The Key Passage in the Paedo-Communion Debate

All of our previous posts can in one sense be said to be a preface to this post. It should be fairly obvious that the ultimate question cannot be settled without a detailed examination of 1 Corinthians 11. There can be no serious doubt that it is the single most important text in the debate. Venema devotes an entire chapter to this passage, and I would highly recommend his careful treatment not only of the passage, but also of the various views that have striven for supremacy in the interpretation of it. I would sincerely hope that all PC advocates would find their position fairly treated. Venema’s treatment of the PC exegeses of the passage certainly jibes with my own reading of PC positions on the passage.

We will start with some more contextual concerns. We can start with this question: what is the situation which Paul is addressing? PC readings have concluded that the situation is one of factionalism, ungodly pride, and humiliation of the poorer members of the congregation by those who are richer. Thus the Supper was becoming a means of denying the unity of the body, which is inherently opposed to the nature of the Sacrament itself. So, if the Supper is supposed to show unity, that happens when everyone participates, with no one excluded. Thus, if children are excluded, that would defeat the very purpose of the Sacrament, which is to show unity in the body. PC advocates point to 1 Cor. 10:16-17 in particular to show that this is the case. Now, certainly we can say that the unity of the body of Christ is of paramount importance all throughout the letter of 1 Corinthians. Paul says it in very many different ways, ranging from the outright condemnation of factions (chapters 1,3), the condemnation of sin in the body for the good of the church (chapter 5), the avoidance of legal disputes (chapter 6), an encouragement to view Paul’s ministry as true apostleship (chapter 9), and the example of OT Israel (chapter 10), the Lord’s Supper (11), spiritual gifts as exemplifying unity in diversity, and especially the metaphor of the body (11), and the discussion of love (13). One can say that the unity of the body is perhaps the main thread that holds all of 1 Corinthians together. However, that fact does not preclude the discussion of who may participate in the Lord’s Supper, nor does unity in the church body as a whole exert some kind of particular pull one way or the other on the participation of the Lord’s Supper. And that is true for this one simple reason: credo-communion advocates do not agree that exclusion of infants from the Supper shows disunity in the body of Christ. This is especially true if the entire church agrees that this is how they should participate in the Lord’s Supper. Unity is more than possible even if not everyone participates in the Lord’s Supper.

The second contextual issue is the beginning of chapter 10, which Venema does not treat. If all participated in baptism into Moses, and all ate of the Spiritual Rock that followed them, which was Christ (no matter what their age), then does this not give prima facie evidence that fundamental continuity should exist between the wilderness wanderings of the people of Israel and the Lord’s Supper? This passage, by the way, is a very difficult passage for credobaptists, since it is a clear instance of “baptizo” being used in the New Testament of infants. Is it true then, that credo-communionists are being inconsistent in their reading of this passage? I would argue that it is not the case. For one thing, as Venema says of another passage, but it could also apply to the first part of 1 Cor 10, “I object to the use of the context to override the clear particulars of the passage.” With regard to baptism, there is no 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 in the New Testament. So, the participation in baptism has continuity with regard to infants in 1 Corinthians 10. And with regard to adult participation of the Lord’s Supper, there is also continuity between 1 Corinthians 10 and 1 Corinthians 11. However, the way in which participation is required in 1 Corinthians 11 means that 1 Corinthians 10 does not tell us that infants have to partake. This will need to be argued more fully below.

And now, to the passage itself. Let us ask a series of exegetical questions which will focus our discussion. First of all, what is the nature of the remembrance in verses 24-25? Should it be translated as an objective memorial, as some PC advocates suggest? Or should it refer to subjective remembering? Advocates of the former reading point to Noah and the rainbow, where God is said to be the one doing the remembering. However, the background connection between Noah and the Lord’s Supper seems to me to be questionable at best. There is a much nearer antecedent of the word “remembering” for our purposes, and one much more likely to be in the background here. It is not the same root, although it is related. But in Exodus 12:24, the memorial nature of the Passover fairly clearly points to human remembering of God, not God remembering of His own acts. The emphasis is on how the people will observe this day, how they will be reminded of God’s activity. The word ἀνάμνησιν can mean either a human remembering, or God remembering, but in the context of Exodus 12, it would seem to me much more likely that humans are doing the remembering. This does not solve the question of who should participate. That much is evident, because in Exodus, the context is that of the first Passover, in which all Israel participated, or at the least, a good case can be made for it. However, the appeal to Noah seems to me quite far-fetched. It certainly does NOT prove that all instance of the word mean a memorial to make God remember, a position some PC advocates seem to put forward. Since the instances listed in BDAG include both meanings, it would seem to me that context must decide. For me, the decisive factor in the context of 1 Corinthians 11 is verse 26, which fairly clearly indicates that the activity in view of proclamation is done by the participants. The “for” at the beginning of verse 26 indicates that verse 26 is an explanation of the remembering in verses 24-25.

The next question is really the most crucial question, and perhaps the best insight in the entirety of Venema’s book: the switch to a generalizing “whoever,” “a man,” and “he” in verses 27-29, which indicate that Paul is now talking about how anyone can participate worthily in the Lord’s Supper. In other words, the focus has shifted from the particular abuses which gave rise to the discussion about the Lord’s Supper. No longer is that paramount in the passage. Instead, Paul moves from that concern to a discussion about how anyone participates correctly in the Lord’s Supper. See Venema, pg. 117. He puts it this way: “Though the apostle began his treatment of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11 with a description of the inappropriate behavior of some members of the Corinthian church, he now moves to a series of general instructions that apply to all members of the covenant community.” In my mind, this is the most devastating argument against the PC position. The exegetical evidence which Venema adduces seems to me conclusive on this point. I have not seen any PC advocate deal with this argument. Instead, they run roughshod over the passage, arguing from the context and ignoring the particulars of this shift that happens at the beginning of verse 27.

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91 Comments

  1. tim prussic said,

    July 13, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Pastor Lane, I don’t have Venema’s book (begging a thousand pardons), so I’d like to ask a question that he might well answer. I appreciate the exegetical work done on the shift from the particular abuses to a general admonition. My question is how general and how broadly are the Apostle’s admonition is to be viewed? While the admonition may reveal a broader principle, are we justified in generalizing it in toto or should the broader principle be seen as clearly tied to the occasion? You seem to treat the generalization as a blank check, i.e., these general principles are applicable without reference to the original occasion. PCs want to limit the application of the general to problems like the problems in Corinth. Can we separate the general admonition from the specific occasion? It seems that CCs do just that, where PCs want to maintain a connection, which limits the scope of the admonition.

  2. VRH said,

    July 13, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Pastor Lane, It may be worth noting that this best insight from Dr. Venema was also presented earlier in Dr. George W. Knight’s careful exegesis of this passage in the Knox Seminary Colloquium dealing with the Federal Vision. Dr. Knight’s work here is thorough, detailed, and insightful, and I highly recommend it. As a part of that colloquium, Dr. Peter Leithart provided a response to Dr. Knight’s exegesis and that response was demonstrably wanting for substance.

    You are spot on in your assessment — this is a devastating blow to the PC understanding of this passage.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    July 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Tim, good question. I think Venema would say (and I would certainly agree with him) that the broadening of the application to everyone who participates is clearly marked. In other words, the specific abuses were treated before verse 27. Of course, they never fade completely out of sight, as I think verses 33-34 indicate. However, what Paul intends by the generalization is that a general principle has application in a specific situation. Of course Paul’s letters are occasional in nature. However, that should not govern and limit everything Paul says to a particular situation. Paul often brings in general principles to speak to a specific situation. The question is this: when does Paul do that? I would argue that the shift in verse 27 is an indication that he is doing just that in verses 27-31. The general principle of how the Supper ought to be observed will have a certain effect in the context of the Corinthian problems.

  4. tim prussic said,

    July 13, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks, Pastor. I appreciate your work on this. PC’s been an interesting ride for me. Through seminary, I became what we could call emotionally convinced of the PC position, but I was not yet intellectually convinced. I’ll confess that I’ve not yet done the work to iron out my position, but your input (and Venema’s) has been quite helpful, as has Pastor Wilson’s. Thanks, again.

  5. Dave Lort said,

    July 13, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Lane,

    I too have not read Venema’s argument, so perhaps the following question is answered there, but it is a question that immediately occurs to me in reading your presentation. If we argue that v.27-31 introduce a general principle that encompasses, but is not limited to the specific abuses of the supper in view, how do we then explicitly define the general nature of the offense in view without assuming the point under debate, i.e., what does it mean to not discern the Lord’s body?

  6. greenbaggins said,

    July 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Dave, I’m not I understand your question, but I’ll give it a shot. I am not claiming that the offense in Corinth was of a general nature. It seems to be fairly specific, according to Paul’s description. The argument here is that Paul addresses a specific problem with an expanding general principle that expands specifically at verse 27.

  7. Dave Lort said,

    July 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    So how do you define what the general principle expands to without appeal to the specifics of the earlier argument in the passage, or without making the expanded definition so dependent upon other passages that 1 Corinthians 11 no longer becomes the “definitive” passage for answering the larger question in view? If the error of “not discerning the Lord’s body” is not sufficiently self-defining to preclude argument, and not defined by the immediate context, it must be defined by appeal to other passages. Hence it’s meaning is significantly determined by the understanding of the argument you already bring to this passage instead of being determining your answer to the question. And if that is case, doesn’t that weaken in some sense the assertion that this is a “devastating argument.”

    At a cursory reading, the introduction of the generalizing terminology seems to be a natural mode of expressing either a change in scope of argument (whoever among all people everywhere) as you suggest or a generalizing within the context of the church under discussion (whoever among you, the church at Corinth as defined by the immediate context). So, if it can bear either scenario, how devastating is it? Of course, maybe I’d change my mind if I read Venema’s details. I’m mainly just thinking out loud here.

  8. Dave Lort said,

    July 13, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Sorry, that sentence should have said,

    Hence it’s meaning is significantly determined by the understanding of the argument you already bring to this passage instead of determining your answer to the question.

  9. Dave Lort said,

    July 13, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Gotta do more proof reading before hitting send – its, not it’s – I give up!

  10. jared said,

    July 14, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Lane,

    You say,

    And that is true for this one simple reason: credo-communion advocates do not agree that exclusion of infants from the Supper shows disunity in the body of Christ. This is especially true if the entire church agrees that this is how they should participate in the Lord’s Supper. Unity is more than possible even if not everyone participates in the Lord’s Supper.

