Anglican and 39 Articles

Any comments on this one article of 39 which are important in the Anglican Church?

It is used as basis to withhold partaking of Holy Communion to someone baptized in RC-
however there has been long span of time since attending church…

How does it benefit someone being told ( indirectly) they are wicked?
I thought we are all sinners, but for the grace of Christ Jesus.

And being held apart from all the congregation. Someone who believes in Jesus Christ as Savior., Son of God Almighty, and Holy Spirit.

29th of 39 article reads:

  • XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
    The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.*

This following comment to an article regarding Communion Resolution is from ENS:

When I walked into my church a little over two years ago I was a 36 year old woman who had never been baptized. I made a point of letting the congregational development director know I hadn’t been baptized, which is when I learned there are exceptions to this “law” made openly and knowingly. Soon after, as part of greeting us before the service, the priest gestured to the altar and said, “This is Christ’s table, and we don’t believe he would turn anyone who seeks a relationship with him away. All are welcome at his table.” I went to the rail that day, and nearly every Sunday since. I was baptized along side my three children a few months later, and confirmed along side my eldest a few months after that.

Now I serve as Clerk on the Bishop’s Committee, will cast the lay vote for my church for the Bishop Suffragan in a couple of weeks, and have started a discernment process. My children serve as acolytes and my husband works as both a greeter/usher and as the Treasurer. All of which helps our beloved little church and none of which would have been possible if it weren’t for the exception that allowed the priest to love me as Christ’s own even before I bore the mark that will last forever.

It was Love that brought me to the rail, that drew me to baptism, that stirred my enthusiasm for learning about the Episcopal Church through confirmation, and it continues to be that genuinely unconditional love that fills my heart as I serve my life as a proud Episcopalian. (end)

Christ never turns away anyone who comes to Him. Why does a church?

…I am sitting in a painful place right now… I was told by the A. priest, he would have to answer to Christ if he allowed me to partake. ( condemnation)
I am now in A catechism- just a few classes. Others in catechism are being allowed to take communion. I am the only one, the exception in entire ( very small ) congregation.

He says they have not been away as long from church as I have. Because I have asked him why I am the “only one” and I guess he sees this as " carnally and visibly pressing my teeth" so he feels encouraged in his decision.

So I have thought maybe this is God’s will…giving me a place to increase in humility-
to keep my eyes on Him and not on circumstances around me.

Maybe this is the point I will go see a RC priest. or maybe I will join the many who have walked away from church all together. or maybe I can see God’s will in all this and turn it all over to Him. and deepen my surrendering, and know only He has control and just continue where I am in A church.

if you read this far, thank you for your patience and doing so.

The Catholic mass is the marriage covenant of Christ to His Bride, the Church. This is evident in both Catholic tradition (CCC 1617) and Sacred Scripture (Jn 3:29). When Jesus says at the Last Supper, “In my Father’s house, there are many rooms. . .I am going to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to myself” (Jn 14:1-3), His disciples would immediately have recognized this in light of the Jewish marriage tradition: the bridegroom and the bride are engaged, and then the groom goes to pay the price for the bride, and to literally add on to his father’s house a room for them, and when he is finished, he returns to bring her home with him. (Check out for a good synopsis of Jewish wedding customs.) The disciples would have recognized that Christ was proposing to take His Bride, the Church home to His Father’s house.

If the Last Supper is the marriage covenant, then the consumation of that marriage is the Eucharist, where “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Christ is the bridegroom who left heavent to be united to His Church, and the two become one body, allowing us to enter into union with God. Therefore, in the same way that one should hold off on having sex before marriage–even if the couple is engaged–one desiring to enter the Church should hold off on receiving Communion, even if he or she believes in the Church’s teachings. This allows the sacrament to be preserved as a covenant with Christ Himself, and not just a mere symbolic partaking in the body of Christ.

Dear Sister in Christ,

I am RC, not a priest, juts a lay believer, man of 56,
I don’t suppose any such situation could happen in the RC church, but maybe I am wrong. At least no such article of faith or discipline is known to me. I probably don’t really understand the whole affair within the Anglican Episcopal tradition. You are writing that this article and its application to withhold the Holy Communion from someone is being used against those who were baptised within the RC - but you were not, if I understand well.

You are not wicked, believe me! at least not in the eyes of God, and of many many people, like me. According to me it is not a question of articles of faith, or of Church discipline, but of a personal attitude of that priest.

