There are other reasons against open communion:1. For us Orthodox Communion has a extremely high level of sacredness
Second Chance, I think this was the reason you were referring to. The Eucharist is the center of Orthodoxy, because it "offers a true participation in the very Life" of Christ. However, I am not sure that it would diminish its value or centrality if we offered it to nonOrthodox, who did not give it the same level of sacredness. If a person loves a certain kind of food or hobby and shares it with someone who doesn't care nearly as much about it, he hasn't diminished its value for him. In fact, he could say that he shares it because he values it so much that he wants to let others experience it too. And on the other hand, some nonOrthodox could regard Communion with the same reverence as some Orthodox, or even more. 2. Maintaining the Purpose of Communion:
IALMISRY, you commented that: "Like "open marriage" (a more appropriate titel would be "loose"), it defeats the purpose."
You would be right to suggest that reproducing outside of marriage would defeat the purpose, just like giving the pieces of the Eucharist outside of the Eucharist itself would defeat the purpose.
Asteriktos asked "what is the purpose of marriage?"
Now I want to know what you mean too!
I think you mean that marriage (1) joins you to the other person and (2) gives the church's permission for you to reproduce. Likewise, in Communion, we are joined with Christ. An important difference is that millions of people accept the Eucharist and communion with Christ and eachother at the same time, but the church does not allow three people to be married together at once. If the church did, I am not sure it would defeat either of the two purposes. But it would go against Christ's teachings to us on marriage. I am not sure whether open communion goes against Christ's teachings, but it goes against the Russian Orthodox church's teachings. 3. A nonOrthodox church could have a different understanding of communion or doesn't give it correctly.
This would not apply to non-Canonical Orthodox churches like Old Belienvers, self-made "Ukrainian Patriarch" churches, or ROCOR before it reunited with Moscow, because they have the same theology as canonical churches. Mike, you mentioned that Eastern Catholics share the Roman church's theology instead of the Orthodox church's, but I don't know if that is correct.The Melkites
Second, a Melkite claimed to me that our Orthodox Bishop allows her to take communion, since some Melkite churches preserved Orthodox theology. She also believed that the Melkite church considers itself sovereign instead of subject to the Pope, although I doubt this is legitimate, since the Pope doesn't view it that way. After all, what would it mean if one church viewed itself as superior, and the other one viewed itself as sovereign, and they both maintained communion with eachother?
I notice that Melkite websites are often silent about doctrines that divide Orthodox and Catholics.
This Melkite website distinguishes itself from Catholic theology, claiming Melkites accept theosis: http://www.melkite.org/OES-RomanMelkite.htm
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association claims: "Only Orthodox textbooks are used in religion classes and only Orthodox theology is taught in the Melkite seminary."
A review of the book "The Melkite Church" explains: "more [Melkites] are proposing a local restoration of communion with the Orthodox without renouncing the link with Rome." (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2065/is_n2_v47/ai_16885567/)
The Melkite Information Center says: "The Pope rarely exercises the responsibilities and authorities of the job position “Pope”. Some people say that the only time that a Pope has exercised the responsibilities and authorities of a "Pope" since 1800 was in 1854 when Pius IX unilaterally declared of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The NonRoman Catholics, including Melkites, did not accept this declaration as dogma. They believe that only an Ecumenical Council can declare dogma." http://www.mliles.com/melkite/schoolcatholic.shtml
This Melkite website's understanding of the Eucharist doesn't mention the Catholic idea of Transubstantiation, instead relying on early church traditions: http://holytransfiguration.org/communion.htmChurch unity vs. Christian Unity vs. Unity in Christ:
PETER THE ALEUT, you said that St Paul condemned allowing Christians to bring their divisions to the Chalice in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22: "first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others."
In Galatians 2:11-14, St Paul rebukes Peter for failing to eat with the other big faction in the church, the Judaizers who required circumcision: "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation."
From these two passages, it sounds like St Paul demands open communion with fellow Christians. The Judaizers' doctrines taught that Gentiles must follow Jewish laws like circumcision, but St Peter, like the Orthodox Church, reject that. So St Peter removed himself from eating with them.