    Not agreeing and actually demonstrating are two different things. You can disagree with the PC position all you want but if it is right then you merely disagreeing will not change anything. Also, if the “entire church” clearly doesn’t agree on this issue, then what? If I recall correctly, there was a very substantial minority report attached to the PCA’s Study Report on Paedocommunion (the minority report begins on page 5 of the pdf doccument and/or on page 502 of the Digest).

    Of course it can be argued that infants aren’t really members but that is only because there is an already-established hierarchy of membership. Oh he’s a member, just not a communing member. Methinks covenant theology, much less Scripture, doesn’t bear such a nuanced (read divided) conception of Jesus’ body. So why shouldn’t my almost 2 year old son participate if he wants to? Because he can’t articulate his “discerning” of the body in an “adult” (i.e. “session approved”) manner? I shouldn’t expect him to either (should I?). How is this construed as preserving the unity of the body if my son, a publically recognized/acknowledged member of the body, is not allowed to participate? In other words, how is unity preserved with such a divided concept of membership?

    Let me further press the issue from, perhaps, a different angle. Paul says that “a man ought to examine himself” but what about those who have no concept of self-criticism (say, my 2 year old son)? How would it be possible for such a one to eat and drink unworthily? In other words, what Paul doesn’t say needs to be taken into consideration. And what he doesn’t say is anything at all about the participation of children. This, in part, echoes one of the arguments put forth in the minority report; speaking of 1 Cor. 11:28:

    “As the context makes clear and as the commentators confirm, Paul’s remarks are specifically directed against an impious and irreverent participation (a true manducatio indignorum). Much more would need to have been said before it could be concluded that Paul was speaking to the general question of who may come to the table, or to the question of children’s participation, or that he intended to exclude them from the supper. We do not understand Acts 2:38 to deny baptism to little children, Rom. 10:13-14 to deny them salvation, or 2 Thess. 3:10 to deny them food.”

    It is obviously implied we should not understand 1 Cor. 11:28 to be denying the Supper to little children. Yet we do so largely on the “strength” of this one passage. Given the nature of the ecclesiastic meetings in the early church, it is inconceivable to posit that children would not be present during the celebration of the Supper. It is equally inconceivable (to me, at any rate) that they would, in turn, also be denied a place at the table. And I don’t mean a “lip service” seat either (e.g. “You can sit with us, but you can’t eat with us.”). I understand that Paul was a rough and tumble kind of man, but I cannot imagine him popping the hand of any child (even a two year old) attempting to get a taste of Jesus.

  11. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 14, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Some points, in no particular order:

    1. The key for understanding the memorial is not just the term, but the phrase: eis anamnesin is found in Lev. 24:7, Ps. 38:1, and Ps. 70:1. In each of these places, the goal is clearly that God will remember. The only other place the specific term is used in Num. 10:10, where is refers to the sacrifices, which are also clearly so that God will remember.

    2. The phrase is not “anamnesin mou,” which would be “remembrance of me,” with an objective genitive (i.e., where the object of the verbal idea is in the genitive case). It is “ten emen anamnesin”–a possessive adjective. I don’t know that semantics allow for a possessive adjective to function as an object, so the phrase should be “for my memorial”–the memorial meal that is the property of Christ. In fact, everywhere I can find the possessive adjective with a noun that conveys a verbal idea, the possessive indicates the subject (e.g., “my speaking” in Jn. 8:43, or “my exodus” in 2 Pet. 1:15–clearly it is Jesus who is doing the speaking, and Peter who is leaving, respectively). So, if anamnesis does focus on an action, the semantics of the phrase would indicate that Jesus is doing the action. That doesn’t seem to make sense one way or another, so taking anamnesis as an action rather than a substantive doesn’t seem to work grammatically.

    3. Even with the katangello of v. 26, this doesn’t by any means indicate an internal operation of the mind, as the translation “remembrance” indicates, but a public, outward action (see pretty much every use of that verb). Thus, the focus is still on the objective and the outward in the memorial, not the internal act of remembering.

    4a. If the meal of Ex. 24 formed a closer precedent for the Supper than Passover, then what if we find a closer precedent for the anamnesis than Passover? In fact, the phrase “eis anamnesin” is found in Lev. 24, where it concerns, interestingly enough, bread–the same showbread that Jesus refers to to point to his connection and superiority to David. I would suggest that, in fact, that phrase “eis anamnesin” indicates that the nearest precedent for these words are the showbread, not the Passover–since, as has been admitted, the passage on the Passover does not contain the words in question.

    4b. I don’t want to belabor the point, but the verse that is pointed to here–Ex. 12:14–is in fact one of those that indicates that the instructions of Ex. 12 were in fact applicable to the yearly celebration, a fact which has been denied in previous discussions.

    5. In all, I think the argument for anamnesis as an objective memorial is solid, even ineluctible, and I think it is fruitful grounds for reflecting on the nature of the covenant memorials, Christ’s fulfillment of the OT types, and how that is established in the Supper, much more so than taking it (incorrectly, as it seems) as the subjective act of remembering.

    6. Just saying Venema’s point about the generalizing move in v. 27 is “devastating” doesn’t mean it is. Dial back the rhetoric about running roughshod over the passage, if you please. You have located the shift to the general in vv. 27-29, right? But notice how that then fits into the context: v. 30–’because of this,’ or ‘therefore’ (dia touto). That is to say, this general situation is the reason why the Corinthians are suffering judgment. So, the generalized statement is not disconnected from the context: the reason for the judgment on the Corinthians is that they have violated this general principle. But what is that general principle?

    7. Let’s follow the arguments here:

    Argument A, vv. 29-30:
    i. If one does not discern the body, he is judged.
    ii. (You do not discern the body)
    iii. Therefore, you are being judged.
    A standard, clear modus ponens (as an enthymeme, with the second premise stated later).

    Argument B, v. 31:
    i. If we did discern ourselves, we would not be judged.
    ii. (We are being judged)
    iii. (Therefore, we did not discern ourselves)

    Notice how these two arguments interlock: premise ii. of B is established by the conclusion of A, while the conclusion of B supplies premise ii. of A. Notice that diakrino is used in parallel: once with body as the object, once with ourselves. But the interlocking argument indicates that it is the same problem: if it wasn’t, neither argument would work, since without B, A would be missing a minor premise, and without A, B would be missing its minor premise. So, does Paul use two incomplete and unrelated arguments (confusingly positing two different objects of diakrino, which both lead to judgment), or does he use two interlocking ones?

    8. Paul now reflect on what judgment is supposed to accomplish: it is to discipline, to teach (paideuo). So, they’ve been judged for their violation of the general principle (vv. 27-29), and they should learn from it. What is the lesson that Paul applies to them in v. 33? “Therefore,” he says, “when you come together to eat, wait for each other.” This is the solution to the judgment brought up first in v. 29, and it is clearly very particular to the Corinthians, returning as it does to v. 20. Thus, Paul brings up the general principle in vv. 27-29 in order to address the specific situation of the Corinthians. How is this running roughshod over the passage or ignoring the particulars of the shift(s)?

    9. To restate, if the problem is one of understanding the theology of the Real Presence, as v. 29 is usually taken, how on earth does v. 33 follow from this? The solution would be to “remember” or “keep in mind” the meaning of the supper, not to wait for one another.

    10. To sum up:
    a. anamnesis refers to an objective memorial: see 1-4.
    b. The object of discerning is, in fact, the church: see 7, 9
    c. Considering the context does not mean ignoring particular shifts: see 6 & 8
    d. None of this entails paedocommunion!

  12. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 14, 2009 at 3:44 am

    To head off possible complaints at the pass (since I’ve put forth this argument before and been substantially misunderstood), the issue is not merely one of church unity. At issue is the very nature of Christ’s sacrifice. His giving of himself for the church did three things:

    1. it established a new a fundamental unity that cuts across every worldly criterion for excellence or boasting: Eph. 2:15, Gal. 3:28. To reject that unity out of selfish ambition is to deny Christ’s very sacrifice.

    2. it established the nature of the Christian: one who has the very mind of Christ, in humbling himself, putting others before himself: Phil. 2:4-8. The one who continues to prefer and exalt himself is rejecting the very nature of what it means to be a Christian–and thus rejecting the very character of Christ himself, which was shown most clearly in his death.

    3. it provided the Holy Spirit, which is the very bond of unity: Eph. 4:1-6. To reject that unity is to grieve that Spirit: Eph. 4:29-32.

    So, what the Corinthians were doing was not “merely” violating the unity of the church or behaving badly. Their self-preferential hearts and actions denied the very ground of that unity, i.e., the sacrifice of Christ. They cannot stuff themselves and yet claim the Christ who emptied himself as their own.

  13. Chris Donato said,

    July 14, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Just trying to work through the argument here as it appears in this post and in some of the comments.

    To #11 above;

    Regarding point one, does not Paul in 1 Cor 10:1–13 employ “remembering” in just this subjective fashion? He recounts the exodus to his Corinthian readers, describing its travelers as “our faithers” (10:1). In so doing, he invites the Corinthians to picture themselves as part of the story. How is this not strongly implied therefore in the phrase Paul uses in 11:24–25? When the Corinthians tell the story (of God’s final exodus led by Christ), does it not become their story?

    This doesn’t preclude the outward, objective ceremony (if you will) revolving around the Supper; no, it rather informs it. I’m not sure how understanding the phrase as meaning the community of Christ are the ones doing the remembering (both outwardly and inwardly) is antithetical to this.

  14. Chris Donato said,

    July 14, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    The OP states: ” In other words, the focus [in 1 Cor 11:27ff.] has shifted from the particular abuses which gave rise to the discussion about the Lord’s Supper. No longer is that paramount in the passage. Instead, Paul moves from that concern to a discussion about how anyone participates correctly in the Lord’s Supper.”

    Even still, the focus is on unity, both with respect to the individual’s relation to Christ as well as the individual’s relation to the body of Christ (arguments about discerning how Christ is present in the Eucharist, though interesting, seem irrelevant to the discussion in its context). Is this not the clear sense of the passage? If so, how does this play into the hands of a PC if, as you stated earlier, this “fact does not preclude the discussion of who may participate in the Lord’s Supper, nor does unity in the church body as a whole exert some kind of particular pull one way or the other on the participation of the Lord’s Supper”? Well said. Must the obvious import of the passage be avoided for fear of a PC’s using it incorrectly?

  15. David Gadbois said,

    July 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    In the OP Lane wrote The next question is really the most crucial question, and perhaps the best insight in the entirety of Venema’s book: the switch to a generalizing “whoever,” “a man,” and “he” in verses 27-29, which indicate that Paul is now talking about how anyone can participate worthily in the Lord’s Supper. In other words, the focus has shifted from the particular abuses which gave rise to the discussion about the Lord’s Supper.

