But if we assume defiant sin, then I think that Nina and Kosta have more then adequately addressed this above. BUT in these cases nowhere is the admonition given to the priest to stop communing these people, rather the people are warned to stop communing.
If this were true, then we have open communion, turning no one away. But, of course, it's not true. We do turn people away — for not being Orthodox, for not coming to confession, and sometimes for not repenting of known sins.
It seems to me that excommunication is a different issue then God's judgment on those partaking of the Eucharist unworthily.
This view is exactly the problem. People think that excommunication is only about discipline — setting standards, enforcing rules, avoiding scandal, and protecting the community. It is about those things, but it is also (and I believe even more) about the harm done to the unrepentant who commune. The problem is that by failing to appreciate that harm, clergymen are relaxing the discipline out of a mistaken sense of economia. In doing so, they are assisting the unrepentant in their sins and contributing to their damnation.
The other issue is whether and in what manner it is proper to speak of the Eucharist as bad, or destructive. I do not see in the patristic quotes we have looked at so far any mention of this.
It's not the Eucharist that is bad, but partaking of it unworthily. St. Paul says that partaking unworthily leads to "damnation." St. John Chrysostom says, in Nina's contribution above, that partaking unworthily leads to "judgment, condemnation, punishment and vengeance."
To me it sounds like the Eucharist is being viewed kind of like an electrical outlet where if one is in the right spiritual shape then one gets recharged, and if one is in the wrong spiritual state then one gets short-circuited.
Exactly, that's how the Saints speak of it.
As if what one partakes of is not from the personal will of Christ but rather according to impersonal mechanical natural laws. It was to address this issue that I brought up the fact that there are modern elders who have talked about people partaking of nothing but bread and wine.
I believe that elders that "modern" are wrong, but even if they are right, reducing the Body and Blood to bread and wine by partaking unrepentantly is damning according to the Apostle and the Saints, and it should not be allowed if we care for the souls of the unrepentant.
Also it sounds kind of presumptuous to me to think of needing to protect sinners from God's judgment as if God does not know what He is doing.
We, the Church, are the agent of God's will. We act in Him and He acts through us to protect sinners from condemnation. We are
our brother's keeper.
There may be reasons to bar people from the Eucharist, either to bring them to repentance, or to protect the community, but worrying about the harm that partaking might cause to the sinner seems to me an issue that is exclusively on the head of the one partaking and soley between them and God.
Again, the thinking is judge not, let everyone commune, it's not our business, it's all between him and God
. Such thinking is the problem. Such thinking ignores the plain words of the Apostle and Saints that partaking unworthily is bad for you. It also ignores the Church's merciful practice of denying communion to those deemed unworthy.
I've tried to explain why partaking unworthily is bad for you in my post above using an example of miraculous healing, but no one addressed that post. To speak now in plainer words, by knowingly communing people who sin shamelessly in public, we are saying to them, "Don't repent. You don't have to. Your wickedness is worthiness."
What effect could that possibly have, other than to encourage people to sin even more?
Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 14 July 2011 - 03:12 PM.