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.


  1. May 23, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Can’t wait Lane. Look forward to reading the posts and the discussion.

  2. David Weiner said,

    May 23, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Should be a very worthwhile series.

    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).

    I realize how the following questions may be taken; please read them as truly sincere.
    What exactly is a violent conversion experience?
    Are there really people worthy of attention that think that a violent conversion experience is always necessary?
    Where in the Scriptures does the idea of a violent conversion experience and the New Covenant become co-mingled with regard to the average elect person (child or adult)?
    Where in the Scriptures does it ever even hint that a violent conversion experience will be necessary for even some covenant children?

  3. Matt Beatty said,

    May 23, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Lane said:
    “One is born a citizen, but one is not born able to drive, vote, or drink. These privileges come at a certain age.”

    But they ARE citizens no less than their parents, right?

    It would be interesting to see how many American parents, if asked, would say, “I’m really not sure if my child will ever drive, vote, or drink… I guess we’ll have to just wait and see.” If your analogy holds, Lane, certainly you (and other Presbyterians) are correct to presume their children persevering in the faith, as opposed to what, in my limited experience in PCA circles, passes for extreme caution and and unwillingness to presume. This reticence, to stay with your analogy, would appear to be completely unwarranted, especially if parents faithfully (not perfectly) modeled good driving/voting/drinking habits and taught their children about the why’s and what’s of participation in these rites.

    Looking forward to your discussion.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    May 23, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I would describe Paul’s conversion as “violent,” C.S. Lewis’ experience as “violent,” and my own father’s experience as “violent.” That is, recognizable 180 degree turnaround from darkness into light, from a life of sin to a life of faith, from a life of conscious, active rebellion to a life of faith. I believe that there are some covenant children who plunge headlong into a life of rebellion, who will then require a violent conversion experience (of course, one hopes that the church will be involved in church discipline with such a member). There were the 3000 Jews who were “cut to the heart,” a somewhat violent conversion experience for them, having gone from enthusiastically crucifying the Son of God to worshiping Him instead. It seems to me that the normal conversion of a grown person has some degree of 180 in it. It also seems to me that the usual case with covenant children is a simple growth into the faith.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    May 23, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Yes, Matt, in saying “they are born citizens” I did not mean to imply that they were not citizens. One would supposedly get the opposite impression from my words, I would hope. There are points where the analogy of citizenship fails. The substance of the covenant is not outward, as opposed to citizenship. The substance of the covenant is salvation. Therefore, we should not presume upon our children having the substance of the covenant, even if we can obviously presume that our children have the outward administration.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    May 23, 2008 at 9:47 am

    The difficulty here, Matt, is that you probably do not acknowledge the inner/outer distinction that is foundational to this discussion. You want everyone to be a covenant member in the same way. But this is simply not biblical. Not all Israel is of Israel. There is Israel according to the flesh, and there is Israel according to the promise.

  7. David Weiner said,

    May 23, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for the explanation. We had different definitions for the word ‘violent.’ I am happy to accept yours in this context.

  8. David Gadbois said,

    May 23, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I recall in Berkhof’s discussion that he simply affirmed the necessity of covenant children, even those regenerate from the womb, to undergo conversion. He distinguished between sudden and gradual conversions, but did not see covenant children as being exceptions to the normal ordo.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    May 23, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Of course, I don’t distinguish the ordo, either. I hope you haven’t read me that way. All need conversion. I just argue that many are converted in the womb, or in early infancy.

  10. jared said,

    May 23, 2008 at 12:26 pm


    Ref. #9,

    What do you mean by “converted” in this comment? I typically understand “convert” (within the context of Christianity) to refer to those who have received the “substance of the covenant” as you put it; is this what you mean?

  11. David Gadbois said,

    May 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I understand, Lane (I know you aren’t one to tinker with the ordo).

    But I do think it is better to say that they may be *regenerate* in the womb or early infancy. Regeneration being passive, while conversion is active (and thus is the exercise of a conscious will and intellect).

  12. Zrim said,

    May 23, 2008 at 1:51 pm


    My understanding is that you minister in the CRC, so you are surely aware of some mad dashes to paedo-communion, etc. I have found this to be an interesting thing in our CRC circles. While it seems, like many other things, fraught with all sorts of causes, I have wondered of late if it might not be a function somewhat of the relative absence in catechatical instruction, which itself seems a function of assuming way too much.