    Lane, what folks are missing is that Paul concludes with TWO applications of this more general doctrinal truth expounded in 27-29. Vs. 33 says to wait for one another to eat. But vs. 34 says if you are hungry, eat at home. In other words, divisiveness was not the only problem the Corinthian church had with the Supper. They also shouldn’t be approaching the Supper as a means of physical nourishment, but as a means of being nourhished by Christ. To me, this decisively proves that Paul is expounding a general principle here regarding the Supper. Partaking of the Supper worthily involves not only approaching the Table free of wicked motivations (divisiveness), but also free of false motivations (physical hunger, which in itself is obviously not an evil to satisfy). We must be seeking after spiritual nourishment in Christ when we approach the Supper.

    This all goes back to the fact that active faith is *required* in the Supper. Feeding on Christ by faith is not an optional nicety in partaking the Supper, it is of the essence. We can’t partake of Christ just by partaking of the bread. This old superstition continues to drive almost all of the thinking behind paedocommunionist logic.

    If our children are hungry, they should eat at home, as Paul says. If they are simply envious and want what everyone else is having, is that any basis on which to approach the Supper? If a child is old enough to truly seek after Christ in the Supper, then perhaps it is time to bring them before the elders so that they can partake worthily.

  16. tim prussic said,

    July 14, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    What seems to drive Mr. Gadbois’s comments is the commitment that our children don’t have faith, which is sad and will, no doubt, bear fruit.

  17. David Gadbois said,

    July 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    On the contrary, Tim. What is sad is redefining faith in such a way that it does not include notitia. Is anything worthy of the name ‘faith’ that does not have the person and work of Jesus Christ as its object?

    And, again, talking about ‘children’ in general obscures the issue. 5 year-old children have different capacities than infant children. Paedocommunion means infant communion, and that is the real issue.

  18. Andrew said,

    July 14, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Mmm …

    Assuming Lane is right is right about memorial being a subjective thing, can anyone explian to me why we cannot understand this passage in the same way as we understand “whoever does not work should not eat” or “repent, and be baptized”.

    To me this is the most basic thing the CCer needs to establish, as otherwise the passage proves very little. But perhaps someone has addressed this somewhere.

  19. Jack Bradley said,

    July 14, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I think the OPC majority report is helpful here:

    Paul is telling them (to use Fee’s summary, p. 564),

    “The Lord’s Supper is not just any meal; it is the meal, in which at a common table with one loaf and a common cup they proclaimed that through the death of Christ they were one body the body of Christ; and therefore they are not just any group of sociologically diverse people who could keep those differences intact at this table. Here they must ‘discern/recognize as distinct’’ the body of Christ, of which they all are parts and in which they all are gifts to one another. To fail to discern the body this way, by abusing those of lesser sociological status, is to incur God’s judgment.”

    . . . Can we derive from this passage a comprehensive directory for proper participation in the Lord’s Supper? It is very difficult to say we can when the passage is understood in its proper contextual setting. To be sure the “words of institution” mentioned here by Paul have far-ranging implications. If Paul had introduced them here as a subject of importance apart from any particular historical situation, it might be easier to justify the traditional broad interpretation and application of them, but he does not. They are introduced here precisely because of a particular historical situation and as a reminder that the Supper they gather to eat is the Lord’s. That fact has implications for his later instructions to them. But Paul’s purpose must be allowed to control our understanding and application of his words, and that purpose is very specific.

    Taken in context we believe this passage is relevant to covenant children only in an indirect way, and we have also argued that covenant children can conform to the mandates of this passage if they are applied to them properly. More than that we cannot expect, much less require. To build the case against the participation of young covenant children in the Lord’s Supper on the basis of this passage is to force the apostolic instructions to do service for a purpose outside the sphere of Paul’s immediate concerns, and is therefore in error. Rather we should submit our practices of communion – for adults and children – to a proper application of these warnings and instructions for the edification of the whole body young and old alike. It would be ironic indeed, and sad, if we were to use a passage designed by the Holy Spirit to overcome erroneous “distinctions” between groups in the church to establish (or perpetuate) a practice that excludes a large “class” of church members – namely, our covenant children – from the Lord’s Supper.

  20. tim prussic said,

    July 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    David, fair enough. I apologize. Upon rereading my comment, I think it was out of order. Please forgive me.

    I do think that our belief regarding our children bear fruit and I’m sure that what you believe regarding our children differs from my own… I suppose we’ve been through this before.

  21. David Gadbois said,

    July 14, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Jack Bradley said To build the case against the participation of young covenant children in the Lord’s Supper on the basis of this passage is to force the apostolic instructions to do service for a purpose outside the sphere of Paul’s immediate concerns, and is therefore in error.

    That is certainly a non sequitur. If Paul grounds the occasional concerns in more general theological principles, which he does here regarding the nature of the Supper, then it is altogether legitimate and even mandatory to apply that principle to issues outside of the immediate concern.

  22. Jack Bradley said,

    July 14, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    David,

    It’s one thing to ground occasional concerns in general theological principles, it’s quite another to “do service for a purpose *outside the sphere* of Paul’s immediate concern.” That is what the OPC Maj. report finds fault with, as have others, above, in their critique of Venema and Lane.

    Rob Rayburn also gets at the issue:

    “Paul doesn’t say anything in 1 Cor. 11 that the prophets of the OT didn’t say before him. He said that hypocritical participation in the worship of the church offended God and that the Corinthian Christians should repent and obey. They should not think the Lord’s Supper any good to them if they are not willing to live a holy life. But Isaiah and Jeremiah and Amos said that and said it as emphatically as Paul ever did. But, as we shall see, we happen to know that in the ancient epoch children did participate in the covenant, the sacramental meals. So when Isaiah said that his contemporaries should examine themselves and then should eat, he had no intention of excluding the children as a class. Why should we think that Paul intended to if Isaiah didn’t and Jeremiah didn’t and Amos didn’t when they said the same things Paul says in 1 Cor. 11?”

  23. Jack Bradley said,

    July 14, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Tim Gallant has a very helpful paper, responding to Venema’s view on I Cor. 11: http://tinyurl.com/cgmagr

    An excerpt:

    “Venema and other Reformed traditionalists want to give 1 Corinthians 11 a place of privilege. But this is much more than about giving primacy to one text. Given what we have seen, their approach not only makes 1 Corinthians 11 more important than 1 Corinthians 10 – it also flatly contradicts 1 Corinthians 10.”

    Another Gallant paper on self-examination:

    http://tinyurl.com/nn59ve

  24. July 15, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Following Chris Donato’s line, is it possible to see anamnesis in terms of recapitulation, where the participants participate in the excodus and the eucharist by their actions? If so, this seems to buttress a connection to conforming ourselves to the image and life of Christ.

    And when Paul speaks of men dicerning the body, does that necessarily include women too? Do we have any examples of women partaking of the eucharist or any commands to permit them to partake? Sure anthropos can be used more generally, but are we required to do so by virtue of some exegetical fact in 1 Cor 10-11?

    Is dicernment as an ability an ability of the conscious mind or of the soul more generally? With the latter, there is more in and going on in the soul than is often expressed or expressable by the conscious mind. (Rom 8:26)

    If the latter, then union with Christ will be deeper than our expressable cognitive abilities and if the former, then not and so union with Christ will depend on cognition, making the mind the locus and point of union between humanity and divinity.

    Was the divine person of Christ united to his humanity through the human intellect or mind? And wouldn’t that mean that the hypostatic union wasn’t complete until Jesus reached a certain age? How old then would Jesus need to be to partake of the passover or the eucharist I wonder?

  25. Jack Bradley said,

    July 15, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Perry, Lots of questions there. The one that I think is paramount in this discussion is what it means to “discern the body”. Gallant deals with this very helpfully:

    http://paedocommunion.com/articles/gallant_discerning_the_body.php

    His conclusion: “If we wish to heed the call to ‘discern the body,’ repenting of our current habit of excluding the children of the covenant from the table would be a good place to start.”

  26. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Chris,

    I’m not seeing where the key terms are used in 1 Cor. 10. Certainly, Paul telling the Corinthians to see themselves in Israel’s experience, and the locus of this identification is in the sacraments, but this doesn’t necessarily tell us about the meaning of the phrase “eis anamnesis.” I think it is worth thinking about–I know that Mike Horton from WSC has done a lot with the idea of participation in the sacraments as entering the story and having our own story written into it, and this is a very fruitful way of looking at the ritual.

    Even if 1 Cor. 10 is taken as some sort of instruction on how to participate in the supper, the fact is that the episode referred to was the entire covenant people: men, women, children, and infants. Thus, if the New Covenant community is to participate in this, it must do so fully, which would seem to include the children of every age.

    David G.,

    Cut it out. The basis for the PC argumentation is clearly a high value on baptism, a desire to take seriously the generational element of the promise, and a concern that we don’t turn the instructions of Jesus about entering the kingdom as a child on their heads. There is no trace of superstition about what they are arguing, and for you to say so is fallacious (see ‘poisoning the well’ and ‘false cause’) and perhaps slanderous.

    As for the twofold problem of the Corinthians, it doesn’t seem that the question of eating at home is clearly about physical nourishment versus spiritual. It seems rather to be part of the issue about eating one’s own personal meal versus eating as the one body–see v. 21, and v. 22 gives the reasons for this, where having one’s own home is connecting to despising the assembly (the New Covenant community, as ekklesia is one of the key words the LXX used for the qahal, the assembly of all Israel–the other word was sunagoge, which was already claimed by the Jews) and humiliating the poor. That is, the reason they were to eat at home wasn’t due to the nature of the food, but due to the nature of the meal: it was to be of the whole body together, not private and personal. Even if this doesn’t exculde concerns about the role of faith in the eating, 1 Cor. 11 is much more focused on the problem of division. To talk about ‘feeding by faith’ is to import John 6: while it might inform our systematic theology of the supper, it is not instructive on the actual exegesis of 1 Cor. 11. You admit that there are two applications, but it’s odd that the first application, regarding division, is barely if at all part of the traditional reflections on the supper. So, even if Paul gives them equal weight, why don’t we?

  27. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 15, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Christ,

    Just to clarify further, I wasn’t addressing how the church is participate or use the memorial, just the actual meaning of anamnesis here in Jesus’ words. The denotation of ‘eis emen anamnesis’ is the objective rite, not the internal act, but that still leaves the question of how we participate in that rite–and I think your suggestions are good ones.

  28. Todd said,

    July 15, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I think David’s concern about superstition is valid. The PC argument coming out of the CREC crowd is a small part of a bigger picture, and therein lies the danger. If the argument were only about how some churches wait too long before allowing children to partake of the Supper, that wouldn’t be too big a deal, at least to me.

    But when Wilson accuses non-PCers of starving children spiritually, something else is going on. Add to this the CREC idea that each Sunday morning is a covenant renewal ceremony, where God renews the covenant with his people and them wth God, and then the insistence of weekly communion; a bigger picture emerges.

    The big picture revolves around the clergy mediating the blessings of the covenant to God’s people. Downplaying the centrality of personal regeneration, and over-emphasizing the importance of the visible church, the minister in this thinking administers the grace of the covenant through the sacraments and church ritual, and if young children are not partaking of the sacrament, they are being “starved” of Christ’s blessings. The minister needs to administer the covenant renewal each week, thus you need to be in worship each Sunday as the clergy administers this renewal to you.

    So behind the PC debate is a more important debate, one of the role and importance of the clergy in administering the blessings of the covenant. It is not only the fact that they think younger children should be able to participate in the Supper, it is what they think is occuring to the children as they do, thus deserving the concern of superstition. In that sense, as much as they deny it, the CREC is truly a road to Rome, as its ministers have taken on a priestly role that the New Testament knows nothing of.

    Todd

  29. Chris Donato said,

    July 15, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Hey, I’m not an “anointed one.” But I appreciate the sentiment—and your clarification. I’m not opposed at all to a kind-of soft PC (see comments #29 & 40 here); I’m simply trying to make sense of the various arguments floating around here.

  30. Chris Donato said,

    July 15, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Cross-posted: Last comment addressed to Joshua #27.

  31. Zrim said,

    July 15, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Todd,

    Re #28, I’m as credo-communionist as you and David. But you lose me on how the language of “covenant renewal” and weekly communion point to more ghastly things. Verily, there are those who are as opposed to the FV (and its outworking in paedocommunion) as you’ll find on God’s green earth. Scott Clark’s own communion speaks and practices in this way.

    Not all of us who agree with Calvin that the Table should be spread “at least once a week” also think our children are being “starved to death” simply because they must exhibit a true faith first. The one-to-one correspondance you imply isn’t that neat. Take ‘er down a notch ot two.

  32. Jack Bradley said,

    July 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Todd,

    Shazam, you’ve broken our priestly code.

    Truly pathetic, dear brother, and beneath you.

  33. Frank Davies said,

    July 15, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Todd,

    Every line you wrote in #28 is personally insulting on so many levels. And it also demonstrates just how broken your reasoning process is.

  34. tim prussic said,

    July 15, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    There is an objective reality in the worship of God that incorporates subjective experience. God objectively meets with his people, publishes the forgives their sin, receives their worship, teaches them and then sits down to table with them before sending them back out. PC’s see the covenant children as being partakers in ALL of that, but they partake as children (respecting their age and development). PCers think that the supper is owed to the children of the covenant and that they grow in faith as they participate. So, the primary emphasis is on objective covenant membership and inclusion. Personal, subjective faith is a concern, but not the primary concern.

    Mr. Gadbois sees faith (as scholastically defined) as the key element. Since the youngest covenant member, on his view, cannot know certain truths, he’s not fit to partake of the supper. Once they can articulate a certain content of faith, they’re eligible for inclusion.

    I, for one, don’t see the stringent notitia requirements in Scripture for joining in the covenant meal. If 1 Cor 11′s examination admonition applies broader than the scope of the problems in Corinth, I’d say that we can train most children by 3 years of age to discern the Lord’s body… probably far younger than that.

    Mr. Gadbois, et al: notitia is pretty easy to gauge when interrogating someone. How, pray tell, do you assess the levels of assensus et fiducia? What’s the objective standard here and who set it?

    My four-year-old made a profession of faith two weeks ago. He’s got a bundle of knowledge, but I cannot (a part from simply *believing* God’s promises regarding my children) possibly know what he really, really, in his heart of hearts believes to be true for himself. I don’t have those skills. I just believe God’s promises and teach my kids who they are (objectively) and what that mean (orthodoxy and orthopraxy). Maybe CCers have more insight into these matters. If so, please help me out.

  35. Zrim said,

    July 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Tim,

    PCers think that the supper is owed to the children of the covenant and that they grow in faith as they participate. So, the primary emphasis is on objective covenant membership and inclusion. Personal, subjective faith is a concern, but not the primary concern.

    As a CCer, I wonder, to your mind, what is wrong with understanding baptism to fulfill the function of marking objective covenant membership and letting the Table signal personal, subjective faith? It seems to me that conventional Reformed sacramentology affords this and already has everything we need to mark both objective and subjective covenant participation.

    My four-year-old made a profession of faith two weeks ago. He’s got a bundle of knowledge, but I cannot (a part from simply *believing* God’s promises regarding my children) possibly know what he really, really, in his heart of hearts believes to be true for himself. I don’t have those skills. I just believe God’s promises and teach my kids who they are (objectively) and what that mean (orthodoxy and orthopraxy). Maybe CCers have more insight into these matters. If so, please help me out.

    There is a premise here which I think is left-of-center. Credo-communionists don’t claim to be able to have archtypcal knowledge. And I really don’t think anyone is saying that children are creatures unable to have true faith–at least I’m certainly not. I think what is being said is that infants simply participate differently in the covenant. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: part of what I think characterizes PCism is a certain measure of impatience, which marks all theology that deviates from a better orthodoxy.

    It may not be the best analogy, but it strikes me as not too unlike saying that just because a third-grader is kept from advanced trig we are saying he’s unable to be mathematical. But all we’re saying is that third-graders don’t ordinarily have the ability to do advanced trig. If one shows that s/he can, by all means, join the juniors and seniors and may none of us be so fool-hardy as to question a kid who can plainly exhibit him/herself. But it’s rare-to-occasional and everyone knows this. Don’t rush kids. They have their baptism and they’ll get to the table in due time. Isn’t that what living byy faith is all about?

  36. tim prussic said,

    July 15, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Zrim, thanks for your thoughts. I’ll take them in reverse order:

    Faith’s about believing God – sometimes (oftentimes) that involves waiting. The life of faith is just that – life. It takes that long. But that is the same for a child as for an adult.

    Your analogy regarding math is telling, as I think it misses the point. God’s given us certain things for us to grow spiritually. If we deprive our children (not even infants, but certainly 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds) of spiritual sustenance, should we be shocked if they’re spiritually malnourished? A spiritual walk without the koinonia of the Table will tend (I think) to leave our children with a great deal of knowledge, but far less fellowship with God. That is a travesty and I think it is a FAR-REACHING reality in the Reformed world. Say it ain’t so, but how many Reformed kids marry charismatics or Baptists and run off to happy clappy churches? Our elders MUST ask themselves why and I think that our denial of the Supper to our children is a major factor. This isn’t rushing kids, it’s giving them what’s rightfully theirs and what’s needful.

    Baptism, Zrim, isn’t enough. It’s that simple. That’s why God gave us bread and wine. Faith is important, but to me it’s very difficult to pin down exactly what that looks like. CCers seem to assume there isn’t faith in our covenant children. PCers seem to assume there is. I TRAIN my children that they are believers, thus my heart beats closer to the PC position.

    I’ll ask the question again, in hopes that we can talk about it. All this focus from CCers is on notitia (which is important), but what about the rest of faith? How’s that gauged and how is one to achieve passing marks? How’s one to assess the levels of assensus et fiducia? What’s the objective standard here and who set it?

  37. greenbaggins said,

    July 15, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Hmmm, methinks those reacting to David and Todd doth protest too much.

    Here’s my question for PC’ers. You ask us about the other elements of faith besides notitia. I ask whether it is possible for a child to get benefit of the Lord’s Supper without knowing what the Supper means. Let’s not talk about actual age of a child at which he could understand. Let’s just ask the question: can a person get benefit from the Supper without knowing what the Supper means? I answer no, because of the element of notitia in knowledge. Lowering the age at which notitia could be present is a valid question. But it is a distinct question from what I am asking. We are talking about infants, let’s say one year old, can’t talk yet. Would they obtain benefit from a Supper about which they do not understand? The next full post on this issue will address the examination of oneself that Paul requires in 1 Cor 11.

  38. July 15, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    GB,

    Is that propositional knowledge or knowledge by acquaintence? Is the discerning necessarily to be understood as the grasp of propositional content or spiritually, which may or may not be coextensive with propositional content?

    John the Baptist by the Spirit discerned the presence of Christ while in the womb, but I doubt that was a propositional grasping.

  39. tim prussic said,

    July 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Pastor, the more I think about the issue of faith in the Supper, the more I think that we need to work through our definition of faith. Brothers like Mr. Gadbois want to make a great deal of notitia in faith, and on that basis wants to exclude the youngest of children. He says, if I recall correctly, that communicants should be able to explain the Apostle’s Creed. That’s a benchmark for notitia – I don’t think chapter and verse could be marshaled to bear that out, but it’s a benchmark nonetheless. However NOTHING has been said of benchmarks for other – dare I say – more crucial aspects/elements of faith. Why the glaring silence, especially after all the caterwauling (my grandma’s word) about notitia? Your last post simply dodged the question by posing another one, to which I’ll turn now.

    You specifically ask: “Can a person get benefit from the Supper without knowing what the Supper means?” You answer no. I answer ABSOLUTELY! The blessing of the sacrament is not found in nor is it because of what the sacrament means, it’s in the One communing with his church. I’d assert that we never know “what the Supper means” – we have mere bits of knowledge about the mystery of the Supper. Like Calvin, we should rather experience the Supper than understand it. In fact, I think we gain knowledge of the sacrament in and through the doing. Now, to say that one must know the Lord of the Supper by faith is not the same a saying knowledge of what the Supper is should be a requirement. It is, of course, possible I’ve misunderstood your aim in asking the question.

  40. greenbaggins said,

    July 15, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Perry, I tend to think that propositional versus experiential is a false dichotomy, even if they can be distinguished. As to John the Baptist, I agree that he was regenerated from the womb.

    Perry, your comment and Tim’s seem to be related, so I’ll answer both at the same time. More of what I would say will be forthcoming in my next post on this subject, which will examine Paul’s requirement to examine oneself. Right now I want to stress that the broadening of the focus in 1 Cor 11:27-29 proves that the passage is talking about how anyone can rightly participate in the Table. It is not merely a set of instructions applicable only to those who are able, and then the rest can participate anyway. The participant (EVERY participant) has to discern rightly the body of Christ in order to participate in a worthy manner. Tim, your formulation denies the confessional position that it is with the mouth of faith that we participate, and not with the physical mouth. Furthermore, I would argue that not knowing everything about the Supper (which I would grant) is not an acceptable argument against the requirement that we know what we can in fact know, i.e., what is revealed. Having a basic knowledge of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper is essential to participation in faith, according to Paul’s requirements in 1 Cor. 11.

