Drastically reducing Venema’s arguments to a manageable blog size (hopefully without distorting anything), we come up with the following dictums.
1. The Old Testament evidence suggests that infants perhaps participated in Passover (this is another great example of Venema’s gracious interaction with PC advocates: he grants points that would favor the PC position, and does not shove any evidence under the rug. Venema only comes to the point of critique when it comes to the whole picture. This is why Venema’s book is the most valuable contribution to this debate from the critical side). This evidence is not unambiguous, however, and hardly supports the weight of the claims based upon it by PC advocates.
2. Ultimately, the New Testament evidence is the most decisive point. Here we must note that the New Testament evidence is not always allowed by PC advocates to have its full weight. The reason that non-PC advocates believe this is because the evidence is more explicit. As it will appear when coming to 1 Corinthians 11, the PC position cannot adequately exegete the passage. This is not dispensational argumentation. Rather, it is redemptive-historical, noting the development of doctrine from OT to NT.
3. The people of God in the New Testament must worship God in spirit and in truth.
4. PC arguments prove too much. With regard to the manna, even non-believers were allowed to participate. Presumably, not even PC advocates would allow professed non-believers to the Table.
5. There is a difference between the annual celebration of the Passover and the one-time original Passover. The annual Passover was only for adult males, while the original Passover included the entire household. To my knowledge, this point has never been addressed by PC advocates. The relevant passages are Deuteronomy 16:16, Exodus 23:17, and Exodus 34:23 (these also address the other pilgrim feasts such as the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths).
6. Perhaps the most important precedent for the Lord’s Supper is in fact Exodus 24. This was a meal that was only for Moses and the leaders of Israel. We are not suggesting that the Lord’s Supper is today only for the leaders. However, it does demonstrate the complexity of appealing to OT evidence in support of NT practices.
7. Piggy-backing on number 5, the fact that women and children did not participate in the annual Passover does not suggest that women and children should feel excommunicated or excluded from the community by the practice. In my opinion, this argument (that exclusion of infants from the Lord’s Table in effect excommunicates them) is the very weakest argument from the PC side. It really needs to be shelved.
More detailed exegesis of the relevant passages will follow in a series of posts directly addressing the OT evidence regarding the practice of paedocommunion. This post is intended as a summary post.