Many of the more liberal Protestants churches these days practice an “open communion”, in which they welcome anyone professing to be Christian to share Eucharist with them. Apparently the ECUSA doesn’t even require Baptism for participation in Eucharist. I don’t know what the common practice is at other Evangelical churches, Baptist or the conservative reformed churches might be … but my particular church (Eastern Orthodox) does not practice this. To share Eucharist in the Orthodox church one must be a member in good standing, have confessed recently, and fasted from food and water (on Sunday) since midnight. 

In the Didache, Chapter 14 we find (wiki on the Didache is here): 

And coming together on the Lord’s day of the Lord, break bread and give thanks, confessing beforehand your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. And everyone having a quarrel with his fellow member, do not let [them] gather with you until they have reconciled so that your sacrifice may not be defiled. For this is what was said by the Lord: “In every place and time, offer me a pure sacrifice because I am a great king,” says the Lord, “and my name [is] great among the nations.”

It seems to me this teaching is both based in Scripture and applicable to the notion of open communion. There are in fact non-trivial doctrinal differences between our churches. That we might approach these irenically does not belie the underlying seriousness and importance in working to resolve these differences. However, the word “quarrel” is important. We do not gather together and share communion until we are reconciled so that our sacrifice might not be defiled, not the least of which by our quarrel. 

So I’m curious, if your Church practices open communion … why? By what reasoning do you justify that practice? What tradition? 

Filed under: ChristianityMark O.Religion

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