my spirit with all who appear here.

    Solid foundations are essential though before I receive anyone into my fellowship as a brother or a sister in Christ.

    That is not to say I don’t befriend lost people who have not as yet opened up to the Gospel message, I just don’t regard them as brothers and sisters in the Lord until they do receive Christ as their own personal Lord and Savior.

    Thanks for taking time to put down your position here, it speaks clearly to the matter.

    Of course our religious spirited ODMers will take umbrage and call you apostate etc…

    I dislike the feeling I get when I come in contact with these folks, their religious spirit actually stinks and is offensive to me. You truly can’t reason with any of them because they have this eye blinding religious spirit that draws like minded people to their blogs and such.

    I think I might share your post with a few of them to get their reaction. NOT! Just kidding, who wants to lift the lid on the cess pool….LOL!

  40. So, to be ecumenical don’t you need to accept the ODMers as equal brothers and sisters in the Lord?

  41. I drive a little Honda Fit. It’s very ecumenical. Great milage.

  42. Ms. ODM,
    Thanks for posting the Kumbaya video. I think that was sung by the praise worship team at Saddleback Church — The Seekers. 😉

  43. “So, to be ecumenical don’t you need to accept the ODMers as equal brothers and sisters in the Lord?”

    To be ecumenical is what I already wrote and what Duane added to well.

    Accepting others as brothers and sisters in Christ doesn’t mean that you affirm all behavior and doctrine, it is a simple recognition that they are part of the kingdom.

  44. Well that is what I have been saying – play nice but keep your distance 😉

  45. #46 MLD

    As someone has said, I’d rather build bridges than walls.

  46. Duane,

    Exactly…

  47. Duane,
    So when it comes to doctrine how do you do that? Actually, what does that mean? Scooter Jones posted a doctrinal statement by Lutherans spelling out the bridge for taking communion with us – to join us, but I still can’t get Calvary Chapel or the SBC to folks to cross that bridge.

    It’s funny, for years I would go to mid week church with my CC buddies and not once would they come to my church. It’s kinda like those government projects— the bridge to nowhere.

  48. MLD

    First we explore the areas in which we agree. The two of us would be a case in point. I would imagine that we are probably in agreement on, maybe, 90%, and the remaining 10% would be adiaphora. It is not to say that we would be “in communion”, but we would have built a considerable bridge even in those essential points…

  49. Duane,
    I don’t know – are people “not in communion” over areas of adiaphora? (I know petty people may, but mature believers such as ourselves?)

    I can, and I think I do “get along” with everyone – and I have said many times I will go to lunch or coffee with anyone – but we can still draw the lines deeply.

    I think me and Xenia would be the perfect example. Other than caring for the poor and needy there is not much we would agree on theologically and we both know that there is no way we could commune together. But I will bet we would have a great time out bowling and having a couple of beers together discussing those differences. 🙂

  50. #51 MLD

    Agreed – Now to the practical question, would you object if I approached the altar rail at your church? For myself, I would certainly allow you to partake if I were the celebrant…

  51. Of course I would object … in love and an attempt to prevent you from calling down condemnation down on yourself.
    This is what I always found fascinating about the White Horse Inn guys. Lutherans and the Reformed would not speak with each other for almost 500 years and these guys came along and did a radio show together for 25 yrs. – in perfect harmony because they recognized their differences – not just the differences but the reason for the differences.

    So the Reformed guys would say to the Lutherans “we would welcome you at our table, but we also recognize that we are not welcomed at yours.”

    So the question is, drum roll please…. is my position divisive in the body?

  52. MLD

    Not divisive, but a good place to start unpacking our theology. We agree on the nature of baptism, the Eucharist, Confession and absolution, authority of Scripture, the nature of the atonement… so what point is so significant so as to keep us separate?

  53. Actually, as long as you confess our confession – nothing.- But then you would be a Lutheran and not an Anglican 😉

  54. Ah, there’s the problem…

  55. Duane,
    I like to ask the question also – is there anyone you would turn away? – other than the obvious person you may have excommunicated

  56. Of course I would object … in love and an attempt to prevent you from calling down condemnation down on yourself.

    _________________________________________________________________

    This is why I am not a Lutheran.

  57. So the Reformed guys would say to the Lutherans “we would welcome you at our table, but we also recognize that we are not welcomed at yours.”
    __________________________________________________________________

    Our theology should be this is the Lord’s table. It doesn’t belong to a particular tradition. Another reason I am not a Lutheran.

  58. Steve,
    “This is why I am not a Lutheran.”

    That’s funny – you are not a Lutheran because of something I say?

    I guess there is another difference we have that keeps me from getting that bridge built that I have been working so hard to accomplish. That difference being that you don’t think a pastor has a role in keeping someone from doing spiritual harm to themselves? or better yet the scriptures say that what the Lutheran pastor is trying to keep you from may bring about physical illness or possible death.

    So your thought is that the pastor should just butt out and mind his own business?

  59. MLD,

    Not my thought at all. The pastor should guard the Lord’s table. My objection is the Lutheran pastor having the special anointing that other pastors from other denominations don’t have. Why would physical illness and death only occur in the Lutheran church with a Lutheran pastor and no where else? If someone is taking the Lord’s supper that shouldn’t, it seems to me no matter where they take it, they will be in harms way. Thats the way I see it.

  60. #57 MLD

    Baptized, Creedal Affirmation – welcomed.

  61. Steve,
    That is a question you should ask your pastor – why is he not concerned about the possible doom (spiritual or physical) of any stranger approaching his table?

    I didn’t say Lutheran only – but I can speak only to what we do and why.

  62. MLD,

    He is concerned. He gives us warnings. If you are baptized and a believer you are welcome but always asks us to examine ourselves as well.

  63. Duane,

    Your quote from Thomas Ryan actually says why a Lutheran and Anglican (or Reformed) should not commune together at the altar:

    “To be rooted in a particular Christian tradition: To know it well, and to be able to present the coherency of that tradition’s response to the Gospel to others. The genuine ecumenists are not at the margin of their church’s life, but at the heart of it. They know what is important in the Christian life, and can recognize those elements in other churches even if they may be differently expressed.”

    At that level of fellowship, either both sides would forfeit their traditions, one side would dominate the other, or they would mix and become a synthesis.

    I’m assuming both parties would otherwise partake in a worthy manner. Still, there is more at stake as Ryan notes.

    It is extremely difficult to hold a tradition together. Only a minute percentage of churches are able to. However, if one believes in his/her tradition, that it honors the Lord, then it is worth preserving.

    Can you see where I’m coming from? Steve also?

  64. I am going to play the evangelical game – why do you need to be baptized to take communion with your folks? Baptism didn’t save you? Aren’t you pretty restrictive not letting non baptized believers at your table? Not very ecumenical. 🙂

    So you are just like the Lutherans – you have restrictions as to who can and who cannot join at the table.

    I see it from the other side. We have a family at church, the wife works in our school – all of the kids raised in our church – but the husband, who comes every week will not commune with us. He is WELS and they are not in communion with the LCMS.

  65. Jean,

    I don’t come from a very strong tradition. Its not that I’m against traditions. I think they can be very valuable. But for me, I’m not going to pit tradition against unity. Unity to me, is far more important than preserving tradition. It similar to having a multi-cultural church. Its sort of an oxi-moron to call a church multi-cultural because you have to give up some of your cultural to call yourself multi-cultural.

  66. Haven’t so-called Christians killed each other in centuries past over doctrinal divides like this?

    It’s sort of turning my stomach too be honest with you.

    MLD’s comment yesterday that those of us who don’t embrace the Lutheran dogma “know” we’re wrong and doing it anyways? That one summary statement and judgment pretty much encapsulated what I thought MLD has wanted to say directly for sometime.

    Talk about burning down the bridge…

  67. #65 Jean

    I agree with you. The discussion we are having is really helpful, I hope, to others. It’s about “unpacking our theological baggage”. It is not “I’m right and you’re wrong”. For me, coming out of both the catholic and evangelical sides of the Anglican tradition, my perspective is very much my own. When I would celebrate the eucharist in the UK, I was part of a national church, which was even another permutation…

  68. Scoots – point to where I said that. I don’t remember saying this with that tone.
    Help a brother out here.

  69. Brothers and sisters in Christ refusing to commune together because of different traditions just doesn’t pass the “smell test” for me. Especially considering this prayer from Jesus:

    “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one,”

    This probably makes me a heretic. It’s a wonder I haven’t dropped dead at the last communion at my evangelical church.

