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fightfightfight's avatar

How can doing Communion unworthily cause damnation to your soul?

Asked by fightfightfight (536 points ) December 30th, 2010

Tomorrow at my church, we’re having a New Year’s service and after the service there’s going to be communion. Wednesday, my pastor said to examine yourself because if you don’t, you’ll cause damnation to your soul, he also said you should stay home because if you do drink take it unworthily, he doesn’t want you to bring damnation to yourself. I was wondering, what does he mean to ‘examine yourself?’ To repent for all your sins or something else? And how do you make yourself worthy? I don’t want to do anything wrong and be damned eternally because I didn’t do it the correct way.

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35 Answers

crisw's avatar

It can’t.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

No soul, no damnation, no communion – no god or gods.

However, your pastor seems to know some good marketing tricks and reverse psychology. Of course the service should be packed to the rafters tomorrow: who wants to be thought of as ‘unworthy’ by everyone else who shows up? (That’s the reverse psychology.)

The ‘marketing’ aspect is true of many religions: “bring to ruin”. That is, get you to admit that your life is (however he ‘helps’ you to see this) “in ruins” ... and then offer to sell you salvation.

The only way any of this bullshit hurts you is if you swallow it. And then it can hurt.

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HoBe's avatar

it all depends if the Bible is important to you or not. I agree with snowberry – a private message is best if you want a sincere response. If you want, I will be glad to give an answer, also.

submariner's avatar

May I ask what denomination your church belongs to?

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submariner's avatar

Jellies, note that this is a general question, not a social one. Bashing the OP’s beliefs is not helpful.

@fightfightfight My understanding of communion in the Protestant churches is that it is strictly symbolic and a memorial of Jesus’s sacrifice. I don’t know the specifics of your pastor’s theology, but I don’t see how participating in such a service could damn you. Perhaps your pastor just wants to make sure that you take it seriously and not participate in a hypocritical way. If you sincerely believe in the teachings of your church, and your pastor or Sunday school teachers have not made clear to you any other conditions that you must meet in order to participate, then I can’t imagine any reason why you should be afraid to share in this communion. But of course it wouldn’t hurt to reflect on any possible sins you may have committed and repent of them. Doing so will make the service more meaningful to you.

Within the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, communion has other levels of meaning that do require an examination of conscience. But those churches teach their members how to examine their consciences and also offer the sacrament of confession so that worshippers can repent in a more formal way of anything that might lead to a sacrilegious communion.

It almost sounds like your pastor is giving you a garbled version of what communion means in the older churches. Some day, you might want to look into what communion means in different churches. It has been a central part of Christian worship ever since the Last Supper, but it has come to mean different things in different churches.

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tranquilsea's avatar

With simply asking this question I would say that you have little to worry about.

You may want to talk to your pastor about what he meant by what he said.

That being said I have little respect for fire and brimstone preachings.

Nullo's avatar

This suggests that you’re not risking your soul; rather, “This unworthy manner is described as excluding others when you come to communion and partaking of the elements to curb one’s hunger.” Which was apparently a problem.

@CyanoticWasp That’s like telling someone that he doesn’t have cancer (when he does) just to spare his feelings.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

It most likely means what @submariner mentioned. However, if you are truly concerned, I would ask the pastor or someone who would know (perhaps another member of the clergy?) exactly what he meant.

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Trillian's avatar

@CyanoticWasp What are you talking about? The point of communion to just that. You are communing with your god. It behooves the person of faith to stand before god without a stain of transgressions on one’s soul. Communion is considered a holy rite and as such there are purifications ncessary before taking part. This is not an uncommon practice, and you can look at it another way by cosidering the warrior who goes into battle without having slept with a woman in the past week or so. Or fasting for purification before undertaking a sacred task.
The principle is sound and not at all out of the ordinary. The fact that the idea is foreign to you only means that you know not very much at all about various religious ceremonies. Tha’s ok, that is entirely your choice. But that alone negates much validity from your argument. There is nothing at all unusual in the requirement of purification before a religious ceremony, and that has been true for centuries. And you can argue all day about the existence of god, it is a debate which I will not enter. Regardless, the psychological factors behind religion and ceremonial rites are sound and valid. And whatever the rites consist of, they are to be adhered to for more reasons than the one you so cavalierly dismissed.

