Saturday, January 17, 2015

Who is politicizing the communion rail?

From Catholic World News:

During an appearance on the television news show Face the Nation, Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago appeared to say that he would allow the reception of Holy Communion by pro-abortion politicians. However the archbishop's words left his message uncertain. 

Asked, “You haven't been particularly confrontational with politicians who disagree with you on issues like abortion, for instance. Do you think the Eucharist has become too politicized?”, he replied:
Well, I think that is important always to begin with an attitude of dialogue. It's important to listen to people and it's very hard to have dialogue because in order for someone to tell you why they think you are wrong, you have to sit in patience to allow that to happen. The community -- as I say, cannot be the place where those discussions are fought, but rather we have to look at how we're going to deal with the tough issues of the day in a constructive way and as adults who respect each other.
The prelate was then asked, “So, when you say we cannot politicize the Communion rail, you would give Communion to politicians, for instance, who support abortion rights?” He replied:
I would not use the Eucharist or as they call it the Communion rail as the place to have those discussions or way in which people would be either excluded from the life of the Church. The Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion. It's also a time of forgiveness of sins. So my hope would be that that grace would be instrumental in bringing people to the truth.

My question:  Why are those who hold to church teaching accused of politicizing the communion rail?  Are not those who flaunt the teachings of their own churches more guilty of politicizing the rail?  It would seem to me that by your act of communing at an altar, you are publicly submitting to the teachings of the church whose sacraments are being offered.  It would seem to me that if you are opposed to those teachings and believe them to be wrong, you are not communing as a member of the faithful but making a political statement.

I further would challenge the good bishop about the statement of respecting each other.  Where is the respect for church teaching and tradition among those who have decided their church is wrong on abortion, gay marriage, etc...?  If there is to be respect, respect has to go both ways.  The church respects the rights of people to disagree but if they are in conscientious disagreement with such basic church teachings, is not the honorable thing to do to refrain from communing -- dare I say it, to leave for a church that embraces their point of view (Lord knows there are enough of them!).

So there you have it.  What is gained when people who have obvious disagreement with basic church teachings are determined to flaunt their opposition and show up at the rail?  There can be only one thing.  They are doing so not as the faithful in submission to the Word of God and confession of the faith but as political people making political statements to others.  No matter who does this, it demeans the Table of the Lord and is a great offense and scandal both to Christ, whose table it is, and to the faith and witness of the church to the world.


Anonymous said...

Not to be contrary, and not advocating for the communing of those living in open and unrepentant sin, but does anyone actually believe that everyone who kneels at an Altar in an LCMS parish actually agrees with everything the LCMS believes, teaches, and confesses?!? I, for one, would not want to see the results of THAT survey!

Carl Vehse said...

"No matter who does this, it demeans the Table of the Lord and is a great offense and scandal both to Christ, whose table it is, and to the faith and witness of the church to the world. "

A little closer to home, Missouri Synod leaders, pastors, and congregations have also demeaned the Table of the Lord and cause great offense and scandal both to Christ, whose table it is, and to the faith and witness of the church to the world when they allowed, looked the other way, or tapdanced around communing unrepentant Lufauxran politicians such as Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, Illinois Senator Paul Simon, and Illinois State Senator Andy Manar.

In addition, the pro-murder-by-abortion and pro-homosexual perversion advocacy and support by one political party and its supporters appear to be of no concern as to whether they are Lutheran communicant members, based on public testimony at a 2012 House committee hearing, when the Missouri Synod President testified under oath (at 08:33-08:45) about Missouri Synod pastors and congregations, "We represent a large church body. The constituents [sic] are in some way equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. We do not operate in a partisan way."

Carl Vehse said...

A creatively named "Anonymous" stated: "... does anyone actually believe that everyone who kneels at an Altar in an LCMS parish actually agrees with everything the LCMS believes, teaches, and confesses?!? I, for one, would not want to see the results of THAT survey!"

A member of a LCMS congregation who takes communion has previously stated, "I do" before God and the congregation when asked as a confirmand, "Do you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from them, as you have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true?” The constitution of an LCMS congregation has the same requirement for all those listed as communicant members of that congregation.

Such a vow should be accepted as valid, and the member communed, unless the member tells the pastor privately his beliefs and actions oppose the Lutheran Confessions, or publicly states or acts in a deliberate and unrepentant way to indicate he no longer accepts the Lutheran Confessions.

