LA Times Offers Important Correction on an Earlier Story

From here:

Hindu-Episcopal service: An article in Sunday’s California section about a joint religious service involving Hindus and Episcopalians said that all those attending the service at St. John’s Cathedral in Los Angeles were invited to Holy Communion. Although attendees walked toward the Communion table, only Christians were encouraged to partake of Communion. Out of respect for Hindu beliefs, the Hindus were invited to take a flower. Also, the article described Hindus consuming bread during Communion, but some of those worshipers were Christians wearing traditional Indian dress.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Hinduism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths

63 comments on “LA Times Offers Important Correction on an Earlier Story

  1. Phil says:

    I don’t believe the correction; it’s that simple. It reads like Pravda repeating talking points handed to the reporter by a Soviet commissar.

  2. sarahsnemisis says:

    I don’t think the LA Times is an arm of the episcopal bishop’s staff, if anything it is as far from it as possible. I certainly think it is plausible that a reporter might get the facts wrong. Looking at all their other corrections makes me think this correction is entirely possible and most likely accurate.

    But, it takes away from the digital lynching some blogs gave this service. So maybe that’s why you don;t believe the correction.

  3. Dee in Iowa says:

    Oh Phil – you of little faith……and here I was, giving a big sigh of relief – all it was – all this concern over nothing. Just a bunch of Christians playing “dress up” and trying to change the Hindus into “flower children”……

  4. David Fischler says:

    Regardless of whether Communion was offered or taken, “interfaith worship” is still an oxymoron.

  5. Phil says:

    Sure, peas, that’s why I mistrust it; and you’re right – what does the LAT care about the local miniscule Episcopal diocese? Nor am I a conspiracy theorist. I’m just saying in this case, what I said above – in this one case, it sounds funny.

  6. The_Elves says:

    This is the sentence this elf finds most odd in the correction:

    [i]Also, the article described Hindus consuming bread during Communion, but some of those worshipers were Christians wearing traditional Indian dress.[/i]

    SOME of those worshipers were Christians? So that means some were Hindus?

    Personally, I’m not sure the correction changes much about the original story, though of course I’m glad Kendall posted it for the record.


  7. Ad Orientem says:

    I concur with elf girl. I don’t think this is a repudiation of reports of communication in sacris. Not saying Hindus or anyone else should not be welcomed at any church service. But there are important lines. In my parish just before communion our priest reminds all present that ONLY Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves through fasting prayer and recent confession may approach the chalice. The sharing of the cup is one of the greatest symbols of a unity of faith. Are Episcopalians united in faith with Hinduism?

    Wait… Don’t answer that. Some questions are best left unanswered.

  8. azusa says:

    “Well, isn’t that special?”

  9. D. C. Toedt says:

    Thanks for posting the correction, Kendall.

  10. Sarah1 says:

    From the original story: [blockquote]”All were invited to Holy Communion, after the Episcopal celebrant elevated a tray of consecrated Indian bread, and deacons raised wine-filled chalices.

    In respect to Hindu tradition, a tray of flowers was also presented. Christians and Hindus lined up for communion, but since Orthodox Hindus shun alcohol, they consumed only the bread.[/blockquote]

    Like the story said, the Hindus don’t do alcohol so they didn’t consume the wine — they consumed the bread.

    And the “correction” states: “Also, the article described Hindus consuming bread during Communion, but some of those worshipers were Christians wearing traditional Indian dress.”

    So . . . where’s the correction? What we learn from the “correction” is that . . . the Hindus consumed the communion bread, although some of the folks in “traditional Indian dress” were not Hindus, but Christians.

    Again . . . where’s the correction?

  11. Wilfred says:

    “…the Hindus were invited to take a flower.”

    And the bishop who allowed this should be invited to take a powder.

  12. Daniel Lozier says:

    In the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles the common invitation to the Altar rail is something like, “All are welcome to our altar to share in the bread and wine made holy.” You see, they don’t even believe it to be the read Body and Blood of Christ…and ALL are welcome.

    “Worldpeas” (#2), The Left Angeles Times may not be an arm of the bishop’s staff, but it is a strong supporter of gay rights and has sided against those parishes who have left.

  13. Sidney says:

    a joint religious service
    Notice how the word ‘joint’ is not defined. It could mean the meaning everybody is assuming, or it could mean that joints were being used in the service.


