(Diocese of Texas) William Treadwell on Communion w/o Baptism: Pastoral Theology vs. Doctrine

I am reminded of what I was taught by the Rev. Dr. Marion Hatchett: “never break a rubric unintentionally”. I think most priest have given communion to an unbaptized person. Hospitality and compassion may require it. But the doctrine of Baptism remains.

A personal example may be helpful. When I was ordained a priest, my father, an ordained Baptist minister, preached at my ordination. When the time came for the ordination, the Episcopal clergy gathered around to lay hands on my head along with the Bishop. My father remained in his seat, because there is no agreement between the Episcopal and Baptist churches on ordination. Just before the Bishop said the words of ordination he stopped, removed his hands from my head, and motioned for my father to come over and lay his hands on my head as well. This was contrary to the teaching of both the Episcopal and Baptist churches. This was poor doctrinal theology, but it was perfect pastoral theology. Bishop Patterson was a good bishop, and my dad was a good Baptist pastor. And yet, the doctrine remains.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Gen. Con. 2012, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology

One comment on “(Diocese of Texas) William Treadwell on Communion w/o Baptism: Pastoral Theology vs. Doctrine

  1. Hursley says:

    While I don’t fully subscribe to the writer’s thinking (who totally agrees with another person on such matters?), I applaud his willingness to address the issue from something other than the point of view of pure anecdotalism. The doctrinal and the pastoral are often opposed as if they are, and must be, essentially opposites–which is a variation on the “straw man” argument.

    The issue of pastoral sensitivity is very real, of course, and is found again and again in Our Lord’s ministry. However, essential doctrines are not, at heart, pastorally insensitive or cruel (their manner of application may be, of course): they are the result of the Gospel revelation itself, which is on the deepest level pastorally “sensitive” to our deepest need of salvation. Properly understood and acted upon, doctrine and pastoral ministry go hand in hand towards God’s work of truly “making all things new.” Holding these things in tension requires a mature, non-ideological faith–deeply grounded in the Scriptures and the catholic faith, but also profoundly recollected before God in the “sacred now.” One cannot have a true and living faith without both the doctrinal and pastoral dimensions fully present and operational. This author expresses that understanding; would that more of our lay and clergy leaders had this (once common and taken for granted) sense.