Monday, January 20, 2014

I don't

Four Reasons non-Roman Catholics ought not to take communion in a Roman Catholic Church even when it is offered:

1. The Roman Catholic Church has a closed table and does not invite non-Romans to partake except in extreme and carefully defined special circumstances. Going forward to receive despite this explicit guideline is, whether intended or not, a form of disrespect and disregard for the boundaries our Roman friends have set. This has less to do with Eucharistic theology and more to do with simple charity. If you prepare a family meal every night and your neighbor habitually insists on joining you uninvited, at some point it ceases to be a question of hospitality and becomes a matter of intrusion and disregard.

2. The standard objection to the position above is: “But the priest invited me to partake.” Yes, that happens fairly often, but if one of my children invites the aforementioned neighbor over every evening it doesn’t make his ever-presence it any less intrusive. More importantly, the priest in question has taken a vow to obey his church. You may think, as I do, that his church is wrong about the nature of the Eucharist and the boundaries they have drawn around it but you do, I hope, think that integrity and promise-keeping are important. Partaking when invited only serves to help the priest, someone we are supposed to love, break his vows and do harm to his integrity. Just because something is done by mutually consenting adults, does not make the thing good. There are times when one of the adults must not consent for the sake of the other. This is one of those times.

3. We also draw lines and boundaries around the Table. Those who are un-baptized, unbelieving, or who are living defiantly in unrepentant sin are asked not to come forward. What would we do if a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses insisted on coming forward? Would we think it a good thing? Rome draws her lines in different places than we do, but if we ask that people respect the boundaries we’ve established, shouldn’t we do the same?

4. “But it is the Lord’s Table, how can anyone restrict access to it?” Yes, it is the Lord’s Table, but the Lord has specifically given to the church the responsibility to ensure right order. That is precisely what Paul was doing in 1st Corinthians 11. We disagree with Rome on where the line is to be drawn, but does that give us the right to break the order they have established? Moreover, God has established all human authorities (Rom 13) even those that, like the Roman church, are very wrong about many things. We do not have the authority to defy rulers merely because we disagree with their rules.

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