    What seems to rush into fill the void is a weird leap-frog to the Table. Like you, I have no problem with a child next to me at the rail; indeed, I think we could do much better to discourage the unfortunate, entrenched and biased intellectualizing that seems to keep covenant children from the Table without a valid driver’s license and more to encourage, as one writer put it, “faith like one of these.” Whatever else is to be gained by it, it seems to me that weekly communion might be a step in the right direction and only help encourage covenant children to a fuller participation; and who says we have to give up on instruction? Having your cake and eating it, too, is one of the beauties of the Reformed tradition!

    It would greatly help in the rush to the Table, it seems to me, to be reminded of the covenant duty to instruct. Simplistic as it may sound, I can’t but wonder if old-fashioned laziness might not be roiling around in all of this. Though glad for some measure of discernment, I’m certainly tempted to laziness in my duties and can see where rushing to the Table is attractive, however completely unwise and reckless.

    (As long as you are appealing to “old-school old-side Presbyterian of the northern variety,” I don’t think old-school confessionalism has any stake in the conversionist nomenclature of “violent.” I am happy to let the Revivalists keep the word and not consider much lost at all. They can also have “revival” and “transformation.” I’ll keep “reform” and “sanctification.”)

  13. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 23, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Re #5:

    We should also not “presume” that we have the substance of the covenant other, no matter what the age. We should trust in the God who makes good on his promises, though. I think Matt’s point is that in his circles (as, I would say, in mine), the issue is not presumption but actual disbelief. People don’t seem to actually believe that the promise is to them and to their children. This is reflected in the “caution” that passes for a pious belief in election, but God didn’t give the sacraments as a joke or a red herring: they are intended to bring people to salvation.

    WCF 7.6 says that the sacraments of the NC hold out the substance with “spiritual efficacy.” That is, they actually have spiritual effect (NOT ex opere operato, however). WCF 27.2 states that the relation between sign and thing signified is such that “the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other”–i.e., it is legitimate to say that baptism saves, or the Lord’s Supper save, since it is Christ who save and Christ is the substance of the sacraments (WCF 7.6). 28.6 indicates that grace is really “conferred” by the HS in baptism. WLC 161 states that “the sacraments become effectual means of salvation…”

    But to have one’s child baptized and say: “Well, we still just have no idea whether God will save him or not” seems to indicate that we do not think there is any connection at all between the sacrament and salvation.

    That does not mean there is no outward/inward division (although I agree with Mike Horton that those are not the best terms for is), but it does mean that there is some connection between the sign and thing signified, which, again, many seem to practically reject by looking at a child who is baptized and saying “we just don’t know at all whether he is elect.” No, we don’t know–but we ought to believe, to have faith, in the promise and to act accordingly (I don’t mean specifically paedocommunion by that last–I’m still not entirely convinced on that topic).

  14. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 23, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Also, Lane, what in particular does the paedo-communionist have to prove about 1 Cor 11? Just the meaning of dokimazo? I ask because I am convinced that the “body” Paul commands them to discern in v. 29 is the Church, not the physical body of Christ, as is traditionally understood. So, on that point I would say the Presbyterians have mis-interpreted 1 Cor. 11. But that is not actually crucial to the paedo/ non-paedo communion debate, as far as I can see.

  15. Seth Foster said,

    May 23, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    If you are to exclusively restrict the significance and meaning of the Lord’s Supper to a New Testament equivalent of the OT Passover, then paedo-communion fits nicely into that paradigm. But what you have is nothing more than Judaism – the very teaching that Paul curses and condemns in his letter to the Galatians. Remember, the very children who participated in the Passover died in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land.

    The Lord’s Supper is a New Testament teaching and practice that goes far beyond the OT shadows of the Passover. Jesus told His disciples that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. For, the righteousness of the Pharisees is mere outward religion – it is not a religion of the heart. It limits itself to the externals.

    The righteousness that Jesus teaches is His righteousness and that righteousness only comes by being born again by the Spirit (John 3). We must have a new heart. We must be made new creatures in Christ. It is my belief that becoming a new person in Christ is a “violent conversion” at any age; for it necessitates a crucifixion of self and a resurrection to a new life in Christ.

    Parents and church leaders who practice paedo-communion are raising their children as little Pharisees. For, instead of pointing them to the cross, these children are pointed to the externals of religion – the outward ceremony of baptism, church membership, and covenant status as the basis of their salvation and admittance to the Lord’s Table.