    Sheesh….

  70. Speaking of disunity, it exists everywhere, even within church bodies. It exists within CC. Today, an ODM came out and said point blank that the second largest church body in the world is not even Christian.

    I’ve never heard a leader of my church body say that we’re the only church with Christians in it, or that there are no Christians among other traditions and non-denominations. By contrast, I’ve read much worse things from other church bodies directed at Lutherans.

    Why don’t you ask a Baptist why they won’t, according to a document on the SBC website, accept any baptism that isn’t performed by full immersion? That isn’t even in the Bible. Where does that leave us sprinklers? And I could give other examples of how we are excluded.

  71. MLD, that’s what I thought you wrote. I don’t have the time to dig back through postings. However, if that’s not what you intended, forgive me.

  72. I’m taking a quick break from my studies to chime in here…

    The more I study Anglicanism, the more convinced I am that I was born one and no one bothered to tell me.
    I’m about as Anglican as you can be… even coming in to “real” communion with the official body late in life.
    It’s as natural to me as breathing, if that makes any sense.

    Now I tell you this because I am finding great joy in this process of discovery and know that I know that I have found my home.

    Having said that, I have great joy for MLD and Jean that they have found theirs.

    I find no need to share the Table with them or worship in the same place…I can just rejoice in what God has done for them.

    I feel the same way about Xenia.

    My prayer would be that everyone who reads this site finds the place that God has prepared for them here…

  73. Aren’t you pretty restrictive not letting non baptized believers at your table? Not very ecumenical.
    ________________________________________________________________

    Actually, we subscribe to the sign theory of baptism. If you are not baptized why would we think someone is a believer? Maybe they just became one but we would like to wait for the sign before we allow them to participate.

  74. JoelG – why would you want to be forced to confess that you are consuming the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ if that is not what you believe? That is the confession that we make people affirm.

    Let me ask this to anyone here – do you commune with Roman Catholics at the Roman Catholic Church altar as they re institute the sacrifice? If not, are you not saying they are not Christians?

  75. Michael,
    You point is well taken and it is the reason that those who have differences should not and cannot worship together.

    In the point of the Lord’s Table, all we do is explain our requirements to join in – which are not difficult. The problem is, most outsiders get offended and go away mad and cussing us out.

    We are not restrictive – we are consistent.

  76. I understand MLD. Why does the LCMS choose to make people affirm a mystery that’s beyond our ability to comprehend? Im surprised they don’t make people affirm a literal 6 day creation and Bible innerrancy before they can partake, as well.

    “Do this in rememberance of Me”. So I do and leave the rest to Him.

  77. JoelG – here is the whole enchilada right in that statement.
    “Do this in remembrance of Me”

    Do what? He said he was giving you his actual body and his actual blood – he is saying “consume my actual body and my actual blood in remembrance of me”

    Is it too much to ask people to confess that they are doing what Jesus told them to do?
    Why would you have difficulty confessing this? What does it mean when you refuse to confess this?.

  78. Steve,
    “but we would like to wait for the sign before we allow them to participate.”

    You are following the Lutheran pattern to a T – we just want to talk to and / or instruct people as to what they are joining in on – and we ask them to make a confession of such.

    You do the same, you want to instruct them before baptism – make some sort of confession of their baptism and then you allow them at your table.

    You are as narrow minded as the Lutherans. Take joy 🙂

  79. You are as narrow minded as the Lutherans. Take joy
    ______________________________________________________

    Only difference is you can take communion at our church and I can not at yours. Big difference.

  80. browsing down this busy thread this afternoon – a good one – i think my #36 answer to MLD’s #35 could be misconstrued by either the senile or those who suspect i am (might be), what i meant was the MLD was extrapolating again, declaring that i sanction the redemption of babies thru infant baptism – not true
    “extrapolate” is not the precise term… but…
    oh well… be careful because God does see 🙂

  81. I don’t recall the word “actual” being used by Jesus. Whether they are or aren’t, I don’t know. I just do it with thankfulness. Last time I checked, we are saved by Jesus, not our Communion Theology.

  82. This IS MY Body
    Not this represents my body or this symbolizes my body. The Greek language has perfectly good words that say represent and symbolize.

    I think the IS means IS —- unless you are Bill Clinton – because like Clinton, the Christian who denies or whats to reinterpret the words of Jesus has the case to make – not me.

    But again, that is the confession we ask people to make.

  83. #76 – “Let me ask this to anyone here – do you commune with Roman Catholics at the Roman Catholic Church altar as they re institute the sacrifice? If not, are you not saying they are not Christians?”

    actually, i have been invited to take communion with the R.C.s by the church leadership in one particular church – i was told that i was most definitely a Believer and worthy to participate just as i was then… course that was back in the John Paul II days…

    we do have the instruction to not offend a brother by our liberty in what we eat or drink… maybe there’s an application there somewhere – dunno ? ? ?

  84. #84 MLD

    You’re still stuck with the likes of me. I believe it, confess it, can quote the Book of Concord and love Chemnitz… but I’m not a Lutheran. I am a catholic Christian in the Anglican tradition. Yet, we cannot partake together. I understand the reality of this, but I think the way forward is to continue examining our positions, bringing the best of our tradition to the table for discussion. I’m not talking about minimizing who we are, but moving toward an acceptance of those who come at certain questions from a different perspective with grace and gratitude.

  85. em,
    I am happy you are happy that you communed with the RCC – but by doing so, you were confessing to them that you believe in the re sacrifice of Christ. — not a good thing 😉

  86. Btw MLD, my Lutheran adventure ended when my wife refused to go with me. I was about to join but felt convicted because we should be growing together as a couple. While I was there I was willing to trust the Pastors words, that it was literally Jesus’ Body. At the same time I thought it seemed somewhat cruel to keep folks from the Lord who wouldn’t assent to a particular theology about the bread and wine. I’m not sure He asks that of us now. There’s too many other theologies about the Eucharist than seem perfectly reasonable to make people subscribe to just one.

  87. Duane,
    As we are laying this out on the table – if you are telling me that you confess that Jesus is truly bodily present in the elements, then I think you may be going against your own confession.

    “Truly bodily present in” actually means something and cannot be melded with a spiritual presence or the lifting of our spirit up to Jesus’ spirit etx.

  88. Joel – why do we keep people away from the Lord if they don’t confess a trinitarian God – that seems pretty cruel.
    Can’t you just be close enough without being on the dime. Isn’t the modalism of a TD Jake close enough.

    Serious question – if Jesus said this is my body, why would you doubt it other than some pastor whispered in your ear “not really’? Why do you choose to put your own reason ahead of the actual words of Jesus?

  89. If ecumenical means that we take communion with one another, I’m not particularly ecumenical. If it means I think Xenia, Michael, MLD, Duane, Jean, and myself are all going to heaven, I’m very much ecumenical.

    Actually, as far as the Lord’s supper, you’d be free to take it at my church. I’d refrain at your church. Jean is right though, you wouldn’t likely be allowed membership without believer’s baptism by immersion. (Of course, it is biblical, as that is what the word baptize means).

    But I could get along with all of you, worship together, and learn from you. Like Michael said above, I do rejoice for him in his journey to Anglicanism, because that’s the same way I feel about the SBC. I wish it were something more exotic, but SBC is just my home. I couldn’t imagine being anything else.

  90. “if Jesus said this is my body,”

    Because Jesus is known to use metaphors, and metaphors do not employ words like “represents” or “symbolizes”.

    But we’ve been down that road a million times.

  91. #89 MLD

    In with and under the elements… Anglicans believe in the real presence, they tend not to define it in semi-Thomistic terms, as in the Lutheran Confessions. Melanchthon would have made a very good Anglican… Chemnitz and Cranmer are closely aligned…

  92. Yes, but you seem to want to make “IS” the metaphor

    But when you read the narritive can you tell me what directs you to take this one phrase as metaphor? Nothing previous or after give a clue that we should take it that way.

