Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LA Times Reporting: Diocese of Los Angeles Breaks Episcopal Canon on the Eucharist

Here's the story at GetReligion here and the LA Times here.

The LA Times reports:

Swami Sarvadevananda, of Vedanta Society of Southern California, was among about a dozen Hindu leaders honored during the service. He called Bruno's stance "a great and courageous step" that binds the two communities.

"By declaring that there will be no more proselytizing, the bishop has opened a new door of understanding," Sarvadevananda said. "The modern religious man must expand his understanding and love of religions and their practices."

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.


Here's what Canon 1:17:7 clearly states:

Sec. 7. No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.

So, if Los Angeles can publicly break canons, are the Episcopal Church canons law or just merely suggestions? Or are all canons not alike? Is this a double-standard?

Or does the word "baptized" have a new meaning?

Will the next step be for the Episcopal Church to start selling off the empty church buildings to the Hindus? We'll be watching 815 on this one.

8 comments:

Andy said...

Ya' know what BB, I have to wonder just how many times can a church flip the Almighty the bird before He says enough? (Perhaps that would make a resonable addition to "Blowin' in the Wind")

Its as if one just can't be shocked anymore by the behavior of Katherine's Kids.
Sigh...

Andy

RSchllnbrg said...

AAAAAAAaaaaagggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Make it stop, please, make it stop.


Reminds me of what was reported a long time back, in the October 1978 cover story for Harper's entitled "Trendier Than Thou: Manners and Morals in The Episcopal Church" ...

'There are no heresies in a dead religion.' (page 43)

And we have proof after proof of it.

William said...

I'm what readers of this blog might call "liberal" (to use one of the nicer words applied to those of us who think there might be a holy place for partnered gay people in the Church) and I'll frankly admit that I find the trend toward inviting all in attendance to partake in Communion to be troubling.

It is clearly a canonical breach and one, in my opinion, based on well-intentioned sentimentality, rather than solid theology. I am open to the possibility that such a case might be built and, from there, a change in the canons effected. In the meantime, though, as an average pew dweller, I am getting a bit tired of bishops acting "prophetically" in casual contravention of the agreed-upon bounds of our common life whenever they feel "inspired". Let all things be done decently and in order!

Matthew said...

william,

Theology is what you will never read nor hear in support of this practice. Our leaders have never bothered with any theological work up until now with their other theological innovations, why start now?

And of course, there will be no discipline imposed either.

William said...

Matthew, I understand your sentiment, but don't completely agree. There has been theological work done on, for example, The Most Important Issue of All Time. Whether one accepts To Set Our Hope on Christ and other efforts as adequate or not, at least systematic efforts have been made apply theological reasoning to the issue. Furthermore, Gene Robinson was indisputably elected and consented to properly within the framework of TEC canons.

In contrast, inviting the unbaptized to Communion, has, to date, no such attempts at churchwide discernment underpinning it. And it clearly contravenes a very plainly worded canon.

I don't propose we check baptismal certificates at the communion rail. Individual breaches should be dealt with pastorally. I'm simply asking (again, as one of those apostate liberals!) that we recognize what is normative in our common life and that we take this canon as seriously as, say, the Denis canon and not issue wholesale invitations to all and sundry. Especially if it's an intefaith event where a signficant number of non-Christians are in attendance!

Kevin said...

"And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory has departed from Israel." 1 Samuel 4:21

Dr. Alice said...

You might be interested in this : I recently emailed my rector (Paul Kowalewski, of St. James' Los Angeles) to let him know why I was not pledging. I included a list of practices I objected to, one of which was offering communion to the unbaptized. His response, and I quote, was:

We do not “demand” that people be baptized to receive communion (although the vast majority are) but rather invite any who wish to come forward to come to the table (I believe this is a Gospel practice and consistent with the Lord in whose footsteps we follow).

I didn't know there was a canon directly forbidding this until I read your post. Suffice to say, I'm not sorry I decided not to pledge.

Rev. Peter Dewberry said...

Posted for Rev. Peter Dewberry:

Is the Bishop of LA encouraging Christians to welch on our debt to Hindus?
During a joint Episcopalian/Hindu service held in St. John’s Cathedral, Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, issued a statement of apology to the Hindu religious community for centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them.
“I believe that the world cannot afford for us to repeat the errors of our past, in which we sought to dominate rather than to serve,” Bruno said in a statement read by the Rt. Rev. Chester Talton. “In this spirit, and in order to take another step in building trust between our two great religious traditions, I offer a sincere apology to the Hindu religious community.” The bishop also said he was committed to renouncing “proselytizing” of Hindus.

A welcher is “someone who evades debts or doesn’t keep promises” Surely, by apologizing to Hindus for Christians “proselytizing” Hindus, the Bishop is calling us to join him in reneging on a solemn obligation given us by God.

Oh! for the passion of the Apostle Paul
“I am obligated both to Greeks and Non-greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1: 14 – 16

Does the Bp of LA’s apology for Christian evangelism to Hindus reveal him to be willing to welch on his obligation to pass on the Gospel to all people. Furthermore his own actions encourage others to do the same. Consider for a moment St. Paul’s sense of obligation to preach the Gospel to all. “I am obligated to both Greeks and Non-greeks . . . “ verse 14. The KJV translates ‘obligated’ as ‘debtor’ which seems better suited to the context. Paul sees himself as being in debt to those who have not heard the Gospel.

John Stott, helpfully illustrates this sense of obligation to Greeks and Non-greeks by pointing out that there are two ways to get into debt.

“The first is to borrow money from someone; the second is to be given money for someone by a third party.” John Stott, The Message of Romans, Pg 59, IVP

Let’s say that I borrow $100 from my friend Jack, I am now in debt to Jack, until I pay back the loan. Suppose I meet up with Mike, a mutual friend of both Jack and I, Mike tells me he will be playing tennis later that day with Jack. I say to Mike, “Hey, Jack helped me out of a jam last week, I owe him $100, since you’ll be seeing him today, will you please give him the money for me?” Mike says “OK”, I then hand over to Mike the $100, by agreeing to accept this obligation, Mike is now in debt to Jack until he hands the money over.

The apostle Paul uses ‘obligation’ or ‘debtor’ (opheiletes) in the second sense. He has a deep sense of obligation to bring the Gospel God has entrusted to him to the Romans, and beyond. “That is why I am eager to preach the gospel . . .” verse 15.. This sense of being a steward of the Gospel obligation is strongly evident in the NT, especially in the Pastoral Epistles; Gal 2:7, 1Th. 2:4, 1Tim.1:11, 1Tim. 6:20, 2Tim. 1:14, Titus 1:3.

Bishop Bruno calls discharging this obligation an attempt “to dominate rather than to serve” I would call Bp. Bruno’s attention to a comment that Archbishop William Temple made in his commentary on John’s Gospel. Next to Jn 1:42 “And he (Andrew) brought him (Simon) to Jesus.” William Temple wrote one simple, yet profound sentence “The greatest service that one man can render another.” Far from a desire to dominate, spreading the gospel is an act of loving service to all.

Surely, in this context Paul’s next statement in Romans 1: 16 is highly significant, “I am not ashamed of the gospel . . .” This begs a question, does Bishop Bruno’s apology arise out of a sense of shame in regards to the gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified? Does he see the message of the cross as a foolish stumbling block?

Of all people a Bishop has a special obligation to fulfill this Gospel stewardship “an overseer (episkopos) is entrusted with God’s work” Titus 1:7.

-Connecticut