"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Protestant non-participation in Communion

Jed said:
“I am not aware of any protestant group that doesn't participate in the sacrament of communion.”
I replied:
“just off the top of my head, there are people within your own movement that don't. Not the "Grace" churches probably, but the more Acts 28 types. If you disagree, I can show evidence.”
Jed then said:
“Regarding Communion: I don't disagree that there are splinter factions of many churches that either do it very rarely or not at all.”
But you did deny that exact thing! And the main ones are Dispensationalist “splinters” like the Acts 28 types. And they use much of the same reasoning you use to reject water baptism.
“If we were really going to be serious and follow Jesus' example we would do it while eating a feast as they were at the last supper. There is a strong tradition in both the Circumcision and Grace for communion.”
Jesus example was not to have a “feast” per se, it was to have a liturgy. The celebration of the passover meal was a liturgical act for the Jews, where they participated in the actual passover, and Jesus transformed that act into the liturgical act of the new covenant when He said “this is my Body” and then said “do this in remembrance of me”. In the original passover the word “remembrance” is used also, and the disciples knew what was going on. And the Hebrew idea of remembrance is far different than ours. Their concept was one of “reliving” but more like actually being there. They would actually refer to themselves in the passover meal as having been there with Moses! It is much more than a feast Jed. It was a participation in the passover for those celebrating it. And they had to actually eat the flesh of the sacrifice to participate. So when Jesus changes it into the “passover” of the “new covenant in His Blood”, they would have understood this in a liturgical way, just as they understood the passover meal. And when He said “this is my body”, you can bet they thought back to the incident in John 6 when he goes on and on about eating his flesh, and that his flesh is “real food”. Once it is in the context of the passover, it is an “aha” moment for them.
And EVERYTHING we know about the early church shows they thought of it this way as well, that it was literally the flesh of God that must be eaten (with faith of course) to gain eternal life. Ignatius in 107AD called it the “medicine of immortality.” St. Paul is really clear to the Cointhians as well that it is “a participation in the body and blood of our Lord”.

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”

Just like the passover, when we follow the Tradition handed down to us by the apostles and partake in the liturgy of the Eucharist (thanksgiving), we “participate”. We don't merely “remember” in the english meaning of the word.
This leads me to your use of the word “sacrament.” Your denomination calls it an ordinance, and I will bet you $100 bucks that if you ask your pastor if it is a sacrament he will adamantly say “no, it is an ordinance” and he will say it does absolutely nothing other than help us have a reminder of Christs death for us. Sacraments “do” things Jed. Dou believe the eating the bread and wine “does” something? That God acts in a special way? If not, you do not believe it is a sacrament. If so, then you do. But if you do believe it is a sacrament, I would be very interested to know that! Jesus and Paul sure thought it was a sacrament!


  1. hey just saw you last post on the Kallistos Ware thread on CTC. Just wanted to say, that the some post-schism Orthodox Saints like Dimitri of Rostov, actually prayed the rosary. Apparently at you work you have somewhat of a anti-Catholic Orthodox polemicist. (LINK)

  2. Thanks Tap! Quite interesting, and very useful. I can't wait to see what my friend has to say.