    When Jesus says that he is the resurrection and the life – since it is metaphor, who is he really?

  93. Ok, agree to disagree.

  94. This thread has been a good teaching tool.

    I like everyone’s input and ideas. I think i would even go on MLDs mission trip.

  95. MLD seems like the kind of guy that would pay for everything if you went on a trip with him 🙂

  96. The Formula is clear – if Chemnitz and Crammer were closely aligned, you had better check early Crammer..
    The in, with and under is nothing more than saying “we don’t know how but the body and blood are all inclusive with the elements.

    ” Melanchthon would have made a very good Anglican…” Well at the end he was pretty much a full blown Calvinist … but that was after he changed his doctrinal position on the supper – not because of it.

  97. But Josh – IS Jesus the resurrection and the life or am I allowed to make a metaphor and say “not really”? 😉

  98. I remember as a child taking communion for the first time…and he said this is my body….i was afraid to bite the wafer…..so i just let it desolve. It hurt my heart. And drinking blood….

  99. Metaphor doesn’t mean “not really”.

  100. Right – it doesn’t mean not really, but using the body / blood example it means I represent or I am a symbol of the resurrection and I represent or I am a symbol of the life – but I am not the real resurrection or life – just a representation.

  101. Dusty says it right – it hurts our emotions and our reason – so we turn away from the actual words and soften Jesus’ position.

  102. Remember when the Prodigal Son changed his mind and wanted to be hired as his fathers slave and the father made him get all of the information correct about him before he was allowed at the table?

    Oh wait….

  103. JoelG – all of that is fine for you and your communion of believers – but don’t be trying to push it into mine and then say we are somehow cruel and unkind. That ends up by being your way of saying you are right and I am wrong – which I prefer people do rather than trying to make the case we are all right or it doesn’t matter.

    Tell me why the Mormon is not welcome at your table (well perhaps he is) – because having it right is not a qualification – as you showed in your prodigal son example.

  104. This was fun. I gotta run. I should have everyone out to my house on the lake – we’ll go out on the boat and talk theology under the 110 degree sun 🙂

  105. “Remember when the Prodigal Son changed his mind and wanted to be hired as his fathers slave and the father made him get all of the information correct about him before he was allowed at the table?”

    The way I remember it is that when the father told the servant to bring the best robe for the prodigal, it was actually just a rain poncho as a symbol of the robe, and the ring wasn’t actually the Father’s signet ring, but only a some twine to symbolize His signet ring.

    After all, the Father and the prodigal couldn’t both wear the actual robe and ring in two separate places at the same time, could they?

  106. MLD,

    Your house isn’t on the lake. 🙂

  107. “I may accept you as a brother / sister but you are doing it wrong — in fact some of what you do mocks God. Come on, admit it – you all feel that way.”

    MLD, that’s what I read last night as I was drifting off into lala land.

    I’m sorry I misrepresented what you actually wrote, stating about how some of us “know” we’re doing it wrong.

    As far as the mocking God part, I’m certain that in my lifetime, even as a believer, I have done and said things, both intentionally and unintentionally, that have mocked God.

    I try as often as I can when my conscious convicts me of such, to acknowledge my sin and to ask for His mercy and grace to forgive me through His atoning blood.

  108. Through Word and Sacrament, I believe the Holy Spirit will reveal who He Is over time and eternity. It should be open to all after hearing the Word, regardless. If a Mormon wants to come to repent and come to Jesus, why not?

  109. Well done scooter jones! Well done

    Amen

  110. Jean I see your point. I hope for the grace to be wrong about some things and just hope to extend that grace to others and hope the Lord does too. I’m for unity and grace under these 2 Creeds. I also think Christs work on the Cross goes a lot further than boxes of traditions and theologies. But I’m nobody. Thanks for interesting discussion.

  111. “After all, the Father and the prodigal couldn’t both wear the actual robe and ring in two separate places at the same time, could they?

    Ouch!! as Jean thrusts a spear to the underbelly of the Calvinist view of the supper.

  112. Good words joel, Amen!

  113. JoelG,
    “If a Mormon wants to come to repent and come to Jesus, why not?”

    The Mormon will tell you that he is already in Jesus. You guys just have a difference of opinion so he should be able to approach like any other who claims the name of Jesus – no sense in getting technical. 😉

  114. MLD

    This is the problem. Let’s bring the best of our traditions to the table. We’re not against you… Some of us are for you… In my view, you are rejecting much that could be of value, simply because it is not stated in the exact language of which you would approve…

  115. Duane, I have not rejected anything. I have only stated and defended my position. Remember on this whole issue is my reply to the multitudes – why can’t I have the Supper at your altar? My sole reply has been constant – “make our confession and you can.
    So what have I rejected?

  116. and I don’t think I said that anyone was against me – so I don’t know how that comes into the conversation. On the other side it is not about being for me.
    Let’s make this simple – can we all agree that if we are not doing the same thing for the same purpose and so that we do not confuse the masses, we shouldn’t be doing these things together. My claim in the supper is that we are not doing the same thing for the same purpose.

    This is what got what would become the LCMS over to America. In simple terms, the king of Prussia determine that he did not like discord so he decreed that the Reformed and the Lutherans worship together. This worked for the Reformed but it was on the verge of blaspheme to the Lutherans. After a while they packed up, jumped on the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria and … oh wait, wrong story. They jumped on 3 ships and crossed the ocean to New Orleans and then traveled up the Mississippi to Perry County MO. I think one ship went down and many died.

    This is how serious the Lutherans take avoiding unionism.

  117. #87- MLD – i’ll bet if you could trace your lineage that far back, you descend from some Pharisee
    but your observation is based on a phony premise…
    often your gotchas do miss the mark, in case you’ve not noticed 🙂

    i did not say that i took communion with them and, for that very reason i did not do so… but i was touched deeply that they felt that the efficacy was not lost simply because i did not see the act in the same way that they did… our position in Christ was/is the qualifier

  118. anyway, they set out on a 3 hour tour … oh, wrong story again.
    707 set sail on 5 ships – These ships were named Copernicus, Johann Georg, Republik, Olbers, and Amalia, the last and smallest, which was lost at sea and never heard of again.602 souls survived the journey.

  119. Thank you Dusty.

    MLD are you saying a Mormon couldnt discern the Word preached at an evangelical Christian church vs. a Mormon church? You’re not giving the Holy Spirit enough credit. 😉

  120. If I were in a frisky mood I would say that the Mormon might discern a more clear Christology in his church than he would in an evangelical church – but I am not so I won’t.

    What I am saying is that if you forbid the Mormon then you too have roped off your table to outsiders and in this case demand a proper Christology and Soteriology.

  121. Until the greater body of Christ, filled with the Spirit, can agree on Christology and Soteriology I will say that calling out to and pointing to the Person of Christ is enough. God isn’t a mathematical equation. He’s 3 Persons. Maybe he will clear up the rest in eternity.

    I hope you’re not texting and driving. 🙂

  122. isn’t there agreement here that one who is not in Christ is to partake of communion? no one!
    but my understanding – and i’d need to go back and make sure that i have it right – is that a Believer in Christ (as He is defined in the creeds mentioned this week) should not take communion if he is at odds with a brother and has not tried to make amends or, worse, has unconfessed known sins that he has not tried to address…
    now i have no doubt that every Sunday there is someone taking communion who has not addressed his own personal walk before doing so… God’s grace must be stretched thin today as these folk are not dropping dead before leaving the building… so…
    why do we not lay out the Truth as best we understand it and then let the Believer take His chances?

    just pondering – just wondering if we’re snagged on a distraction – thinking… thinking…

  123. A Mormon could confess the entire Apostles’ Creed – besides it being a creed which like baptists they frown on – there is nothing they disagree with.

  124. okay time to quit
    for the record: “one who is not in Christ is to partake of communion” … left out a ‘not’ but if you bothered to read my 124 that far, you probably knew that 🙂

    God keep all close this night

  125. Em I think the whole make amends thing is for leaving a gift at the altar. I assess my walk everyday and find agreement with Paul I’m Romans 7. If I kept my ongoing sins keep me from communion I’d never take it. Should actually make ourselves perfect before partaking?