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syz's avatar

[Mod says] Any posts that do not directly answer the OP’s question “How can doing Communion unworthily cause damnation to your soul?” will be removed as off-topic. Questions or arguments for the reinstatement of a quip should be directed to the moderation team via the “contact” button, not posted within the thread, further derailing it.

liminal's avatar

As @submariner points out there are as many ways to see christian communion as there are people who take communion. Your pastor is stating an opinion. Most likely an opinion about the bible verses I Corinthians 11:27–29.

Along the lines of what @Nullo points out in those verses, it is most likely that those being excluded were poor. Some bible scholars would say the author of Corinthians is stating that not giving consideration and equal place to the poor in the community is unworthy and damning behavior (not damning in the sense of ”eternal damnation” but bad or unfit behavior). Consider another reflection on those verses: http://www.jesuswalk.com/lords-supper/10_preparation.htm which asks the same questions that you ask. It leaves me thinking that many modern day Christians unworthily take part in communion, even though this seems easily avoided: have a heart for the broken and suffering aspects of our world and let this compassion move one to action. According to the reflection I linked, it is the person whose cold heart freezes out the voices of the hungry, poor, and oppressed among us that seems most in danger of unworthily taking communion.

I say all of this to point out that there are many opinions out there, and ultimately, you are the final judge of what is right for you.

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Nullo's avatar

@liminal ‘In an unworthy manner’ gets some elaboration elsewhere in Scripture (Romans, I think); some people were gorping the bread and wine as if it were a meal. To which Paul says, “If you’re hungry, eat before going to church.” They did have meals together, but it was a different event, for a different purpose. Communion is quite ceremonial.

Also, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to call this a matter of opinion; God wants things to be done right, and that means His way. Not your way, or what you or someone else thinks is His way.

And hey, how’ve you been, haven’t seen you in a while. :D

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Nullo Do you mind if I ask – what denomination are you?

Nullo's avatar

@Nullo Evangelical non-denominational, in fact. My present church belongs to an organization that emerged from the so-called Jesus Movement, in the late 1960s and 1970s.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Nullo Cool. Were you raised in this church, or did you find this particular sub-sect of beliefs later in life?

Nullo's avatar

I’ve attended quite a few churches I consider myself to only recently have finished being raised. Two or three were associated with the same organization, another with a similar (but ultimately different) organization, and a half-dozen churches that were not a part- at least not in any way that I (who didn’t really pay attention to this stuff) could tell – of any organization. Though a couple or three of them were a part of a network.

Why, if I may ask, the sudden curiosity?

liminal's avatar

@Nullo, it has been awhile. I am well, been busy with school. Good to run into you. I hope you are well. There is also talk about gorging on the bread and wine in the earlier verses of the Cor chapter I linked. I hope you didn’t take what I said as dismissing you, I was just adding some info. Given the pastor almost verbatim quoted Corinthians I went with those verses.

How does one know ‘God’s way’ in this matter without forming an opinion? One only needs to look at the varied ways different denominations observe communion to see that how one observes communion comes down to forming an opinion. This isn’t to say that all opinions are equally reasoned or arrived at (or even that the right one is knowable). It is to say that for a person to say “xyz is the right way to take part in communion”, they have to form an opinion, about which interpretation (opinion) of the verses and tradition is best (which is also an opinion).

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Nullo I’m taking a religious studies class this coming semester.

Nullo's avatar

It doesn’t hurt to confess your sins beforehand, either.

@liminal
No offense taken; my memory is not sufficient to recall all of the instances of communion abuse. :D—
Knowing God’s will is as simple as asking Him, and then listening.
You might form an opinion, certainly, but with God, your opinion has no bearing on the facts. We tend to forget that, what with post-modernism and all.

@papayalily I wish you well in the course, then.

The actual act of the observance has its variations (wine/grape juice, individual cups/common cup, sipping the wine/dipping the bread into the wine – I heard once of an impromptu Communion that involved coffee and cookies) but the meaning behind most of them is the same. As far as I know, there are very few really big differences, and most of those are between wildly divergent groups in the first place, as with the Catholics and the Protestants and even those are still pretty similar.

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