  14. RoyIII says:

    OOOhh that was a close call! “bottisatva, won’t you take me by the hand…show me the sparkle of your china, the shine of your japan…” -Steely Dan. Just a little cross cultural interlude; the only hindu song I know.

  15. NewTrollObserver says:

    #14 Roy, actually, that Steely Dan tune is Buddhist.

  16. Susan Russell says:

    Thanks for posting the correction, Kendall.

  17. jamesw says:

    As anyone in California knows, the common Eucharistic invitation is to all who seek God. There is no limitation to “baptized Christians” except in overtly reasserting parishes. So I really don’t see the big change here – open communion is the norm for liberal parishes and bishops.

  18. RevK says:

    There is an irony (one of many in TEC) here. As a military chaplain, I was expected to swim in a pluralistic environment, providing ministry to all flavors of Christians, Buddhists, Mormons, Jews, Muslims and Wiccans (just to name a few); but at no time was I to allow anybody who was not a baptized Christian in good standing to receive communion. This was an absolute enforced by the bishops of the Armed Forces. Here, in a limited, pluralistic setting, communion is handed out like no big deal. Who is failing to conform to the doctrine and discipline of the Church in this case? Will we see +Bruno inhibited?

  19. David Fischler says:

    Re #17

    Canons for thee, but not for me?

  20. FrJake says:

    …only Christians were encouraged to partake of Communion…

    Thanks for posting this correction, Kendall.

  21. RevK says:

    #20 FrJake
    Whether only Christians were encouraged to partake of communion or not misses the point. The Eucharist is not an ecumenical service and to use it as such shows a lack of understanding of sacramental worship, a huge lapse in judgment or both. The opportunity for misunderstanding by both the Hindus and Christians is very high. I have lots of Canadian and Australian friends, but when we get together, we don’t sing the national anthem. Wouldn’t a service with readings and prayers to which everyone could say a heartfelt Amen be better?

  22. Nikolaus says:

    Count me as skeptical. The original report was fairly specific and it is widely known that the diocese practices “radical hospitality.” The correction appears a bit stretched to me and the newspaper would not have done this on their own without complaints and possible input from the diocese..

  23. Intercessor says:

    Well this changes everything! …not.

  24. dmitri says:

    I am very happy to see this correction.

  25. Anonymous Layperson says:

    Oh…I thought maybe it was Bishop Bruno retracting his promise to never ever attempt to lead a Hindu to salvation in Jesus Christ. Too bad…

  26. Little Cabbage says:

    jamesw, thanks for your observation. This story (even before the ‘corrections’) was no surprise. Alas, TEC now espouses the basic Hindu stance of ‘oh, sure, we believe that [whatever is presented], too.’

    Tragically, that is now the attitude of TEC, particularly on the West Coast, as it has gutlessly dissolved into the larger culture. Which is why so many folks who wish to live as CHRISTIANS have or are departing TEC.

  27. Florida Anglican [Support Israel] says:

    #17, jamesw,

    Not just in California, you know. I am (soon to be was) in Dio of Central FL; my parents are in Dio of FL, just to the north. Three Christmases ago, my husband and I drove the hour or so to my home church where my parents still attend for midnight mass on Christmas Eve – as has been our tradition for most of my adult life. At that service, I could not for the life of me figure out what the priest’s sermon had to do with the birth of Jesus. I ended up reading hymns during the sermon. Then, at the eucharist, the priest said, “Everyone is welcome at the table of the Lord.” Red flags started to go up, but the full reality hadn’t yet hit me. On the way out after the service, I asked the priest, “You did mean that all baptized Christians are welcome at the altar rail, right?” to which he replied (after a beat or two), “That’s between them and their god.” (lower case “g” intentional) That was the last time my husband and I attended church at my home church. That priest is no longer there, but the diocese is liberal as is the current interim priest and the parents are, sadly, ostriches – despite my attempts to help them see the truth.

  28. sarahsnemisis says:

    May be the Bishop of LA was following the AB of Cantaurs lead?

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has sent a message of greeting to the Hindu community for their celebration of the festival of Diwali. Dr Williams praised the Hindu Community for their contribution to so many areas of life in this country, and also expressed the hope that Christians and Hindus “should renew and further develop the local and national frameworks within which we can explore and appreciate our common and our distinctive characteristics”.