    I think any Mormon would find being saved by by grace through faith in Christ alone offensive. If not I guess their in Christ and the Holy Spirit will guide them the rest of the way.

    Since the creeds are simply what the Word already says, I’m not sure why baptists would frown on the creeds. Josh?

  126. “A Mormon could confess the entire Apostles’ Creed – besides it being a creed which like baptists they frown on – there is nothing they disagree with.”

    _____________________________________________________________________

    Apostles creed: “….I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,

    I believe in Jesus Christ, his ONLY Son, our Lord….”

    If I am not mistaken Mormons believe that Jesus and Lucifer were spiritual brothers. How could a Mormon confess that the Father Almighty has only one son, if they simultaneously believe that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers? Do they believe Lucifer is a brother of a different father?

  127. This conversation is very helpful.

    And at the same time, I wonder how Jesus would respond to it.

    After giving the bread and wine, He said to His disciples, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    Then He prayed, “That they may be one; as thou, Father, are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”

    As I said, the irony. 🙂

    Helpful irony.

  128. Just like the 12, leave it up to us to debate the very thing meant to unify us.

  129. Costco – the only thing I debate is the “what” of what we are doing.
    I say that Jesus gave us his literal blood and body to be consume for the actual forgiveness of our sins – just like he said. The saying of that is no different than denying that we should love one another or that we should be one.

    Do we believe the words or not? You know me over the years – I do not dislike anyone here and I have never challenged anyone who says Jesus is Lord. But I do take exception when folks are purposely disobedient and deny the actual words. As I told someone above – we do that because we would rather trust our own reason over the actual words of God.

  130. Agree Cal, sometimes I think Jesus is up there facepalmimg at all of us. I know He is toward me. I stretcheth His patience. – KJV .

    Jesus’ prayer should give us pause as we draw up boundary lines.

  131. MLD,

    Hehehe.

    You are saying I cannot partake of the bread and cup with you.

    Jesus said “Let them be one.”

    Oh, the irony.

  132. Joel,

    And He rocketh thy world.

  133. Costco – look at it from my point of view. Perhaps you are being divisive by refusing to agree with me. Why do you choose to divide?

  134. I do disagree with you.

    Yet I agree with Jesus.

    He said, “Love one another” and “Be one”.

    Right after the Eucharist!

    You should see things the way Jesus and I see things. 🙂

  135. See, I love the very root of the word “Eucharist.”

    Charis.

    Grace.

    Show it as well as receive it.

    At the Table.

  136. We all *were* one for 1000 years.

  137. The disciples were one right after the communion because they all knew that Jesus was giving them forgiveness in his true body. At my church we believe, teach and confess that very thing and we all walk away as one. The fact that there are outside dissenters who are pissed that we are one are hellbent on dividing us just puzzles me.

  138. Our Table is open to anyone who has had a trinitarian baptism.

    No doctrinal test on the sacraments needed.

  139. Yes, Xenia,

    In God’s eyes, that means we were one for a day. 🙂

  140. Hey MLD.

    C’mon over to my church this weekend and partake of the Lord’s Supper with us.

    Then I’ll fly down to your the following week and partake of the Lord’s Supper with you.

    How about it, brother? 🙂

  141. Michael I think I would follow you if my wife would join me. It seems like I would be leaving her “behind”. I think she will be evangelical until the end. So I guess I will be too and settle for reading you and the Daily Office as much as I can.

  142. Not to be rude but I watched your brother Ben do communion as a toast to Jesus so I don’t think I have a way to receprocate on your trip down.

  143. JoelG,

    There are many “evangelical” Anglican churches…but if you can’t go, you can always join us in spirit.

    You’re a good brother.

  144. If a church requires a certain amount of preparation before a person is permitted to receive Communion, would it be appropriate for a visitor from another tradition to bypass the preparation “just because he’s a believer?”

    We fast from all food and drink (even coffee and water) from midnight until Communion. If, say, someone from another type of church had a big pancake breakfast before church, should s/he take Communion at our church “just because” he says to himself: “These rules of theirs are silly and I am just as much a Christian as they are. I have the right to do as I wish.”

    Also before Communion we recite (or agree to the priest when he recites) a prayer that includes the phrase; ” I believe this is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” So should the pancake-filled visitor say to himself: “That’s a load of hooey. It is most certainly *not* the Body and Blood and anybody. I am a free agent and I can do whatever I want, no matter what superstitious ideas these people have here.”

    When he gets up to the chalice and the priest, who does not know him, asks “Who is your bishop?” what will he say then? “I don’t have a bishop but I am just as good a Christian as you are so I have every right to receive Communion here.”

    When the priest asks “When was your last Confession?” will he answer “I don’t believe in confessing to a priest but here I am anyway, serve me up.”

    Anybody is invited to join us for the Lord’s Supper if they make the same preparations we all made, which includes being baptized or chrismated by us after a period of instruction. This is open to everyone.

    As I have said here before, when I was an evangelical, especially CC, not a Sunday passed that there wasn’t something derogatory said about the Roman Catholics (and by extension, the Orthodox and the Lutherans.) Yet people are offended when we tell them they can’t just take the Eucharist at one of our churches willy-nilly.

  145. Thank you Michael. You’re a good Pastor. 🙂

  146. Michael, So you are like me – roping off the Table. So if a guy from the Salvation Army or a lady Quaker approached your table, you would put up your hand like a traffic cop and shout STOP!!!
    As neither of them baptize.
    So why do we Lutherans take it in the neck for a similar view?

  147. Am I my brother’s keeper?

    Seriously, I think (or hope) you’re lying.

    And I am leading communion this weekend, anyway.

    So c’mon up. Then I’ll join you guys next weekend.

  148. Xenia,

    While I truly respect and even admire the listed preparation you laid out for the Lord’s Supper in your church, show those things to me in the Gospels, in Acts, and in the Epistles….and I’ll do exactly what you said.

  149. MLD,

    I’d have to ask the bishop about that…if up to me , I would serve them.

    I’m not nearly as concerned about what we do at the Table as I am about what God does.

    My guess is that He feeds and forgives even those who don’t know they’re being fed and forgiven.

    Kind of like how I feel about stray cats…

  150. Costco,

    Don’t take the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner, says the Bible. These preparations are all designed to prevent anyone from taking Communion in an unworthy manner. According to the Bible, it could be fatal.

  151. Costco, I agree that you are not your brother’s keeper and I don’t want to brush you by association,
    I have often teased that evangelical communion is nothing more than a toast to Jesus and the communion hymn is ‘for he’s a jolly good fellow.’
    On the ocaission I watched he did not sing Jolly Good Fellow, but he did actually hold up his cup and say this is a toast to Jesus, I almost fell out of my chair.

  152. Xenia,

    So “unworthy manner” means not doing exactly the following. That is quite the interpretation. What is the Strong’s Concordance number on that one? 🙂

    “We fast from all food and drink (even coffee and water) from midnight until Communion. If, say, someone from another type of church had a big pancake breakfast before church, should s/he take Communion at our church “just because” he says to himself: “These rules of theirs are silly and I am just as much a Christian as they are. I have the right to do as I wish.”

    Also before Communion we recite (or agree to the priest when he recites) a prayer that includes the phrase; ” I believe this is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” So should the pancake-filled visitor say to himself: “That’s a load of hooey. It is most certainly *not* the Body and Blood and anybody. I am a free agent and I can do whatever I want, no matter what superstitious ideas these people have here.”

    When he gets up to the chalice and the priest, who does not know him, asks “Who is your bishop?” what will he say then? “I don’t have a bishop but I am just as good a Christian as you are so I have every right to receive Communion here.”

    When the priest asks “When was your last Confession?” will he answer “I don’t believe in confessing to a priest but here I am anyway, serve me up.”

    Anybody is invited to join us for the Lord’s Supper if they make the same preparations we all made, which includes being baptized or chrismated by us after a period of instruction. This is open to everyone.”

    As I have said here before, when I was an evangelical, especially CC, not a Sunday passed that there wasn’t something derogatory said about the Roman Catholics (and by extension, the Orthodox and the Lutherans.) Yet people are offended when we tell them they can’t just take the Eucharist at one of our churches willy-nilly.