My point would be: If you even had taken the Holy Body of Christ before being baptised, which is considered a sinful act, yet as we are all taught - the baptism takes away from you ALL sins committed before,

I would tell this to your priest. He may be over-formal, but he should reflect upon this simple yet how important fact of our common faith.

“If your sins were like crimson red - you’ll become white as snow”.
(sorry for my quoting the text from memory and only in my own translation from Polish and not from a recognised English translation - the essence, not the words is what I mean).

Humility is certainly a good thing - if it comes from within; if it is imposed by somone else it’s but a humiliation.

Don’t go away from Church! If you have to leave your local church (parish), go to another one, or go to the RC (there are some communities of Anglicans re-united with the RC Church, as I have heard - I do not know the details, I’m living far away). Yet do not lose your faith, I will pray for you, even that I don’t know your name. I shall also pray for that priest that he may review his opinion. And you also - pray for him as well, like Our Saviour on the Cross, and Saint Stephen the first Martyr, and many other saints prayed for their oppressors. I do not want you to think that your priest is your oppressor the way that the others were in the situations described above, I can only perceive your suffering in this trial, so “he is not understanding what he is doing”.

I hope this trial you are suffering now will not diminish your faith but will help you grow. Try to find the memoirs of Mother Theresa from Calcutta, she was very frequently suffering a kind of despair even deeper than yours. Maybe this could strengthen you?

If you want you may write me a private message or an e-mail though this message board, just click on my nickname, then I shall certainly answer you.

Yours in Christ

Maciej (i.e. Mathias)

Giving communion to an unbaptized person is confused thinking at best and sacrilege at worst.

I am not conversant with. Anglican doctrine, but if that article is correct, then those who are not baptised in the Anglican church are not seen as part of the faithful. I don’t want to go into the justice or injustice of that, rather I was going to comment on your state of mind, if you don’t mind. You were baptised in the Roman catholic Church you say? Then how come you speak of the Anglican church when by virtue of your baptism (which is indeed a mark on your soul) you are already a member of the Body of Christ? Any other baptism you receive is of no effect.
Also, if you are trying to return to Church again and are taking catechism classes but are restricted from receiving communion because of your long duration away from Church, it suggests to me that this is something tied to their doctrine. Which A. priest is wrong? I don’t know. But before you become one with the congregation, I think you should evaluate and try to understand the doctrines of the Anglican church because this same doctrine that you are struggling with is what you will have to affirm once you are through with the classes and are received by the A. Church.
On a happier note, God directs his children, and if you are of the Truth, you will hear His voice. So open your heart to seek the truth, and the Truth will set you truly free!
God love you, dear.

Scripture is quite clear about the matter:

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Corinthians 11:29)

Church of England Canon law states that those to be admitted to the Lord’s Table must be communicant members of Christian churches in good standing with their own church. Others out themselves in grave spiritual danger by receiving.

Article XXIX is a follow-up to the previous article, which begins, “XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.”

Article XXIX reinforces the idea that this is a sacrament that needs to be taken “rightly, worthily, and with faith,” and that if it is not done so, then the Lord’s Supper is no longer a blessing. I like the way the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it, “Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament, yet they receive not the thing signified thereby; but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation.” The reason for this comes from 1 Corinthians 11:

*27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.*

The Anglican church I attend explains the reason for closed communion in this way:

"The center of our worship is the Holy Eucharist. Other traditional names for this service are: the Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, and the Divine Liturgy. It is the service specifically commanded by Jesus in the New Testament. The Eucharist joins our offering of worship to Christ’s offering of Himself upon the altar of the cross. As He promised (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 6; I Corinthians 11) Jesus is truly, spiritually present under the outward forms of the consecrated Bread and Wine, to infuse our lives with the spiritual strength of His life.

By receiving Holy Communion, we give our Solemn Assent, our “Amen,” to the entire Anglican Eucharistic Service. We express our belief that the Eucharist is a spiritual sacrifice which must be administered by a bishop or a priest whose ministry derives in succession from the Apostles themselves. We express also our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Because of the seriousness of these affirmations, this Church does not presume to invite those who in good faith cannot yet accept these beliefs to compromise their conscience by receiving Holy Communion at our Altar. It is for these reasons that we are not an “open Communion” Church. Those who do so believe, and who have been confirmed by a Bishop in Apostolic Succession, and who are spiritually prepared, are welcome to receive Holy Communion.

Preparation for Holy Communion generally takes the form of private prayers. In many Anglican parishes, those physically able to do so refrain from eating ordinary food prior to morning Communion, or for three hours prior to an evening Communion."

