Presuppositions on Paedo-Communion

Someone suggested that I write out what my presuppositions are in discussing paedo-communion. I thought this was an excellent idea. This way, people just might not misread my arguments, and call me a Baptist, which is absurd, since if my WCF position is Baptist, then so is the entire history of the PCA, OPC, old Presbyterians, and almost all of the Reformers. What use is the label, then? But the issue here is not about baptism, but about the Lord’s Supper. Of course, the Lord’s Supper is tied to the covenant of grace, just as baptism is, and there is a relationship between the two sacraments that must be upheld.

My starting point is as an old-school old-side Presbyterian of the northern variety. That is, I do not think that a violent conversion experience is always needed in the case of covenant children (though I acknowledge that it will be necessary in some). Furthermore, I do believe that children belong to the covenant. To qualify that, they belong to the outward administration of the covenant, and possibly to the inward substance of the covenant (in the case of those regenerate from the womb). What this means is that there are privileges of the covenant to which they are to be admitted right away, but there are other privileges into which they must grow. In this manner, it is similar to citizenship in the US. One is born a citizen, but one is not born able to drive, vote, or drink. These privileges come at a certain age. Of course, the age at which children may come to the table will vary, at the discretion of the session. And, as a matter of fact, I believe that children may come to the table earlier than many others would have it. I think it is quite possible for a 6-8 year old not only to give a credible profession of faith, but also to demonstrate that he knows what the sacrament means.

I do not take the burden of proof to lie on either side of this debate. Both sides must prove their case. The non-paedo side must prove that there is an element of discontinuity with regard to age between the Passover and the Lord’ Supper (or else it must prove that infants did not partake of Passover; or, as Coppes argues, there is much more than Passover in the background of the Lord’s Supper). The paedo side must prove that 1 Corinthians 11 has been misinterpreted by the Presbyterians. If there is any burden of proof, it must be to prove that the WCF is wrong on this point. But being on the side of the Confession does not relieve the non-paedo side of the burden of proof. Neither side should feel that the burden of proof lies entirely on their own side.

Now, in this series of posts, I intend to deal fairly comprehensively with the biblical witness and the historical witness. This means that it is not necessary to flood the combox with “what about this issue, what about that issue?” If it is in the relevant literature, I will get to it. Please be patient. If, at the very end of the entire discussion, I still have not dealt with the issue that you want addressed, then please tell me. But not every post can deal with every issue. Therefore, I will ruthlessly prune and moderate the comments. STAY ON TOPIC! “Topic” is defined as anything addressed in the post, not anything you think should have been addressed in the post, but wasn’t. I am also going to ask the other moderators to pay as close attention as they can to these threads. I want the discussion to be valuable and save-worthy, such that this discussion could be considered a valuable part of the literature on paedo-communion. Personal attacks from any side will not be tolerated.