How Hostile Is Paedo-Communion to our Standards?

How hostile is PC to our constitution? The following places in the Confessional material and the BCO pertain to the issue. It must be remembered that all these statements must be interpreted in the context of a non-paedo-communion belief and practice, since our constitution has a firmly non-paedo-communion viewpoint.
Westminster Confession of Faith: Chapter 27.1 tells us that sacraments “confirm our interest in him.” Sessions need to determine, according to their best ability to judge fruit, who has an interest in Christ, such that their interest can be confirmed. 27.3 states that there is “a promise of benefit to worthy receivers,” for the sacraments. Worthy receivers must refer to those who have faith. In the case of baptism, that faith can come after the sacrament, but in the case of the Lord’s Supper, the faith needs to come before the sacrament, in order for the receivers to be worthy. 29.1 states that the Lord’s Supper is to be “for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body” (emphasis added). These actions are not possible for infants to perform. 29.7 again mentions “worthy receivers,” as well as something being presented “to the faith of believers.” Incidentally, the question of whether infants can have faith is irrelevant. The question is the faith of the person that the session has to determine. 29.8 explicitly state that ignorant men might receive the outward elements, but they do not receive the substance. An ignorant partaking is a condemnatory partaking. 29.8 clearly states this.

Westminster Larger Catechism: WLC 168 again states the necessity that people “worthily communicate.” It is also impossible for infants to “testify and renew their thankfulness” (from the same question). WLC 169 states that “thankful remembrance” is required, which is impossible for infants. WLC 170 again mentions worthy communication. They need to “by faith…receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death” (emphasis added). The entire content of question 171 is impossible for infants to perform. Question 172 is not as directly germane, but is still indirectly related. Question 173 tells us that all “who are found to be ignorant…may and ought to be kept from that sacrament.” Plainly the question of those who are ignorant is a distinct question from those who are scandalous, though both cases are discussed in the question. The reasoning here is simple: those who are ignorant cannot partake worthily of the Lord’s Supper. Question 174 describes the requirements of those while they participate, again requirements that infants and most young children are unable to perform. Question 175 tells us of the duties we have after we have participated, which are again impossible for infants and young children to perform. Question 177 is the obvious question that disagrees with the idea of paedo-communion in the phrase “and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.”

Westminster Shorter Catechism: Question 92 says that the benefits of the sacraments come to and are applied to believers. In the case of baptism, that can come before faith, but the session has to decide whether a person can be admitted to the table based on a credible profession of faith. Question 96 mentions worthy receivers. Question 97 is the most direct statement of what is required for worthy reception of the Lord’s Supper. Anything other than doing what that question requires is defined as eating and drinking judgment to themselves.

Book of Church Order: 57-1 state that “Believers’ children within the Visible Church, and especially those dedicated to God in Baptism, are non-communing members under the care of the Church.” Surely, PC advocates cannot agree with this definition of children. In 57-2, careful examination is required of sessions. This needs to be more than simply “Do you believe in Jesus?” Children who are two years old can be encouraged to the point of saying “yes.” But without further examination, it cannot be clear that the child actually believes. Although 57-4 uses the language of “recommended,” it is clear that PC advocates would say that it is not recommended that a public profession of faith be required. 58-2 states specifically that “The ignorant and scandalous are not to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper.” PC advocates cannot possibly agree with this statement. 57-3 states that the people be “instructed in its nature, and a due preparation for it, that all may come in a suitable manner to this holy feast.” Instruction is therefore essential to the “suitable manner” in which people need to come to the Supper. Infants and small children are not capable of receiving this instruction.

In my opinion, any advocate of PC would need to take an exception to all of these passages in our constitution. It is not just the age of the recipients. It is a completely different understanding of the sacrament. The benefit comes completely differently in a PC understanding versus a non-PC understanding. The difference is this: the constitution and non-PC advocates believe that a subjective element is required for proper reception of the sacrament. PC advocates believe that benefit can come without any subjective element whatsoever.

One more point needs to be made. PC advocates in the PCA always agree not to practice it. However, in believing it, there is no way that they can agree with the sections in the BCO. We do not allow exceptions to the BCO. And it is quite gratuitous to assume that a person can be in conformity by merely practicing what the BCO states. In my experience, PC advocates almost never mention exceptions to the BCO. In my opinion, this is not honest.

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74 Comments

  1. Frank Aderholdt said,

    May 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    My position has changed over the years. Decades ago, I was comfortable with admitting men who believe in paedocommunion if they pledged to keep silent about it. Now, I will not vote for any candidate who believes in paedocommunion, even if he promises not to teach it. I’m convinced that paedocommunion strikes so deep at the fundamentals of the system of doctrine taught in the Standards that there is no place for it in the PCA, period.

  2. andrew said,

    May 31, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    “Chapter 27.1 tells us that sacraments “confirm our interest in him.” Sessions need to determine, according to their best ability to judge fruit, who has an interest in Christ, such that their interest can be confirmed”.

    Excellent point! Since sessions and the confession affirm infant baptism, they must judge the infants fruitful, and to have an interest in Christ. I hadn’t realised the Confession taught presumptive regeneration so clearly. This renders the points about faith and worthy recievcers moot.

    “29.1 states that the Lord’s Supper is to be “for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body” (emphasis added). These actions are not possible for infants to perform.”

    Which specific action had you in mind? Notice that both the remembrance and pledge are ‘objective’, and the language of engagement is also used of baptism (ch 28:1). Your statement also assumes that all of the benefits must occur every time the sacrament takes place, and must take place there and then. That is hardly an unchallengeble assumption (see the Scots Confession for a differing view).

    “29.8 explicitly state that ignorant men might receive the outward elements, but they do not receive the substance. An ignorant partaking is a condemnatory partaking. 29.8 clearly states this.”

    This, perhaps unintentionally, is a little disengenous. The phrase always used in the confession is ‘ignorant and wicked’, not ‘ignorant or wicked’, which certainly allows us to read it as culpable ignorance (perhaps any lawyers would confirm this this the way a court could read such a document)

    LC Q 177 obviously supports credocommunion. The rest of the points though are a little stretched. Look at the duties and requirements the LC lays down for prayer? Could your 2 yr old meet them? Would you still pray with them? Perhaps you are making the same assumption in reading the confession as in reading I Cor 11, but happily avoid in II Thess. 3:10

    I am not PCA, and don’t have any additional comments on the BCO, other than neither it nor the WCOF would stand in the way of lowering the age of admittance to 5, which may well be the compromise reached in a decade or two.

    In short, the Standards do exclude PC, but very briefly and without relation to other doctrines. It would be example A in my book for the sort of thing we should make exceptions for.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    May 31, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Andrew, your first point is completely contradicted by the fact that the efficacy of baptism is NOT tied to the moment of its administration. The sacraments work differently, as the WLC and WSC both clearly show. To have an interest in Christ is possible at a very young age, but not possible to determine with any degree of clarity until later.

    Your interpretation of “remembrance” and “pledge” come from a PC perspective. That is not what the divines meant. They meant that we have to remember actively (besides, the language of “true believers” indicates something the session must ascertain).

    On your third point, the WLC questions dealing with how to prepare for the LS, how to conduct ourselves in the midst of it, and how to improve it afterwards certainly assume that benefit comes every time for worthy receivers. Which part of the Scots Confession did you have in mind?

    On your fourth point, it is gratuitous to assume that “ignorant and scandalous” constitutes basically a hendiadys, and not two separate categories. Surely there are those who are both ignorant and scandalous, but there is absolutely no grammatical reason to assume that this is always a culpable ignorance that is meant. So, the natural interpretation of the phrase “ignorant and scandalous” or “ignorant and ungodly” is that there are some in the former category, some who are both, and some who are in the latter category, and all would be participating in an unworthy manner. Do you seriously think the divines meant only a culpable ignorance? That is a PC assumption that is reinterpreting the text. All the rest of the context of the WLC seems very clear that pure ignorance would also constitute unworthy participation.

    Prayer is not the same thing as communion. It seems rather ludicrous, in fact, to put them in the same category. In short, the standards exclude PC by reference to the difference between baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and how both are to be conducted and improved. You are using PC assumptions to argue your position, and you are not interpreting the Standards in the way the divines would have interpreted them.

  4. May 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I think a lot of PC advocates are really advocates of communing young children. What they are really against is the sacrament or quasi-sacrament of “confirmation.” A young child’s desire to participate in the meal is judged as sufficient fruit to allow a child to come to the Lord’s Table according to many “so called” PC advocates. I do not think they are real PC advocates like the Eastern Orthodox.

    Rich Lusk’s book “Paidofaith” advocates for an infant faith. I think PC advocates still want to see faith of some sort (though they may define it differently). Honestly, I think they are using the same terms, however they may just be using them in a different ways.

    A real point of contention might be around what faith is and what role a profession of faith plays in the sacraments.

  5. rfwhite said,

    May 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Lane: allow me to pick a nit with your statement: “In my opinion, any advocate of PC would need to take an exception to all of these passages in our constitution.” As you know, according to our PCA BoCO 21-4.f., a candidate does not “take exceptions”; rather he is required to “state the specific instances in which he may differ with the Confession of Faith and Catechisms in any of their statements and/or propositions.” It is the presbytery who grants or denies exception(s).

  6. Cris Dickason said,

    June 1, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Lane,

    You have forgotten or overlooked the BCO, chapter 6, “Church Members.”

    6-1. The children of believers are, through the covenant and by right of
    birth, non-communing members of the church. Hence they are entitled to Baptism, and to the pastoral oversight, instruction and government of the church, with a view to their embracing Christ and thus possessing personally all benefits of the covenant.
    6-2. Communing members are those who have made a profession of faith in Christ, have been baptized, and have been admitted by the Session to the Lord’s Table.

