Geoffrey Kirk considers the next surprise offered up by the liberal agenda
For the seasoned observer of the unfolding liberal agenda there is one over-arching question: what will they do next?
It was clear to most of us that the lesbigay programme (now triumphantly topped-out by the consecration of Gene Robinson) followed logically upon the ordination of women. Frank Griswold has obligingly spelled out that inexorable logic. In a speech at St Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City recently, Griswold compared the ordination of a practising gay bishop to the apostle Peter welcoming uncircumcised Gentiles into the early Church.
We have all heard that one before, in another context – and should have anticipated what would inevitably follow. Already Open Communion (the admission of unbaptised people to Holy Communion) is the hot topic among ECUSA liberals. The arguments are (but, of course you are way ahead of me!) of an ethical a priori nature.
Jesus, they say, was primarily a proclaimer of God’s ‘radical hospitality’ and ‘unconditional love’. He gave no explicit instructions about limiting communion to the baptised. True, the Church has done so for two thousand years; but things are different and we know better now.
Jesus, it is claimed, exercised throughout his life a ‘meal ministry’ which included the outcast, sinners, maybe even unbelievers. The Last Supper is merely another such meal, and the Eucharist its continuation. To restrict it to a clique of the pure and the orthodox is to deny its very nature and function.
Finally and conclusively, Open Communion is what people want, and it cannot be stopped. Said a bishop on the ECUSA Standing Committee for Ecumenical Relations when the topic was raised, ‘The horse is out of the barn on this one. There is nothing to do. No one is interested in theological arguments…so why bother?’
I feel almost ashamed not to have grasped that Open Communion was the logical next step. I was derailed by the rumbling argument about lay celebration. But lay celebration, as I now see, denies women the chance to put their hands to the levers of power. Open Communion neatly affirms radical egalitarianism, whilst leaving Mother on the throne.
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