    I think it is rather ironic that many who practice paedo-communion are also advocates of classical education. Classical educational theory states that young children are in the poll parrot stage of learning. This is a stage where they learn to imitate but not necessarily understand or comprehend. Yet, these same little covenant “parrots” are brought before their sessions, mimic and recite “Jesus loves me”, which is then accepted as a credible profession of faith, thereby, admitting them to the Lord’s Table! What hypocrisy and disgrace!

    Lane, I get the impression that you want to take the exceptional case of John the Baptist in the womb and make it the norm for covenant children. The fact is, we don’t know whether John the Baptist was truly saved in the womb. All we know is that he leaped in the womb when his mother heard the greeting of Mary. And then, Luke goes on to write that Elizabeth, not Baby John, was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). We cannot assume his leaping was truly conversion. But, we do know for sure that John was a believer in Christ, not by his leaping, but by the fruit of his life and public ministry. So, pardon the pun, but aren’t you leaping to conclusions?

    I believe that any church that practices paedo-communion is an apostate church, for they are a church that still lives in the shadows of the Old Testament. Paedo-communion is the practice of putting new wine into old wineskins. It is this kind of false teaching that makes what you term “violent conversions” necessary. For Paul was raised in this kind of teaching – he had all the credentials, the pedigree, the covenant status, the education. That is why it took a violent act of God to convert him. There are countless adults who testify of being born again later in life because as children they were raised to believe and assume that they were saved by virtue of their baptism or being born into a Christian family. Once we throw out evangelizing our children and accept their “poll parrot” professions of faith as credible professions, and admit them to the Lord’s Table, we will reap the bitter fruit of God’s wrath. And, many of us in the PCA, have witnessed the tragic consequences in the lives of our young people.

  16. David Gadbois said,

    May 23, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I think it is important to understand the issue of paedocommunion not to be about communing very young children (who can offer some form of profession of faith), but communing infants who don’t have the capacity of any profession at all. The issue is about paedo vs. credo communion, not adult vs. kid communion.

  17. David Gray said,

    May 23, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    >But I do think it is better to say that they may be *regenerate* in the womb or early infancy. Regeneration being passive, while conversion is active (and thus is the exercise of a conscious will and intellect).

    So they are regenerate at one point and become “converted” months or years later?

  18. Andrew said,

    May 23, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Very helpful, Lane. A couple of thoughts-

    Does anyone know any paedocommunion advocate, preferably not FV (so as to avoid bring that into the discsussion) who might respond to Lane’s posts on another website, much as has happened With D. Wilson over ‘Reformed is not enough’? The number of responses that may be generated may make meaningful interaction difficult merely through the comments section. The only name I know is Dr. Raymond, but I am not terribly up on names, being stranded on the other side of the Atlantic.

    I appreciate this post is merely an introduction, but here are some initial suggestions –

    People often compare communion and civic privledges to demonstrate that one can be a member of something and yet not participate in everything, and it seems that Lane may do this. But to do this we would have to say that communion is a peripheral, or at least, non-vital part of church life.

    Yes, an American child might not be allowed to drive, but he would be enjoy the legal protection of being assumed innocent until proven guilty. Of which order is communion? Given that it is considered a mark of the church, a means of grace (unlike, say, voting), and a duty, it seems to be an essential part of church life. And not least because exclusion from it (for an adult) means exclusion from the church.

    So there seems to me a real tension between asserting that the child is a genuine member of the church and excluding him from communion in it. At the very least, I would say that the centrality of communion to church life does create a burden of proof on the one who wants to exclude certain church members from it (and perhaps this can be done, via I Cor 11). One would certainly have to go beyond the mere parallel with civic liberties.

    Secondly, I agree that baptized children belong to the outward from of the covenant, and may in theory lack the inner heart of the matter. But then so might adults, including those we commune with. The issue, rather is this – how do we treat those (adults and children) who are in the outward covenant? You will recall, in the Fv discussion, how the Fv chaps point to passages where the entire congregation is treated as elect, justified, etc. It seemed to me that the most effective response was to say that this could be seen as a judgement of charity – that is that we treat those who are in the covenant and give no signs of rebellion as being genuinely in the covenant.

    In other words, if someone ask’s me what I know of Lane, it is not appropriate to respond – “who knows – maybe a wolf in sheep’s clothing’. But why do we do this to our children? They may (like Lane) be false members, but surely we must treat them as Christians. One might conceiveably argue that communion is a peripheral matter, or an elite privledge in the church, but surely no one will argue that love is. Do our children have to earn the right to be loved, to be judged charitably by the rest of the congregation? If so, are they in any meaningful way, members?