    In all reality, assent presupposes notitia, since you can only assent to something which you know about. It refers to one’s disposition towards the truth. Thus, only fiducia could be applied to infants. Even if it is, I do not believe that we can assume that our children have fiducia. Some definitely do, even from the womb. But to assume that is not warranted by the evidence, especially given the number of children who grow up and leave the church. The point is this: the elders have to fence the table. Fencing the table cannot depend only on fiducia, or else that would only EVER be the requirement. There is no way for an elder to determine whether a child has fiducia or not. I’m not arguing for the assumption that a child cannot have fiducia (as the Baptists would argue). I would simply say that we cannot assume one way or the other. Either assumption is dangerous. We can only depend on the evidence. This is not necessary for baptism, since baptism can come before faith. But it is necessary for the Supper, since the elders can only admit those to the table they have a reasonable degree of assurance concerning the fruit of their salvation.

  41. Zrim said,

    July 15, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Tim,

    Don’t over-think the math analogy. It’s just to make the CC point on the importance of notitia. I’ll be the first CCer to admit we have a tendency to intellectualize faith. We not very good at owning up to that, if you ask me.

    Even so, I think it’s quite a reach to suggest that if I bring my covenant kids to the Table (I have two, BTW) this will go a long way to making sure they marry in the Lord, which is to say the Reformed faith. I feel your anxiety over this, but, again, speaking of comments being telling, I think what is at work here is a worldly notion that something will keep us all safely hedged in from the big, bad world. I quite agree with you that the spiritual nourishment of God is vital (which is precisely why something like weekly communion makes sense and infrequency doesn’t), but it isn’t magic. Sinners fall away because they are sinners, not because we didn’t employ certain means to make sure they don’t or because we don’t dial up Reformed theology to the tenth decibel. I’m not much of a gunnie, so the analogy makes me cringe, but it’s sort of like how guns don’t kill people, people kill people. By the way, this works for catechism as well. Just because it’s our duty as parents doesn’t mean our kids will be magically instructed and insulated against the world, the flesh and the devil. A high, Calvinistic view of sin comes in right handy in all this.

    I’m not sure what to say to, “Baptism isn’t enough” except yeow. It might grate to hear this, but where a low view of sin seems to be at work in your idea that the Table keeps our sin extraordinarily at bay, this simply sounds like a low view of the sacraments. But credo-communionists don’t conceive of baptism as being the end of it for a covenant child. We have the Table in view. That’s why we catechize. Baptism is enough as faith is nurtured with an eye toward the Table.

  42. tim prussic said,

    July 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks, Pastor. I certainly did not deny that faith is necessary to receive the blessing of the sacrament. I denied that “knowing what the Supper means” is necessary for “a person [to] get benefit from the Supper.” In other words, I was trying to answer your question specifically. No blessing without faith – rather condemnation… I’ll affirm that all day long. I just question what faith looks like and I question the legitimacy of the quest to find *it* in people.

    I’m kind of disappointed that you’ve still not directly answered my question about clear benchmarks for assessing the other two aspects of faith. You seem to get at something in your very last sentence, but fruit of faith is not faith. The focus has been on faith itself, not it’s fruit.

    This: “the number of children who grow up and leave the church” – what’s cause and what’s effect? If they grow up being treated (at least in the one respect) as outsiders, how are we to expect them to stay? (This is not hyperbole; take the idea very seriously.) Happily, praise be to God, the end of their story is not yet told – God may indeed bring them back.

  43. tim prussic said,

    July 15, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Zrim, if we deny the table to our youth and they end up without fellowship with God, we’re to blame (as well as them). If we deny the catechism to our kids and their faith is weak and without substance, we’re to blame (as well as them). God’s given means to the end of a faithful walk with Christ… the spiritual make full use of those means, no? You don’t expect to shoot someone without the gun, do you?

    Yeow, huh? Baptism’s enough for the purposes for which God gave it. There is a constant and abiding blessing of baptism, don’t get me wrong. Baptism, however, is not enough for everything, is it? “We don’t need preaching, we’ve got baptism!” Foolishness, right? We need everything in it’s right place. The weekly sustenance and fellowship with the risen Christ is found more in the Supper than in Baptism; thus, baptism’s not enough. That’s one reason God gave us both sacraments. More to the point: If we expect our children (as we certainly should) to have a faithful, vibrant walks with Christ, let us get them to that table as early as is permissible (and as often).

  44. Andrew said,

    July 15, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Lane,

    I can’t see that you have demonstrated that I Cor 11 applies to children.

    The mere fact that the indefinite “whoever” is used doesn’t prove very much, since it is also true that “whoever does not work should not eat”.

    What is the difference?

  45. July 15, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    GB,

    It may be the case that assent presupposes notitia, but does notitia entail assent? That seems to be more relevant.

    If John was regenerated from the womb, was it then permissable to give him either the passover meal as an infant or hypothetically the eucharist or would he have to be able to “discern” the body in the sense you have in mind?

    So far as I can tell, I Cor is a set of instructions of not how anyone can partake, but specifically men. There is no example I know of where women partake, nor any command to permit them to do so or that they should do so, faith/assent or no faith/assent. If children are to be excluded, I see no reason once we have given up a more charitable hermenutical principle why women should be permitted especially in light of other Pauline restrictions on women’s activities and roles in the church.

    Second, if we are not presume that our baptised children have faith then why presume that they are members of he covenant in any meaningful sense? Did Israel have a kind of two tier covenant? Granted that there is discontinuity between the covenants, but is the fault line really along the lines of cognitive ability?

    Plenty of Israelite children who partook of the passover grew up only to reject it either and yet that didn’t seem like a hinderance to their partaking of the passover as children.

    More specifically, if we have no way to know if they have faith, your principle seems to assume the worst, namely that they should be treated as if they don’t. And that seems dangerous for all sorts of reasons. When Paul speaks of rightly discerning, it seems to me what he has in mind is the recognition or treatment that it is not ordinary food consuming opportunity. In my own tradition, children grow up partaking and are duly instructed that the eucharist is not in fact an ordinary food consuming opprotunity, just as baptism is not ordinary washing.

    My more specific worry that I hinted at above is Christological. Are we then to say that the union with Christ is primarily mental? And did Jesus have merely faith or assent too when he participated in the feasts of Israel? To posit the mind as the locus at which union occurs seems to me quite hellenistic. I just think there is more to the soul than cognitive ability and I don’t think union with God requires cognitive ability as an absolute condition. It is important to keep in mind that the mind is not the person. Jesus has a human mind or intellect but he is not a human person so that whatever growth occured in his human intellect, he was always the divine person of the Son. The union between divinity and humanity doesn’t take place through the mind but the person. Hence before he knew the difference qua human intellect between the good and the bad, he choose the good.

  46. Jack Bradley said,

    July 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    “to say that one must know the Lord of the Supper by faith is not the same a saying knowledge of what the Supper is should be a requirement.”

    Very well said, Tim.

  47. Zrim said,

    July 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Tim,

    …if we deny the table to our youth and they end up without fellowship with God, we’re to blame (as well as them). If we deny the catechism to our kids and their faith is weak and without substance, we’re to blame (as well as them). God’s given means to the end of a faithful walk with Christ… the spiritual make full use of those means, no? You don’t expect to shoot someone without the gun, do you?

    Agreed that skirting our duty to raise our children in the admonition of the Lord, and the improper administration of the sacraments, is bad and has consequences. But what do you make of our youth falling out of fellowship even when we have done these things? You seem to have a premise that baptism, catechism and communion have some sort of guarantee in them. They don’t. We are called to be faithful and obedient, not because we will get something for our efforts, but because we have already received something without them.

    Yes, piety makes frequent use of the means God has ordained. But they must be employed properly. I agree with you that the frequent use of the means of grace is vital. What I don’t understand is the rush to the Table. If CCism can intellectualize faith, PCism seems prone to pushing covenant children like that boorish father who wants his kid in the game. I can admit as a CCer the former…can you admit the latter?

  48. Robert said,

    July 16, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Green Baggins #37 says “I ask whether it is possible for the child to get benefit of the Lord’s Supper without knowing what the supper means.”

    If it is not possible for the child to get the benefit of the Lord’s supper without knowing what it means, then would it also be not possible for the child to get the benefit of participating with God’s people in the worship service (in which the Lord’s Supper is served)? Should we Christian parents keep our children home from church until that time when they can tell us what the meaning of worship is, and draw the main points out of the sermon? Most Christian parents I know believe that their little children do benefit from attending the worship service. Even though the children cannot express very much about what the songs, scripture readings, sermons, prayers, and sacraments mean, the parents have no doubt that the worship service in its entirely is beneficial to the faith of these little ones. Godly fathers and mothers can teach their children according to their level of knowledge what is being said and done in worship through word and sacrament. It’s not that complicated. We have always done so with our children, never doubting that this will nourish the seed of faith which God so graciously plants in his children. In good faith we parents pray for our children as trust Him to make good His promises as we make use of the “means” of grace: word, sacrament, discipleship!

  49. jared said,

    July 16, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Lane,

    (#40) You say,

    This is not necessary for baptism, since baptism can come before faith. But it is necessary for the Supper, since the elders can only admit those to the table they have a reasonable degree of assurance concerning the fruit of their salvation.

    If baptism can come before faith, why not the Supper? In Scripture we find that baptism is given to either (1) those who have faith or (2) those represented by one who has faith (e.g. the man and his household). Why couldn’t, or shouldn’t, the same hold true for the Supper. When you look at it this way the “baptistic thinking” charge comes through clearly. We’ll baptise those without faith because they are under a covenant head (and only because they are) but then we deny those self-same individuals a place at the table even though a place is rightfully (via the covenant) theirs. Moreover, this denial is based on the exegesis of one very small passage at the apparent exclusion of the rest of Scripture!