    6-4. Those only who have made a profession of faith in Christ, have been baptized, and admitted by the Session to the Lord’s Table, are entitled to all the rights and privileges of the church.

  7. Tom Troxell said,

    June 1, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Good posts all; hopefully this will come before the PCA GA.

  8. Larry Wilson said,

    June 1, 2012 at 8:46 am

    God’s Word stresses the importance of openly professing Christ. E.g., the familiar Romans 10:9-10 –“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

    I would suggest that the Westminster Standards reflect that emphasis, and that the historical Presbyterian distinction between communicant members (who have professed their faith in Christ) and noncommunicant members (who are being nurtured toward their professing their faith in Christ) permeates them. E.g. —

    WCF 25:2 — The visible church “consists of all those throughout the world who PROFESS the true religion *and* of their children…”

    LC 62 — “The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do PROFESS the true religion *and* of their children.”

    WCF 28:4 — ” Not only those that do actually PROFESS faith in and obedience unto Christ, *but also* the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.”

    LC 166 — “Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they PROFESS their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, PROFESSing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.”

    SC 95 — “Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they PROFESS their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.”

    It seems to me that debates over paedocommunion tend not adequately to consider this emphasis on consciously professing faith in Christ.

  9. Larry Wilson said,

    June 1, 2012 at 8:54 am

    What I meant to say at 7 is parallel to what Lane said in the original post: “It is not just the age of the recipients. It is a completely different understanding of the sacrament.” I am suggesting that we can add to that “It is not just the age of the recipients. It is a completely different definition of the visible church.”

  10. Cris Dickason said,

    June 1, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Great observations @ 8 & 9, Larry. To continue in same vein, the different definition of visible church is because there are some that do not “care for” or agree with the visible/invisible church distinction.

    There is a desire among some presbyterians today to collapse or flatten the visible/invisible church concept, to try and get away from subjective aspects of church life, administration and pastoral work: a collapsing of the balance between objective and subjective elements of life and shepherding.

  11. theogothic said,

    June 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    How well does one have to “discern the body?” I am not paedocom, but roughly early child. Does discerning the body mean “knowing enough about Christology/ecclesiology?” Who gets to determine “what is enough?” I can make a Christology exam that most PCA elders would fail.

    Are we going to go the FN Lee route where the age is roughly 18 years +?

    I am not defending the movmeent that has become paedocom. I believe many of its adherents are spiritually dangerous. However, most of the arguments against it remind me of my baptist days.

  12. theogothic said,

    June 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I mean “roughly early child communion,” not that I am a young child.

  13. andrew said,

    June 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Lane, first a general response dealing with ‘natural interpretations’, etc, and then a different post dealing with some specifics.

    The is no such thing as a ‘PC assumption’, ‘interpretation’, etc.The PC scheme is this: that if we take Reformed teaching on the church, sacraments and children, the logical conclusion is that communion is for all the congregation.

    If PC is incorrect, the mistake has been made in the logical connection of certain doctrines, not the doctrines themselves for these are common the the Reformed community. I would be interested to hear one doctrine I hold as a PCer that is not part of the Reformed tradition.

    Even my take on I Cor 11 – that it simply doesn’t have children in mind – is the bog standard Reformed response to baptist ‘proof’ passages, going back to Calvin himself’.

    This is why you are in danger of some ananchronistic flaws. Everyone acknowledges that the Reformers continued the medieval practice. There is even, as you like to point out, a passing phrase about it in one of the reformed standards. But we also know it was not a matter debated among our fathers, or one they gave much attention to.

    So it is not valid to suppose that because you believe in credocommunion for x,y,z, the Reformers also believed in x,y,z. And if I suport PC by reasons a,b,c that does not mean the Reformers denied a,b,c. For example, in the book edited by Guy Waters, someone argues against PC on the grounds that it would encourage parents to treat their children as Christians, rather than objects of evangelism. So in this case, CC is being supported by the doctrine of presumptive unregeneration, a doctrine whose Reformed pedigree is hardly fantastic.

    So because you, as a CCer, have certain view of what ‘remembrance’ entails does not mean you can attribute that view to everyone who practiced CC. Most likely the divines had no developed view, as there had been no discussion on the issue. Or perhaps they took the ‘PC’ view (whatever you mean by that) but did not see the tension with the way they conducted communion. And so on with any other passage which admits various understandings.

  14. andrew said,

    June 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    1) In your post you claim that both you and the confession teach that in giving a sacrament, the session has judged the recipient to have an “interest in Christ”.

    Surely you must either deny this happens in infant baptism (thus placing you at odds with the Confession, and we know what that means), or withdraw this argument. If the session has already judged the child to have an interest in Christ, how can they withhold communnion because they would have to make this judgment?

    Perhaps you think there are additional things the session need to judge in communion, but seeing as the Confession doesn’t mention them here, I don’t see the relevance of this passage. Nor do I see what time of efficacy has to do with it at all. Do you think the Confession should say not that the session judges the child to have an interest in christ, but a possible later interest in Christ? This would work, but, as you say, it would be morally wrong to suggest the wording of the confession is incorrect.

    2) The Scots Confession is interesting in that it expresses similar thoughts on the Supper as the WCOF does on baptism – that the efficacy is not tied to the moment of administration:

    “Further we affirm that although the faithful, hindered by negligence and human weakness, do not profit as much as they ought in the actual moment of the Supper, yet afterwards it shall bring forth fruit, being living seed sown in good ground”.

    So a covenant child might be blessed by is time at communnion years later. For example, he could look back and see in a specific way that Christ was caring for him even in tender years.

    It is also relevant for this reason. I suggested that not every benefit of Communion the Confession lists has to happen every time for communion to be valid. You rather equivocably replied that benefit does occur (which no one denies). The Scots Confession seems to concur with me in saying that the benefits can take place as process. Since some of the benefits the Confession lists would apply to an infant (e.g. engagement to Christ, language also used of baptism), and all would apply in time, I don’t think this section particularily damning for paedocommunion either.

    3) “Prayer is not the same thing as communion. It seems rather ludicrous, in fact, to put them in the same category”.

    You will doubtless accuse me of nitpicking, but obviously prayer and worship are in the same category (elements of worship). LC 154 lists word sacramentts and prayer as the three means of grace. (Mmm… in passing, your statement seems, prima facie, to contradict LC 154. Perhaps one of your collegues could launch disciplinary proceedings for the moral failing of teaching contray to the confession, as you so passionately urged a post or two ago).

    In addition, when someone compares two things, simplying ‘they are not the same’ is always correct (in some way), and a non-answer (since no one claimed the two things were identical). But seeing you won’t play ball, I will explain in more detail.

    Your argument is that the Confession lists a number of things we should do when taking communion. You further say an infant cannot do these. My response is that the confession may simply be listing the things that those capable of doing them ought to do (i.e understand it as we understand II Thess. 3 :10). As an example of this way of interpreting the Confession (not a comparison of the activities themselves), I suggested you look at the catechism’s teaching on prayer:

    Q 180: What is it to pray in the name of Christ?

    To pray in the name of Christ is, in obedience to his command, and in confidence on his promises, to ask mercy for his sake; not by bare mentioning of his name, but by drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation.

    Q. 182 talks of “those apprehensions, affections, and graces which are requisite for the right performance of that duty [of prayer].

    Q 185: How are we to pray.?
    We are to pray with an awful apprehension of the majesty of God, and deep sense of our own unworthiness, necessities, and sins; with penitent, thankful, and enlarged hearts; with understanding, faith, sincerity, fervency, love, and perseverance, waiting upon him, with humble submission to his will.

    (I am going to take for granted that someone capable of these things would be capable of discerning the Lord’s body)

    Now, following your line of interpretation, you have several options

    – that a child is not capable of these things, and so children should be encouraged not to pray

    – that a child is capable of these things, and so should pray (with the colloray than a praying child is ready for communion – say aged 2?).

    The third option is the one you deny to me over communion – that this decsription is obligatory to those capable of it, and was not written with a toddler in mind at all.

  15. Jack Bradley said,

    June 1, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I think this passage from Olds, on infant baptism, is also applicable to paedocommunion.

    Hughes Oliphant Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century:

    p. 135: “What is at issue here is a sort of religious anthropology. Are children religious nonentities until they reach the age that they can make a reasonable decision? It is interesting that the Anabaptists denied that the Holy Spirit could be at work within a child until he matured. Did it mean that they were rationalists? Did it mean that faith had to be built on reason and that until there was reason there could be no faith? The Reformers, following Augustine and Anselm, gave primacy to faith over reason. . . The Reformers were quite willing to admit the existence of faith in children before the development of understanding. The story of Christ blessing the children is not irrelevant to the question of infant baptism. That simple childlike trust which children have before the age of reason is precisely the kind of faith which Jesus held up as exemplary to his disciples (Matt. 18:2-5; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17). Before children are able to make a reasonable judgment or even a conscious decision, they can have faith as a gift from God. This faith is a trusting and loving inclination toward God. Faith is something deeper than either the reason or the will.

  16. BJ Mora said,

    June 2, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Andrew, I would disagree with your (and Lane’s?) assertion under 14.1 – when a child is baptized in a Reformed church, it is not because of the child’s “interest in Christ,” but because of God’s, and the parent’s, by virtue of the child’s covenantal standing.

    And later in the same post (14.3) – while, yes, prayer and communion are both means of grace, yet one is “active” (prayer) and one is “passive” (communion is received). Just the opposite, in the sense of action by the church member, with baptism (passive) and profession of faith (active).

