Children At the Lord’s Table?

Cornelis Venema has written what is only the second book-length defense of the non-paedo-communion position (Leonard Coppes wrote the first). Venema’s book is up-to-date, irenic, yet confessional. I realize that is practically a contradiction in some people’s minds. Nevertheless, Venema has achieved the impossible. I would especially encourage all paedo-communion advocates to read this book, as it is fair, detailed, without caricatures, and Biblical. I believe it will scratch a lot of people exactly where they itch on an issue like this.

I especially appreciate his argument concerning the Passover. He makes a distinction between the initiation of Passover, wherein all Israelites participated, and the subsequent celebrations of the Passover, which required only male members to celebrate. Venema’s care is evident here, for he argues not that women and children were excluded from the subsequent Passovers, but only that their participation was not required or forbidden. This makes the argument from Passover to Lord’s Supper (as paedo-communion advocates use it) ambiguous and uncertain. Venema argues strongly here:

It is gratuitous to assume that enjoyment of the privileges of the covenant was dependent on all members of the covenant community participating to the same extent in the Feast of the Passover (p. 68).

Indeed. Venema is also careful concerning the catechetical exercise listed in Exodus 12. Many opponents of paedo-communion use this argument to say that small infants could not participate since they could not ask the question. Venema says, “The presence of this catechetical exercise in the Passover rite does not argue conclusivelyfor or against the participation of infants and younger children…the children of the household participated in the Passover rite in different ways, depending on their maturity and ages” (p. 70).