    Finally, I am curious as to why the paedocommunionist is thought to have the burden of proof to show that the traditional appeal to I Cor 11 is wrong. Would it not be enough to provide a valid alternative (by which I mean one that could not be disproved, not any old fancy) intrepretation? Do they have the burden of proof because they are numerically in a minority? Am I right in saying that even subscription to the WCF does not mean agreeing with all the exegesis that a text being a proof text suggests?

    Anyway, I don’t want the arguement to run ahead of the posts, so if anyone takes issue with this I probably won’t reply, until the matter is dealt with in a post. These are merely questions Lane might want to address in his posts,if he has not planned to already, as I imagine they trouble other paedocommunists as well.

  19. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 23, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    “Parents and church leaders who practice paedo-communion are raising their children as little Pharisees. For, instead of pointing them to the cross, these children are pointed to the externals of religion – the outward ceremony of baptism, church membership, and covenant status as the basis of their salvation and admittance to the Lord’s Table.”

    This is sorta what I was talking about. Doesn’t this deny the connection between the sign and the thing signified? Why is participation in the sacraments pitted against pointing a child to the cross? The sacraments actually confer grace upon the recipients. I would suggest that Seth’s perspective here is exactly why the inward/outward dichotomy is problematic. In his view, apparently, the outward has nothing to do with the inward; if we give children the outward, that necessarily means turning them away from the inward. This is not Reformed Christianity, but Quakerism.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    May 23, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    This is getting off topic. Topic is defined as what is in the original post.

  21. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 23, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    And Seth does not seem to think that children can even give credible professions of faith…rather, those must be simply imitations. Hm…so, what does Jesus mean when he exhorts us to enter as a little child, if such children cannot make real profession?

    And adults can parrot just as well…”Once we throw out evangelizing our [adults] and accept their “poll parrot” professions of faith as credible professions, and admit them to the Lord’s Table, we will reap the bitter fruit of God’s wrath.” So, no one comes to Lord’s Table, since we don’t know whose confessions are real: how do you know that an adult is not simply parroting what he learned in the new members class, or even in seminary? This is salvation by intellect: those are justified who can understand a certain level of theology…wait, now who’s the Pharisee, trusting in their understanding of the word for their righteousness?

  22. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 23, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Sorry, Lane. Feel free to delete any of my comments that have not been helpful. But it has brought out the point that David G made: paedo-communion should be clearly defined, since by Seth’s definition, the credo-communion of 6-8 year olds that you refer to in your post would be “paedo,” and therefore apostate…

  23. Matt Beatty said,

    May 24, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Lane (re: 5,6):

    1) I do not deny an inward/outward distinction. The question, it seems to me, hinges on how the average Israelite (and eventual Gentile/Christian child) would’ve been viewed. Were they viewed as innocent/washed until their confession and/or lives proved the opposite, or not? This relates to your first assertion (#5) that…

    “Therefore, we should not presume upon our children having the substance of the covenant, even if we can obviously presume that our children have the outward administration.”

    What hope, comfort, or even purpose is there in believing that our covenant children have only the outward administration? I don’t know anyone who believes all covenant children are saved, head for head, just because they’re “covenant children.” We believe that our children are saved by grace through faith. But we’re presuming that God will give them faith by His grace and not imagining the entire matter to be a big heavenly crap shoot where God characteristically chooses to damn covenant children whose parents faithfully (but imperfectly) raise them up in the fear and admonition of the LORD. My children, by profession or actions may, in fact, show themselves to not be of the household of faith at some point, but I’m convinced that the general tenor of Scripture is for me to raise them believing that they have been washed and are holy (1Cor 7) for which they ought to give thanks to God and walk in obedience before Him.

    Again, what hope in believing in only an outward administration?

  24. Peter Jones said,

    May 24, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Lane, It seems that presuppositions concerning paedo-communion vs. credo-communion are really presuppositions about the Eucharist as a whole. The first question seems to be what exactly is the Lord’s Supper, not what is our children’s relationship to it. That is a downstream argument, though of course a vital one. You talk about your presuppositions concerning children. I guess what I would like to know is what are your presuppositions concerning the nature of the Supper? What is it and what happens there? Perhaps, you are going to discuss these things later.

    I would also like to know, and I say this in all sincerity, whether you think it is possible to change portions of substance in the WCF? The reason I ask this is that all men agree, in theory, that the WCF could be wrong or weak in certain areas, and yet it seems that to actually reach of point of changing it would be impossible in today’s climate. Should we expect greater confessions to follow, building on the WCF or is the WCF a final statement of the reformed church?

