Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Communing the Unbaptized from the Outside In

Derek Olsen notes another run of posts in "The Daily Episcopalian" in support of communing the unbaptized, which he describes as coming "from our self-proclaimed liturgically-conservative non-theist, one from the site’s village atheist, then one that I can only kindly characterize as theologically confused." Well, yeah, and that's why I dropped "go start your own church" responses on the first two and threw up my hands on the third. What I wanted to note, however, was this response:
Besides that: this is itself, in fact, a completely “in-group” issue and only of interest to people already involved in the church. That, to me, is what’s fascinating about the thesis in that piece, in fact – that it seem to see this in exactly the reverse way.

People who aren’t Christian aren’t really interested in participating in Christian religious rituals; I personally had no interest in even stepping foot in a church for most of my life. And I think that most people believe – quite reasonably – that religious rituals are about faith, and that taking part in them has some meaning. Particularly when priests say things, and people respond; that’s serious stuff.

And this, to me, is exactly what’s wrong with CWOB; people probably think that we’re in our right minds and won’t involve them in something that might compromise what they may or may not believe. But of course, we’re not; we’re using the “full-initiates’” version of the rite on people who don’t know anything about what’s going – the version that assumes understanding and assent.

And to this, I can only say, Yes, exactly so! The supposed appeal of communion to outsiders seems to me to only work on the utterly clueless but easily informed "I'll just follow what everyone else is doing" crowd, who can be educated with a sentence, or on those syncretes who are so muzzy-headed as to be immune to our persuasion and whose participation is necessarily a profanation. The message I'm taking away from all of this is that a lot of the push for this is coming from people who are also effectively outsiders on the inside, who are nominal members but who have abandoned the historic faith. And that's why I want them to go found their own churches, rather than wrecking mine.

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