  17. Larry Wilson said,

    June 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Hi Jack, I hope that you’re well, brother. The passage you quote from H.O. Old @ 15 pretty well reflects the generic Reformed view. You might even say that it’s “old” (heh heh). What’s new is your assertion that it applies equally to paedocommunion. I’m pretty confident, however, that you would be hard-pressed to find Old himself making that application. Why not? Because the generic Reformed view has a different sacramentology and ecclesiology (which is the point of this post) than that which gives rise to paedocommuion. Larger Catechism 177 is not an anomoly, but is a coherent part of a unified and scriptural system. I’ll grant that, alas, many who profess that system fall short of it. But please don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. I entreat you to reconsider the spectacles through which you interpret affirmations such as Old’s.

  18. Dan MacDonald said,

    June 2, 2012 at 10:10 am

    This is a helpful discussion for me. I went into seminary a baptistic calvinist and came out seriously considering paedobaptism. I found the biblical and theological arguments for infant baptism compelling.

    Yet many of those same arguments seemed to me, at least prima facie at least, to incline one toward paedocommunion. Things like: the OT/NT continuity and the participation of Jewish children in both circumcision and the Passover; the way the covenant signs passed from father to household.

    At the time, I found it ironic that Reformed people would give the sign of baptism, which is by Westminster standards a sign of union with Christ, to (presumably) non believing infants. Yet they would withhold the cup – which does not actually signify or seal something so profound as union with Christ – from these same infants.

    I remember discussing these with a Presbyterian pastor who sat down with me and walked me through some of my pastoral and theological questions. He admitted that some of the arguments that incline one toward paedobaptism do lend some credence to including children to the Table.

    I came to believe in paedobaptism; strongly. I presently believe in, follow, and enjoy, the PCA practice of baptizing infants and yet fencing the table for believers only. I believe there is a real distinction between the visible and invisible church. I believe that distinction is between those who have been justified by faith alone, in Christ alone, and those who have not trusted in Christ and therefore remain in a state of condemnation. I believe that the New Testament’s teachings on the Lord’s Table are sufficiently clear as to exclude unbelievers. I believe the New Testament’s teachings – especially on the household baptisms in Acts – are sufficiently clear to include children in baptism.

    Yet I remain a bit bemused that we have this irony: infants are given the sign of actual union with Christ, but barred from the Table that remembers/proclaims/participates in union with Christ.

    I see why people, who want consistency, move towards either Baptistic theology or paedocommunion. The Baptists get sacraments that are purely subjectivist – one needs to show a subjective ‘closing with Christ’ to be allowed either sacrament. The paedocommunionists go the other way – purely objectivist, and allow entrance to the font and Table without any evidence of a subjective closing with Christ through faith.

    We sit in the sacramental middle. It can be a messy place to be.

  19. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Larry,

    I of course recognize that Old is not directly addressing PC, but I do indeed think his words apply equally, as do Vern Poythress’s. He’s addressing Baptists, but the application to the Lord’s Supper is obvious:

    “A profession of faith by a small child may be genuine, even though it does not show all the maturity that characterizes a profession by a spiritually mature adult. We must not impose rigoristic standards for a profession of faith, such as only an adult or teenager could meet. We must recognize that Christian faith is primarily personal trust in Christ rather than intellectual mastery or technical skill in verbal articulation of the truth.

    . . . We must avoid rigorism at this point if we are to practice genuine love toward children. Hence, we need to baptize small children who give a credible profession of faith. . . When we look at children, we naturally hope that their intellectual apprehension of God’s truth will grow, and that their faith will come to maturity. We encourage such growth. Our hopes and our encouragement are quite proper. But if we equate intellectual maturity with the essence of faith, we change salvation from a free gift into the property of those with proper intellectual credentials.

    . . . We need to listen accurately to young children. Listen to the young children within your church, the children who are being raised in solid Christian homes. Talk with the 5-year-olds. Talk with the 3-year-olds. Talk with the 2-year-olds. Ask them about what Jesus has done for them. Ask whether they love Jesus. Ask whether Jesus loves them. I think that you will hear a lot of credible professions of faith.

    . . . The above reasoning implies that they should be baptized at least as soon as they have a credible profession of faith. And what counts as a credible profession? Such profession could be pushed back very early, to the time soon after children begin to verbalize in sentences.”

    http://www.frame-poythress.org/poythress_articles/1997Indifferentism.htm

    “I personally found that my own attitude altered once I began to reckon with 2- and 3- and 4-year-olds. Instinctively I could not withdraw from 1-month- and 3-month-old-infants the welcome that I have just given to children who were a little older. Perhaps partly my reaction was due to the fact that I could to a degree sense how the work of God’s Spirit might mysteriously extend into regions that we cannot rationally penetrate. . . Faith is primarily trust in Christ, not verbal articulation of that trust.

    . . . Thus, in theory the idea of ‘credible profession’ might be pushed back early. Young children can demonstrate faith even through nonverbal actions of loving their parents. John the Baptist demonstrated the work of the Holy Spirit in his life when he leaped in the womb (Luke 1:15, 44). For a very young child, trust in God is very much fused with trust in parents. Trust in parents is largely inchoate and inarticulate. But it is nonetheless real.

    . . . We need to start baptizing professing children at a very young age if they have not already been baptized. We need to appreciate, not just debate, the Lord’s meeting with us through baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”

    http://www.frame-poythress.org/poythress_articles/1997Linking.htm

    Again, Poythress is addressing Baptists on the issue of baptism, but it’s easy to see the application to the Lord’s Supper:

    “We must recognize that Christian faith is primarily personal trust in Christ rather than intellectual mastery or technical skill in verbal articulation of the truth. . . Talk with the 2-year-olds. Ask them about what Jesus has done for them. Ask whether they love Jesus. Ask whether Jesus loves them. I think that you will hear a lot of credible professions of faith. . . Such profession could be pushed back very early, to the time soon after children begin to verbalize in sentences.”

    Larry, let me ask, does Poythress’ view also seem to you, in light of WLC 177 (“only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves”), in your words, a “different sacramentology and ecclesiology.”?

  20. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Dan wrote: “I remain a bit bemused that we have this irony: infants are given the sign of actual union with Christ, but barred from the Table that remembers/proclaims/participates in union with Christ. I see why people, who want consistency, move towards either Baptistic theology or paedocommunion.”

    I appreciate your candor, Dan. I think your bemusement is shared by many in the paedobaptist camp–who see that the Baptist charge of inconsistency carries real weight. Murray himself felt that weight:

    John Murray, Christian Baptism, p. 77:

    “At the outset it should be admitted that if paedobaptists are inconsistent in this discrimination, then the relinquishment of infant baptism is not the only way of resolving the inconsistency. It could be resolved by going in the other direction, namely, of admitting infants to the Lord’s supper. And when all factors entering into this dispute are taken into account, particularly the principle involved in infant baptism, then far less would be at stake in admitting infants to the Lord’s supper than would be at stake in abandoning infant baptism.”

    The OPC majority report also notes this inconsistency:

    “To exclude covenant children from the covenant meal would be to deny them a privilege enjoyed by children in the old covenant, without any biblical warrant for doing so.

    Paedobaptists will recognize the similarity between this argument and their own argument for infant baptism. They argue generally in this way: that since God commanded infant members of the old testament visible church to be circumcised, and since baptism has now taken the place of circumcision and is essentially the same in spiritual meaning as circumcision, infant members of the new testament visible church are commanded by God to be baptized, for we are not to take away from God’s commandments.

    OBJECTIONS:
    1. But in 1 Cor. 11, Paul does provide biblical warrant for excluding children from the Lord’s Table. He requires participants to examine themselves, to commune with God, to discern, remember and proclaim Christ’s sacrificial death. Since little children do not have such repentance and faith, they do not meet Paul’s requirements and should not partake. If they do, they eat unworthily, and are subject to God’s punishment.

    ANSWER: First, according to Rayburn [citing Rayburn's PCA minority report]: “As the context makes clear and as the commentators confirm, Paul’s remarks are specifically directed against an impious and irreverent participation (a true manductio 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.”

    Second, and again quoting Rayburn: “An appeal to I Cor. 11:28 is rendered all the more dubious an argument against paedocommunion by the incontestable fact the Old Testament contains similar warnings against faithless and hardhearted participation in the sacraments, similar calls to self-examination before participating, even (as in I Cor. 11:30) threats of death for such offenders (Isa. 1:10-20; Amos 5:18-27; Jer. 7:1-29). Yet these warnings can in no way be said to have invalidated the practice or the divine warrant for family participation in the sacral meals as prescribed in the law.” Just as adults participating in the covenant renewal meals were to have repentance and faith, so were they to have the same when eating the other sacrificial meals. In each case, however, little children were allowed to participate. When they entered into an age of discretion, they were expected to eat with increasing understanding and commitment.”

    http://tinyurl.com/lqrjnu

  21. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Dan wrote: “I found it ironic that Reformed people would give the sign of baptism, which is by Westminster standards a sign of union with Christ, to (presumably) non believing infants. Yet they would withhold the cup – which does not actually signify or seal something so profound as union with Christ – from these same infants. . . I see why people, who want consistency, move towards either Baptistic theology or paedocommunion.”