    Notes to Editors:

    The full text of the greeting can be found below

    Dear Hindu friends,

    I have much pleasure in writing to greet you and the wider Hindu community on the occasion of your celebration of the festival of Diwali.

    The desire and the ability to celebrate is a profound part of the human personality and is a gift of God in creation. When celebration is from a perspective of love of God and is in thanksgiving for the blessings that we receive from God, then it is all the more to be welcomed and encouraged. I congratulate you on the way in which you have brought the celebration of the festival of Diwali to the communities of this country and have enabled the perspective of faith to be more widely appreciated.

    The Hindu communities have brought so much to the life of this country, and in so many different aspects. In business, education, culture and religion, Hindus have led the way in demonstrating what it means to be a lively, integrated and distinctive community to the great benefit of all. It is my hope that especially at this time of year, this contribution should be more widely recognised and acknowledged.

    Each of our festivals has its own distinctive character and meaning and is rooted in our respective understandings of the nature of God. But Diwali, coming as it does when Christians are approaching the season of Advent and Christmas, provides an opportunity to celebrate those things that we hold in common. It is my hope that Christians and Hindus should renew and further develop the local and national frameworks within which we can explore and appreciate both our common and our distinctive characteristics.

    I look forward to the year ahead in the hope and expectation that the light which is celebrated at Diwali will illuminate the relationships between our communities to the great benefit of all in this country.

    + Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury

  29. archangelica says:

    Here is the Vatican’s message and well wishes to Hindus for the holiday.

    Message to Hindus for Feast of Diwali
    “Demands of Love Can Be Best Learned From God”

    VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2006 ( Here is the message, “Overcoming Hatred with Love,” published by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of the feast of Diwali.

    The celebration lasts three days, marking the start of a new year, family reconciliation, and worship of God. This year many Hindus will celebrate the feast starting Oct. 21.

    * * *

    Overcoming Hatred with Love

    Dear Hindu Friends,

    1. As people seeking for the Absolute you will pause for a short while on your spiritual journey and celebrate joyfully Deepavali, your ancient religious feast, which for you signifies the victory of truth over untruth, light over darkness, good over evil and life over death. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue I wish Hindus all over the world a happy feast of Diwali.

    2. The reality of love is closely connected to truth, light, goodness and life. I would like to reflect on this theme of love, through which believers of different religions are invited to overcome the evil of hatred and distrust in contemporary society. The recent terrorist bomb attacks in Mumbai, India, are yet another example of these phenomena which so often end in brutal violence. I am sure that, enriched in the light of our particular religious traditions, our resolve to invite all believers to overcome hatred by love will benefit society at large. My own reflection is inspired by the first Encyclical letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, “Deus caritas est” (God is Love). The Pope wrote this letter, convinced that his message is both timely and significant “in a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence ” (n. 1).

    3. The importance and demands of love can be best learned from God who, the Christian faith professes, is Himself Love, and whose eternal Son, for love of us, became incarnate in the Person of Jesus Christ. God is the source and fullness of all love. Our love for one another becomes worthy of its name only when it has its source in God and is nourished by our union with the same God. Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta, for example, constantly renewed her love of neighbor and her selfless service to the poor in her encounter with God in incessant daily prayer.

    4. God loves us all without exception and his love is unconditional. Our human response to God’s love must be spelt out in concrete stewardship of God’s creatures, especially to human beings. It is urgent and necessary that believers of different religions manifest jointly to the world that hatred can be overcome by love. In today’s complex societies, is it not possible for us to join hands and collaborate in seeking justice for all, working together on common projects, for the development of the downtrodden, the marginalized, the destitute, the orphan and the weak? “Despite the great advances made in science and technology, each day we see how much suffering there is in the world on account of different kinds of poverty, both material and spiritual” (“Deus caritas est,” n. 30). Moral and spiritual poverty, which are caused by breeding hatred in one’s heart, can be eradicated by believers who are filled with love and compassion. Love creates trust, which in turn, promotes genuine relationships among believers of different religions.

    5. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI ends his letter, “Deus Caritas Est,” with the following words: “Love is the light — and in the end, the only light — that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working” (n. 39). The Pope’s words obviously refer to Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world. However, these words can also draw your attention since for you the meaning of your feast, Diwali, is symbolized by light. May our love finally overcome the darkness of hatred in the world! Happy Diwali to you, my dear Hindu friends!

