To the Conference of Bishops of the ELCA: We bring before you our concerns regarding “radical hospitality,” which we understand to propose the invitation of the unbaptized to the Lord’s Supper as a matter of principle. We are informed that such “radical hospitality” is already practiced in some ELCA congregations and is being advocated in others by certain leaders and teachers.
1. “Radical hospitality” disregards in principle the stringent warning against unworthy reception in the Scripture, as in I Corinthians 11:27–28.
2. It further disregards in principle the repeated emphasis of the Lutheran Confessions that the sacrament of the altar is for those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and public profession—a faith and confession whose first act is holy Baptism into the Lord’s death and resurrection. See especially The Large Catechism on “The Sacrament of the Altar” and The Formula of Concord 7, “Concerning the Holy Supper.”
3. It discards the age-old rule of faith by which the church has always understood Baptism as the entry into the cross-carrying Christian life, for which holy Communion is the nourishment.
4. As such, it also discards the ELCA’s own teaching in “The Use of the Means of Grace” (1997) as expressed in Principle 37 and Applications 37E and 37G.
5. The proposal of “radical hospitality” misleads by falsely suggesting that identifying the addressee of the promise of holy Communion as the baptized is an act of anti-gospel exclusion.
6. “Radical hospitality” fails to recognize Baptism itself as the truly radical act of inclusion. All people in every nation are called by the gospel to join themselves to Christ, who “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14), by baptism into a community in which “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female” (Galatians 3:28).
7. Under the cover of inclusivity, “radical hospitality” in fact deceives the unbaptized, encouraging them to participate in the sacrament without recognizing the entailed commitment to the cross of Jesus Christ and without discerning His body, both in the blessed bread and wine and in the holy community of those who take and eat it.
8. Baptism, repentance, and faith are not legalistic preconditions for grace, but the form grace takes as the Holy Spirit draws persons into a lifegiving new relationship with God.
9. As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we call upon the ELCA to remember in principle and in power the opening words of the Ninety-Five Theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he meant for the entire life of the Christian to be one of repentance.”
10. We exhort pastors and laity of the ELCA to self-examination as to whether our own lives reflect the way of the cross, the life of repentance, and the joy of faith, which are our proper witnesses to the unbaptized and in themselves an invitation to Baptism.
11. And we ask the Conference of Bishops to reiterate clearly the teaching of the whole church, the Lutheran Confessions, and the ELCA: holy communion is intended for the baptized, just as baptism is intended for the world.
Jon R Christenson
If there is shame, you need to be shaming St. Paul and 2000 years of Christian pastors and teachers.
Shaming doesn't lead to discussion.
The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts
Excuse me. Where do the Scriptures say the Twelve were not baptized?
As Dr. Eric Gritsch used to remind his students, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." So, in this case, the absence of the record of the baptism of the apostles is not evidence of the absence of their baptisms. Also, Last Supper, shared by Jews (Jesus and His disciples) before the death and resurrection of Christ, while the foundation upon which the Church's celebration of the Mass/Eucharist/etc. is based, is not precisely identical to the Church's post-resurrection celebration of the sacraments, particularly as observed by Gentiles grafted into the people of God by baptism.
Raymond Schulte1 month ago Comments: -
Frank Rothfuss, United States1 month ago Comments: The teachings of Jesus and the revelation of the New Testament affirm the difference between those who are children of God and those who are not. Both St. Paul and St. John distinguish between children of light and children of darkness, between children of wrath and children of mercy. The call of God creates a distinction between those who are within the reign of God and those who are outside of God’s kingdom. Yes, this distinction sets up two groups – insiders and outsiders. What keeps this distinction from being exclusive is the Great Commission which offers everyone a place in the Kingdom of God by inviting all people to become disciples through baptism and instruction. We do not achieve inclusivity by blurring or removing the distinction between children of light and children of darkness. That would be counterproductive to the mission of the church. We achieve inclusivity by proclaiming the Gospel and inviting people into the community, not as a guest at the table but as a member of the family. The concern for showing hospitality and inclusivity is a valid one. The church has not always been very good at including those who come from outside the family. But when Jesus demonstrated hospitality and inclusivity, he did it by being willing to go to the outsiders and share a meal with them in their own context. When he instituted Holy Communion, he hosted a meal for his closest disciples and shared his own body and blood with them. Holy Communion is an experience of fellowship with God and with sisters and brothers in the faith. Baptism is the entrance rite into that community, that family of God. So Baptism comes first.
Sarah Young1 month ago Comments: -
- We are now live!