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My head exploded when I read this story in the Toronto Star: ‘Can a dog receive Communion?’ 

The story, the comments, the postmodernism, the relativism, the pet-worship, the biblical illiteracy and the sheer ignorance appalled me. 

First, the consecrated host is — or should be — received in reverence. Although Anglicans do not believe in transubstantiation, they still believe in the Real Presence.  How this occurs, they believe, is a divine mystery.  Next, last I knew, only baptised Christians are invited to receive Communion in an Anglican church. Third, as if I needed to say this, only humans receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who do not know the Bible — yes, many Christians — say that church rules are man-made and move with the times.  Church rules, however, derive from the New Testament. 

Holy Communion is a sacrament. Mainline denominations along with Catholics believe that Holy Communion is the greatest of the sacraments. In fact, Protestant churches have only two: baptism and Holy Communion (known as the Supper in some churches).  Some churches have a ‘closed table’, meaning that only church members can receive it. Yes, some churches may check your membership status with you before you receive Communion.

Although Jesus was speaking of unbelievers and mockers when he spoke the following words (Matt. 7:6), note the verbiage He used:

‘Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.’

On with the story now (link above), with a hat tip to the LCMS blog Cyberbrethren.  A dog-owning G20 protester befriended an Anglican vicar in Toronto after the recent street protests during that conference.  The Revd Marguerite Rea invited the man to a church service, as the police had harrassed him on the steps of her church, St Peter’s in Carlton Street.  The man attended the Communion service, dog in tow.  When it came time to approach the altar, he duly went up, accompanied by the dog. 

Accounts differ as to what exactly happened next. 

A member of the congregation wrote Bishop Patrick Yu alleging:

… the man asked the reverend to give the dog a wafer. But [Deputy Warden Peggy] Needham says she doesn’t recall the man making such a request. Instead, she said Rev. Rea instinctively leaned over and placed a wafer on the dog’s wagging tongue.

It just gets worse, doesn’t it?  I’m sure someone has got this far and said, ‘Women priests!’

“I think it was this natural reaction: here’s this dog, and he’s just looking up, and she’s giving the wafers to people and she just gave one to him,” said Needham. “Anybody might have done that. It’s not like she’s trying to create a revolution.”

This is sacrilegious

In the end:

Yu said when he spoke to Rev. Rea, she apologized for what she had done and said she would not do it again.

“Unless there is any further evidence that she is giving communion to animals, the matter is closed . . . we are after all, in the forgiveness and repair business,” he said.

Needham said the church has always been open to animals and once a year conducts a service to bless pets. Which is why the incident hardly caused a stir among the congregants – except for one.

Blessing pets!  Oh, dear!

Deputy Warden Needham’s said in closing (emphasis mine):

“In his email, the man’s argument was that Christ wouldn’t have liked it,” said Needham. “But in my opinion, Christ would have thought it was neat. It was just being human. And it made everyone smile.

‘In my opinion’ … Yes, it seems probable, doesn’t it, that our Saviour, who died an unimaginably horrible death on the Cross to free us from sin, would really have appreciated sharing His divine Body and Blood with … a dog.

Again, please note Matthew 7:6, wherein Jesus says:

‘Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.’

Apparently, the man who, quite rightly complained to Bishop Yu, has resigned his membership from St Peter’s and is seeking another church.

This pet deification is sinful.  It’s not only a sin against God but an injustice to the pet.  Only a fortnight ago I read a lengthy article in French newsweekly Marianne about the infantilisation of dogs.  Owners around the world spend increasing amounts of money — billions worldwide — dying their dog’s fur, buying it clothes and carrying it around like a baby.  The magazine quoted veterinarians who warned that they often see dogs with atrophied leg muscles because their owners carry them everywhere.  I wonder if people realise that every dog on the planet — even the tiny chihuahua — is descended from a wolf. 

Canines are lupines!  They are not human.  They are not baby substitutes.

Yes, they are probably the ‘babies’ a lot of pomos would like to have because they will never learn to talk and, outside of the occasional bark or walk, they are much easier to care for than an infant.  But I digress.

Back to Cyberbrethren‘s Lutheran take on the canine Communion story.  Have a read of the insightful comments, the best of which was reader Jack Kilcrease‘s (emphases mine):

Mainline Protestantism is based on the American middle class obsession with self-affirmation. This is also why there is also a psychotherapy obsession in our society.

The problem that they address is essentially with how Americans construct the self. We are all told growing up in this country that we can create ourselves and that the sky is the limit. There is no sense that we are something determined and that we have a certain role in God’s creation (orders of creation, natural law, etc.). If are in reality not determined by anything, then we are divine. Being divine, we are nevertheless situated in definite historical circumstances. This reminds us of the Gnostic concept of the divine self trapped in matter.

Here’s where the Mainline Protestant church service and psychotherapy come in. The problem with claiming all these things about our unlimited divine character is that they are factually untrue. When reality hits and the sky isn’t the limit, it make people who are trained to self-affirm unable to deal with it. So, the Mainline Protestant church-service is meant to help people feel good about themselves in spite of the fact that reality says that they are limited and sinful. If you listen to a Mainline Protestant sermon, that’s the sort of Jesus you get. Jesus just goes around affirming everyone, when the Pharisees’ goal is apparently to make everyone feel bad about themselves. The Church’s mission in this schema is to communicate and mediate to others the affirmation that Jesus gave back then now …

This is why there is the obsession with gay marriage as well. This dog thing is just the ultimate absurdity that this sort of thing reaches.

Stay tuned.  We shall examine Mr Kilcrease’s accusations of Gnosticism in a future post.  He is not wrong.  And, yes, the whole idea — including ‘this dog thing’ — is absurd.

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