    I am not trying to argue that the sacraments are practically the same, obviously they are not: one involves the pouring of water and the other involves a meal (or a very light snack, at least). However, I don’t think it can be denied that they both confer and convey the same truth; namely that both signify “our union with the triune God in Christ and the whole of our salvation which flows from that union (Rom. 6:3-6; Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13) and is the seal of the righteousness which is by faith (Rom. 4:11)” The minority report continues:

    “The signification of the two sacraments cannot by appeal to Scripture be shown to be fundamentally different. In addition, the requirement of faith and repentance as conditions for the baptism of an adult renders the appeal to the ‘passivity’ of the baptized without force. Certain ‘conscious activity’ is required of an adult for and in baptism and for worthy participation in the supper. If the one activity does not constitute an objection to paedobaptism, it is difficult to see how the other would invalidate paedocommunion… The fact that, after all, the supper, as the passover before it, is a meal ought to alert us to the unlikelihood that it is the intention of the Lord Jesus Christ that the adults eat while the little ones watch them eat.” See my initial comment (#10) above for more.

  50. Robert said,

    July 16, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Green Baggins #40 says, “I do not believe that we can assume that our children have fiducia.”

    Well, then. Can we Christian parents assume that God’s promise to be God for us and our children — implying that the Lord will be savingly gracious, and grant us fiducia — is true? And if God’s promise is true, shouldn’t we assume that He wants us all — we and our children — as His children to participate in the way of faith he has given us for our covenant life?

    Let’s just assume, on the basis of God’s covenant promise, that our children have the same faith (fiducia and noticia) that we have until such a time it is demonstrated by some kind of infidelity or betrayal that true faith is lacking.
    Why not take this approach: Access to the covenant meal for all baptized covenant members unless a member proves himself unfaithful and unrepentant? It should be a demonstration of lack of faith which bars one from the table rather than having to prove to the elders that the baptized member has a certain level of assurance as manifested by particular fruits.

    “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” — our Lord Jesus Christ

    Might Jesus be assuming something here about our children’s fiducia?

  51. Kenneth L cox said,

    July 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Lane, didn.t read the post but Judy is doing Bible school this week and I just got up from nnnnnn graveyard we are here I will call In a while Praise the Lord for dayshift after the Blood Of Atonement. if know one sees the humor thats ok much grace Ken

  52. tim prussic said,

    July 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Zrim (#47),

    You seem to have a premise that baptism, catechism and communion have some sort of guarantee in them. They don’t.

    I quite agree. I’m no formalist, and spirituality is not a function. Two things come to mind: 1) Faith *believes* God’s promises (and threats) and is obedient (in this case, to make rightful use of the means of grace.) I believe that God will use my parental faithfulness (such as it is) in my children’s lives to their good and salvation, according to the promises of the covenant. I operate under that principle. 2) Conversely, if one doesn’t believe that God will honor his covenant and one’s faithful parenting (which, thus, wouldn’t be faithful), that’s unbelief and is covenant breaking. We certainly don’t expect God to bless that. That unbelief can include formalism, a lack of applying oneself and family to the means of grace, and also covenant assumption (“We have Abraham for our father and have never been in bondage to anyone…”). Faithful parents, I think, begin by believing God’s promises for them and their children and apply themselves diligently to the means of grace.

    As to PC boorishness, I suppose that can be a problem. I’m not in PC circles (the Bible Presbyterian Church is solidly CC), so I’ve not seen much of the rough underbelly of the PC position. However, in my case, my first-born’s been asking for the Supper since he could speak, not for spiritual reasons, but for inclusional/relational reasons. From his earliest days, I would instruct him constantly that he was “one of us.” Every part of worship I’d explain what *we* were doing as a body, and that he was included. Then the bread and wine would come and I’d have to say, “But this one part isn’t for you yet.” Thus, I didn’t have to push my son into wanting to participate, I had to educate his desire. So, I did what you recommend (end of #41).

  53. Zrim said,

    July 17, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Tim,

    I find little to disagree with in your last post. But I suppose I am trying to reconcile those views with:

    A spiritual walk without the koinonia of the Table will tend (I think) to leave our children with a great deal of knowledge, but far less fellowship with God. That is a travesty and I think it is a FAR-REACHING reality in the Reformed world. Say it ain’t so, but how many Reformed kids marry charismatics or Baptists and run off to happy clappy churches? Our elders MUST ask themselves why and I think that our denial of the Supper to our children is a major factor. This isn’t rushing kids, it’s giving them what’s rightfully theirs and what’s needful.

    I realize we have our problems in the Reformed community. What I don’t quite follow is how denial of the Supper to our children either explains it or how bringing them to the Table will correct it.

    Right or wrong, I can’t help but sense you harbor the idea that sacramental participation affects something in the immediate here and now that we want. But diligent use of the means of grace has to do with responding to what God has done in Jesus with an eye toward what he will do, namely save his people. In other words, the Christian life is a life of response to and anticipation for God’s redemption in Christ. Kids make mistakes and covenant children turn away. Nobody wants that, and reasons are often complicated. But I fail to see how joining us at the Table alleviates any of it, unless one thinks the sacraments do more than sign and seal our redemption. But it seems to me that whatever else the doctrine of the real presence conveys it also keeps us from over-realizing the function of the elements.

  54. tim prussic said,

    July 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Well, Zrim, it looks like it’s just you and I, buddy!

    I don’t think sacraments do more than signify and seal our redemption in Christ, but I think that you might be thinking less of those two things that I do. If nothing else, I think that redemptive grace is really conferred and exhibited in the sacraments. If we want *more* redemptive grace in our lives (that our children’s), then let’s faithfully (and regularly) attend to the Supper. If Reformed grown children are lacking faithful fellowship with God, but have a brain full of knowledge, that *might* indicate that the parents have done a fine job with the catechism, but a substandard job preparing them for and getting them to the table early and regularly… ya know, the experiential part. If the Supper involves sacramental koinonia with Christ, and that’s what we’re lacking, then let’s take fuller advantage of that means of grace, both parents and children.

  55. Zrim said,

    July 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Tim,

    I believe that “redemptive grace is really conferred and exhibited in the sacraments” as well; something really and spiritually is happening when we take them. That’s why anything less frequent than “at least once a week” makes little sense to me. Why would anyone want to deprive themselves of holy ordained food?

    But I still want to know how the diligent use of the means of grace translates into kids not falling away, or at least less falling away. I appreciate your point that there can be those who are at once out of fellowship with God and have lots of knowledge. But, by the same token, there can be those who can at once grasp the elements and also be out of fellowship. They’re called hypocrites and tares. Neither catechetical instruction nor sacramental participation “guarantee” fellowship with God.

    Catechetical instruction and sacramental participation are matters of obedience and response.

  56. tim prussic said,

    July 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Zrim, I don’t get your confusion. We continue in living fellowship with God by his sheer grace. Nothing can “guarantee” that but God himself… we’re completely at his mercy. However, he gives us means to the end of continued fellowship of life with him. Diligent and faithful use of those means is certainly a matter of obedience and response, but it’s also the means to the end of continued fellowship. If we neglect the means, we shan’t achieve the end. If we desire the end, we should apply ourselves to obtain it by the appointed means. It’s that simple… that’s why I don’t get your confusion.

  57. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 17, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Re #37

    “Hmmm, methinks those reacting to David and Todd doth protest too much.”

    You know, I met someone today who had read some of my comments here and asked me why I bother. After a comment like that, I’m inclined to agree with that person.

  58. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 17, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Re #52

    Watch that talk about ‘holy ordained food,’ man–that’s superstition! And the fact that you think it should be frequent! The road to Rome, the road to Rome!

  59. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 17, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    the elders can only admit those to the table they have a reasonable degree of assurance concerning the fruit of their salvation.

    Where is this in Scripture?

    As for the issue of notitia, notitia is vital for those to whom it applies. PC isn’t saying that pure fiducia is sufficient for everyone. What it is saying is that fiducia is sufficient for those who are in the covenant who are not capable of notitia. Not just infants, but the senile, for example.

  60. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    July 17, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    “The big picture revolves around the clergy mediating the blessings of the covenant to God’s people.”

    How is this different from reformed practice in general, where only ordained ministers are allowed to “preach” (anyone non-ordained mere “exhorts”) and to preside over communion? What if our pastor were out of town, and there wasn’t an ordained minister available–could the elders preside over communion? If not, then how is “covenant renewal” more sacerdotal than our current practice?

  61. jared said,

    July 18, 2009 at 7:53 am

    *pats Joshua on the back*

    I thought I had a couple of good comments and questions too. *shrugs*

  62. todd said,

    July 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    # 49 – The covenant of grace cannot be broken – if it can it isn’t grace.

    # 57 – The covenant of grace does not need to be renewed, and ministers do not represent Christ to the people, or the people to Christ. All Christians are priests. Ministers teach the Word.

  63. tim prussic said,

    July 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Todd, you assert so boldly about the covenant of grace; be so gracious as to define your terms carefully so we don’t all talk past each other.

  64. Andrew said,

    July 19, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Dear everyone,

    I hate beating a dead horse, but if sonone could answer this point, I would be very grateful:

    There are several passages in the New Testament in which we understand the command only to be obligatory to those who are capable of carrying it out. For instance, when it says ‘Believe, and be baptised’, we understand it to mean that those capable of believing must do so before being baptised. We do not see it as prohibiting those who cannot demonstrate their belief from being baptized.

    Or, when it says ‘Whoever does not work should not eat’, we understand it to mean that those who can work, must work. We do not think it prohibits babies from eating.

    What is improper in allowing the same understanding of I Cor 11? That is, that those who can examine themselves should do so before the Supper, but that that requirement does not apply to those not capable of self-examination. In short, how can we show that I Cor 11 is relevant to the topic at all?

  65. Zrim said,

    July 19, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Tim,

    Re #53:

    We continue in living fellowship with God by his sheer grace. Nothing can “guarantee” that but God himself… we’re completely at his mercy. However, he gives us means to the end of continued fellowship of life with him. Diligent and faithful use of those means is certainly a matter of obedience and response, but it’s also the means to the end of continued fellowship.

    Agreed. But I still don’t understand how “our denial of the Supper to our children is a major factor” to them falling into Baptist or otherwise un-Reformed communions. I thought falling away or wandering had to do with indwelling and unrepentant sin.

  66. Todd said,

    July 20, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Tim,

    Which terms do you want me to define?

  67. tim prussic said,

    July 20, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Todd, how about starting with the covenant of grace? Then would you relate that definition to the historical succession of covenants ending the New Covenant. Thanks, brother.

    Zrim, falling away and apostasy are the end of a road; the end of a long line of decisions. Thinking, as I do, that the Reformed version of Christianity is the most biblical, all other forms, insofar as they deviate from Reformed othrodoxy/praxy, are less accurate/truthful forms of Christianity. If our children, after having been reared in the Reformed faith, leave it for lesser versions of the faith, something wasn’t done correctly.

