On Open Communion
[Step 1] Suppose that the Last Supper, and the ongoing practice of Eucharistic communion, looks forward to the union between Christ and all the saved at the end of all things, and through it, the union of all the saved with the Father at the end of all things. Who should have a place at the table with Christ here below? All and only those who will be there with Christ at the end of all things. Surely others might be there here below, as Judas shared the Last Supper with Christ, but they ought not to be there; there is something incongruous in their presence.
[Step 2] Should it indeed come to pass that all people are saved, then all people here below have a place at the table with Christ. Yes, they may have a place to be taken only in good order, but that "only" in the preceding clause has no ultimate significance. It is, at best, only conditional--and the "only" used in this very sentence does, in fact, have ultimate significance. From the point of view of eternity, all would be God's children, all predestined to salvation--even now.
So should one ban a known mass murderer--surely a notorious sinner--from communion? Yes, in certain conditions, but not necessarily in all. Yes, if he has not repented; but then, what if you are a pastor on death row, and the mass murdering criminal faces execution the next day? The "no" enabling the smooth functioning of parishes in middle-class districts might reasonably give way in certain circumstances. After all, the "no" is a tactic at best, meant to aid a larger effort which alone gives communion any meaning it may in fact have. And there are genuine tears shed, from time to time, at communion.
[Step 3] But in fact do we know universalism--say, the doctrine that all are saved at the end of all things--is true? I do not think so. Nevertheless, Scripture leaves room for us to hope that all might be saved. That such a hope is intelligible and permissible--let alone obligatory--requires the possibility of universalism. It is not like a hope that there be square circles or a hope that God might after all not exist.
So we may claim to know that universalism is possible, which is in the end to say whatever actually occurs, God could have brought about the salvation of all. It is within his absolute power, even if not within his ordained power. Since universalism is possible, it is permissible to hope for its truth.
[Step 4] If such a hope is permitted, it is obligatory: there is no permissible alternative, and hope is obligatory inasmuch as to love our neighbors we must hope the good for them. For the Church to actually hope that none are saved, or only some and not others is repugnant to Christian morality.
[Step 5] Thus, to deny that universalism is possible is to deny the existence of a God who could save all. More: it is to say that such a God is impossible. However, the ancient faith of Christianity recognizes only a God Omnipotent--in effect, one who could in his absolute power have saved all.
[Step 6] The Church--obliged to hope for what may never come to pass, sc. the salvation of all--is obliged to open communion. It must here below live into its hope that all shall be saved. To hold that the Church is permitted to deny open communion is to hold either that the church is permitted to prescind from living into its hope here below, or that it is not obliged to hope that all be saved, or that God is just not powerful enough to save all, or.... That is, one is committed--so far as I can tell--to at least one of a number of tenets antithetical to the substance of the faith.