  153. MLD,

    If what you say about my brother is true, I believe that would have been a decade or further ago.

    He would have been a teenager.

    I’m shepherding the flock this weekend both from the Word and in Communion.

    Join us and then next weekend I’ll join you.

  154. Costco, is it your desire to take Communion at an Orthodox Church?

    If so, we can get the ball rolling so you can do this. 🙂

  155. Xenia,

    You bet.

    My offer extends not only to MLD…but you as well.

    Pop up here this weekend and take Communion with us.

    Then, I’ll head down there the following weekend and take it with you.

    I’ll book my tickets right now! 🙂

  156. It was less than 2 yrs ago. Others here watched it because I posted it.
    But as I said, what he did was just what I had in my mind anyway – he just brought it to reality.

  157. I’m leading Communion this weekend, MLD.

    Come up and join us.

    Then, I’ll fly down there and join you next weekend.

  158. You cannot take it with us, our priest will not give it to you.

  159. You just invited me to.

    I can take it in a few months instead of next week if your priest prefers.

    You come up here this weekend and take Communion with us.

    Deal? 🙂

  160. I said this much earlier in the day. Xenia are in complete unity in this area of what and why is happening at the altar and for what purpose and for who (or is it whom) _ and we are each excluded from each other’s table and neither of us is offened.
    Others who hold different views contrary to ours get made as wet cats.

  161. I respect the traditions of both Xenia and MLD.

    There are differences we acknowledge and that’s why we worship in different places.

    I have no desire to change their minds…they’ve found their homes.

  162. My whole point to this is Xenia and MLD’s stance on this matter sure is ironic in light of Jesus’ words in John.

  163. So you are interested in converting to Eastern Orthodoxy then, Costco?

  164. Michael,

    I respect them, too.

    I hope we all had a good time.

    I am grateful for their presence here.

  165. So, Jesus wants us to be one.

    Where is your church located on the tree of Schisms? About 30x removed from the original church? Who did the dividing? Not us.

  166. I think we need to delve a bit deeper into what Jesus meant by unity… my guess is that these divisions don’t surprise Him…

  167. Xenia,

    My answer to that is: After you take Communion with us.

  168. So a group that has schismed from a schism from a schism from a schism and will probably schism again wants to talk to the Orthodox about unity.

    Now that’s ironic.

  169. Okay, Okay.

    No more ruffling feathers from me.

    It’s all good.

    It really, truly is. 🙂

  170. Costco, I took Communion at Calvary Chapel for 20 years. I am familiar with it. No need for a repeat but thank you for the invitation.

  171. Anytime, Xenia.

    Truly.

    🙂

  172. actually, some quakers do observe the sacraments.

  173. This is a fascinating thread (thread is too trite a word). I describe myself as a credal Christian; agreement with the historic creeds is all I feel is necessary to be in fellowship (agreement) with other believers–why I am an at-heart Anglican.

    When I was overseas I was invited to join a Baptist church–very tempting because of the community available. All I had to do was read their doctrinal statement (at least 20 points) and signed that I agreed. Once I got past point two, there was not a single doctrine that I could truthfully embrace (not being a free-will, pre-tribulation rapturist, dispensationalist, futurist. So I did not join their community but joined a less-formal fellowship of those who were not welcomed because of doctrinal differences. We called ourselves the 1st Church of the Rebuked Brethren. Some of the richest fellowship I have experienced in life, hanging out with those the establishment church had no interest in. Experiencing exile makes coming home to the true understanding of what church is an especially welcome paradigm.

    Communion is a poignant part of this discussion. I tremble a bit inside when I think of the priest/minister in a church with closed communion. To stand between the Lord’s Table and a believer, being the gatekeeper, so to speak, puts one in a fearful place. When I was an elder we got a letter from a member of the congregation asking us to prevent one of our members from taking communion since she was living with a man outside of marriage. Paul’s exhortation that a “man examine himself” before taking communion shouted at me when we considered this. As an elder group we decided to err on the side of openness–the mystery of what Jesus does in a person’s heart during communion–I would rather not be a hindrance to that work.

    A choice between being imperative in leadership and invitational in human leadership–I will always be open to an invitation, I am naturally resistant to the human imperative.

  174. Our pastor gives the warnings and asks us to examine ourselves. What he doesn’t do is rope off the communion table. Its open. In crude terms kind of like a honor system. He does ask if your not a baptized believer to refrain but he is not going to check your card carrying baptismal certificate to participate. I’m sure if he found out someone was participating that was not a believer, he would have a talk with the person to express his deep concern.

  175. Rick, I understand where you are coming from and again I say that it is our reason that takes over.

    I must ask about the woman living in adultery in your church being welcomed at the table (and I understand this is different from the above conversation) but Paul spoke directly to this when he wrote about the guy sleeping with is dad’s wife. I don’t think Paul was invitational in that area. The excommunication Paul called for was just that – keep that guy away from God’s Body & Blood.

    Also when you say ” We called ourselves the 1st Church of the Rebuked Brethren.” you can look at it from the other side and have the claim made that you guys were actually rebuking fine churches that were willing to accept you, but just not one sided on your terms.;-)

    The person who came and made the request of the elders to protect the Lord’s Table was 100% correct and I also imagine she was trying to protect the erring lady from calling condemnation of herself by still being welcomed there at the rail..

    For your church this may have been an accepted practice – for mine it would be considered a major No No..

  176. Thanks to both Steve and MLD for your comments; as elders several of us did speak with the woman in question, affirming Christ’s love for her and and our care and welcome for her to be in our midst in addition to the confrontation regarding sin. One of the other things that troubled me in this situation is that if we took an inventory of ongoing sin in our congregation, would anyone be able to partake? Apart from Christ’s mercy, obviously no–but we seem to be so at ease confronting certain sins and not others. What if we treated hypocracy and lack of grace and kindness toward others in the same way we culturally treat adultery or other sexual sin. One of the reasons I will no longer hold formal church office is that I simply do not feel qualified to make these kinds of judgments. I am not sure there is an equivalence between this woman’s situation and the man referred to in Corinth–I think the backstories are different and compel me to land on the side of mercy rather than judgment.

    One of the most interesting pieces of the NT narrative is how attractive Jesus was to sinners; it was the religious hypocrites that appear most uncomfortable in His presence. Seems to me that if the church were more like Jesus, we would attract the worst of sinners while maybe being repulsive to the confident religious. I do not claim to have this figured out. MLD it may appear that we hold paradoxical views–I embrace the Hebrew view of paradox that our views are two sides of the same coin. I have no doubt that what you are saying is true–however I am more drawn to both-and rather than either-or. Out of respect for the Cultural Church of all denominations, I am committed to being a suggester rather than an imposer. Better women and men than me have worn the label heretic.

  177. #176 Steve

    In truth, if you’re involved with a church that has more 100-150 people, we are all usually working on what you call an “honor system”. That’s just the reality. Interestingly, I was recently talking to a pastor in a “smaller” mega-church of about 2000 people. I asked him how many marriages he had performed in the last year of people in their 20s and 30s. He said that he had performed a couple dozen of such marriages, I then asked, “How many of the couples were already living together.” “All but two”, was the reply… That is the reality of the situation in which we’re having this discussion.

  178. If pastors told people they couldn’t come to Communion if they were shacking up then maybe they would choose marriage over fornication.

  179. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the First Baptist Church down the street passed out a pamphlet like this before the communion service?:

    We believe that the institution of communion by Jesus is strictly memorial in application and is a mystery.

    We do not believe that the bread is supernaturally transformed into the flesh of Christ. Nor do we believe that the juice/wine is supernaturally transformed into the blood of Christ.

    We believe that those who hold these views are in error and as such are in danger of taking the body and blood of Christ in an unworthy manner.

    If you do not believe what we believe about the Lord’s Supper we strongly urge you in Christian love not to commune with us for your own spiritual well-being. We want you to receive this gift for your benefit, not to your detriment.

  180. #180 Xenia

    I think this is one of the areas where the church needs to be “counter-cultural”…

  181. Scooter, that church might as well put out as statement saying, “actually all of the sayings of Jesus are up for grabs. Come to church at your own risk because you will get no help from us figuring it out.”