By the way, not knowing what ENS meant from the original post (turns out it’s the Episcopal News Service), I searched a bit and found an interesting article from which this excerpt comes:

“Still, the requirement of baptism before Eucharist remains and hearkens to the early church. For example, the Didache, a catechism dating from the late 1st or early 2nd century, tells Christians, “… but let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord …” And scholars suggest there is evidence from early church liturgical sources, including The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome that non-baptized members of the Christian community had to leave the eucharistic liturgy altogether after the proclamation of the word.”

When I visited an Orthodox church for an extended period a few years ago, and had started their catechism class, there was a point in the liturgy just prior to the Eucharistic portion that ended with the words “catechumens depart.” No one said I had to leave at that point, but I felt uncomfortable staying and would often go out to my car for private study while waiting for the service to end. An OCA site explained it this way:

"During the Liturgy there is a Litany for the Catechumens, which ends with the deacon exclaiming, “Catechumens, depart!”

Catechumens were individuals preparing to be baptized in the Church. In former times, prior to the beginning of the Eucharistic portion of the Liturgy, all those who were not prepared or unable to receive the Eucharist were dismissed. The dismissal of the catechumens was one of these, and it is generally understood that, upon their dismissal, they went off for further catechesis in preparation for their eventual Baptism.

Today, unless the local custom dictates otherwise [and I have never encountered this], no one actually expects the catechumens to depart at this time. In other words, if no one explicitly ushers you out, then you should feel free to stay for the entire Liturgy, without taking Holy Communion, however."


Would it be correct, then, Indifferently, to assume that you do not object to the CC’s law that states that those to be admitted to the Lord’s Table must be communicant members of the Catholic Church, with no mortal sin on their souls?

I understand Rome’s position. My theological views are somewhat different but fundamentally I agree that those in a state of grave and unrepentant sin should not present themselves at the Lord’s Table to receive.


And not to belabor the point, but I want to make sure that I understand you correctly: you do not take offense to Rome’s position that you cannot receive the Eucharist at any Catholic Church, yes?

Just passing by, but I don’t take offense. In case anyone were interested.

And I do hope all are remembering that whatever the Articles say, they are in no sense normative for Anglicans, generally? 'Tis a subject I do posts on, occasionally.


No, I don’t take offence. In a strange way I find it quite complimentary, and I think it’s rather nice of Rome to remember the English Reformation which I think so important, but which so many people seem to have forgotten about.


Actually no Episcopalian is required to subscribe to the 39 articles. In the 1979 BCP the articles were placed in an appendix as one of several historic documents.

So why argue? I know that unbaptised people are not to commune period. But there are a few very liberal parishes that do commune them in violation of the canons of the Episcopal church.

I see it as analogy to college courses. You can’t take biology 202 before you take biology 101. In that way I see baptism as a preriquiset (SP) to going to Holy Communion.

No Anglican is, save, in a technical sense, ordinands of the Church of England.


According to the OP, article 29 is being used as justification for not allowing him or her to partake of communion, so obviously it is normative for that particular Anglican church. I’ve also read that the Reformed Episcopal Church includes them as among its formularies. Apparently you know of some Anglican groups which have discarded the 39 Articles, but that doesn’t mean that all have.

The thing here is, I’m really not sure I understand the OP’s enquiry. Is he being told he must not approach the Lord’s Table to receive because he has not been baptised? If so this is right and proper. Until recently most parishes did not admit anyone til after confirmation.

And I’m for that, still.

Yes, I read the OP as not happy that there is any requirement to receive the Eucharist.


I know lots of folks who have. And lots of folks who have not. Any Anglican individual, or parish, or jurisdiction, could declare that the Articles govern him/them. My point was that no Anglican must do so, by legal fiat, due to the mere historical existence of the Articles, save the ordinands of the CoE (technically), IOW the Parliamentary Act of Subscription (1571). The requirements stated in there constitute a sort of job description for CoE clergy, the CoE being an Erastian Church.

All too many folk discover the Articles and think they are a form of universal Anglican Confession, which is what I meant by “generally”. They aren’t. I do believe the REC speaks highly of the Articles, yes. And if next year they decided to put them in an historical section of the Prayer Book, that would be all right, too. But the clergy of the CoE have a law facing them. What that law means, and how it is enforced, is another matter, but the CoE affirms the Articles.

We shall amend my statement to say the Articles are not necessarily normative for any Anglican, save the ordinands of the CoE.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit