I realize most if not all Orthodox churches have closed communion. Are there any Orthodox churches with open communion?
There are none such in communion with Constantinople.
I don’t doubt that there are little schismatic groups that call themselves “Orthodox” and have open communion, but I’m afraid that I have no idea how one would find them.
Geoffrey, do you think Orthodoxes will ever change on open communion?
No. I can’t even imagine it. The Orthodox Church has never practiced open communion. I’ve never even heard of an Orthodox writer wondering out loud, “I wonder if there might be something in open communion?” It’s just not on the radar.
To take a line from Mal in Serenity: “That’s a long wait for a train that don’t come.”
And I would add it’s the same, with the Lutheran Church (Missouri synod) and the Roman Catholic Church.
Which is reasonable because it has to do with agreeing to be in a membership of common union; along with which there are also issues of the Real Presence and the properly authorized and sanctioned channels of God providing access to the miracle of the Presence.
Most Protestants don’t have those issues (obviously high church Protestants do, for much the same reasons), but we still all feature closed communion in principle, since at the minimum only Christians should be partaking of the Lord’s Supper; and since different denominations have somewhat more restrictive ideas than others about who counts as Christian, whether the Arminianistic “Church of Christ” (where no one outside their denomination is regarded as Christian) or various Calvinistic denominations (where only the elect should be partaking in the Lord’s Supper, and so there’s another reason to be looking for evidence if someone is truly of the elect or not).
Yep, virtually every church has some sort of standard for who can and who can’t take communion. The only difference is in the particulars of our standards. (I say “virtually” every church because I read an article about a church [Episcopal, IIRC] that let people bring their pets so they could lap out of the communion bowl. )
Except for my brief but painful sojourn with the Orthodox Presbyterians, I have not attended a church that has closed communion.
Normally, the pastor or official in charge will invite all who are Christian to partake, and give a stern warning to those that would partake without being Christian, or with unconfessed sins.
That approach is not up to the standards that many have set for themselves, of course, but I find it open and welcoming, allows the individual to follow the Spirit and/or conscience, and does not subject them to the intense scrutiny of those well-meaning saints among them who, in addition to well-meaning, sometimes are just plain nosy. I speak from experience.
DaveB, I know virtually nothing of Presbyterianism except “Scottish Calvinism”. How is it painful?
Oh, ‘painful’ - I should inflect that a bit - excruciating is a better word.
However, it was just our experience, and I don’t want prejudice anyone.
One little tidbit: the first Sunday we attended, knowing noone, we stayed for the potluck. The meeting was in a Grange Hall, so we just moved the chairs aside and set up a bench and food was placed on it and we sat around it. Two of the parishioners, men, sitting next to me were saying a few words to one another, and then - the first words spoken to me - one of them turned to me and said : “Oh yeah, we should be stoning homosexuals in the street.” So that lead into the whole Restoration theology and etc. The theology went downhill from there IMO.
After the potluck, we shook hands with the Pastor who said : “The entire OPC is trying to put a smiling face on Calvinism”.
Whatever we might think of it, pure Calvinism presented by an intelligent and caring person has - weight. We had the pastor over and discussed many things; he was a learned man, and eloquent; I lived with that theology for about a year and got sadder and sadder, and finally we had to leave. Not because of sadness - that was a just a by-product of the theology, and my trying to think it down to its core.
Yep. Though I did not attend a Presbyterian church, I studied Calvinism and had to wallow through the mire. But hey, I learned and am better for it! As I know you are also Dave.
For me personally, the fulfilled eschatology view really opened my eyes to the fact that there was mercy and hope and love and that at the same time Jesus in the Gospels was telling of a event that was to happen to a group of people at a specific time not having anything to do with us in 2016.
Freedom came my way
I become a christian in the Open Brethren int he UK in the early 60’s. They seemed to have practiced a fairly strong form of exclusivity with respect to the breaking of bread as it was referred to. When we spent time with the Evangelical Anglicans in Kenya we had no problems though we were a polygot lot from all over the world as well as a sizeable African attendance - by no means all Anglican. Among the Baptists in both the UK and Australia it never came up as an issue and young children regularly joined in. One glaring challenge stands out to me though. My children attended a Lutheran school. We were invited to camp with them at a summer camp. At the communion service in a a barn the fully rigged out pastor said to us that non Lutheran folk should not take communion during the service. I did not walk out but I certainly felt like it. The arrogance of sectarianism has always irked me and offends the Spirit of God in me till this day!
ChrisB, what denomination church do you attend now? I’ve had a difficult time finding a church that is neither exclusivist, “turn or burn”, or “progressive” (advertises as being pro-LGBT). I’m going to try an ELCA nearby.
Well qaz i currently attend a Wesleyan Methodist Church which I believe has American Holiness roots. I can’t say I agree with all their Theology particularly but then I doubt I would find a local church which would tick all the boxes for me. I don’t actually think that this is necessary anyway. We have found people to love who have demonstrated that they love us, particularly this year when I have been sick. So there you go.
Tonight I found at something that has me giddy!
Sadly, these churches are few and far between in the US, but perhaps one day I will relocate near one!
All 9 Brethren groups hold to the same theology and all of them “break bread” every Sunday. The only difference between them is related to who is qualified to receive the bread and wine.
When I lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba at age 21,and attended a Bible school for a year, the cook was with a particular assembly of Brethren. I had read George Mueller’s diary and was greatly impressed with the way in which He trusted God for years to provide for the orphans for which he cared. One one occasion someone came to offer him money. He asked, “Why are you offering money to me?” The man answered, “Because I want to help the orphans.” At that word, George refused to accept it. He accepted money from only those people who affirmed that God had directed them to give it.
Anyway, I sought out Ebenezer Gospel Hall on Arlington Street, where the cook attended. On Arlington Street, I found a hall with no name on it. Just the words in small print, “The word of God will be preached here at 7 P.M. every Sunday.” So one Sunday evening I attended. The people present sat around in a circle, without saying or doing anything. I sat with them until a few songs were suggested and sung. No one looked happy. After the message was given, they still sat there in silence. Nothing more seemed to be happening, and so I stood up and moved toward the door. Then one of the men stood up and moved toward me. Then he said to me (more as if he were making an announcement rather than an invitation) “We have a Bible study on Wednesdays at 7 o’clock.”
“Oh, do you?” I replied without any interest. “Is this one of the Plymouth Brethren assemblies?”
“That’s what they call us.”
“Is this Ebenezer Gospel Hall?”
“No! No!” he replied, sounding almost disgusted. “They break bread with anybody.”
So the following Sunday morning, I found Ebenezer Gospel Hall. I had just entered when two elders met me at the door. They asked me whether I was a Christian, or belonged to the Lord; I can’t remember their exact words. But they were convinced that I was a true Christian and was invited to participate fully—suggest a song, give a word of instruction to the group, etc. The people in the meeting looked joyful. This was quite a contrast to the first group with whom I met the previous Sunday evening.
I found out that the first group were known as “Exclusive Brethren” and the second as “Open Brethren.” Also, in Winnipeg I attended a third assembly once, who were known as “Tight Brethren.” The Open Brethren welcomed anyone to participate, if their inquiries at the door convinced them that he was a true, born-again or begotten-again Christian. The Tight Brethren’s position was somewhere between the Open and the Exclusive. In order to break bread with them, you had to apply to the elders. With the Exclusives, it seems almost impossible to break bread with them.
So I continued to fellowship at Ebenezer Gospel Hall for years while I lived in or near Winnipeg. Many of the people who gathered there were Scottish. When the brothers got up to pray, their prayers often included poetry addressed to the Lord.
There are no Plymouth Brethren in the area in which I now live. We attend two different churches. One of them has communion every Sunday. And like the Plymouth Brethren, they have body ministry. But unlike the PB, they include the sisters in that body ministry. They practise totally-open communion. If visitors come, the bread and wine are passed to all of them—even to young children; though I must say that in the past when visitors appeared, one of the elders would usually say, “Anyone who knows Christ as his saviour, is welcome to participate.”