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?