Sadly, there are Lufauxran pastors, and their ecclesiastical supervisors, in the LCMS who ignore such guidelines when officiating the Lord's Supper.

Anonymous said...

Even a cursory reading of the Lutheran Confessions will reveal that many years ago Rome departed from the truth Faith. Therefore, cannot one say that, when it comes to Communion, Rome actually has no Sacrament, regardless of what they say they believe it is? What, therefore, does it matter who receives their little cookie and washes it down with some cheap wine?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous states "Therefore, cannot one say that, when it comes to Communion, Rome actually has no Sacrament, regardless of what they say they believe it is?" That's a tough statement and I don't buy it. And I don't believe it's consistent with LCMS doctrine. (Others on this blog might be able to quote an authoritative source.) Lutherans do believe Roman Catholics are fellow Christians - even with their significant doctrinal errors. I don't know if it's legend, but didn't Martin Luther say something like he'd rather share the body and blood of Christ with a papist rather than have bread and wine with the enthusiasts.


Carl Vehse said...

From the Lutheran Confessions, here is Martin Luther's statement in the Smalcald Articles (Part III, Article XII. Of the Church):

Wir gestehen ihnen nicht, daß sie die Kirche seien, und [sie] sind’s auch nicht, und [wir] wollen’s auch nicht hören, was sie unter dem Namen der Kirche gebieten oder verbieten. (We by no means admit that they are the church, for they are not; and we shall likewise not listen to that which they command or forbid in the name of the church.)

and his statement in SA, II, II. Of the Mass:

Über das alles hat dieser Drachenschwanz, die Messe, viel Ungeziefer und Geschmeiss, mancherlei Abgötterei gezeugt. (Moreover, this dragon tail of the mass, has produced a multiplicity of abominations and idolatries.)

Carl Vehse said...

In his 1934 book Christian Dogmatics: A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology for Pastors, Teachers, and Laymen (95MB), which is basically an abridged English translation of Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, Vol. I, Vol. II, and Vol. III, J. T. Mueller writes (p. 531)

"Because it is solely the institution and command of Christ which makes the Lord's Supper a Sacrament, a means of grace, it follows also that neither the papists nor the Calvinists have that true Holy Communion which our Savior instituted. Their 'supper' lies entirely outside the institution of our Lord (extra usum a Christo institutum) since it is neither based upon it nor is in accord with it."

"Similarly Luther writes of the private masses (Winkelmessen) (St. L., XIX, 1265): 'In the private Mass we find not only the abuse, or sin, that the priest acts and receives unworthily; but even if the priest should be holy and worthy, nevertheless the very essence of Christ's institution is removed (tamen ipsa substantia Christi sublata est): the real ordinance and institution of Christ they take away and creat their own ordinance. . . . Hence no one can or should believe that there is Christ's body and blood because His institution is not there.' "

Carl Vehse said...

In his article, "Luther and the Mass: Justification and the Joint Declaration" (Logia, 10: 4, 2001, 13-19), Daniel Preus wrote:

"There is nothing in the sacrament of the altar that is not gospel. According to Luther it is the nature of the antichrist to rage against the gospel, and his raging is more than evident in his perversion of the sacrament. Even those moderately acquainted with Luther's views know that he considered the pope to be the antichrist. To no small extent, this identification is due to the Roman doctrine of the mass. The pope altered the very nature of the Lord's Supper. Under antichrist, it is no longer as a sacrament that bestows forgiveness; it is rather a sacrifice and a good work by means of which the antichrist and his followers deceive everybody. To turn the sacrament into a sacrifice is to pervert it utterly; it is to change grace to works and Gospel to law. 'Just as you cannot make out of the Gospel a sacrifice or a work, so you cannot make a sacrifice or a work out of this sacrament; for this sacrament is the Gospel.' "

"Luther attacked with vehemence especially the private mass...."

"But Luther's condemnation of the mass was not limited to the private mass. He viewed the mass itself as a "papistic idol." When he wrote, 'This is the true and chief abomination and the basis of all blasphemy in the papacy,' he spoke not of the private mass alone. It is the mass itself that is the greatest of all abominations, whether it take place privately or publicly."