    Paul Cardinal Poupard,


    [Original text: English]

    © Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

  30. Sarah1 says:

    Where’s the correction?

  31. Henry Greville says:

    O Inevitable Hugeness, by whatever name we call you if indeed we think of you as personal in any way, we hope that our stupidity and other limitations will not prevent our ends from being nice somehow, and not nasty, and that at the end of time, which may or may not be to speak in metaphor, we will all come to know the joy of Hugeness. And ditto for our pets. Amen.

  32. Katherine says:

    It seems to me that this correction must come from the diocese itself; that is, they became aware of the uproar following the original story and sent this to the Times. Some of the people in Indian dress may have been Christian Indians, or Christian non-Indians; I have saris, and my Christian friends in India wear Indian dress, minus the saffron smear or bindi on the forehead, of course. However, the original story, and the Times did appear to have a reporter there, said that Hindus ate the bread, eschewing the wine because of their still-Hindu beliefs. Was the reporter wrong? Was the reporter there?

    If flowers were “offered” in the context of the consecration of the Eucharist and its presentation to the people (“Behold the lamb of God”), then I don’t see how this correction helps a great deal.

  33. Larry Morse says:

    You may dissect the correction and the original event all you please, but the simplest fact is that TEC is creating a religious dog’s dinner of itself and whatever religious organizations are around to show that it is not merely inclusive, but absolutely inclusive, and that to do so, it can hold on to no core doctrine. To establish its new identity, it must give up all identity, and this is no idle contradiction. We are watching a major church redefine itself into non-existence.

    Have you ever thought that it would be good for the country if California broke off from the mainland and (a) sank into the sea or (b) floated away as an island to ground itself somewhere near the Galapagos? Larry

  34. Words Matter says:

    This from a person who claimed to have been there (as posted on MCJ):

    [i]I attended the Indian Rite Mass and received communion. No one was refused communion, and that’s the way it should be. Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. Surely he does not mind a Hindu or two at his table. [/i]

  35. ericfromnewyork says:

    Allow me, if you will, a somewhat Protestant perspective.
    Putting to the side (NOT rejecting, simply putting to the side for a moment) the issue of the real presence of the Lord’s Precious Body and Blood ( which doctrine I UNRESERVEDLY subscribe to and teach) a simple recollection of the purposes for which the sacrament was instituted will blow a hole below the waterline in TEC’s revisionist madness about Holy Communion.
    “As oft as ye do eat the bread and drink the cup, ye do show forth the Lord’s death until He comes.”
    To invite someone to participate in the ritual who does not believe in the doctrine and the proclamation of the Lord’s sacrificial death for sin, the Great Commission, and the return of the Lord at the end of the age, is nothing less than subborning perjury.
    Analogies about “Christ eating with sinners” are sublimely irrelevant to the matter at hand.” Communion is a “participation in the Lord’s death.” whatever else it is. It is an act that has no meaning, or a false meaning, for non-believers.
    And, frankly, I would take such invitations to “open communion” as prima facie evidence that the agents of such invitations are, themselves, non-believers. If they were believers, they would not think of doing such a thing.
    It is, of course, possible that they are believers and have simply made an error, or not thought the thing through, or have been overcome by a misguided charity, but in such a case they should be told that they have, in fact, committed a grievous error, and should not persist.
    Normally, such sound teaching should come from the bishop, but these are not normal times.

  36. Sarah1 says:

    It’s really simply amazing — Bruno’s Blandishments at their best.

    The article stated that the Hindus did not take the wine — they’re opposed — but did take the bread. And lo, the “correction” states the same thing.

    Where’s the correction?

  37. Bob from Boone says:

    Thank you, #28 and #29 for your posts. I had read the ABC’s statement earlier but had not seen the statement issues from Cardinal Poupard.

  38. Dave C. says:

    “Cover” would be more accurate than “Correction.”

    Which makes me wonder, since so many reappraisers are all for open communion in the first place, why are they at all concerned with the original story or praising the “correction”? Shouldn’t they stand up for what they believe in and praise the liklihood that non-baptized non-Christians participated in communion? And shouldn’t they be blasting instead of praising the new cover story for catering to the vast (or is it tiny? I keep forgetting which) right wing conspiracy?