    I appreciate your candor, Dan. I think many paedobaptists share your sense of irony, and feel the weight of the standard Baptist charge of inconsistency. John Murray himself felt that weight and responded with exactly the alternatives you lay out:

    “At the outset it should be admitted that if paedobaptists are inconsistent in this discrimination, then the relinquishment of infant baptism is not the only way of resolving the inconsistency. It could be resolved by going in the other direction, namely, of admitting infants to the Lord’s supper. And when all factors entering into this dispute are taken into account, particularly the principle involved in infant baptism, then far less would be at stake in admitting infants to the Lord’s supper than would be at stake in abandoning infant baptism.” John Murray, Christian Baptism p. 77.

    The OPC majority report also feels the weight of this inconsistency:

    http://tinyurl.com/lqrjnu

    “To exclude covenant children from the covenant meal would be to deny them a privilege enjoyed by children in the old covenant, without any biblical warrant for doing so. Paedobaptists will recognize the similarity between this argument and their own argument for infant baptism. They argue generally in this way: that since God commanded infant members of the old testament visible church to be circumcised, and since baptism has now taken the place of circumcision and is essentially the same in spiritual meaning as circumcision, infant members of the new testament visible church are commanded by God to be baptized, for we are not to take away from God’s commandments.

    OBJECTIONS:
    1. But in 1 Cor. 11, Paul does provide biblical warrant for excluding children from the Lord’s Table. He requires participants to examine themselves, to commune with God, to discern, remember and proclaim Christ’s sacrificial death. Since little children do not have such repentance and faith, they do not meet Paul’s requirements and should not partake. If they do, they eat unworthily, and are subject to God’s punishment.

    ANSWER: First, according to Rayburn [citing his PCA minority report]: “As the context makes clear and as the commentators confirm, Paul’s remarks are specifically directed against an impious and irreverent participation (a true manductio 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.”

    Second, and again quoting Rayburn: “An appeal to I Cor. 11:28 is rendered all the more dubious an argument against paedocommunion by the incontestable fact the Old Testament contains similar warnings against faithless and hardhearted participation in the sacraments, similar calls to self-examination before participating, even (as in I Cor. 11:30) threats of death for such offenders (Isa. 1:10-20; Amos 5:18-27; Jer. 7:1-29). Yet these warnings can in no way be said to have invalidated the practice or the divine warrant for family participation in the sacral meals as prescribed in the law.” Just as adults participating in the covenant renewal meals were to have repentance and faith, so were they to have the same when eating the other sacrificial meals. In each case, however, little children were allowed to participate. When they entered into an age of discretion, they were expected to eat with increasing understanding and commitment.”

  22. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Dan wrote: “I found it ironic that Reformed people would give the sign of baptism, which is by Westminster standards a sign of union with Christ, to (presumably) non believing infants. Yet they would withhold the cup – which does not actually signify or seal something so profound as union with Christ – from these same infants. . . I see why people, who want consistency, move towards either Baptistic theology or paedocommunion.”

    I appreciate your candor, Dan. I think many paedobaptists share your sense of irony, and feel the weight of the standard Baptist charge of inconsistency. John Murray himself felt that weight and responded with exactly the alternatives you lay out:

    “At the outset it should be admitted that if paedobaptists are inconsistent in this discrimination, then the relinquishment of infant baptism is not the only way of resolving the inconsistency. It could be resolved by going in the other direction, namely, of admitting infants to the Lord’s supper. And when all factors entering into this dispute are taken into account, particularly the principle involved in infant baptism, then far less would be at stake in admitting infants to the Lord’s supper than would be at stake in abandoning infant baptism.” John Murray, Christian Baptism p. 77.

    The OPC majority report also feels the weight of this inconsistency:

    “To exclude covenant children from the covenant meal would be to deny them a privilege enjoyed by children in the old covenant, without any biblical warrant for doing so. Paedobaptists will recognize the similarity between this argument and their own argument for infant baptism. They argue generally in this way: that since God commanded infant members of the old testament visible church to be circumcised, and since baptism has now taken the place of circumcision and is essentially the same in spiritual meaning as circumcision, infant members of the new testament visible church are commanded by God to be baptized, for we are not to take away from God’s commandments.

    OBJECTIONS:
    1. But in 1 Cor. 11, Paul does provide biblical warrant for excluding children from the Lord’s Table. He requires participants to examine themselves, to commune with God, to discern, remember and proclaim Christ’s sacrificial death. Since little children do not have such repentance and faith, they do not meet Paul’s requirements and should not partake. If they do, they eat unworthily, and are subject to God’s punishment.

    ANSWER: First, according to Rayburn [citing his PCA minority report]: “As the context makes clear and as the commentators confirm, Paul’s remarks are specifically directed against an impious and irreverent participation (a true manductio 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.”

    Second, and again quoting Rayburn: “An appeal to I Cor. 11:28 is rendered all the more dubious an argument against paedocommunion by the incontestable fact the Old Testament contains similar warnings against faithless and hardhearted participation in the sacraments, similar calls to self-examination before participating, even (as in I Cor. 11:30) threats of death for such offenders (Isa. 1:10-20; Amos 5:18-27; Jer. 7:1-29). Yet these warnings can in no way be said to have invalidated the practice or the divine warrant for family participation in the sacral meals as prescribed in the law.” Just as adults participating in the covenant renewal meals were to have repentance and faith, so were they to have the same when eating the other sacrificial meals. In each case, however, little children were allowed to participate. When they entered into an age of discretion, they were expected to eat with increasing understanding and commitment.”

  23. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 11:38 am

    OPC majority report: http://tinyurl.com/lqrjnu

  24. Larry Wilson said,

    June 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Is not the thesis of this post that paedocommunion is hostile to the Westminster Standards? Allegations were made and argued that it is not. With the exception of Andrew @ 2, who Lane answered @ 3, the pc advocates seem to be avoiding addressing that thesis. Sorry brothers, I don’t have the time to meander throughout the garden paths with you. Have a blessed Lord’s Day.

  25. Larry Wilson said,

    June 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Sorry, I meant to say “Allegations were made and argued that it is.”

  26. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Larry, I’m not avoiding the issue at all. I’m asking that those who think that it is hostile to the Standards apply their same criteria to Poythress’s view.

  27. Zrim said,

    June 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Jack, it’s a worthy point, to be sure. There often can be an intellectualist trend in the Reformed ranks, and we CCists would do very well to remember that the Protestant category is faith (over against either intellect or experience), and that the nature of faith is simple.

    Still, it’s hard to see how the larger point doesn’t yet stand, and furthermore also how both sacraments function in different ways. So as a PBist I don’t share the sense of irony that Dan expresses. The sacraments have been described as bookends, such that God in baptism marks a member of the covenant who then through covenantal nurture is catechized with an eye toward responding in faith to that initiation and nurture and thus welcomed to and affirmed at the table. And though it ordinarily takes years for this whole process to be worked out, it certainly can happen in younger years. So there’s really no irony about it. And the Baptist charge of inconsistency only sticks if one doesn’t grasp in the first place how the sacraments work in different ways.

  28. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Zrim wrote: “though it ordinarily takes years for this whole process to be worked out, it certainly can happen in younger years.”

    It certainly can. That’s the burden of what Poythress, Old, Rayburn, et al, are saying.

    Rayburn: “. . . even if, for argument’s sake, we were to take Paul as meaning that little children should examine themselves, well, then, let them do it. The assumption seems to be that little children are incapable of spiritual acts and are therefore excluded, in the nature of the case, by Paul’s requirement that there be active mental and spiritual engagement with the meaning of the Supper on the part of those who participate. This point is often made as an argument against paedocommunion by Reformed authorities. But mental and spiritual life, as we all know, is a continuum and has very early beginnings as the Bible artlessly acknowledges when it speaks of a person “rejoicing” in his mother’s womb, or trusting in the Lord at his mother’s breasts, or knowing the Scripture from his infancy. A weaned covenant child should already be beginning to reckon with the meaning of Christ and his salvation and the implications of faith. Both the understanding and the practice of faith are continuums and their beginnings are, we are everywhere taught in Holy Scripture, ordinarily found very early in the life of covenant children. As the Word is given to a covenant child and its truth established in his heart, the sacrament naturally comes alongside to contribute its share to the establishment and maturing of faith. We teach our little children, our very little children to say “Our Father…” We teach them how to pray. We teach them that Jesus is their savior. We teach them to confess their sins to Him. We teach them that the promises of the gospel belong to them. We teach them that Jesus is their Savior. Why then, for what reason, on the basis of what biblical teaching or principle, then, would we require them to wait years to eat their Savior’s meal?”

    (http://www.faithtacoma.org/sermons/Exodus/Exodus13.12.1-49.Jun19.05.htm)

    Speaking of the mystery of Christ’s presence in the sacrament, Calvin writes:

    “Now if anyone should ask me how this takes place, I shall not be ashamed to confess that it is a secret too lofty for either the mind to comprehend or my words to declare. And, to speak more plainly, I rather experience it than understand it” (Institutes 4.17.32).

    This is why I think Calvin was inconsistent in his view that young children are not qualified to receive the Supper. He says that he rather experiences than understands the Supper, but he wanted children to be able to do more. He just wasn’t connecting his own dots.

    Again, Poythress: ““We must recognize that Christian faith is primarily personal trust in Christ rather than intellectual mastery or technical skill in verbal articulation of the truth.”

    Again, Old: “The Reformers, following Augustine and Anselm, gave primacy to faith over reason. . . The Reformers were quite willing to admit the existence of faith in children before the development of understanding. . . This faith is a trusting and loving inclination toward God.”

    OPC report:
    “The sacraments, as visible words, are one means by which God has taught his people throughout their history, and that continues in the case of the new covenant sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Of all the features of the teaching ministry of the Church, the sacraments, in their unique visible/action quality are among the best suited to the instruction of covenant children. The abstractions of the faith are made concrete in the elements and action of the sacrament. This is especially true of the Lord’s Supper, where the elements and actions are directly and closely representative of the spiritual realities they exhibit.