    Peter Jones, Pastor, Christ Church of Morgantown (CREC)

  25. GLW Johnson said,

    May 24, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Yes, the old Cumberland Presbyterians adjusted the WFC to accomodate their distinctive Arminian views- and some Reformed Baptists would like the confession altered to fit their views. Don’t forget the Old Bible Presbyterians ajusted the confession along strongly premillennial lines. Oh, and we are told that NT Wright’s innovations on the doctrine of justification should factor in the revision as well. Have I missed anyoneelse’s pet doctrine? The Open theist? Why not.What’s that you say? We can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube? Imagine that.

  26. GLW Johnson said,

    May 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I missed some folks. I just got a nasty email from one of the emergent guys- they really take exception to any notion of penal substitutionary atonement- and they claim alot of cutting edge ‘Evangelical ‘ scholarship backs them up. Can we discuss taking that out? And it is high time we got off our Neanderthal / male chauvinistic high horse and jump on the egalitarian band wagon like everybody else in the 21th century. I am sure I missed somebody but its a nice start.

  27. Xon said,

    May 24, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    What’s your point, Gary? Sincere question.

    Protestants have not historically favored using coercive state power to force people to remain within in the confessional tradition they belonged to at their baptisms. There are millions of people in some sort of classical Protestant tradition, and with that many people (and no sword to force uniformity) you’re bound to see some folks disagreeing with this or that and some of those folks eventually pushing for modifications. It is then up to the rational defenders of the tradition to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a proposed modification is well grounded or not. It is not an “all or nothing” kind of thing, as your pet list of examples seems to suggest.

    I simply don’t follow what you are advocating. That nobody ever disagree with the traditiont hey are in? Or that if they do disagree then they have to disassociate with that tradition completely (even if they remain closer to it than to any other tradition)? What’s the point?

  28. GLW Johnson said,

    May 24, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    I like the WFC just the way it is, please and thank you- and I don’t want it revised to accommodate paedo- communionists, The New Perspective takes on justification, mono-covenantalists, emergents, egalitarians, duckbilled platypuses, the winner of American Idol and other things associated with the Federal Vision. Got to go, catch you all later.

  29. Xon said,

    May 24, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Gary, that’s fine. But what if there is a group of believers (perhaps spread over a number of cities and regions, perhaps in one place) who find that they are in greatest agreement with the Reformed tradition out of all the traditions, but who don’t agree with WCF 100%? Are they not Reformed? Then what are they? It is one thing to insist that all who are in fellowship in your own group or whatever must remain 100% honestly suscribed to the WCF (if that’s your “house rule,” then so be it), but I don’t see how we write out of the Reformed tradition those folks who are slightly off-kilter wtih WCF but who are still clearly more in the Reformed tradition than any other.

    As long as such people exist, and with no forced uniformity the will, then I don’t understand the practical, sociological, or logical import of mocking the very notion of amending the WCF, unless all you are saying is that you yourself prefer to be in a denomination that subscribes strictly to it as currently written. But if that’s all you’re saying, then the mockery seems out of place. Thus, I had trouble following you at first.

  30. Mark Horne said,

    May 24, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    What about amending it to accommodate credo-baptists?

  31. David Gray said,

    May 24, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    >What about amending it to accommodate credo-baptists?

    I hope not…

  32. Mark C. said,

    May 24, 2008 at 10:54 pm


    You might read these.

  33. GLW Johnson said,

    May 25, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Those people are free to form a ‘confederation’ and do what the Cumberland Presbyterians and the Bible Presbyterians- but what I am troubled by is voices in certain pockets of the PCA/OPC that are sympathetic to the FV saying- ‘isn’t it about time we updated this old thing and took advanage of all the marvelous advances in Biblical scholarship, especially the brilliant insights of NT Wright, Norman Shepherd and James Jordon?’

  34. David Gray said,

    May 25, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    >isn’t it about time we updated this old thing and took advanage of all the marvelous advances in Biblical scholarship, especially the brilliant insights of NT Wright, Norman Shepherd and James Jordon?

    Who in the OPC is saying that?

  35. Elder Hoss said,

    May 25, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    GLW – This could be a product of your selective amnesia, but non-theonomic Presbyterians already HAVE revised the WCF along the lines you decry. I guess though, that doesn’t bother you since you ostensibly agree with the late 18th century revision?

    Then of course, all of the de facto/practical revisions occurring right under the collective nose, present-hour.