In 1 Corinthians 11:17-22, St Paul again complains that each faction eats dinner by itself and the factions doen't come together in order to eat the Lord's supper. St Paul is telling us to be one church, not to have factions, live together as a community, and share the Eucharist. In 11:21 He tells us that if we are going to eat separately, be "drunk", and let others be "hungry," we should do those things at home, not when we come together. At that time, Christians took the Eucharist in the course of a meal, just like Jesus gave it to his apostles during the Last Supper. In Corinthians 11, isn't St Paul complaining that when people from the factions come together they do not share this communal meal?
I feel like I could be doing the same thing St Paul warns against when I refuse the Lord's Supper with other Christians. We and nonOrthodox Christians are separated into factions, and when I come together with them in one place- their churches, I have not left my factionalism at home, but have refused to eat with them when they pass the communion plate around to me.
PETER THE ALEUT,
You explained that "we who call ourselves Christians are divided. The Eucharist is the crown of our unity as one Body in Christ."
If Christians with valid Eucharists are united in Christ, then aren't they also united with eachother, making them one body in Christ, despite their factionalism? If the believers are united in Christ, wouldn't they share the crown of this unity, the Eucharist?
You explained: "To the Orthodox, its celebration implies a unity that already exists, not a not-yet-existent unity for which we hope and strive."
If Christians with valid Eucharists are united in Christ, I think they must be united with eachother through Christ, and this unity does in fact exist.
I think that you mean: Sharing communion suggests a unity, so refusing communion suggests that they are not united. Sharing communion suggests the church is one whole, but we have divisions, so it is not one whole and we shouldn't share communion.
But from St Paul's writing in Corinthians and Galatians about the Judaizers and Orthodox, shouldn't we say that despite our divisions, we are one church?
Plus, sharing and refusing communion suggests unity and disunity from Christ. Refusing to share communion suggests nonOrthodox are not united with Christ. If nonOrthodox are not in union with Christ, then you are right that the Eucharist alone will not create that connection. But if Orthodox believe that nonOrthodox are in union with Christ, then they should share communion.
I disagree with the explanation that "it is best we respect what unity there is in a non-Orthodox church by not approaching their chalice for Communion, just as it is best we demand respect for the unity of our Orthodox Church by not allowing non-Orthodox to receive Communion from our chalice."
What is more important, Christians' unity in Christ, or the internal unity of our factions? If we refuse their invitation to the Eucharist, we respect their internal unity, but we disrespect their unity in Christ by disrespecting the unity that we both have in Christ, since if we are united in Christ, we must be united with eachother.Weak Reasons favoring open communion:
MIKE, it is hard to find detailed information of the concelebration. I think you are right that the Patriarch didn't concelebrate. Instead, his "arcdeacon" concelebrated with the Pope's archdeacon in their presence in 1987. ( http://nektarios.home.comcast.net/~nektarios/1511.html
The "True Orthodoxy" website says the Ecumenical Patriarch said that Orthodox can take communion in Catholic churches where no Orthodox church is nearby, and I believe that applies to all Orthodox.
I read that in some years after 1054, Antioch did not break with Rome, that the Bulgarian Orthodox church never excommunicated Rome, and that Finland's Orthodox church has open communion, but I am not sure about the last two.
If I were to invent my own standard, I would have to use the same as St Paul: even if Christians are in competing factions with leaders who are "approved" and "recognized", or their practices are as different as the Judaizers and the Orthodox, we should share the Eucharist. But if the person rejects that it is Christ's body, then sharing it does not make sense, especially in light of I Corinthians 11:27-29. This is the explanation Catholic priests give for refusing communion to protestants. Father Breck is right to point out that traditional protestants do believe in the transformation and real presence. So they should take communion in their churches without worrying about violating Paul's requirement that they discern the body. And if we would advise them to take communion in their churches without condemnation, we would offer it in ours.
But it's not my place to invent new rules for the Orthodox Apostolic church, nor do I want to. Either way it is hard for me.