    ONE of the things that could have gone wrong is that our children were not exposed to the means of grace early and often enough. Since Word and Sacrament are central to Reformed spirituality and worship, I think that withholding the sacrament of the Supper from our children has some pretty dramatic effects on their spiritual life, which can result in embracing lesser forms of the Christian faith or even outright apostasy. If you want the end, you gotta use the means, baby!

  68. Zrim said,

    July 20, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Tim,

    If our children, after having been reared in the Reformed faith, leave it for lesser versions of the faith, something wasn’t done correctly.

    Agreed. However, the implication of your argument here is that those charged with the nurture of a covenant child may be equally, if not more to blame for the former’s falling away (e.g. parents and pastors). If that is true then it would seem to follow that the ordained authorities should be disciplined when Johnny goes astray. But that is not what we do. What we do is bring Johnny alone under discipline because we understand a doctrine of personal sin.

    ONE of the things that could have gone wrong is that our children were not exposed to the means of grace early and often enough. Since Word and Sacrament are central to Reformed spirituality and worship, I think that withholding the sacrament of the Supper from our children has some pretty dramatic effects on their spiritual life, which can result in embracing lesser forms of the Christian faith or even outright apostasy. If you want the end, you gotta use the means, baby!

    I should think that withholding the sacraments from anyone would have a detrimental effect (again, this is why I don’t understand why anyone would willingly embrace less frequency instead of more). I’m not sure why children are any different, unless we really believe they are different spiritual creatures. I am of the mind that they aren’t any different—you know, no more Jew or gentile, male and female, slave or free. And I remain unclear as to how sin doesn’t go nearly as far in explaining falling away as does the neglect of the means of grace, as bad as that is. Sinners sin because they are sinners, not because they don’t attend the means of grace.

    Todd, if you’re listening, I am now beginning to understand your resistance to weekly tabling. Tim and I agree that it should be frequent, but for different reasons, and you may think some of my reasons are his, namely that they affect something more than they do. I agree with him that Word and sacrament are central to Reformed piety. But this business of it drastically reducing apostasy seems to reveal an unrealistic, almost magical, view of the sacraments and a much too low view of sin.

  69. Todd said,

    July 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Tim,

    The Canons of Dort summarize the covenant of grace well:

    Article 8
    The Saving Effectiveness of Christ’s Death
    For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.

    This is an unbreakable covenant – God cannot break it, and neither can we. No one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand. That is how it is *not” like the covenant God made with Israel, which they broke as a nation (Hebrews 8:9)

    And Wilson’s view that you are espousing that when children of believers grow up and refuse to believe it must be the parent(s)’ fault is pure legalism. Again salvation is taken out of the hands of God and put into the hands of man. Please don’t become a pastor and destroy the sheep with this nonsense.

  70. Jack Bradley said,

    July 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Todd,

    I’m curious what you do with the Westminster Directory for Public Worship:

    “He is to exhort the parent,

    To consider the great mercy of God to him and his child; to bring up the child in the knowledge of the grounds of the Christian religion, ‘and in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’; and to let him know the danger of God’s wrath to himself and child, if he be negligent: requiring his solemn promise for the performance of his duty.”

    Of course I agree with you that to frame it as “when children of believers grow up and refuse to believe it must be the parent(s)’ fault is pure legalism.”

    Of course it is pure legalism to say that it is primarily/predominantly the parent’s fault. But are you saying that there is no parental fault/responsibility in such a case? The DPW certainly seems to imply that there is a degree parental fault/responsibility.

  71. tim prussic said,

    July 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Zrim, as to your first point, if particular sins in parenting or pastoral care can be demonstrated, they should be address appropriately.

    As to you second point, you can’t seem to connect the two things that are intimately related: the means of grace and our overcoming sin. I’ve written it a half dozen times, we’re talking about mean and end. We overcome sin in our lives by God’s grace at work in us, no? If so, then we should apply ourselves diligently to the means of grace (not as a magical anitdote, but in faith, believing that God will minister to us through Word and Sacrament). If we’re lacking the end, there was a problem with our accessing the means. Problems in this regard can take many shapes. ONE of them is lax attention to the Lord’s Table.

  72. Jack Bradley said,

    July 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Zrim,

    It’s not a magical view of the sacrament, but a high view, as expressed in a sermon Todd posted some time back: “Why Do We Need the Lord’s Supper?”

    “The church since its inception has held that both baptism and the Lord’s Supper are crucial to our spiritual life. . . I must tell you from the outset that I do believe both the Heidelberg and the Westminster, that the sacraments are one of the means of grace that God uses to sanctify us, along with preaching.

    . . . Now as we come to the establishment of the Lord’s Supper in the NT, we come bringing all of our theology from the OT with us. Only then can we understand the Supper’s true significance. The Lord’s supper is the fulfillment of all these other sacrificial meals. It signifies that through the death and resurrection of Christ we have intimate fellowship with God and with one another.

    But there is more. Is this sacrament more than just a symbol of spiritual truth, or is there something more involved? Is this meal only a sign of the spiritual union we already have with Christ, or is Christ also fellowshipping with us through this meal? After all, on the mountain they actually did eat with God, even though they saw Him by vision. Is it any less in the fulfillment of this meal, the Lord’s Supper? Our Confession states that the Lord’s Supper is not only a sign of the covenant of grace, but a seal of that covenant. In other words, we do actually receive spiritual food through the sacrament. A seal does more than signify spiritual truth; it confirms or strengthens it in us. In other words, not only do we remember in the Supper what Christ has done for us, we also literally share a meal with God in the Supper.

    . . . Christ is not only passive in the meal, waiting for us to consider Him; Christ is active in the meal; He is the host serving us manna from heaven. Why do we need the Lord’s Supper? The same reason our physical bodies need physical food. Do we not need spiritual food from God?

    Thus you are to understand that as you partake of these elements you are truly sharing a meal with Christ. You are feeding upon Christ Himself for your strength. Not in the idolatrous manner of Catholicism, which turns these elements into the physical body of Christ. But nevertheless you do feed spiritually on the risen Christ. Jesus was completely serious when He said in John 6, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” How do we do this? Jesus held up the bread and the cup and said, “This is My body and My blood, do this in remembrance of Me.” Now He was sitting there when He said this, so the disciples knew very well that He was speaking metaphorically.

    But though the symbols are not the body and blood of Christ literally, by partaking of them we do partake of Christ, when it is done through faith. You must be trusting in Christ yourself, the Supper is not automatic or magical. On the contrary, to partake of Christ and yet be walking in rebellion or unbelief is to blasphemy the name of Christ; as the apostle states; you eat and drink judgment to yourself.

    Thus you must begin to think of this Supper not first and foremost subjectively, but objectively. If you judge by subjective feelings alone you will miss all the glory. You may feel more strengthened through other means; you may have warm times with family or friends that truly draw you closer to God. But we do not live by feelings but by faith in His word. You must not be presumptuous in assuming that other means of communion with Christ can replace the Lord’s Supper, or that those share the same efficacy. Regardless of our subjective feelings we must trust by faith that it is through these means that God feeds us and draws us closer to Him.

    Can you turn these elements into idols? Sure. But you can also turn your subjective feelings and human ideas into idols just the same. The simplicity of these elements should force us to avoid seeing anything magical in them. Jesus chose the two most common elements known to Israel, bread and wine. There is nothing special or unique about the elements themselves, but that’s the point. The focus is not on the elements but on the body and blood of Christ they represent.

    . . . We by faith sit before the heavenly mountain sharing a meal with Him, and in this meal He feeds us spiritually from that mountain. Children, it is good for you to desire to share in this meal. Please inform your parents when you are ready to make profession of faith. Do not unnecessarily put it off, for a gift from God should be readily received. Until then by virtue of your status as covenant children you are included in this fellowship with God.

    Why do we need the Lord’s Supper? Because God says that we need it. Do we rationally understand how it works? Do we need to? Let us simply come in faith trusting that He instituted this Supper for our spiritual livelihood. Though we do not look to these elements as having any power, we dare not take the Supper lightly. Both extremes are serious sins of unbelief. God in His great wisdom has chosen to confound the wisdom of this world by feeding and strengthening us through this common meal. All those who place their trust completely in the death and resurrection of Christ alone for their sins are to come and eat and drink with Him.

  73. Todd said,

    July 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Jack

    If a missionary preaches the gospel for five years with no converts, is the lack of converts the missionary’s fault? Does he bear some responsibility for the lack of results? You seem to be confusing duty with results.

  74. Jack Bradley said,

    July 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Todd,

    You seem to be confusing parental responsibility with missionary responsibility. Big difference, as the DPW recognizes, and as the mainstream of non-baptistic, covenantal theology recognizes.

  75. tim prussic said,

    July 20, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Todd (#69): Please try to engage in conversation without shouting me down, if you can. You don’t have my position quite nailed down, I guarantee. So maybe we can talk and come to understand each other a bit better? You gamer?

    Now, Todd, as to the eternal, intra-Trinitarian pactum salutis or covenant of redemption, which is also sometimes called the Covenant of Grace, I heartily affirm the CoD, so far as I understand them, and I certainly affirm what you’ve quoted above.

    So, by way of further definition, what are the cov’ts of works and grace in their temporal sense, that is, in history not eternity?

  76. Todd said,

    July 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Jack,

    A missionary is responsible to preach the gospel. The results are left up to God. Same with Christian parents bringing up children. God has promised to use both preaching and parental instruction for his glory. That is enough to know. Show me a difference in the Bible between the two that would unite the cause and effect of upbringing over preaching.

    Tim,

    In the context of rearing children, you wrote, “If our children, after having been reared in the Reformed faith, leave it for lesser versions of the faith, something wasn’t done correctly.” How else should this be taken?

    And your questions on covenant are too broad for this forum. What is it about the statement, “the covenant of grace cannot be broken” that you are having difficulty with?

  77. Jack Bradley said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Todd wrote: “Show me a difference in the Bible between the two that would unite the cause and effect of upbringing over preaching.”

    Better than me showing you, I’ll let you show you.

    Todd Bordow, The Meaning of Baptism – Part 2:

    “The first thing we notice in Eph 6 is that the Apostle speaks directly to children in the church and addresses them as Christians. In chapter 5 he instructed the husbands of their responsibilities, and the wives, and now he speaks to the children of their Christian responsibilities. He obviously expected the children who were able to be listening when the Word is read and preached, for he addresses them directly.

    Paul quotes the fifth commandment, but then changes a word in v. 3. The Ten Commandments say that the children of Israel would live long in the land if they honored their parents. But Paul says that they will live long on the earth if they obey their parents. It is no small thing to change one of the Ten Commandments.