    Far from being more difficult for the covenant child to understand, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper will likely be the most accessible and helpful key to his grasping the meaning of the atonement of Christ and its importance to the salvation and present standing of the people of God. The doctrinal formulations of federal theology, the nature of atonement, imputation, justification, and communion with Christ are made vivid in the sacrament. Instruction keyed to the sacramental elements and actions will be far more educational to the covenant child than will efforts that distance themselves from participation in the sacrament.”

    Read that last sentence carefully. If we’re truly interested in instructing our covenant kids, admission to the Table is a primary means. Instead, we have this “wait and see” mentality by elders: “Let’s just wait and see how this kid is going to turn out—before we feed him, before we offer him a primary means of grace for his spiritual nourishment.”

    Think about it. “Wait and see.” Rather than, “nourish and see.” Is it any wonder that the elders are still “waiting to see” when the covenant child is now a teenager? I know of more than one Reformed minister who is still “waiting to see” when their children are well into their teen years. But they’re just being consistent with their “wait and see” mentality and atmosphere. And, let there be no doubt, with that mentality you’ll SEE plenty to reinforce the “practical wisdom” of continuing to fence your covenant kids from the covenant meal: every episode of sin and rebellion. No shortage of those as they grow up. And no shortage of those from communicant grownups in good standing. Hmm.

  29. Zrim said,

    June 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Jack, again, your points are well taken (even if a tad repetitive), not least that of giving supernatural faith primacy of place over all other natural human faculties. I, for one, am perfectly happy with letting the ordinary “wait and see” posture. You seem to mean to marginalize it, but I still do think there is much to be said for respecting the way human beings work and that the CC position is superior here, while the PC position seems marked by impatience for human nature and even a haste that leapfrogs the whole notion of covenantal nurture in catechetical instruction, instead going straight from font to table. Is there room in the PC outlook for nurture? I think there is, but the way some of you speak, one wonders.

    But as I read your points, I can’t help but wonder if frequency plays some part. As an advocate of weekly communion, I wonder if we might see more children standing next to us up front if they saw us more frequently partaking. I have sympathy for the PC worries. And one way to stir our children to see the importance of responding to God’s initiation to the covenant by baptism is for them to see the table laid out at least once a week (as long as we’re quoting Calvin). Mind you, public profession of a credible, even if simple faith is still very much in view here, as well as holding out a place for covenantal nurture. But whatever else it gets us, one benefit of frequency is for covenant children to get the message that meeting at the table is as much a mark of Christian faith as anything else we foster.

    I also worry about your suggestion that the sacrament is a “primary means of grace.” The audible Word is the primary means of grace, not the visible Word.

  30. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    > Is there room in the PC outlook for nurture?

    Zrim, that’s what my previous post pretty much all about. True nurture goes hand-in-glove with early admission to the Table.

    I definitely share your advocacy of weekly communion. It definitely would have the effect you describe. Here’s an excellent paper advocating a weekly practice, by Larry Wilson:

    http://opc.org/OS/pdf/OSV14N1.pdf

  31. David Reece said,

    June 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Faith is an act of the intellect. Anyone who contrasts faith with thinking does not know what faith is.

    The faith of an elect person is the belief of propositions.

    Additionally, all of this effort at making Calvin and Zwingli have different views of the Lord’s Supper is unfortunate.

    The language they used was pretty different at times, but they are unified in basically the same view.

    Calvin’s spiritual nourishment idea was simply the teaching that the Holy Spirit causes the elect to grow in sanctification through participation in the sacraments because of the meditation on truth that occurs in the mind/spirit of the believer during participation in the sacraments.

    Zwingli’s view of the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance ceremony is the teaching that the sacraments are used to cause the elect to think on (meditate on) the truth that is represented by the elements of the sacrament.

  32. Jack Bradley said,

    June 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    “Anyone who contrasts faith with thinking does not know what faith is.”

    David, Old and Poythress are hardly contrasting faith with thinking.

    “The faith of an elect person is the belief of propositions.”

    Really? Period?

    Well, they definitely would not limit the thinking of faith to “the belief of propositions”, nor, I think it’s safe to say, would at least 90% of reformed theologians.

  33. Diana said,

    June 3, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Great topic. As someone very much leaning towards PB and as a result, PC (They seem to go hand in hand..so far I havent seen any Biblical reason to prevent a child from the Table once PB is embraced), it has been beneficial to see the exchange here between both sides.

  34. Jack Bradley said,

    June 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I’m happy to hear this, Diana. Thank you for the feedback.

    Zrim, I wanted to come back to one last thing you said: “I also worry about your suggestion that the sacrament is a ‘primary means of grace.’ The audible Word is the primary means of grace, not the visible Word.”

    I could not agree more, and thank you for catching me on an incautious way of expressing it. I should have said, in no uncertain terms, as you said, the audible Word is THE primary means of grace. Because I do think PC’s have sometimes given the impression that there is a special grace given through the sacraments, almost independent of the Word.

    Of course I also am concerned about the argument that many CC’s make: “What’s the hurry, because they’re not missing out on anything. They get the same grace through the Word”, etc. My response is: then let’s all become Baptistic memorialists. But the historic reformed view of the Supper is that it truly is A means of grace—a means of spiritual nourishment—not distinct from the Word, but meant to accompany the Word.

    Bavinck, Vol. 4:

    “The sacrament does not impart one benefit that is not also received from the Word of God by faith alone; the content of both is identical. . . The sacrament is nothing without the Word. It only strengthens the faith that is present. . . There is not a single benefit of grace that, withheld from us in the Word, is now imparted to believers in a special way by the sacrament. There is neither a separate baptismal grace nor a separate communion grace. The content of Word and sacrament is completely identical. . . The Word, accordingly, is something, even much, without the sacrament, but the sacrament is nothing without the Word and in that case has neither value nor power. It is nothing less but also nothing more than the Word made visible. . . it can only strengthen the faith that is present, for it is nothing but a sign and seal of the Word.”

    “The sacraments do not work faith but reinforce it, as a wedding ring reinforces love. They do not infuse a physical grace but confer the whole Christ, whom believers already possess by the Word. They bestow on them that same Christ in another way and by another road and so strengthen the faith.”

    Leonard Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper:

    “Sacraments accompany the word because faith is not strong enough to be sustained by the word alone. Sacraments confirm, convey, and apply the word in ways in which the word by itself cannot do.”

  35. Zrim said,

    June 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Jack (#27), when I asked about a place for nurture I meant to suggest a rightful place between the font and the table. I understand the table nurtures faith and so getting to the table is a good thing and to be always encouraged. But your response still seems a little incognizant of the point. The push for early admission seems to show little patience for the way human beings ordinarily work as well as a less-than-adequate understanding of the different functions of the respective sacraments.

    Re #31, thanks for the corrective on priority. Advocates of frequency can also be mistaken for a misappropriation of grace in the sacrament. I’m not sure how the CC posture fosters memorialism. As a CCist, I heartily affirm that the Supper truly is a means of grace that affirms the faith the Word previously creates. It’s why I advocate frequency (i.e. if it really does what we confess it does, it’s a riddle to me why we’d want to deprive ourselves of it). So, you’re preaching to the proverbial choir on that point. But to sum up, while I share PC advocates’ concerns about faith being given primacy of place, my own problem with PC advocacy is that it seems impatient for the ways human beings ordinarily work (and seems almost pushy with children) and rather cavalier about the wages of ignorance.

  36. Jack Bradley said,

    June 3, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Zrim,

    It just doesn’t make biblical or rational (in that order) sense that Christian children must reach a level of spiritual maturity by means wholly other than the sacrament of nourishment in order to participate in the sacrament of nourishment. PC maintains that the sacrament of nourishment is the right of the child by virtue of being in the covenant.

    As far as being “cavalier about the wages of ignorance” PC maintains that it is simply a category mistake to place covenant children in the category of “ignorant and wicked” / “ignorant and ungodly” with its attendant warnings. (WLC 29.8) I think another benefit of frequency will be a gradual clearing up of this misunderstanding.

  37. pilgrim said,

    June 4, 2012 at 1:55 am

    In all the comments & the blog, unless I missed it, I would like to see a definition of paedo communion–I bring this up because I have seen people define paedo communion as giving communion to children of believers whether or not they have professed faith, others (As I believe some here are doing) seem to define it as serving communion to children below some age or other–even if they have a credible profession of faith.

    I would not agree with serving communion to a child on the basis of the parents’ faith. But if there is an age limit for a professing child before communion can be served–how do we set that–it seems arbitrary, and I have not seen anything in the BCO (I’ve read it cover to cover) about an age for a credible profession of faith.

    Any age limit may have good intentions behind it, but children mature at different rates.
    I can’t think of anything off the top of my head to allow sessions and parents to approve a child to partake of the Lord’s Supper after demonstrating a living faith in Christ.
    I have heard better descriptions of the Gospel, in their own words-not parroted words– from an 8 year old than many parents can give.

    Maybe this is not a point of contention here–but just looking for a definition and parameters for paedo-communion.

    Thanks

  38. Larry Wilson said,

    June 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Pilgrim, yours is an excellent question @34. What “paedocommunion” means, as I understand and use it, is the belief that children are to be admitted to the Lord’s Table by virtue of being baptized covenant children without any further requirement that they publicly profess their faith before being admitted. As far as I know, no sound Reformed or Presbyterian churches have ever specified an age but rather have spoken of what constitutes a credible profession of faith.