"In 1537, when Luther's Smalcald Articles appeared, he continued to view sacrament and mass as inimical to each other. Mass and sacrament are so opposed to each other that Luther dealt with them under two different headings."

"Through his antichrist, the devil has substituted a sacrifice for Christ's sacrament and introduced an idol into God's temple, as Daniel prophesied (Daniel 11 [37 ff.]). Just as the devil has constructed his own chapel next to the church of God, so he has imitated also God's sacrament and established the mass as its substitute. And just as the church of antichrist is a hypocritical and false church, so his mass is an idol and an abomination. For since the false church of antichrist attacks the church of Christ by robbing it of the gospel, the false 'sacrament' of antichrist must also deprive the church of her inheritance, robbing her of Christ's body and blood and the forgiveness of her sins, offering a human work and sacrifice in its place. The mass may indeed feed the pope's 'army and men of war,' but it is no meal for the church of Christ, which lives and is nourished by the gospel."

"But can one really say that Rome's position has not changed in light of the fact that today in Roman Catholic churches the sacrament can be received in both kinds and Christ's words of institution will be heard in the native tongue of the communicant? Yes! On the nature of the mass as sacrifice Rome's position has not changed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is replete with affirmations of the mass as sacrifice."

Anonymous said...

Carl Vehse,

You have numerous quotes but I don't see a clear reference to the BOC saying the Eucharist in the RCC is not the true body and blood of Christ.

I did a quick search on the LCMS website and found the following regarding the RCC under "Frequently Asked Questions / Denominations, ... Transubstantiation leads to the assertion that the body and blood of Christ remain present “even apart from the administration of the Supper” and so encourages veneration of the elements apart from their sacramental use and detracts from the use Christ commands: “Take eat … drink … for the forgiveness of your sins.” Lutheran rejection of transubstantiation should not in any way be taken to mean a denial that Christ’s very body and blood are truly present in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins."

Again, this is the LCMS website and not the BOC. I'll stop now because this is really off topic for this post.


Anonymous said...

I tried to post this earlier today but made an error somewhere. I'll try again.

"It would seem to me that by your act of communing at an altar, you are publicly submitting to the teachings of the church whose sacraments are being offered."

Perhaps. I would argue there are many Christians who have personal objections to this or that teaching of their particular church. Yet, they faithfully take communion.

Let's take Lutherans for example. I'll venture to say there are many LCMS Lutherans who don't even know what the Book of Concord is. Many would likely disagree with the BOC assertion that the pope is the antichrist. Or that we play no role whatsoever in our salvation (i.e., synergism). And these Lutherans likely take communion faithfully. But they keep their personal objections to themselves out of respect for their church. And I'd urge them to pray for discernment and talk with their pastor about their concerns.

But to be a public figure and flaunt your disagreement with clear church doctrine is another matter. Pastor Peters captures that sentiment perfectly in his last paragraph. The RCC and LCMS position on abortion is clear. Those publically disagreeing should be called to repentance and denied the sacrament until they do.

Good post Pastor Peters.


John Flanagan said...

I believe that those who favor abortion for convenience and same gender marriage are accepting sinful acts as justified, and at the same time, they want The Lord to bless them in Communion. Such an attitude is to be double minded. Those who willfully and publicly affirm these values should be denied the sacrament. How can the church prosper without discipline? Repentance and God's grace should be stressed, but acceptance of wrong should not be affirmed, endorsed, or enabled.

Carl Vehse said...

Holy Scripture doesn't use the phrase, "Triune God", yet the doctrine of the Trinity is in Scripture and exposited in the Lutheran Confessions

Thus I cannot understand how one can read Luther's description of the Roman Mass as "the greatest and most horrible abomination," "men's twattle," and a "dragon tail [producing] a multiplicity of abominations and idolatries" and consider the Romanist Mass as a sacrament offering the body and Blood of our Savior for the forgiveness of sins? Are these confessional descriptions of the Mass to be dismissed like statements about geocentric motion of stars or garlic's effect on magnetism?

Also, am I to discard the published explanations of Lutherans like Dr. Mueller (who echoed those of Franz Pieper) and Rev. Preus in favor of some doubt from an anonymous person named James?