    Now there are two options as to what to do with this verse. It has been argued that Paul is simply giving a general principle that applies to Christians all over the world. This interpretation takes the Apostle to be saying that if children obey their parents they are more likely to have a long and prosperous life. This of course would not always be true, children can die young; but this is a general truth.

    But is this really Paul’s point here? We must keep in mind how the Apostle has been speaking throughout this letter. In chapter 1 Paul had already spoken of our inheritance. We were blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

    In. v. 11 he wrote that in Christ we have obtained an inheritance, and in v. 14 the Holy Spirit seals believers as a guarantee of their inheritance. Paul borrows the OT language of inheritance in Canaan and applies it to heaven.

    In the OT Canaan typologically represented our eternal inheritance. So when Paul speaks of living long on the earth in Eph 6:3, he is doing what he had already done many times in the letter. He is referring to our eternal inheritance, not a general probability that the obedient child will live to see old age. Paul says the fifth commandment was the first commandment with the promise, the promise referring to the promise to Abraham that he would receive an eternal inheritance.

    Paul is teaching that children will enter their eternal inheritance if they obey their parents. This of course raises an obvious question. Is Paul saying that children are saved by works; that if they obey their parents they will be saved? Surely he isn’t contradicting what he already declared in chapter 2, that we saved by grace through faith, and not of works.

    V. 4 will help us discern the Apostle’s thought. Fathers are not to provoke their children to wrath. They are not to use force or fear to ensure their children believe as they do. Instead they are to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

    In other words, parental instruction in the gospel is the means of grace by which their children will know the Lord. Paul isn’t really speaking about the commands to take out the trash, though in a secondary manner there is a connection. Paul is saying to children, “children, believe in the God of your parents, follow their teaching about Christ, and you will live forever in heaven.”

    For children under Christian parents, obedience to their instruction about the Lord is the means by which their faith in Christ is gradually nurtured. As the children grow older, their faith will take on a maturity of its own apart from their parents.

    Covenant children possess direct promises because of the God-ordained connection between faithful covenant nurture and the children being raised to believe. Children who are still under the authority of their parents are promised the eternal inheritance if they submit “in the Lord” to the gospel instruction of their parents, or in the case of a single Christian parent, of that parent.

    We know that young children will believe what their parents teach them. If the parents teach faith in Christ, the children will believe in Christ. The question is, is that faith legitimate or illegitimate? Is it accepted by God, or do we not take it seriously because after all, they are only believing what their parents taught them?

    It is legitimate faith. God delights in those prayers of your two-year-old. He bids our young children to come to Him, and to address Him as their heavenly Father. We should be careful not to question our children’s faith, unless they are purposefully walking in rebellion and unbelief. What if I came to you every time you sinned and said, “Are you sure you are a Christian?” As with all in the church, we treat our baptized children as believers until they prove themselves otherwise. Christ is theirs, don’t keep them at a distance from Him.

    Thus when parents present their children for baptism, the parents takes vows to raise their baptized children in the knowledge of Christ.

    Now there is an error circulating throughout our churches that states that if you bring up your children rightly then they will always remain in the faith. If they fall away from the faith it is the parent’s fault, even if the parent have remained in the faith. This is dangerous teaching for a number of reasons.

    First of all, this type of thinking leans toward a Roman Catholic view of the means of grace. A Catholic view of the Supper, for example, is that Christ is communicated whether the recipient of the Supper believes it or not. In other words, the Supper works automatically.

    Turn to Hebrews 4:2. We should never say that the means God has given us are automatic. Hebrews 4:2 says this about the children of Israel: “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”

    Was the fault in the one who preached, or the parent that raised him in the church? No, the Word was not united with faith. In the Bible, when a covenant child grows up and abandons the faith, it is that child who is held responsible, not his parents.

    This is not to say that our children will not pick up our bad habits and sinful tendencies. Isaac sinned in the likeness of Abraham. All of us as parents grieve when we see our own weaknesses displayed in our children. As adults we see the same weaknesses in as that were in our mother or father. We do not like that either. This alone should motivate us to seek sanctification from God, because how we are affects so many others.

    Nevertheless the parents were to bring their children the gospel, and the gospel says that all are sinners, even parents. The gospel is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

    You children need to heed this warning. If you grow up and abandon Christ, you will not be able to stand before God and blame your parents. Where did you ever get the idea that they were not sinners? You knew the gospel, you were raised hearing it in church, and you are expected to believe it.

    I will mention one more thing in relation to raising covenant children. Turn to I Cor 12:13. There is an aspect of covenant upbringing that is too often underestimated or overlooked altogether. I Cor 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit, for in fact the body is not one member but many.”

    It is not only given to parents to raise their kids in the Lord, it is given to the church. When you present your children for baptism, you present them not only to Christ, but as members of the church. There are too many parents who think they do not really need the church; that they have the resources in themselves to bring their children up in the Lord. All Christians need the church.

    When your children are baptized, our vow states that you will bring them up by the means God has appointed. Those means not only include parental instruction, but also faithful church attendance, hearing the preached Word, and fellowship with other Christians in the body.

    Never underestimate the importance of children growing up in a church where they are loved by more than just their parents. It is crucial to their spiritual lives. Many parental weaknesses will be overcome with a church family that loves one another and the children.

    This means that we are all responsible in raising covenant children.”

    Yes, Todd, we are all (parents, pastors, churches) responsible in raising covenant children. And based on your own words here (especially regarding the 5th commandment), you are in fact saying that parental responsibility is paramount.

  78. Zrim said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Tim,

    As to you second point, you can’t seem to connect the two things that are intimately related: the means of grace and our overcoming sin.

    Actually, I do. But I don’t understand “overcoming sin” to be analogous with “getting victory in the here and now.” When we confess that even the holiest amongst us makes but only the slightest advance in this life, we are always more sinful than not.

    Jack,

    It’s not a magical view of the sacrament, but a high view…

    I consider mine to be a high view. But when it is suggested that neglecting the means of grace explains apostasy more than disobedience and sin, I suspect a magical view is at work.

  79. tim prussic said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Todd, I have no interest in wasting my time. Writing to you appears to be entirely unfruitful. Good day.

  80. tim prussic said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Zrim, I meant overcoming sin in the sense of growing in victory, that is, sanctification… like say, my patience with guys like Todd! :)

  81. Todd said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    You Wilsonites are all alike. Same playbook. Keep playing your games with sound doctrine and souls.

  82. tim prussic said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Also, Zrim, I never suggested “that neglecting the means of grace explains apostasy more than disobedience and sin” – I’ve asserted that these things are linked, and that if we deny the God-ordained means, we’ll not achieve the ends.

  83. Jack Bradley said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Sorry to see this parting cheap shot, Todd. I’d hoped that you would engage your own words and as well as continue sharpening my iron.

  84. tim prussic said,

    July 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Todd, you’re clearly inconsistent in your own mind (you guys are all the same!): Thou beggest (as the [self-appointed] shepherd of the flock), “Please don’t become a pastor and destroy the sheep with this nonsense.” How could I destroy the sheep? Sheep are unchangeably sheep, Cap’n Calvinist. “What is it about the statement, ‘the covenant of grace cannot be broken’ that you are having difficulty with?” Are you putting the power of salvation and damnation in MY hands, Todd?!?

  85. Todd said,

    July 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Nice try. While Jack brings up my old sermons on another thread to prove inconsistencies, you ignore the clear question on breaking the covenant and charge me with inconsistency. Nice play guys. As to your question in # 84, the answer is found in Romans 14:15 – “Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.” You figure it out.

    By the way, did you notice that when Ron exposed your fearless leader for the word games he was playing with baptismal regeneration, he conveniently disappeared from the debate? What happened?

  86. Todd said,

    July 20, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Though Lane and Reed haven’t said anything, I’ve probably gone beyond the purpose of the blog in my challenges and comments, so I’ll bow out unless there is a specific question. Thanks Lane and Reed for the opportunity for us small church guys to have a forum.

    Todd

  87. Zrim said,

    July 20, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Tim,

    I meant overcoming sin in the sense of “growing in victory,” that is, sanctification…

    “Overcoming sin” and “sanctification” are synonymous, yes, and these things come by way of Word and sacrament. But “growing in victory”? That sounds like the language of the revivalist, not the confessionalist. I still hear a theology of glory instead of a theology of the cross. I hear “expect results” instead of “be obedient.”

  88. tim prussic said,

    July 21, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Zrim, you’re hearing things.:)
    I do, however, expect results through obedience… cuz God promises them. Remember, faith believes the promises of God and trembles at his threats. That sounds confessional, doesn’t it?

    Todd, you sound a whole lot like and Arminian. Do you have your fearless leader’s collected writings in 3 hardcover volumes?

  89. Zrim said,

    July 21, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Tim,

    I do, however, expect results through obedience… cuz God promises them. Remember, faith believes the promises of God and trembles at his threats. That sounds confessional, doesn’t it?</i.

    I think there is at once a fine line and wide distinction between “believing that God will be faithful to his promises” and “expecting results through obedience.” One is marked by a satisfaction with proximate things, the other, well, not so much.

    So my question for you is, What happens when the results one expects don’t come through? What is the explanation for when, for example, all is done for a covenant child, including being brought to the Table as you understand it, and she still falls away? My explanation is still indwelling and unrepentant sin on her behalf, same for when things haven’t been tippy-top with regard to her covenant nurture.

    As an advocate for weekly tabling, it might be tempting to embrace your logic and strike fear into the hearts of those who disagree. But my Calvinism, with its high view of sin, isn’t having any of it. And since grace is the only thing Calvinism takes more seriously than sin Calvinists should be really bad at fear-mongering.

  90. tim prussic said,

    July 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Zrim, sin and grace are on alternate sides of the page working against each other. Progressive sanctification is a life-long battle, but faith “gets the victory” (WCF 14:3 – the revivalist’s confession!), and that progressively but not fully in this life. As we apply ourselves to the means of grace, so God furthers our sanctification.

    Further, since God says he blesses obedience, it’s not faith to deny it. I think I understand you proximate things, but make sure it’s not a safe zone where you don’t have to believe that God blessed obedience. To be sure, let God be true and every man a liar. My obedience (since it’s incomplete) cannot covenantally compel God to bless. Perfect obedience can – thus, Christ can ask the nations of his Father based upon his perfect obedience and know that his request won’t be denied. We’re not operating in a 1-to-1 obedience-to-blessing situation (thus, your proximate notion). Rather, we live by grace, believe and obey by grace, trusting that God will bless our obedience.

  91. June 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    […] has moved on to discuss Venema’s treatment of 1 Corinthians 11 in chapter 6. Before I follow him there, I wanted to […]


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