    May I suggest this article — http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=103 — by Stuart Jones? and this article — http://opc.org/nh.html?article_id=728 — by D. Patrick Ramsey?

    Jack, dear brother, you keep failing to demonstrate that you understand (or have even listened to) the arguments or objections made to you, you keep ignoring questions put to you, you keep conflating so many out-of-context statements of people–some of whom oppose and others of whom advocate “paedocommunion”–and claiming them for your cause, instead of addressing arguments and questions in your own words, that I am hard-pressed to decide whether yours is a strategy intended to confuse, or whether you yourself are terribly confused.

  39. Dan MacDonald said,

    June 4, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Jack @33: not sure about your argument here. You assert it makes no biblical or rational sense to expect children to be nourished to a level of spiritual maturity other than the Table, before they can partake thereof and be nourished thereby. Why not? Just because the Table is A way to nourish faith does not mean that it is always THE way to nourish faith. And what if faith is not yet present? How does the Table nourish non-existing faith?

    The Bible clearly describes other ways of nourishing faith; in fact, I think the Bible is as clear or clearer on the Word being a primary means of nourishment of faith than the Table. Romans 10: 17 says that faith comes from hearing, of the Word of God. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:2 that we should long for the pure spiritual milk of the word, that we may grow up into salvation. Paul, in commending timothy, tells him to pass on to faithful men ‘the things you heard from me.’ (2 Tim 2:2). So I think it makes good biblical sense to mature people, including children, from the Word. When CCers follow this, they are making biblical sense. When they do not also use the Table, it still makes biblical sense, if the Bible seems to support the idea of keeping unbelievers away from the Table.

    The real question is whether the Bible supports allowing unbelievers to the Table, including children of believers who do not yet themselves believe. You have yet to make a biblical case for this. The NT admonitions about partaking rightly of the bread and wine, with self-examination central to this proper taking, as well as their clear teaching that it is a participation in the body and blood of Jesus, make a persuasive case that only believers can do those things. I have yet to meet a 1 year old child who can examine their heart before taking the bread.

  40. Zrim said,

    June 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Jack, I hardly think it’s fair to portray CCists as treating covenant children as wicked. We’re also PBists and have baptized them. The one you may have in mind is the CBist-CCist (who’s just as off the mark as the PBist-PCist). Covenant children inhabit a special space somewhere between inward membership and unbelief. I understand this can be vexing to the human mind, but I have to say that PCism seems to be a function of not being comfortable with that complexity and runs roughshod in order to quell the discomfort. In this way, it mirrors CBism in its discomfort with marking those who have not exhibited true faith and thus unnecessarily withholds where PCism carelessly rushes in. Again, CBism is the mirror error of PCism.

    And not to pile on, but you really haven’t shown any attentiveness to the wages of ignorance. I’ve given you plenty of opportunity to show it, but to no avail. Have you no concern for the possibility of aiding and abetting someone drinking judgment onto him/herself? I should think this would at least give you some pause. The sacrament cuts both ways, and I wonder what function you think fencing the table has.

  41. Jack bradley said,

    June 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Brothers,
    Thanks for the interaction. Let me get back to you later tonight when I have more time.

  42. Jack Bradley said,

    June 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Larry, you really have to be more specific. Broad generalizations aren’t helpful. This discussion really does require walking the garden paths together :)

    Dan, I made it clear that the Supper was A means of grace, not THE means of grace. I continue to maintain that it doesn’t make sense that Christian children must reach a level of spiritual maturity by means WHOLLY OTHER than the sacrament of nourishment in order to participate in the sacrament of nourishment.

    Regarding self-examination, children cannot commit the sins against the body that Paul has in view (not discerning the body of Christ: the Church), and so their inability to reflect on such sins is irrelevant to their admission to the table, just as their inability to work does not imply their laziness and thus lead to their prohibition from eating.

    Zrim, so your view is that God zaps little ones who trust in Him because they dare to participate in the united life of His covenant community? Really?

  43. Larry Wilson said,

    June 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Jack,

    OK, even though, frankly, I’m still reeling over the subsequent post about Jason Stellman, and even though it appears to me that your most recent post @42 still shows a propensity to caricature the arguments of your brethren rather than seeking to understand and answer them, nevertheless I’ll try to be more specific. (Parenthetically, lest any misunderstand, Jack and I know each other. I feel friendship towards him, and I believe he feels friendship towards me.)

    For starters, then, I said “you keep failing to demonstrate that you understand (or have even listened to) the arguments or objections made to you.”

    (1) The thesis of this post is that paedocommunion — understood as the belief that children are to be admitted to the Lord’s Table by virtue of being baptized covenant children without any further requirement that they publicly profess their faith before being admitted — is hostile to the system taught in our secondary standards. Do you agree that that is the thesis being discussed? If not, in your own words, why not? Do you agree that that is a correct definition of “paedocommunion”? If not, in your own words, why not?

    (2) Lane averred that it is hostile to the doctrine of the sacraments. In your own words, what did he mean? Why does he think that?

    (3) I argued that it requires redefining the visible church. In your own words, what did I mean? Why do I think that?

    (4) I insisted that Larger Catechism 177 is not an anomoly, but rather a consistent expression of the teaching of the rest of the Westminster Standards. In your own words, what did I mean? Why do I think that?

    (5) Zrim made the excellent point (thanks, Zrim!) that paedocommunion overlooks how baptism and the Lord’s Supper function in different ways. He argued that because that is the case, there is no inconsistency between advocating paedobaptism and opposing paedocommunion. In your own words, what did he mean? Why does he think that?

    I do not have the assurance that you are willing to listen to and try to understand arguments such as these before you try to refute them. Accordingly, I perceive you to be throwing up so many smoke screens, and it grieves me.

  44. Jack Bradley said,

    June 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Larry,

    I’m glad our friendship is strong enough to have this kind of interchange. No one has a higher opinion of your opinion than I do, I assure you. I’ve always considered you one of our pastor scholars. That said, I am grieved that you are grieved by my supposed smoke screens. I have a clear conscience that I’ve tried to engage the arguments throughout. And I’m glad that you decided to come back into the discussion after disengaging.

    As for as answering all your questions, that’s simply not my responsibility. I’m advocating PC, and have given specific reasons for doing so. That is my responsibility. You’re charging PC with being hostile to the confessional system of doctrine, but have given no specifics. It’s not my responsibility to supply your specifics. Your responsibility is to supply the specifics and allow me to interact with them.

    As far as what others mean, they can (and have) speak for themselves. I understand where they are coming from. I simply don’t agree.

    As for my supposed propensity for caricaturing others arguments, that’s demonstrably untrue. If my chiding you for your “walking the garden paths” remark gave you that impression, it was just meant as good-natured humor.

  45. Zrim said,

    June 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    …so your view is that God zaps little ones who trust in Him because they dare to participate in the united life of His covenant community? Really?

    Jack, no, I don’t recognize my view in this caricature. This seems like the mirror caricature of the CBists who wonder if the PBist view is that baptism “zaps little ones into believers.” You’re a fellow PBist, do you think they’ve charitably captured our doctrine? I don’t. But I do know charitable CBists who wince at their fellow CBist caricature, and here’s hoping there are some charitable PCists who wince at yours. Please try harder.

    But my view is the one described in the post proper. God doesn’t “zap our little ones” in either sacrament. He marks them in the waters of baptism, thereby initiating then into his covenant, nurtures them in the life of his church, and finally moves them by grace alone and in his inscrutable wisdom and time to respond through faith alone to meet with him and his people at the table. Amen.

  46. Jack Bradley said,

    June 4, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Zrim, you set the parameters: “Have you no concern for the possibility of aiding and abetting someone drinking judgment onto him/herself?”

    You are of course asking me this in the context of very young (let’s use Poythress’s two-year-old as the example) at the Table. So the operative issue you have set forth as the example of how high the stakes are is exactly this: “aiding and abetting someone (in this case, small children) drinking judgment onto him/herself?”

    That’s your concern, right? So how is it a caricature for me to ask you if you really think God is going to “zap” them? That’s your EXACT concern, that He very well may indeed, because they may very well be “drinking judgment” on themselves.

    What am I missing?

  47. Zrim said,

    June 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Jack, what you’re missing or glossing over is the phrase “possibility.” What I am suggesting is that you indicate virtually no concern for the possibility that our little one hasn’t yet come to faith. Have you considered that less is at stake to withhold the sacrament from one with faith than to administer it to one without faith? That isn’t to undermine the fact that it affirms faith, rather it’s take seriously what it means to be guilty of the body and blood of our Lord. You do think that is serious business, don’t you?

  48. Jack Bradley said,

    June 5, 2012 at 12:31 am

    > You do think that is serious business, don’t you?

    Yes. For those to whom it APPLIES. You think there is a “possibility” that it applies to covenant children–that they are somehow in the category of “ignorant and ungodly”.

    Brother, this really demonstrates the difference between PC and CC. CC thinks it’s serious business because there exists the possibility of such judgment on young covenant children. PC thinks it is serious business to fence the Table from these children.

    “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

    I really can’t say it any better than the OPC report:

    “The interpretation of I Corinthians 11:23-32 has suffered greatly as a result of a liturgical usage of these ‘words of institution’ in the history of the Church. As a result, the warnings and instructions of the apostle have been abstracted from their context in the letter (i.e., vv. 17-34). With the passage of time, the interpretation of these words has developed in isolation from that broader context and the immediate historical setting. Consequently the understanding and application of this passage have become increasingly broad and absolute. A case in point, which is of central concern to this present study, is the way in which the warnings and instructions of this passage have been used as grounds for the exclusion of young covenant children from participation in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

    . . . When Paul calls the Corinthians (especially the well-to-do among them) to “examine themselves,” he is commanding them to cease from their contemptuous behavior of humiliating the poor among them. . . Can a covenant child “examine himself” as commanded here in the sense in which Paul uses it? Leaving aside the question of the relevance of this command to the Corinthian children or to our contemporary covenant children, we can answer the question with a qualified “Yes.” It is possible for a covenant child, when tested (cf. I Cor. 10:13), to demonstrate by his words and behavior that he is living a godly life which seeks the approval of God. Such faithfulness can be observed even in a young child by both parents, elders, and other members of the church.”