  182. MLD, or perhaps the individual can abstain, continue visiting the church for a season where through the process of time the church’s position on the matter is expained via teaching, interaction with the pastor etc.

    Then the individual makes the decision whether or not they agree. If they do, they make the choice to join in. If they do not, then they move on, or remain but abstain from participating.

    Seems simple enough to me.

  183. In my parish, as I have said, one must confess prior to Communion, typically the night before at the Vigil service. Sure, you can lie to the priest and I am sure some do but standing before the icon of Christ and kissing the Cross and the Gospel book before one confesses, it makes one inclined to be truthful. You really feel that God is listening. If one does this every week as most of the people in my parish do, it doesn’t take long, mostly confessions of having a bad attitude. We are asked if we forgive everyone. We connect confession with Communion. We are diagnosed at Vigil and receive the Medicine the next morning. Some here think we should give visitors the Medicine without the diagnosis.

    In a small parish like ours, our priest knows each of us pretty well. We all know each other pretty well. We are all accountable to each other because we love each other. We are not isolated individuals, “just me and Jesus”, we are being saved together. These are the people God has given my husband and me among whom we are working out our salvation. It is an organic whole. It is the inner life of the Church. To expect to dip in one morning as a visitor from a completely different tradition would be inappropriate.

  184. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

    What is the Lutheran view of these words of Jesus? Are we supposed to take Him literally and say our brothers are Jesus? Or can we accept the fact that it’s a mystery and just do it?

    Why not the same with communion?

  185. What I have described does not appeal to most Americans. Many believe their sins are between themselves and God alone and that they are not accountable to anyone. This is why many people favor mega churches where they can remain anonymous along with their sins. This is one of the reasons there is so much immorality among Christians and why are we so surprised it carries over to the pastors? If those fallen pastors we talk about here had a bishop they had to confess to regularly, how many of them would have fallen?

    Now it’s true that this doesn’t always work as we have seen in the Catholic pedophilia scandals but that is the result of their insistence on a celibate priesthood which attracts a certain type of individual.

  186. The other difference that gets neglected here is that in Xenias, MLD’s, and my own tradition,the Eucharist is the center of the service,not the sermon.

    The Lord’s Table is not an occasional add on,but the heart of the worship service.

    If and when we plant a new Anglican church here my sermons will shrink from and hour to 15 minutes.

    and all the church said amen… 🙂

  187. What did the early church do? Visitors and catechumens were told to leave for the 2nd half of the Liturgy, the part that involves the Eucharist. They went off for instruction in the faith.

  188. #188

    Well said, Michael.

  189. Xenia, pedophilia is most likely as pervasive among married men as it unmarried, don’t you think?

    As far as making confession of your sins to your priest, how are you sure he isn’t living with hidden sin in his own life? If he is, by what authority does he effectively have to pronounce your sins as forgiven? His office, stature?

  190. Michael, now 15 minute sermons is something I could go for. Some of you preachers are way too long winded 😉

  191. Imago Dei in Portland Oregon in one evangelical church who’s weekly gathering is centered around the Table. They even use big chunks of bread and real wine.

  192. He has the authority given to him by the Lord Himself. The 20th chapter of the Gospel of St. John makes that clear.

    It doesn’the matter if my priest is a big sinner. I am confessing to God, he is the witness to my confession.

  193. JoelG,

    An evangelical church can do a lot of the same historical practices and I think they should. 🙂

    I want the whole package…Lord knows I need a bishop…

  194. The whole package <<<<<

    That pretty much sums up what I have been trying to say.

  195. Yes it’s an evangelical church that loosely follows the church calendar and incorporates traditional liturgical prayers. This is for the benefit of us pewsitters, not because they are “better” than other evangelical churches.

    This is why unity is good. For the benefit of all believers. I hear Christ in you Michael, Xenia, Jean, MLD, Kevin H., Duane, Dusty, Em, Steve Wright and all the other commenters here. No sense in drawing lines.

  196. I meant to include Josh in there too.

  197. I often spend more time praying and speaking over Communion than I do preaching a sermon from the Bible in a service. More often than not.

  198. This has been an absolutely fascinating discussion. I must admit it is hard not to be grieved by those I consider brothers and sisters in Christ keeping me from such an expression of unity. Too many evangelical churches can take it so very lightly. But, as I would consider you brothers and sisters in Christ, I seek to do my best not to allow that to be a source of division in my heart. I am so very grateful that I can not possibly show more grace and love to others than Christ has to show me on a daily basis.

    One thing that was brought to mind in the discussion of ecumenical, is the talks given by Dr. J. Edwin Orr (his The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening on youtube is highly recommended and encouraging!). There are also a number of his messages on sermonindex.net. It is not only a blessing to hear the accounts of the great revivals and awakenings, but to also hear how they were not limited by denominational barriers. Just the thought of literally every single church in New York City holding prayer meetings at the same time fills my heart with hope and longing to see that same spirit of unity.

    To quote Orr, “Revival is judgement on the church.” And best of all, “What God has done, He will do again.”

  199. I think this has been my all time favorite thread/discussion! I have learned so much. And i love xenia’s explanation of traditions….so beautiful!

  200. Anchored #200,

    It grieves me too. I hate the idea of anyone being kept from the Lord’s Table. Jesus’ Table. A friend of sinners. I get why some traditions do, but it still grieves me.

    Michael said an intriguing thing yesterday:

    “I think we need to delve a bit deeper into what Jesus meant by unity… my guess is that these divisions don’t surprise Him…”

    I am convicted now because I chose to leave the communion of a church who’s youth pastor affirmed gay marriage. Yet he confesses Christ. How do we maintain unity with theologically ultra-liberal Christians?

    Hmmmmm……

  201. This sort of reminds me of the CC pastor who was annoyed upon hearing that if he visited my parish he wouldn’t be allowed to get up and give a teaching.

    The answer is the same as for Communion. If he had undergone all the preparation our priest has, he too can give a homily in an EO parish.

    I think I heard that 100 years ago, most churches practiced closed Communion. That was before the advent of non denominational churches.

  202. One thing that we can all do is pray…

    O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior,
    the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the
    great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away
    all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us
    from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body
    and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith,
    one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all
    of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth
    and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and
    one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Amen.

  203. Duane,

    Amen…what a gift the Book of Common Prayer is…beautiful.

  204. Anchored,
    You like many here completely miss the point. It is you (the plural you – not you in particular) who are the ones being divisive.You will come into our midst and then disagree with what we are doing and why we are doing it and then in a passive aggressive manner demand that we change our practice and accept you and what we would consider a compromise.

    We are in communion with those who walk with us – not those who oppose us. So, if you are not willing to confess what we are doing (consuming the literal body and blood of Jesus) and for the reason we are doing it (because Jesus has promised through his gift of his body and blood he will forgive our sins) where is the communion between us? There is none. But we have not divided with you, we have invited all to make this confession before joining us – but you (the plural you – like ya’ll) refuse to properly join us.

  205. Thank you Duane. That’s a keeper.

    Peace MLD and thank you for your perspective. I will never forget what I leaned in the Lutheran church: the Gospel.

  206. @Martin Luther’s Disciple
    With all due respect, that is an assumption and an incorrect one at that. I did not state my own views on communion, merely remarked that it was hard to not be grieved. And I also stated that I try not to let that be a source of division in my heart. I grew up with the teaching of the elements being a representation, but in later years having looked more closely at Scripture, I can’t view them as purely symbolic anymore. I don’t understand how it works, but somehow that is the blood and body of Christ. My own convictions are leaning more and more to the more orthodox expressions of the faith.

    I guess the problem I have with closed communion, is that it places man in the position to determine what an unworthy manner is. For me personally, the fear of doing so is more than adequate for me to prepare my heart. I personally think that there should be a loving, but strong warning to those outside of that particular congregation. This way the sacredness of communion is maintained, but the judgement is left to God who sees the heart regardless of what external signs a person presents.

    But again, while it may be a struggle in my heart, it isn’t one I’m going to make known or beat people over the head with.

  207. “It places man in the position”
    God has placed that man in that position.

