Those who would offer communion to everyone understand the general meaning of a sacrament as described above. This view is appealing because there is logical consistency in the sacraments. Namely, that we do not do anything to earn God’s favor but rather receive it passively. So, just like justification by grace, God offers the gift of God’s grace in the sacrament of Communion. This understanding of the sacraments, although appealing, fails to recognize that each sacrament embodies a different part of the gospel message. Emphasizing or offering communion before baptism has the potential to harm our baptismal spirituality because of our belief that it is the wellspring of life with God. Our spirituality comes from Christ renewing us in baptism.
As we have seen baptism is that rite which makes us members of the Christ’s body. We are now different because of what God has done to us in the waters of baptism. Yet, we still need to continually have our sins forgiven and our faith strengthened. This is why communion is the sacrament that one receives after they have entered the body of Christ through baptism. Baptism begins our discipleship because it is that wellspring from which our faith comes and Communion is that which continually forgives our sins and strengthens our faith. Paul Bradshaw saw the potential loss in Communion without Baptism when he said:
“You cannot argue that baptism is the foundation from which all Christian discipleship springs and at the same time welcome the un-baptized to the Lord’s Table and place no requirement upon them to proceed to commit themselves to the Lord in baptism. The two simply contradict each other. Our difficulties over this matter often arise from the fact that so many people see baptism as a ritual act…and as detached or at least detachable, from the process of becoming a Christian rather than integral to it.”
Our baptismal spirituality is so integral to our spirituality it is evidenced by the beginning portion of our liturgy in the Confession and Forgiveness and Thanksgiving for Baptism. It is also evident in the architecture of many churches. Baptismal fonts are sometimes placed at the entryway of the church because it is through this sacrament that we are admitted to receive communion pointing to the primacy of baptism for the beginning of the Christian life of faith, i.e. discipleship.