  39. PadreWayne says:

    Larry: “Have you ever thought that it would be good for the country if California broke off from the mainland and (a) sank into the sea or (b) floated away as an island to ground itself somewhere near the Galapagos?”

    I don’t know where you live, but I hope you’ve considered what your grocery shopping would be like should California disappear: So long avocados, artichokes, salad greens (and the list is probably longer) — Florida wouldn’t be able to keep up.

    Just thought I’d throw in a “lighten up” comment…

    Padre Wayne

  40. Connecticutian says:

    “So long avocados, artichokes, salad greens”

    From your lips to God’s ears! 😉

  41. MJD_NV says:

    Cover instead of correction indeed.

    I am completely with Sarah on this one – this offers no correction whatsoever.
    It offers pure spin.
    Just an aside – is it not interesting that the only bishop who resides in California who does not encourage the contra-canonical practice of open Communion is the one who has been inhibited?

  42. D. C. Toedt says:

    The “baptism” required for communion might well be baptism by the Spirit and not by water. Paul appears implicitly to proclaim, in 1 Cor. 11.13, that one becomes part of the body of Christ through baptism by the Spirit:

    12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. [Emphasis added.]

    Incidentally, this comes right after the famous passage in which he chastises the Corinthians for unworthily eating the bread and drinking the wine. That text, of course, is commonly misused) as an alleged excuse for excluding the unbaptized from communion.

    Suppose a Hindu (or a Muslim, or even an atheist) came up to receive communion. Suppose she showed no outward sign of dubious motives (e.g., telling people beforehand that she intended to spit the elements on the floor and loudly announce her own beliefs). In that situation, it’s far above our paygrade to declare that she has not been baptized by the Spirit. Prudence (to say nothing of hospitality) suggests that we err on the side of communicating her.

  43. D. C. Toedt says:

    David C. [#38], many of us “reappraisers” (heavens, how I hate that term) are happy about the correction because we like to try to organize our lives around facts, not fantasies.

  44. RevK says:

    D.C. #42
    Do you feel the same way about marriage? That is, could somebody feel ‘married in the Spirit’ and consider themselves one flesh with another? Your idea of spiritual baptism misses a critical part of the definition of sacrament – outward and visible sign.

  45. Dave C. says:

    D.C. [#43], As elfgirl [#6], Sarah [#10] and others have pointed out, the correction doesn’t change any fact in the story that concerned reasserters to begin with. (Btw, I wish there were better terms to use as well, but I can’t come up with anything better.) If there is fantasy in play, it is on the part of those who think the correction in any way makes the reasserter complaints about the service moot.

  46. libraryjim says:

    Jesus may have indeed ate common meals with tax collectors and sinners, but the Last Supper was reserved for His disciples and Himself ONLY. No outsider was invited. “Oh, how I have longed to eat this meal with YOU” He declared. He then instituted the Eucharist for believers, a doctirne which the early church practiced and handed down to those who followed them.

  47. D. C. Toedt says:

    LibraryJim [#46], we don’t know who was and who wasn’t at the Last Supper. Mark’s account indicates there were more disciples present than just the Twelve. Nor do we have any idea whether all present had been baptized. We don’t even know whether all of the Twelve had been baptized.

    You seem to be asserting that the norm for Holy Communion depends on the accidental circumstances of the Last Supper. It would then follow, wouldn’t it, that communion should be celebrated only once a year, at Passover, by Jews who recline at the table instead of sitting in chairs.

  48. Ouroboros says:

    My generation has a succinct way of expressing the suspicion of falsity when a statement is made at a social gathering, and thereby calling for independent verification. Until such time as verification is provided, the statement is regarded as false, and what’s more, self-serving on the part of the utterer. The method is the simple formulaic recitation of three words. I shall employ it here.

    “I call BS” on this supposed “correction.”

  49. RevK says:

    You seemed to have missed a key point of your own reference in QuestioningChristian.
    [blockquote]Mark’s telling of the tale seems to suggest that Jesus meant for all [b]Christians,[/b] to break the bread and bless the wine: He differentiates between the Twelve (apostles) on the one hand, and the larger group of disciples — and by implication, all [b]Christians[/b] — on the other:[/blockquote]
    The emphasis is entirely on Christians receiving the Eucharist. All the people receiving (even in your expanded version) at the Last Supper were known as Jesus follows by Jesus and each other.
    He also stated “Do this in remembrance of me” not “do this to further ecumenical relationships.”