    I’ll bet you have the same problem with that man standing in front of the congregation and announcing I forgive your sins.

  208. “I’ll bet you have the same problem with that man standing in front of the congregation and announcing I forgive your sins.” and all the congregation turned to the person on their left and said, “and I yours….”
    yes, as one of the “ya’all” i do have trouble with it, but i have no problem with those who want to do it, doing it …

  209. @Martin Luther’s Disciple
    Is he announcing his forgiveness of my sin, or is it reassurance that my sins are indeed forgiven, following a time of confession and repentance of said sin to God? If it is assurance, then I have no issues whatsoever and find it comforting and cheering.

    I don’t think it worth arguing the semantics of how the priest/father/pastor ended up presiding over communion. I think it is fair to say that he is still a man. The Holy Spirit gives discernment, but he still does not know the heart like God does. He is still presuming to know what “an unworthy manner” is. Someone could go through fasting, confession and everything else and still have unrepentant sin in their heart that they know is there and undealt with. At the same time, someone could not have thought or known to observe those preparations and still be diligent in dealing with their sin and heart before God.

    Again, while it may serve as an occasional source of grief to me, it isn’t going to make me raise a fuss or toss that church/denomination under the bus. This thread seemed the appropriate venue to discuss it, otherwise it is extremely unlikely that I would ever bring it up, especially as a source of contention.

  210. Anchored,
    First call me MLD it is less formal. When Jesus instituted the office of the ministry in John 20 he gave the pastor the authority to forgive or retain sin.

  211. It is certainly true that the Orthodox practice of confession + Communion doesn’t catch every unrepentant sin but it does offer every sinner the opportunity to repent.

  212. One of my favorite Christian allegories is The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. In the beginning of the story, as the main character, Christian, begins reading the Book, he was weighed down by his Burden. Imagine a very heavy backpack that you carry everywhere and cannot take off.

    When Christian finally comes to the Cross, his Burden was loosed from his shoulders, it fell to the ground and tumbled down hill until it came to the mouth of the Sepulcher, where it fell in and was never seen again.

    I always loved this story, but it never became as personal and moving for me as when I encountered the Divine Service. I enter that Service every week with a burden on my shoulders, which I, in unison with the congregation, confess beneath the cross of Jesus Christ. Then, after a moment of silence, I hear my burden being loosed by my Lord, through the mouth of His servant whom He has called to speak forgiveness to me on His behalf and in His stead during public worship.

    I think you will find in everyone here who goes to a church which has Confessiona and Absolution that it is one of the most important things we do, and something we would never want to do without, should we be forced to ever change churches.

    Someone earlier in this thread made a comment to the effect that there is so much sin going on in the average congregation that only a small percentage could take communion worthily if standards are strict. Well a Lutheran would not see it that way. We would say that NO one comes into the service worthy to take communion. Every one of us is unworthy by our own thoughts, acts and omissions. But, through Confession and Absolution, Christ forgives our sins and sanctifies us, so that he makes us worthy by the sprinkling of His blood.

  213. #211

    Confession is a dialogue with a presupposition of sincerity and honesty on the part of the penitent. The absolution is given in the stead of Christ, by his command, and provides the physical (sacramental) assurance of forgiveness.

    Apart from discernment in the conversation, it is not granting any person some special ability to look into another person’s heart.

  214. Admittedly, a large number of my views are riddled with ignorance. I appreciate the patience that you all display as I delve further into our faith. Granted, I have more questions now, but finding the answers to those questions is a process I relish!

  215. Jean, you may have been referring to my comment–not quite sure you understood me. I believe no one is worthy of taking communion apart from the mercy of Christ. My concern was with how we choose which ongoing sin disqualifies people from the table. It seems that it is only ongoing sexual sin that does so in our church culture–my comment was that there are other ongoing patterns of sin that would be just as disqualifying if we were to be real about the awful nature of all sin and its consequences.

    Seems like the lack of consistency in our human judgment would perhaps mitigate us toward mercy and inclusion rather than exclusion. Let a man examine himself…

  216. Hi Rick,

    I see your concerns. Let’s look at it from a slightly different angle.

    Christ offers forgiveness for any sin (except perhaps that “unforgivable” sin, but let’s not digress). However, if a person rejects forgiveness by clinging to his sin, rather than Christ’s forgiveness, then that is a problem.

    If a pastor became aware that a member of his congregation was clinging to his sin (or in the words of 1 John, “practicing sin”), confronts the member about it, and the member says: “Pastor, I will not repent of this sin; I quite enjoy what I’m doing”, then the pastor should not commune the person. First, communion comes with a warning. Second, Paul warned the Corinthian church about the danger to the body of allowing the “leaven” of unrepentant sin to go unchecked within the body. As a matter the health of the body of Christ, church discipline must be a reality.

    Restricting such a person from communion would be a discipline, which would be less severe, but may lead to excommunication. The goal is always restoration, and in that way discipline may be the highest form of love that such a person may receive. Ultimately, we wish the person to commune with us at the wedding feast of the Lamb on the last day. The destiny of the soul is a grave matter.

  217. It’s not a matter of worthy or unconfessed sin. We all have unconfessed sin. So, here is the difference and I do not understand why people either miss it or just outright refuse to believe Jesus.
    We are unworthy and we are full of sin. That is the purpose for communion – to receive the forgiveness of your sin. If you come to communion and have already disposed of your sin, why do you even go to communion.
    To examine yourself is to check to be sure you are a Christian.

  218. I don’t know who you are responding to MLD or perhaps it is the voice in your head. 🙂

    We have been discussing at least two sacraments, Absolution and Communion. Christ has given us multiple means of grace. Apparently, He loves forgiving us.

    However, it is undeniable that communion is withheld as a matter of church discipline from members who are unrepentant from manifest sin which comes to the attention of the pastor. At least that is how it works in my parish.

  219. Jean,
    I know where the conversation has been going. I was the one who introduced confession / absolution to this conversation.
    I was responding not to Rick but of his question about which of our ongoing sins.
    All my sins are ongoing although I have slowed down and can only do one at a time.
    Along with that I am not capable of determining my own state before God. That’s why I take communion by rote – I believe Jesus and not myself.

  220. Thank you, Jean–that makes sense to me. I think one of the most beautiful parts of the liturgy is the confession of ‘sin I thought, word and deeds that I have done and failed to do’. The confession of sins, in agreement with MLD here, the sins that I am not even aware are sin (the subtle sins of idolatry).

    Can one be a Christian one week and not the next? I do not mean this as a flippant question. A former elder from a past church called me recently and questioned me regarding whether I knew if I was a wheat or a tare. He has known me for a generation; I was a bit taken aback by his questioning. His current church system (one very popular and growing in the evangelical movement) prompts him to ask–he told me I needed the input of my pastor and elders to discern whether I was a wheat or a tare.

    It was a fascinating discussion–my identity as a Christian is given me by Christ–not a cultural expression of the church. I differentiate the cultural expression of church from that of the Church Catholic, to which all Christians belong, have been baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. This is my sense–my identity, by the love, mercy and grace of Christ is wheat–wheat does not become tares. A tare is a tare from the beginning. My identity and only hope is in Jesus’ blood and righteousness, as the great hymn declares.

    There is one mediator between God and man–I trust His affirmation of my salvation through the witness of His Word and His Spirit more than I would trust the affirmation of any man, regardless of position. I have been in leadership and have been around leadership long enough to know that we really ought to be more humble and gracious.

  221. Jean, your comment that Apparently, He loves forgiving us–thank you for that gift. I say Yes, and Amen to the heart of Jesus revealed.

  222. Rick, you wrote:

    “A former elder from a past church called me recently and questioned me regarding whether I knew if I was a wheat or a tare. He has known me for a generation; I was a bit taken aback by his questioning. His current church system (one very popular and growing in the evangelical movement) prompts him to ask–he told me I needed the input of my pastor and elders to discern whether I was a wheat or a tare.”

    I learn more from blogs like PP than anywhere else about the state of the American church. Sometimes what I learn give me joy, but more often it brings mourning and anger. What your former elder asked you is one of the most idiotic things I can imagine. His question could actually be deadly to a Christian soul by sowing hypocricy or despair in a Christian who either boasts in his righteousness before God or who believes that he will never be acceptable to God because of his past or present problems.

