My next piece on Communion Without Baptism is up at the Cafe. I doubt there wil be many surprises there for those who have been following the current discussions.
Take some time to appreciate Fr. Haller’s sermon for the Feast of St. Irenaeus yesterday.
In other news regarding St. Irenaeus’s day, I came across this text yesterday. It really does deserve a post but I can’t decide if it should be tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, or polemical so I’ll just direct you to it without comment… :-D
To recap briefly, we’ve been discussing Communion Without Baptism quite a bit lately. One of the main engines of debate has been the Anglican Scotist’s attempts to connect CWOB with universal salvation and to argue that if we take our beliefs about the power of God to their logical conclusion the theological reasons for CWOB will become self-evident. It’s an intriguing argument but not one that wins me over–universal salvation being the first major stumbling block.
My main objection to the argument of the Scotist is that it comes in the form of syllogisms. While I do recognize the need for such things and acknowledge their proper place in theological reflection, logical syllogisms in their use of absolutes and extremes tend to wander away from the basic incarnate character of the life of faith. To my mind, they too easily enter the realm of speculation divorced from discipleship.And here, of course, I see one of the classic divisions between the Scholastic and the monastic.
Both Caelius and *Christopher have written great reflections that return the discussion from questions of universality and omnipotence to questions of daily Christian practice. *Christopher’s piece engages the Scotist’s invocation of the Eschaton and makes a distinction between the regular and extraordinary means of grace, paying special attention to their roles in communities of practice. Caelius’s piece touches on a range of issues, moving from an interesting discussion of the Eucharistic meal as a plunder-dividing party to a thoughtful reflection on exclusion and intimacy. If you haven’t already read them, I commend them to you highly.
*Sigh* I was planning to get a lot done tonight. Didn’t happen. I made a silly error on protocols for handling file extensions and ended up reinstalling the OS from scratch… On the upside–I’m trying a new OS. :-D
I started out with this box on Ubuntu. That was working okay. Then, I needed to install some stuff but cleverly forgot/couldn’t locate the root password. At that point I said–hey, I’m a Windows guy from before Windows existed–why use Ubuntu which uses Gnome as a graphical interface (a Mac clone)? Why not try Kubuntu which uses KDE–a Windows emulator? (Especially since the price is the same…) It was okay–I had no major problems but I did notice a performance difference. It was slower…
This is an *old* box I’m working off of.
When I made my goof tonight I said, well, why not round it out with Xubuntu which is designed for more basic systems. So, I spent what was supposed to be productive coding time reinstalling the operating system, retweaking Firefox, and setting up my lampp stack. And in case any one else is trying this, I *heartily* recommend this site and its download. After several days trying to manual compile a stack on my Windows unit I discovered their Windows version and was good to go in under an hour. This is the second time I’ve used it on this box (once with Kubuntu, now once with Xubuntu) and haven’t had a bit of trouble.
In the meantime, however while waiting on downloads/installs/and such I’ve been glancing through Oscar Cullman’s Essays on the Lord’s Supper, John Koenig’s New Testament Hospitality, and Luke Johnson’s Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity.
Much more important than these, though, I got to spend some quality time with M which I’ve been missing a lot recently because of my crazy schedule…
It’s in the hands of bishops and will be released generally on July 7th. Expect a leaked copy sometime this week…
Dr. Deirdre Good from GTS has posted a most thought-provoking work on hospitality. This is, of course, a virtue constantly emphasized in Benedict’s Rule that reminds us that love of neighbor is only realized when enacted–especially as we greet Christ in the person of the stranger. In this reflection, Dr. Good presents the open table as a central practice of Christian hospitality.
I like her reflection–but I’m not ultimately convinced. The Eucharist is not just a meal–it is a ritual meal. Christians believe that there is something categorically different between eating this bread and drinking this wine and eating other bread, drinking other wine. A non-Christian would presumably not agree. As Anglicans we believe that Christ is truly present in this meal in a way not found in others. I’m feeling something around this that I can’t articulate with the precision I’d like yet–but it’s something like this: If we believe that Christ is really present do we take the presence of divinity so lightly? So much so that we do not even warn those who are about to take it into their own bodies? Is this a domestication of divinity–an assumption of safety–that attempts to collapse an encounter with the Wholly Other?
I’ve been looking at my Google click-throughs… It seems that a rite of Benediction is desired for the trial liturgy page by more than a few. I’ll try and get to it before too very long.
(But how’s that for Fruedian slips–when I first typed the title it said “Benedictine” rather than “Benediction”…)
Actually–I have a bit of work to do over there… I need to correct typos that have been found so far, I need to post an adaptation of the Office of the Dead used as a liturgy for Memorial Day, I need to post seasonal variations for the Anglican Lauds & Vespers…
Oy… It won’t get done until ch. 4 gets finished–sorry!
If I ever get to teach an advanced exegesis class on a book of the NT where a knowledge of Greek is presumed (like a PhD-level course), I’ll not use Nestle-Aland/UBS as my base text. Rather, I’ll have them read (at least in part) from an uncial codex–preferably Vaticanus if it’s one of the gospels…
After looking at the comments both here and at the Cafe, I’ve come to the realization that most defenders of CWOB wouldn’t really see that piece as a criticism of the practice. Indeed, some may well be wondering what the one has to do with the other. As far as I’m concerned, that goes to show how different the starting places may be between those who stand for and against CWOB. Annie’s comments below have been helping me get a better sense of where that position is invested. What I will try to do in this post is to sketch a fairly accurate picture of what the supporters of CWOB hold in regard to this specific topic. So, let’s be clear on a few things–I don’t hold this position; my starting place is what I wrote in the Cafe piece–a fairly traditional catholic sacramental mysticism. On the other hand, I also don’t want to caricature this position either–if this is to be a real discussion then building up straw men to tear down completely defeats the purpose. Thus, I’m trying to understand what would motivate a thoughtful Episcopalian to hold CWOB and what theological premises might underlie that–whether consciously or not.
I think that the starting place for the position is (1) a conviction that the church and it’s clergy have no business serving as gate-keepers that keep seekers away from God’s mercy and grace.
Based on this premise, they (2) see an insistence on Baptism as a hindrance keeping a seeker who has been touched by the Spirit in a service from immediately coming forward and partaking in God’s grace through the Sacrament of the Altar.
As they see it, then, (3) an insistence on Baptism is a new form of legalism that keeps people from seeking and finding God.
Update: The main biblical warrant that they use is (4) the notion of the eschatological banquet, most clearly put forth in the middle verses of Isa 25. From there, (5) they point to the feeding miracles of Jesus regarding them [correctly in my book…] as (a) connected to the eschatological banquet and (b) eucharistic in nature. Because Jesus feeds all who come to him without regard for their status, (6) it is concluded that we should do likewise. Thus, (7) if Jesus is the host of our eucharistic feasts then–like him–we should invite all without regard to the table.
Are these seven premises accurate construals of the position held by CWOB supporters?
Okay, I may well have been wrong before–with the announcement of a North American Ugandan bishop it seems like there may well be a coherent plan that the “Global South” bishops are following to get a replacement province in place before September 30th so that on October 1 they can demand a new Anglican entity in North America.
If we are moving towards this new flat-earth (Friedman style) Anglicanism where we can all select the bishops we serve under regardless of continent or diocesan boundaries, ++Schori may have to worry about losing me to an African bishop… I quite liked this sermon which arrived over the wires the other day from ++Ndungane. Imagine, a primate who keeps his proclamation centered on the love of God, is open to modern (responsible) biblical interpretation, AND openly confesses a creedal understanding of who Jesus is…