As for a clear statement about the Romanist Mass, here is Luther's (SA.II.II.7):

"But since the Mass is nothing else and can be nothing else (as the Canon and all books declare), than a work of men (even of wicked scoundrels), by which one attempts to reconcile himself and others to God, and to obtain and merit the remission of sins and grace (for thus the Mass is observed when it is observed at the very best; otherwise what purpose would it serve?), for this very reason it must and should [certainly] be condemned and rejected."

Anonymous said...

Thus I again confess here before God and all the world that I believe and do not doubt, and shall also with the help and grace of my dear Lord Jesus Christ adhere to this confession until the last day, that where mass is celebrated according to Christ’s ordinance, be it among us Lutherans or under the papacy or in Greece or in India, even if it is also only under one kind – which is nonetheless wrong and an abuse – as is the case under the papacy at Easter and otherwise during the year when they provide the sacrament for the people, nevertheless, under the form of bread, the true body of Christ, given for us on the cross, [and] under the form of wine, the true blood of Christ, shed for us, are present; furthermore, it is not a spiritual or imagined body and blood but the genuine natural body and blood derived from the holy, virginal, true, human body of Mary, conceived without a human body by the Holy Spirit alone. This body and blood of Christ are even now sitting at the right hand of God in majesty, in the divine person called Jesus Christ, who is a genuine, true, eternal God with the Father of whom he was born from eternity, etc. This body and this blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, not only the holy and worthy but also sinners and the unworthy truly administer and receive bodily, although invisibly, with their hands, their mouths, the chalice, paten, corporal, and whatever they use for this purpose when it is administered and received in the mass. This is my faith; this I know, and no one shall wrest it from me. ...God’s word and work cannot be hindered or altered at all by our abuse or sin, if only his ordinance is kept. But where his ordinance is altered, that is of course a different matter. ...the papists, if they adhere to the ordinance of Christ, undoubtedly have in the sacrament the true and real body and blood of Christ. If it is under one kind, then it is the body of Christ. If it is under both kinds, then it is both body and blood according to the utterance and ordinance of the words of Christ. Now if they (without impairing the ordinance of Christ) sell, present, abuse, or administer or receive it unworthily, this neither adds nor takes away anything from the sacrament. God remains God even in hell. Christ remains godly even among those who crucified him. A gulden remains a gulden even in the hand of a thief and robber, if only it is itself a true gulden struck according to the king’s or prince’s mint regulations.

“A Letter of Dr. Martin Luther concerning his Book on the Private Mass,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 38 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], pp. 224-25

Carl Vehse said...

A Letter of Dr. Martin Luther concerning his Book on the Private Mass" was written by Martin Luther in March 1534, as a letter to a fictitious person.

Luther's Smalcald Articles, including the article concerning the Mass, were written in December, 1536, submitted to the Elector on January 3, 1537, and privately circulated at Smalcald meeting in February, 1537. Despite the fact they were not officially recognized until years later, numerous theologians at the Smalcald meeting subscribed to the Smalcald Articles, which were eventually included in the Book of Concord of 1580.

The 1534 letter has received no quia subscription or been recognized as one of the Lutheran Symbols.

BrotherBoris said...

I am going to go against the tide here and probably upset a number of people. I can tell you with a good deal of probability how most old world Orthodox bishops would handle a situation like this. They would make a great distinction between a priest and a layman in this matter. If a priest were publicly challenging the Church's teaching on abortion, he would be disciplined quickly, end of story. But if it concerned a layman who happened to belong to a political party that was more permissive about abortion than the Republicans (for instance, the Democrats, Independents, Rand Paul type Libertarian etc), it would really depend on the individual situation. Is this fellow being targeted simply because he is a Democrat? In the Orthodox Church, politics is not dogma. Perhaps this fellow is a Democrat because he disagrees with the Republicans on the Christian ethics of the social safety net? Perhaps he is a Democrat because he wants to strengthen Social Security and have some Christian compassion on our most senior citizens. Or perhaps for reasons of conscience, he is opposed to the death penalty. All these reasons and more could give him good and valid reasons to disagree with his conservative colleagues. The Church is a BIG TENT and it includes everybody, a message that the Protestants sometimes don't get when they want to make the Church into the Club of the Like-Minded. As long as this fellow regularly attended Liturgy, was frequent in going to Confession and receiving the Eucharist, there isn't an Orthodox Church in the world that would demonize him. He would be treated with economia and mercy.