    Hosts of Presbyterians fly in the face of the Confession when they sinfully re-baptize those who have already received Trinitarian baptisms (as you know, the Confession inculcates the fact that baptism is to be administered but once), or when they trivialize the Lord’s Day, or when they allow members to transfer to corrupt communions who practice adult baptism by immersion only, or when they pimp out the worship of God by turning the collective gathering of God’s people into Rick Warren-land, replete with 19th century Liberal theology pulsating through 70’s kitsch musical forms….

    I really do think this “Hey, let’s all die on the hill of strict subscriptionism” really needs to be seen for the white elephant it often is, and that the cap-gun shooter should be pointed in a more panoramic fashion, contra this selective amnesia, and selective critiquing.

  36. greenbaggins said,

    May 25, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    This discussion is getting a bit off topic. Confessional revision is not really related to the post above. Kindly get back on track.

  37. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 25, 2008 at 6:32 pm


    Do you see any hazards to the old-school, old-side approach that you think should be avoided?

  38. Elder Hoss said,

    May 25, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Lane – I thought that the un, or anti-confessional nature of paedocommunion was a chief reason for its untenability. In other words, to confess and practice paedocommunion would require a REVISION to the Confession.

    Are you suggesting that is now, not the case?

  39. Ron Henzel said,

    May 25, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    I believe Lane made the parameters of this discussion clear in the third paragraph of his post.

  40. Elder Hoss said,

    May 25, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Which then makes GLW’s bromide re “strict subscription” a non sequitur with regard to the merits, pro or con, of the paedocommunion view, correct?

    This was my point, along with a wider point that arguing in this “such and such a view is to be rejected on strict-subscription grounds” is a dubious claim by not a few Presbies who endorse the 1780’s revision of their own Confesson, or embrace other anti-confessional postulates en vogue, current hour.

  41. its.reed said,

    May 26, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Ref. 39:

    Elder Hoss: best to consider Lane’s comment a general one, to all to which it applies. No need to argue it further after he’s asked.

  42. Elder Hoss said,

    May 26, 2008 at 9:23 am

    its.reed – The “comment,” assuming you are referring to the dictum laid down in Para III of the post is entirely cogent. What’s not is the selective utilization of “this violates SS position”. Glad to see that this appears to be an agreeable assertion on my part, and would that it was applied consistently to interrelated areas of discussion.

  43. Elder Hoss said,

    May 26, 2008 at 10:05 am

    More directly on point…

    It seems that there is an overwhelming consensus in the history of the various streams of Reformed thought which lays emphasis on the making of a public profession on the part of covenant youth, as “in order to” their being admitted to the Table.

    Often this is extrapolated to mean that the Reformed somehow believe the child is “unconverted” until said profession, when in fact, if one reads the magisterial reformers, or Kuyper, or others, this is not the case, as covenant infants are presumed, as Calvin put it, “adopted from the womb.”

    So, if one removes the paedo-communion canard that “we are treating our covenant youth like pagans” (we’re not, we confess that they as fully belong to Christ as we do), it seems to me that a minimal confession is entirely appropriate.

    Of course, there is counter-evidence on the other side (Bingham’s Antiquities of the Christian Church) which suggests that infants from the earliest recorded period in the post-apostolic church, were communed.

    In part then, the presuppositions congeal around whether the Reformed church has departed from sound practice in this regard, OR, whether its/our consistently maintaining that some form of profession, some analogy to the Israelite child’s being able to ask “Father, what meaneth this” is consistent with a sound reading of the relevant texts.

    It would seem to me that both the strict paedocommunion positon, as well as the position maintained by Thornwell other Southern Presbies wherein most of the covenant youth in a given congregation do not commune until their teen years have the tendency to produce mischief, and that a sound course (both supportable from our reading of the Passover as well as our desire to promote the peace and unity of our Reformed churches) would be to diligently inculcate the privilege and necessity of family worship (daily) and catechesis, such that all of our covenant youth are (ideally) communing some time between the age of say, 6 and 8.

    In this regard, there is significant merit to Lane’s post (particularly, among other places, paragraph II/comment on appropriate age for admittance).

  44. Sam Steinmann said,

    May 27, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Pastor Lane,

    Might I second Peter Jones #24, and say that the pre-spuppositions on children are very helpful; the pre-suppositions on the Lord’s Supper would be helpful as well.

  45. Lara Butler said,

    May 27, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    I saw another presupp in the original post and that is that the administration of the Supper is at the discretion of the elders. So, that’s not really a presupposition that all paedo-comms share.

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