    Regarding the “possibility that our little one hasn’t yet come to faith”, the OPC report:

    “We are not arguing that faith is more necessary for the right participation of an adult in the Lord’s Supper than in the case of a child. We are rather addressing the question of how that faith should be expected to manifest itself in ach case, and the criteria the church should use in evaluating that faith with respect to the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. . . . . . Faith in the covenant child will more likely express itself in a growing understanding of God, his promises, and the gracious relationship that exists between God and his people. It will feed upon the training received from the Word of God, and will be confirmed and strengthened by a proper use of all the means of grace. Repentance will be a daily part of the experience of the covenant child both as a sinner and as a recipient of God’s saving mercy. Obedience to God and loyalty to the people of God and the institutions of the covenant will be manifest in a covenant child’s development toward maturity and service in the church.

    . . . If such growth in covenant faithfulness is not forthcoming, then the child is and ought to be subject to the biblical discipline of the church. To withhold the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper from covenant children who are not “covenant-breakers,” but who have not satisfied the extrabiblical requirement for a “public profession of faith,” is without warrant from the Word of God, and is detrimental to the spiritual well-being of Christ’s “little ones” (cf. Lk. 18:16,17), who, like all the people of God, depend upon the means of grace (including this sacrament) for their growth in a vital and fruitful life of faith.”

  49. Larry Wilson said,

    June 5, 2012 at 12:40 am

    OK Jack, thanks for the interaction. The specifics were in the original post, in comments 8-9, and in comment 27.

    To me, the bottom line is still “you keep failing to demonstrate that you understand (or have even listened to) the arguments or objections made to you.”

    To you, the bottom line is “that’s simply not my responsibility.”

  50. Jack Bradley said,

    June 5, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Larry,

    I did forget #8. My sincere apology. I do understand this argument: baptism is by birth into a covenant home, communion is by profession. That’s the normative Presbyterian position.

    I understand that position very well. This is what PCers disagree with. I have maintained, with the OPC majority report, that covenant membership alone (as signified by baptism) should be the criteria for admission to the Table. I do not think you have made the case that PC is hostile to, and therefore strikes at the vitals of, the system of doctrine.

    The emphasis in your excerpts is on the word “profess”. The PC emphasis is on the words immediately following: “and your children.”

    OPC report:

    “Ever since the inception of the covenant in the days of Abraham, the gracious saving promise of God has been made to the “seed” of the faithful (Gen. 15:4-6;17:5-7; etc.), who in turn receive the promise to their seed after them (Deut. 5:2, 3; cf. Ps. 128:5, 6). God’s covenant is maintained through families from generation to generation.”

    “. . . a rite of ‘public profession of faith’ – analogous to that made by the adult convert – is imposed as a requirement on covenant children to insure that they can (at last) be seen and treated in the categories of adult conversion. In practice, the covenant privilege of participation in the Lord’s Supper is accordingly withheld from the covenant child until such an ‘adult-style’ profession of faith (conversion?) takes place. While little or no biblical warrant for such a procedure can be found, the practice is maintained because of the ‘paradigm problem.’ If adult conversion is the norm for admission into the church, then the place and demands made of covenant children must be seen in terms of that pattern.

    We propose that this scheme needs to be turned on its head in order for the biblical pattern to be seen, appreciated, and imitated. The norm for entry into the covenant should not be adult conversion, as over against the nurture of children within the covenant.”

  51. Zrim said,

    June 5, 2012 at 9:35 am

    We are not arguing that faith is more necessary for the right participation of an adult in the Lord’s Supper than in the case of a child. We are rather addressing the question of how that faith should be expected to manifest itself in ach case, and the criteria the church should use in evaluating that faith with respect to the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

    Jack, I think this is helpful. CC charity would say here that the PC point doesn’t seem to be THAT the presence of faith is negligible but rather HOW it is made manifest is significant. I actually agree and think it’s a worthy point. I worry about an over-intellectualizing of faith amongst the Reformed, the upshot of which is to fence children simply because they are children and allow adults by the same virtue. It’s made all the more vexing by the fact that plenty of adults can’t even summarize the gospel, meanwhile plenty of children exhibit the sort of faith Jesus himself prizes.

    And so, if we CCists worry about the apparent PC disregard for the requirement of credible faith, PCists worry about a kind of chauvinism in the CC ranks. I think both worries are worthwhile. But I also want to make plenty of room for both the realities of being human and the worth of churchly nurture of those human beings, as well as showing patience and respect for the mysterious workings of the Spirit.

  52. Jack Bradley said,

    June 5, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Very well said, Zrim.

  53. rich hamlin said,

    June 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I can’t say anything more than what Jack Bradley has said, but the obvious rejoinder to much of Lane’s argument is that many PCists do believe in the necessity of faith to participate in the Lord’s Supper, but that they give the judgment of charity in this regard to covenant children who have not yet been able to articulate such faith (b/c they are children). The CCists, for practical purposes, assume the opposite (and thus, excommunicate) until the public profession. Thus his statement about the necessity that PCists deny the “worthy receivers” language of the confession is obviously inaccurate.

  54. Jack Bradley said,

    June 6, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Rich, speaking of covenant children not yet able to articulate faith, here’s some rich thoughts from Rich Lusk, Paedofaith:

    “Infant faith is personal trust; adult faith is personal trust plus propositional knowledge and assent. Yet the former deserves to be called ‘faith’ every bit as much as the latter. David says so, after all (Ps 22:9-10 “You made me trust You at my mother’s breasts”)

    . . . Calvin’s catechetical materials for children also treat them as Christians, in need of discipleship, not initial conversion:

    Q. My child, are you a Christian in fact as well as in name?
    A. Yes, my father.

    Q. How is this known to you?
    A. Because I am baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    Q. How did you come into this communion of the Church?
    A. Through baptism.

    Obviously, Calvin is presupposing the presence of faith or else he would deny that the one baptized received these blessings offered in the sacrament. Calvin’s children’s catechism trains the child to think of himself as a believer from infancy.”

    . . . This also means that we need to make room at the Lord’s Table for the mentally deficient and the senile. There are some people who simply will never come to a mature understanding because their reasoning abilities are impaired. When such persons are part of a believing family and a Christian church, it is simply preposterous to keep them from the table because they can’t understand or explain the meaning of the bread and wine. They probably can understand, in all kinds of non-cognitive ways, what it means to be included (or excluded) from a family meal.”

  55. rich hamlin said,

    June 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    amen, Jack

  56. June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    [...] How Hostile Is Paedo-Communion to our Standards? (greenbaggins.wordpress.com) [...]

  57. Andrew Lohr said,

    July 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    First, a big-picture point. The PCA broke off from another denomination about 42 years ago, and uses a WCF modified from the original, so Scripture, not current standards, must be final, and can correct current standards, which may err. Allow for this. Your piece presupposes the standards right. They might be wrong.
    You, the Westminster Assembly, and CCs assume infants cannot meet the standards’ standards. But start at the other end. Are there some theologians compared to whom you are “ignorant”? Have you always remembered “all the benefits” of Christ’s death–“all”–as per WLC 170? At Heaven’s gate, will you say “I perfectly understood the Supper” or “Jesus died for me”? So I think you must allow that the standards allow for some imperfection of knowledge; indeed they call for growth. So PCs allow for less knowledge than you require. This is a difference from the Assembly and from CCs, but not necessarily from the theology of the standards if we say children, like ourselves, are doing it according to their capacities.
    Again, can a newly baptized infant improve his baptism as WLC 167 requires? Yet we baptize infants at a less capable age than most PCs would commune them. So we let the improve their baptisms later, or according to their capacity, despite the explicit wording of 167? By applying this standard theology to communion, we can commune infants.
    So what can an infant do? My sub-3 Sophie says “Jesus loves me best”–a clause she came up with; I don’t think she heard it–and facing a Bible story book she asks for “Jesus on the cross.” She trusts me; she knows I trust Jesus; so I consider that she has learned to trust Him according to her capacity. Doug Wilson tells of a 1-year-old (grandchild of his?) patting his head and his neighbors’ heads to indicate baptism, and, as I recall, making some other sign for Jesus, as the plate or cup drew near. John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s belly. Infants can hear the word, and trust it, beyond their ability to articulate it. We’re showing Christ’s death. Did he die for them? If so, the showing must include them. How are they saved? By faith, or else what of sola fide? (Why is this irrelevant when the standards speak of believers partaking?)
    So I think PCs can agree with the standards’ theology but apply it differently. I agree they should be open about this difference.
    Besides the theology involved, do you have a personal reason to care as much as you seem to about this on the side you do? The Bible must control (as it, not his hormones though they make him care, must control a young man’s sex life), but I care partly because I recall being thoughtlessly denied communion (after having been admitted at least once?), and I think this conveyed to me that I was not a Christian, or did not measure up, and conveyed this in a harmful way.
    http://andrewlohr.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/infant-communion-paedocommunion-feed-gods-babies/ gives my take at length, including 19 or so reasons for PC and responses to 30+ objections, including the PCA’s official objections in the A.D. 1988 majority report. (And since PCs have answered all those objections, and advanced unanswered reasons for PC, and WCF forbids binding of consciences, I think CCs owe PCs answers, or else permission to do as they think right; they are forbidding PC by sheer force, not by Biblical reason.)
    Yours in Christ Jesus, from
    Andrew Lohr (Covenant College ’84; are you a son of J.C. Keister who was teaching math and science there in those days)?