  50. D. C. Toedt says:

    RevK [#49], I appreciate your having read my blog posting, but I think you’re reading into the Gospel accounts what you want to find there.

  51. JGeorge says:

    I find it intriguing that David Virtue published a similar news item on his website in August 2007. So is this the second time this is happening in LA? In the many years I have worshipped in CSI churches, there was never an Arati or a Kirtan in the CSI order of worship. However, these (arati and kirtan) are traditional elements of a Hindu worship. The LA Diocese is trying to combine the two additional elements into a CSI order of worship and call it an Indian Rite Mass, as though it was the accepted practice of the CSI church.

  52. RevK says:

    #50 D.C.
    No, I’m quoting your own reference.

  53. Phil says:

    No, D.C. #50, that would be what you’re doing (as usual).

  54. trooper says:

    The only reference that I can find from anyone who was actually there was from Susan Russell’s blog, and that person stated that communion was offered to everyone.

  55. D. C. Toedt says:

    RevK [#50], please go re-read my October 2004 blog entry from which you quoted an excerpt in your #49. It wasn’t about communion without baptism; it was about the Australian lay-presidency controversy of a few years back.

    The 2004 blog entry argued that Jesus didn’t intend for the eucharistic franchise to be restricted to presbyters and bishops, and that scripturally any Christian should be able to preside. Whether the unbaptized can receive communion is a different question, which the blog entry didn’t address.

    My lay-presidency argument of course raises the question: Who is a “Christian” and thus eligible to preside at the Eucharist? I’ve argued elsewhere, including here, that a “Christian” is anyone who (1) tries to follow the Great Commandment and Summary of the Law and (2) tries to change course when s/he becomes convinced that she’s on the wrong one, that is, tries to repent. It wouldn’t trouble me in the least if a Hindu, Muslim, or Jew who met that definition were not just to receive communion but to be the celebrant. I doubt very much that the Jesus described in the Gospels would have a problem with that.

  56. RevK says:

    D.C. #55
    I read it and understood it. I was simply lifting part of it – the context – that Eucharist is for Christians. You stated it several times.

    Whether you or Jon Bruno are troubled by a Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Wiccan, Republican or Proctologist receiving the Eucharist is not the point – this was an official religious celebration by Episcopal clergy in a Episcopal Church using the Eucharistic liturgy of the Episcopal Church; and the official position of the Episcopal Church is that only baptized Christians in good standing (and that baptism involved water and the Trinitarian formula) will knowingly receive Eucharistic elements. To do anything else violates the current doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church. It does not recognize ‘spiritual’ bapitsm, or lay celebration or evangelism by sacrament.

    Again, I would ask, would you extend this rather broad definition to marriage and other sacramental acts as well?

  57. D. C. Toedt says:

    RevK [#56] writes: “… the official position of the Episcopal Church is that only baptized Christians in good standing (and that baptism involved water and the Trinitarian formula) will knowingly receive Eucharistic elements.

    Here’s an argument; I don’t think it’s necessarily a winning one, but a competent courtroom lawyer would tell you that it passes the red-face test (meaning that one could make the argument in court without being red-faced with embarrassment):

    A) If we examine the canonical language in I.17 closely, we see that baptism with water and the Trinitarian formula is expressly required only to be a “member” of the Church (I.17.1a), and by implication, to hold positions reserved for “members” such as communicant, confirmed communicant in good standing, etc.

    B) Canon I.17.7 states only that “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.” It says nothing about requiring any particular kind of baptism, in contrast to I.17.1.

    C) The people who drafted and enacted the canons obviously knew how to mandate a particular type of baptism when they wanted to. And it’s easy to think of pragmatic ecclesial reasons for limiting the membership franchise in the Church to people who have made specified ritual professions of faith, such as baptism with water and the Trinitarian formula.

    E) In I.17.7, the drafters did not expressly mandate a particular type of baptism as a prerequisite to receiving Communion. And I’ve yet to encounter a non-Pharisaic reason for excluding people from Communion solely because they were not baptized according to a particular ritual.

    F) The implication of B) through E) is that baptism by the Spirit, which is just as scriptural as baptism with water and the Trinitarian formula (cf. the Markan version of the Great Commission) is a sufficient qualification to receive Holy Communion under I.17.7.

    The counterargument, which I think is more persuasive, is that the reference in I.17.1 to baptism by water and the Trinitarian formula is not just a requirement for membership, but the definition of “baptism” for all purposes.

    Still, if there’s any doubt about whether communion without baptism by water, etc., is proper — and I think the above argument raises precisely such doubts — prudence (and hospitality and epistemological humility) militates strongly in favor of erring on the side of communicating any person who presents him/herself and doesn’t appear to have an improper purpose.


    RevK [#56] asks: “would you extend this rather broad definition to marriage and other sacramental acts as well?

    The question can’t be answered well in the abstract, at least not charitably. You’d need to posit specific circumstances and ask, would I do X (or refuse to do X) in those circumstances.

    • Would I treat the child of parents in a common-law marriage, who were never pronounced husband and wife by clergy or civil officiant, any differently than the child of parents married by a licensed Episcopal priest? Offhand, I can’t imagine a situation where I’d do that.

    • If common-law-married friends were visiting my family, would I allow them to sleep in the same bed under my roof? Almost certainly. What if the law in my state didn’t permit common-law marriage (it doesn’t), but my friends declared themselves to be “spiritually married”; does that change my answer? Who knows; it would depend on the circumstances.

  58. RevK says:

    #57 D.C.
    I’m sorry, but I can’t buy that logic. In essence you are saying, “First, we define baptism this way and now we talk about another undefined baptismal formula.” My understanding is that the document defines baptism first so that you don’t have to keep re-defining it every paragraph. And whether the person is a ‘member’ or a visitor, the expectation is that baptism includes water and the Trinity – if not, don’t you think they should have defined this ‘other baptism’ of which you speak? In no place do the Canons, the Prayer Book, the historical documents or any other Anglican official errata define baptism by your (rather bold) ‘Markan’ formula.

    As for your idea of ‘spiritual baptism’ carried to other sacramental acts – let me give a specific or two. What about the couple that ‘feels spiritually married’ or the person who feels ‘spiritually ordained’ – and now want to be ‘officially’ a couple or priest. How is their sacramental experience any different then your Hindu walking to the altar and feeling spiritually baptized? The idea is that people are living into a choice, not a whim.

    And to get silly about it – what if I feel that I spiritually passed my driver’s test or obtained a medical degree? Admittedly, these are secular examples, but the principle is the same. I cannot simply declare myself baptized, because baptism effects others.

  59. D. C. Toedt says:

    RevK [#58] writes: “[B]aptism effects others”

    Funny, I thought it was . . . “marital relations” that did that 🙂

  60. RevK says:

    #58 Well, marital relations, too.

    The point being is that all sacramental acts involve the participation of others. One cannot baptize oneself; nor can one marry himself/herself. Doug Marlette picked up on the nature of this in his comic strip KUDZU when the secular humanist (and Episcopalian) Mr. Goodvibes married and later divorced himself.

    This same kind of church-approved narcissism is, I believe, at the heart of problems of the Episcopal church because it allows individuals to discount the clear mandate of Scripture, the clear teaching of tradition and the clear impetus of reason in the rather subjective light of ‘my personal experience of God.’

  61. nwlayman says:

    Susan Russell wouldn’t let me say several of the things folks have said above on her blog…Check out her commenters at her blog. The group think there is “See, we didn’t do it! And it’s OK if we did!”
    I asked what the difference between being an Episcopalian and *not* being one is. It apparantly overloaded the circuitry. I suggested the Epicopalians sort of change things every few days. Hit the “refresh” button, you know?

  62. rob k says:

    No. 33 – Your comment about Calif. is so silly and inappropriate, especially since I think you mean it seriously. As for the discussion about Open Communion for the unbaptized, it shouldn’t mean much to those Anglicans who hold that Baptism is an ordinance (Sydney, i.e. ?), and not a Sacrament.

  63. Bill C says:

    Larry (#33) …. unfortunately that would also take care of San Joaquin, although in case two it would have brought the diocese geographically closer to the Souther Cone, upset the birds on the Galapagos, and give ++s Bruno and Andrus food for thought!
    Oh, and still would have brought us all those lovely vegetables and fruit.
    Billy Graham, who preached in practically every country in the world, would have welcomed those of any race or religion but they would have heard the Gospel preached and an invitation to accept the Lord into their lives -clearly and unequivocally.