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Randomness, Year 2
Issue 35

One Christ = One Church

Hee, hee. Chances are, the website has timed me out, having been gone for close to four hours. Oh well. I'm here. I'm in Ottawa now. It is very exciting. I love this place. It is beautiful. I have 982 things to talk about, so I'll have to be judicious. I think I'll address my most immediate thoughts first. Now for some Official Business. Let us give a widely random welcome to Al, our new recipient! Yay!

I'm starting off with a rhetorical technique utilised by many Anglican preachers--the joke.

So some people die and go to Heaven. St. Peter loads them into the elevator, and up they go. As they are going along, they talk about how exciting Heaven will be. They are, essentially, pumped. As they pass one floor, St. Peter tells them to be quiet. When asked why, he replies, "That's the Baptists. They think they're the only ones up here."

Last Saturday, my friends and I had a truly unique experience. For me, this was totally the best elevator story ever. We were waiting for this elevator to take us down from the 12th floor of res, and these guys were there. I was wearing my TEC shirt. On the front it has a fish and beneath it are the words "TEC Calgary". One of the guys asked me what TEC meant.

"Teens Encounter Christ," I responded. "It's a youth movement in Calgary."

He asked me what denomination I was. I said Anglican.

"Are there many of those churches around here?" he asked. I said yes. "Ah. I am not from here," he said. "There are all these different churches--Protestants and Catholics. I am from Lebanon. In Lebanon, there is only one Church. It makes sense, because there is only one Christ!"

As all but the very newest Recipients know, I'm all about unity. Unity is totally cool. If your body were not united, and your hand wants to go one way, but your leg disagrees--it would be not cool. The Body of Christ is similar. I live by these verses: "There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you wre called--one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." But our topic for today is not going to go over unity in general. I did that already.

I went to a church today. What type of church it was is irrelevant to the discussion. They had good teaching and were Bible-based. I am passing no judgment. All that ultimately matters is a heart for Christ. But they had a little not in their bulletin I wasn't exactly . . . thrilled about. It read:

"As our guest, you may be relieved to know that we do not expect you to attend the Lord's Supper, for two reasons. First, the Bible reveals that the Sacrament can bring spiritual harm to those who use it without understanding what it truly is. Therefore we instruct our communicants to cmprehend the essence of the Lord's Supper before we administer it to them."

Which was perfectly okay. I think that's a good thing to say. On to reason number two.

"Second, the Bible reveals that participation in the Sacrament is an expression of a united faith. That is why we share the Lord's Supper only with those who've declared a unity of faith with us, their fellow communicants. This practice is called "close" communion. If you have publicly declared your unity with us by communicant membership in another congregation of [this church], please inform one of the pastors. We will gladly extend altar fellowship to you."

Now, the pastor at this church was really nice, and very welcoming. The thing is . . . I am against close communion. At St Thomas, one of two churches with which I have had the most contact, there is a notice in the bulletin that says pretty much the opposite of the above. I believe that at St Thomas, the invitation to anyone who has been baptised, or has accepted Christ as his/her personal Saviour and feels God calling him/her to the Holy Table to partake of the sacraments. In Lebanon, there is only one Church, because there is only one Christ. In Canada, there are many churches (the practise of close communion at this church actually did not welcome members of certain churches of that same denomination), yet still one Christ. The unity that Scripture speaks of is the unity we share in Christ. Scripture does not mean the unity created by man and his doctrines. In I Corinthians, we see Paul speaking against people who say they are with either Paul or Apollos. How can we be a Church ready to save the world if we are not willing even to partake of the Sacraments together? Who cares about doctrine? As Christians we are all united in Christ. The Eucharist is a symbol of Christ's sacrifice, our communion with Him, and our communion with each other. I have had communion at IVCF events, at ecumenical events, at a Free Methodist church, and a Catholic Church (I don't think that, according to Catholic doctrine, I was supposed to, but Father Clem knew I was an Anglican PK and didn't mind . . .) other than with fellow Anglicans. And I'm sure Jesus didn't mind. I think He smiled to see His people coming together.

Desiderus Erasmus has what he calls the Philosophy of Christ. The Philosophy of Christ is the concept that we should live and worship according to what Christ tells us, rather than following the doctrines and ideas of man. I agree--we should be able to take communion, not just Anglicans with Anglicans, Lutherans with Lutherans, Baptists with Baptists, Methodists with Methodists or whatever but with anyone who is part of Christ's Holy Church.

Peace of Christ,
Matthew Hoskin

Copyright 2001, Matthew Hoskin