On Tuesdays two retired pastors and I get together for a Bible study on the upcoming Sunday’s Gospel reading. In our past Tuesday’s general discussion, I said, “I just heard that the Episcopal Church…” At saying “Episcopal Church”, both our brothers rolled their eyes and started chuckling. The Episcopalian Church-United States of America (ECUSA) considered this week at their General Convention dropping their canon law requirement that one needs to be baptized in order to receive the Lord’s +Body and +Blood.
This resolution caused a controversy but it failed to pass. I read two on-line reports on this, (here and here), and yet they state much from what is written and not written and are instructive of the failure of doctrine in ECUSA and other denominations.
Neither of these reports point out that there is no Scripture verse per se stating Baptism is requirement for communing at the Lord’s Altar. I speak about the Scriptural basis of Baptism as entry into the Communion at the end of this post.
Why is there is no mention of Scripture in these reports?
1. Scripture would clarify more of what is doctrinally wrong than only this newest salvo in the liberal Protestant denigration of Scriptural authority in their denomination, but, alas, that will not happen. Why? The most controversial aspects of the Reformation is still “sola Scriptura” but in particular, “sola”, “alone”. Many years ago, at a debate on homosexuality between Dr. Gilbert Meilander and Professor Paul Jersild (retired now) of Southern Seminary, Prof. Jersild in his opening stated he recognizes Scripture as an authority but also “experience and science”. The reports state that reception to the Lord’s Supper is all about “hospitality”, using an acceptable Biblical word and subsuming under it all other doctrines. “Hospitality” is simply a code word for “experience”, so in both articles those excluded from the Altar because they were not baptized tell their “stories”. It is an argument from experience not the Word of God and hence nothing is settled till the newest ecclesiastical ruling. Their experience of feeling excluded is authoritative for the dropping of this canon law. It’s all about “welcoming” and feeling good. Personal anecdote, more than the Bible, is what rules the day and has in many denominational debates (and by the way, political debates).
2. Notice then what is profoundly lost Scripturally and pastorally: both Sacraments are not the Lord’s own way of forgiveness of sinners, because in ECUSA and other such denominations, there simply are no sinners. The Biblical theology from The Book of Concord is no longer relevant:
What does such baptizing with water signify?–Answer.
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?–Answer.
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life
After all, ECUSA (and the UCC and ELCA), analogously like the American Psychiatric Association, moved “homosexuality” from the clear Biblical category of vice into the category of virtue. What is lost is repentance. What is lost is any possibility of the clear preaching and teaching of both Law and Promise. What is lost is both Sacraments in this newest phase of the attack on Scripture. They simply become rubber-stamping of the new post-Enlightenment social agenda. “When we say we have no sin…”
The Biblical Bases of Baptism as the sine qua non of Receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood:
As stated there is nothing per se in the Scripture about this and as any Jehovah’s Witness will do to confound the faithful: “Show me the word “Trinity” in a Bible”. Or show me the phrase “original sin” but all the above are abundantly taught in God’s Word and for brevity I cite two Scripture verses that could serve as sedes doctrinae for Baptism as necessary to receive the Lord’s Supper:
- “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (St. John 3: 3) Only through Holy Baptism into Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection (cf. Romans 6: 1ff) are we forgiven and born from above to be part of His reign receiving His Body and Blood in true Faith unto eternal life. “For my faith does not constitute Baptism but receives it.” (The Large Catechism) Our evangelism is always Baptismal and then Eucharistic.
- “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12: 13) The “one Body” is Jesus Christ, His Church, His Bride. Baptism is the only entry into His one Body. We do not join the Church but are baptized into it (Rev. Prof. Hermann Sasse). “To be baptized in God’s Name is to be baptized not by men but by God Himself” (The Large Catechism) A good Bible study of 1 Corinthians is the Apostle’s use of the word “body” and it is in this Epistle we have the Word of Institution. Baptized into His Body we receive His Body. His Supper will not avail one not baptized into the Church. The Church’s vocation is not to exclude or include but preach and teach Jesus Christ so that many will be baptized and taste and see that the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. For you.