    I think that anything that diverts our attention and trust away from the grace of God in Christ for our salvation applied to us by the promclamation of the Word and in the Sacraments, is bad for the soul and the conscience.

    I love what Paul said: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.”

  223. Jean, I had similar thoughts as I listened. I thought about those who wrestle with doubt and fear regarding their salvation and the love of Jesus–what torment they must feel in a system like that. I thought of Jesus telling of the Pharisees placing burdens on others that they would not bear themselves. There is a lot of weirdness out there.

  224. I was once on a short term mission trip that ended up as a failed church plant. The group was very small and the guy whose house we were meeting in went on vacation so we had a week with no meetings. The country has lots od Anglican churches. The leader of the church plant cautioned me regularly not to really fellowship with them. The posture towards them was basically trying to get them to join our group. Well I ended up visiting one church where I knew the youth pastor.
    I wasnt sure what to expect but I had never been to a liturgical church. I was blown away at the similarites. After the service I was invited to have a beer with some of the members (forbidden for me at the time). It was an amazing time of fellowship. I left feeling so ashamed at my stereotyping. That was a major turning point in my life and one of my favorite memories.

  225. MLD @212,
    “First call me MLD it is less formal. When Jesus instituted the office of the ministry in John 20 he gave the pastor the authority to forgive or retain sin.”

    ___________________________________________________________________

    MLD I never read this passage like this before. Maybe your tradition tells you this, but when Jesus appeared to the disciples, are you sure this is just the 12? I find it interesting that Mary Magdeline went and told the disciples about the risen Lord first. I always assumed there were other woman and men in that group she reported too other than the original 12. Where do you see office of pastor in this chapter? Are only pastors charged with forgiving and retaining sins? It seems you are getting out of this verse the office of the pastor which would make these verses basically irrelevant to the common non pastor layman in the church.

  226. Steve,
    I am always glad when my writings have made someone get out of their old rote thinking and think properly. I do this often as I attempt to get people to read other passages in a new light – to get people to read ‘this is my body/ blood’ as this IS my body / blood vs ‘this is NOT my body / blood’ – and to have others understand that perhaps we can read ‘this baptism saves’ as this baptism saves vs this baptism does NOT save. 😉

    But on a more serious note, yes I think in the John Twenty passage that no matter who is in the room, Jesus always turns and speaks to the 12 (11 at this point) – and not the general Christian public. We see this at the Passover where I am sure that the ‘lady disciples’ were there (probably in that chauvinistic role as cooks and servers) but were not a part of the Passover dinner and I am sure not the time after when Jesus institutes His Supper.

    But here is another issue involved with your view – are you suggesting that it is the responsibility of the general Christian population to retain sin in each other? That the general Christian population is to judge each other worthy of unforgiveness?

    I do believe that the 12 are representing the office of the ministry vs others who are to live their lives in vocation. Take what many call the Great Commission in Matthew – (which I think is really what we see here in John – and I see the Matthew passage as the institution of Christian baptism …but I digress) the commission is given to the 11 – the pastors. Otherwise I ask, assuming you are a layman how many disciples have you made by baptizing them and teaching them ALL things.?

    There is an office of the ministry / pastor and we see it here in John Twenty.

    It’s the 2nd Sunday in Easter – He is Risen!

  227. MLD,

    You gave a very good answer but I’m not convinced. I need to do more study. I firmly believe the task of making disciples is the responsibility of all Christians. I’m not saying we should all baptize but in my understanding disciple making is a calling for each and every one of us who call themselves Christians. My church is currently lacking a pastor. I am on the pastoral search committee so that we can find a suitable pastor to lead us. We have had many interviews. With our latest candidate we turned him down because we felt like the layman would need to pick up the slack until he was discipled enough to lead us. This is basically how we have been surviving for awhile now. We need a pastor, and with out one, we need to pick up the slack. We do have visiting pastors but to be honest the bulk of the discipleship in our church is at the layman level. Is this wrong?

  228. Steve, keep looking at it. Remember my point was not that only the pastor could do something or all things – my point was that the pastor standing up front is called by God and by the command of God is authorized to stand and say ‘I forgive your sin.’
    On your search committee I would guess it is your endeavor to find that pastor. When a church calls a pastor, that is the confirmation of God’s call.
    Good luck with the search.

  229. The Power to Remit Sins

    “The releasing key is the power to remit sins, to absolve the sinner, to declare him free from guilt and punishment. This is not a power beside and above the ordinary preaching of the Gospel; absolution is merely a specialized form of Gospel preaching. … Absolution merely applies the message of grace and forgiveness to the individual in a more formal and direct way. Christ says: ‘Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them’ [cit. omit.]. And speaking of the local Christian congregation He says: ‘Whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ [cit. omit.]. If these words mean anything at all, they certainly mean that the Christian congregation, and the minister acting in the name of the congregation, have the power and authority to remit sins and that they may do so not only by telling the sinner: ‘God has forgiven your sins,’ but also by using a more direct and personal fodrmula: ‘In the name of God I’ or ‘we forgive unto you all your sins.’

    In so doing the Church does not act in its own name, but in the name of God, as His spokesman. Neither the Church nor the minister of the congregation does the actual forgiving; only God can do that [cit. omit.]; the Church and the minister merely transmit to the infividual the forgiveness of God; their funtion in this matter is purely instrumental.”

    Eward W. A. Koehler, A Summary of Christian Doctrine

  230. The Office of the Ministry

    “1. The royal priesthood of all Christians. – By faith in Christ all Christians are royal priests before God; [cit. omit.]. Because of this fact they are the real owners and possessors of the Office of the Keys and of all this Office implies. [cit. omit.]. …And whatever a layman does in these things is as valid and certain as if an ordained minister had done it; the official character of the minister does not add virtue and validity to the means of grace.”

    “2. Difference between the personal priesthood of all Christians and the public ministry. – Whenever Christians perform the rights and duties of their royal priesthood, they act as private persons and not as public officials of the Church. As we distinguish between a private citizen and a public official, so must we distinguish between an individual Christian and the called minister of the congregation. What both do may in a given case be exactly the same thing; the one acts as an individual Christian on the basis of his royal priesthood, which may not be curtailed in any manner; the other acts on the basis of the call he received from his fellow-Christians. One acts, under God, in his own name; the other acts, under God, in the name of the congregation which has called him.”

    Eward W. A. Koehler, A Summary of Christian Doctrine

  231. Thanks MLD and Jean! Yes, MLD, the committee’s job is to recommend a candidate to the church counsel. And the church counsel is to recommend the candidate to the congregation. Once the congregation votes affirmative, our job is done and we view God has called this pastor for our congregation. Its a long somewhat tedious process but I think it has a lot of safe guards because of this. We are still an evangelical church so the absolution is not something I’ve experienced. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with that but its just not our practice. I guess you could say its one of our weaknesses. But I think that is pretty typical with most evangelical churches.

  232. Hi Steve,

    I don’t want to pry too much into your process, but one thing I would suggest is that your search committee determine what your congregation believes in, and then ask your candidates for their views, and then place in your call contract the minister’s commitment to teach only what your congregation believes.

    If you don’t have current doctrinal unity, you might think about it. For example, the Creeds are a good starting point. Then, are you monergist or synergist in either justification and/or sanctification? Lastly, what eschatology are you going to teach? The point being, you don’t want any surprises or division, and you don’t want the teaching changing in the future without the agreement of the congregation or the elders at a minimum. Also, I would suggest that the elders be voted on by the congregation.

  233. Hi Jean,

    Yes, the elders are voted on by the congregation. And we do have a confession for pastors and elders that they all agree to. We use this confession which is basically Westminster’s confession of Faith with probably a few tweaks here and there when we are evaluating candidates. If the candidate doesn’t agree with the confession on some point, we will definitely have discussions about that to see weather its workable or not. Members aren’t held to this same confessional standard and not sure if everyone is even aware of it. I’m not an elder or a deacon but I am on the pastor search committee which does have authority in recommending or rejecting a pastoral candidate to the church counsel.

  234. I love the Apostles creed, simple and biblical

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