  58. greenbaggins said,

    July 15, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Andrew,

    To answer your first point, I was not dealing with the relationship of the WCF to the Bible. You introduced that question and made assumptions about what I did or did not assume, which assumptions are not in fact valid. It would be just as wrong of me to assume that you start from the vantage point of assuming that the standards are false. Surely you would not want me to assume that, would you? But it seems that any time a confessional pastor argues from the standards, the immediate cry is that he is assuming the standards to be inerrant. I do not assume the standards to be inerrant, nor do I assume them to be on the same level of authority as Scripture. However, I have taken an oath that says I believe the Standards to be the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. In other words, they are what I believe Scripture to be saying (after all, any old heretic claims to be following the Bible). So kindly do not assume a hermeneutical naivete on my part.

    You seem to be thinking that the two sacraments work the same way. But participating in the LS is not the same thing as improving one’s baptism. As Berkhof states, in baptism participation is passive, whereas in the LS, participation is both active and passive.

    You cannot interpret the Standards in such a way as to eliminate a minimal cognitive function in participation of the LS. That would be to negate the WS’ teaching entirely on the LS.

    I am personally involved, because PC advocates are almost universally soft on FV issues. I believe that PC attacks our Standards’ teaching on the sacraments in general, and the LS in particular. The reason I wrote this post was to show that it was not just one section of the standards that is opposed to PC, and that PC advocates need to take exception to the entire way the sacrament works in the WS, not just to the “of such age and years as to examine himself” clause.

    As to answering PC’s biblically, there are now two books written on the subject from a CC perspective that address ALL the exegetical issues. The one is written by Cornel Venema, entitled “Children at the Lord’s Table?” The other is edited by Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan. So, if you wish to insult them by saying that they have not addressed the biblical arguments, then by all means continue to state that CC’ers ignore biblical arguments. But now that you know about those two books, you should not make the same claim until you have read them.

    And yes, J.C. Keister is my father.

  59. July 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    There have been some exchanges on PC in The Confessional Presbyterian journal as well as the publication of an article by Matthew Winzer entitled The True History of Paedo-Communion. The last has been put online at the link.

    http://www.cpjournal.com/articles-2/articles/the-true-history-of-paedo-communion-by-matthew-winzer-cpj-3-2007/

  60. Andrew Lohr said,

    July 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I think we agree that WCF, etc, can in principle be corrected from Scripture; I think this important enough to be worth saying and not taking for granted.

    Some purely FV PCs may treat the LS as wholly objective, but I (Baptist background) say faith comes by hearing, covenant children hear and believe the gospel before they can articulate it (‘as soon as the sound of your voice reached my ears, the babe leaped in the womb for joy’), so infant baptism is believers’ baptism and PC is believers’ communion, from which the children do derive benefits, e.g. assurance of salvation. So your assertion that it’s irrelevant if children have faith sounds odd to me, as if we were speaking different languages. And I’m sure you’ve heard PCs wondering how “let a man examine himself” evolved into “let the session examine a man” if there are no special reasons for it.

    Is Waters-Duncan or Venema better (wider rather than deeper coverage might fit me better?) I read most of your exchange with Doug Wilson on Venema and wasn’t excited. I glanced thru Kenneth Gentry’s 48 pages vs Rob Rayburn’s 15 and wasn’t impressed (partial response on my blog). I tried to read Coppes; see my Amazon reviews of that and of Peter Leithart’s response. Does your non-mention of Coppes mean you consider it a failure, as I do?

    Suppertime here.

  61. greenbaggins said,

    July 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Andrew, where did you see me take it for granted? I have said it many times on this blog that the standards are subordinate and fallible, and that only Scripture is infallible. And if you have read my blog then you have seen those statements before. But saying that is not relegating the standards to the dustbin of neglect in argumentation. The WS are churchly theological shorthand for a whole host of theologians’ exegesis and systematic theology, historical theology, and practical theology.

    PC and CB make the same mistake about the sacraments. They assume that both sacraments function the same way. They don’t. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of its administration. Faith can come before, during or after the sacrament. So I’m not saying that faith doesn’t matter (that’s quite the straw-man you erected there). I’m saying that the time-point of faith doesn’t particularly matter for baptism. God works in many different ways. I deny utterly, however, that every child has faith before he is baptized. I equally deny that no child has faith before baptism. Children can be regenerate from the womb. But it is false that every baptism is “believer” baptism in the way you describe. That is a FV way of talking, since if every child has faith before baptism, and then they fall away later on in life, then you have denied perseverance of the saints. You must then argue for a lesser form of faith that is losable such that the non-elect are treated in an Arminian fashion while the elect are treated in a Calvinistic fashion. This will not do.

    It is false that “let a man examine himself” has turned into “let a session examine a man.” That is a horrid caricature. The session examines a man for entrance into membership in the church, not before every instance of the LS. Where did you get this nonsense? The pastor fences the table, yes, but part of that fencing is the exhortation for each person to examine himself!

    My summaries of Venema fall far short of his exegetical prowess. And although he treats a wide variety of passages that are relevant to the discussion, his treatment of 1 Cor. 11 (especially interacting with PC interpretations of it) is worth the price of admission. I haven’t read the Waters/Duncan book all the way through yet. It is a collection of essays. What I have read is excellent.

    The Coppes book makes some good points. It is a bit idiosyncratic in some of its argumentation. I would not call it a failure, however.

  62. July 21, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Lane,

    How does Cornelius Venema interpret “not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:29)? There seems to be a move among FVers and others in the Reformed community (who are not FV) to interpret this as a reference to the church, rather than the body and blood of Christ. Apparently this view has been popularised by Gordon Fee, though he does not claim to be Reformed. Does Dr Venema address this issue.

    Cheers,

    Daniel

  63. August 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    George Gillespie, Scottish commissioner to the Westminster Assembly, repudiated close communion:

    [T]he Passover, of which women and children under thirteen years of age did not eat? Neither did all males above thirteen years eat of it; for the unclean were excluded by the law […]

    George Gillespie, Aaron’s rod blossoming; or, the divine ordinance of church government vindicated (1646; Edinburgh, 1844), p. 63.

  64. August 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Sorry, repudiated paedo-communion (not close communion, which is something entirely different).

  65. Andrew Lohr said,

    August 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    @63/64: Gillespie’s careful study may be one thing and his offhand remarks another. I glanced thru a 3-vol set of his works from Still Waters Revival Books years ago, and recall a series of about 110 notes to himself on various things. One was to the effect that Jesus prayed separately over bread and wine, but we need not follow His example. Well, need we deviate from it? I agreed with Gillespie maybe 80% of the time or more (been awhile), but this didn’t impress me. I don’t think he faced any paedocommunion challenge, so he probably assumed the status quo was right.

    @61: No, I’d baptize and commune on assumed faith, as per J.C. Ryle in KNOTS UNTIED on assuming the baptized to be regenerate, but the saints persevere and the non-saints don’t, and we’ll find out later which was which. Surely your baptizing or communing is open to the same objection: if any fall away (and some adult professors do), have you denied the P in TULIP? No, you’ve baptized on presumed faith, not on saving faith. Same here.

    Thanks for the remarks on Venema and the other book.

    Bedtime issues here. Let me highlight “PC advocates need to take exception to the entire way the sacrament works in the WS” as a key point or condensation of the argument for future reference. WCF on baptism seems to assume it works the was PCers see PC working: we grow into it. No wonder CCers build a wall of separation between baptism and supper. (Pardon the good line; adjust its prosaic meaning as you need to.)

  66. Andrew Lohr said,

    August 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Sorry, “way” PCers see PC working, not “was.” (3 lines up from foot.)

  67. andrew said,

    August 9, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Daniel,

    Venema start’s by noting that older texts and modern translations (such as the ESV) read ‘discerning the body’, rather than ‘discerning the Lord’s body’, and says this does seem to slightly favour the view you describe.

    However, he appeals to the immediate context which contains two references to body (v24 and v27) that clearly do not refer to the church.

    But given that the broader context does use body in a churchly way, Venema shows, at most, that his view is a possible reading.

  68. August 10, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Thanks, Andrew. I will have to read his comments.

  69. andrew said,

    August 31, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Re 62.

    Was looking through Malcolm Maclean’s ‘The Lord’s Supper’, and he seems to tend toward viewing ‘body’ as the church. He suggests it may in fact have both meanings.

  70. September 1, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Thanks.

  71. December 5, 2013 at 11:50 am

    […] wrote a blog post last year on how many places in the Westminster Standards (and the PCA’s BCO) that are […]

  72. December 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

    […] wrote a blog post last year on how many places in the Westminster Standards (and the PCA’s BCO) that are […]

  73. June 12, 2014 at 11:22 am

    […] that a person’s beliefs will not affect his practice. Besides the fact that paedo-communion actually runs contrary to about 17 places in the Westminster Standards, our current practice in the PCA is Kantian, and not biblical. Kantianism is the underlying […]

  74. August 15, 2014 at 12:09 am

    […] theology and the Christian faith are interconnected. Lane Keister has provided a great service by enumerating all of the ways in which the practice of paedocommunion is hostile to the Constitutional… (the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger & Shorter Catechisms, and the Book of Church […]


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