Exceptions Required to be Taken by Paedo-Communion Adherents

Some friends have asked me what places in the Westminster Standards I feel are necessary for PC advocates to take an exception to. It is quite a long list, actually, because it is not merely the age of the participant that is important, but also how the people have to partake of the Lord’s Supper. So, here are the places I feel it is necessary for a PC advocate to take an exception (although almost none of them take an exception to these places).

WCF 27.3 tells us that the grace is not conferred by any power in the sacrament itself (even rightly used!). Rather, it depends on the work of the Spirit that brings with it the promise of benefit to worthy receivers. The definition of worthy receivers is plain elsewhere in the standards.

WCF 29.7 also says “worthy receivers.” Worthy receivers cannot be ignorant or in flagrant sin, according to other parts of the WS. In the same section, it also says “(Christ as) really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance.” This implies that He is not present to those who have no faith. Now, I think it is possible for an infant to have a seed faith and be regenerated from the womb. But I do not think we can assume that. The PC position argues that Christ is present even to the ignorant.

WCF 29.8 says that ignorant and wicked men do NOT receive the thing signified. Paedo-communion requires the exact opposite with regard to the ignorant, because infants are presumably ignorant of what the Sacrament means. In the same section, it also says that all ignorant persons are unfit to enjoy communion with Him, and they are not to be admitted to the Table.

WLC 168: basically, this entire question and almost every part of it is set against the PC position. 1. Again, the language of “worthily communicate” rules out infants here. 2. “have their union and communion with him confirmed” means that their union and communion have to have at least some visible signs exhibited previously to their participation, or else the elders cannot fence the table. 3. “testify and renew their thankfulness” implies an active thanksgiving, impossible for an infant. 4. “mutual love and fellowship” also has to do with an active (in the context everything is active, not passive) expression, not an ignorant expression of love.

WLC 169: the confession obviously interprets 1 Corinthians 11:24 in an active remembering sense when it says “in thankful remembrance.” This cuts quite against the normal PC interpretation of the passage which says that the Supper itself is a memorial, and there is no need of active remembrance for infants. Given the context of the fact that it is given “to the communicants” (therefore to all of them), it seems to me more than reasonable that this is what it means for all the congregation who participate, and this is how all are to participate.

WLC 170: This question states that the body and blood of Christ are “spiritually present to the faith of the receiver.” Given also the key phrase “worthily participate” again in this question and answer, it is apparent that the body and blood of Christ are not present to those with no faith. Again, I do not deny the possibility of some kind of seed faith (although I certainly do not presume regeneration), a more mature faith is definitely in view here. Also in this question it says “while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.” Can one really receive all these benefits without knowing that they are receiving them?

WLC 171: This entire question has to be ditched by the PC advocate, since absolutely none of this kind of preparation is possible for an infant. There are about 13 distinct acts required in this question, none of which an infant has the ability to perform. The question itself is worded in such a way “they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper” to exclude the interpretation that says that only adults have to do this. No, it is all who receive the Lord’s Supper that have to do these actions.

WLC 173: Again, this passage tells us that the ignorant are to be kept from the sacrament. It is important to note that ignorance is quite a separate category from “scandalous.” I say this because many PC advocates argue that it is a hendiadys: “ignorant scandalousness.” But a hendiadys is usually connected by the word “and,” not the word “or.” Therefore, it is unlikely that that is the case here.

WLC 174: This entire question has to be ditched by the advocates of PC as well. I count 15 distinct actions (again required of ALL those who participate), none of which an infant is able to perform.

WLC 175: Same as 174, with 12 distinct actions required of the participant afterwards, none of which can be performed by an infant.

WLC 177: Now at last we finally get the one place where most PC advocates actually do take an exception, and this is certainly the most obvious place they have to take an exception. “only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves” certainly rules out the PC position.

WSC 91: this plainly says that the sacraments are only of benefit to those who by faith receive them. Otherwise, they are judgment. This is true both of baptism and of the Lord’s Supper.

WSC 96-97: again we have the “worthy participation” language. See the WLC questions above for more detailed argumentation. I believe that all these places are against paedo-communion, because it details exactly how ALL participants are to behave and what they are to do so that they will be participating worthily. In short, it is not just the age of the participants to the Lord’s Supper that is at issue. It is also how the Supper is to be taken. In fact, this issue is almost more fundamental, because it actually gets at the very substance of the sacrament itself.

I only want to add one more comment here about ordination of PC advocates, and trust me when I say that I mean no offense to my Baptist brethren here. In the PCA, since we have a different administration of baptism than the Baptists do, it is right and fitting that a Baptist minister should not be ordained in the PCA (or OPC, or any other denomination that practices paedobaptism). This is also true vice versa. Paedobaptists should not be ordained in a Baptist denomination. This is because our honest differences about the Sacrament of baptism are mutually exclusive and would lead to much friction if in the same denomination. We both believe that the other denomination is wrongly administering the Sacraments (although it is primarily an issue of degree, not of the mode itself). This does not mean that we should “unchurch” the other opinion. It does mean, however, that we must (normally) worship apart for the very sake of unity.

My point is this: if advocates of the WCF will not ordain a Baptist minister in their denomination, then why should we ordain PC advocates in our denomination? PC, according to advocates of the WCF, is an equal and opposite error (sort of a mirror-image error, actually, if you think about it) to credo-baptism. If we would not ordain credo-baptists in the PCA, then why should we ordain PC advocates? Both positions are equally against the Westminster Standards. Why, therefore, does the PCA and OPC somehow view PC as somehow more confessional, or at least less anti-confessional than credo-baptism is? It cannot be covenantalism, since there are plenty of non-dispensational Baptists out there who love covenant theology (even if we believe they do not apply it consistently). This is why I will never vote to ordain a PC advocate in my Presbytery.

36 Comments

  1. Andrew said,

    June 16, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    There is a huge practical difference though: the baptist minister will not be able to baptize covenant children, whereas the advocate of PC will still be able to give communnion to the adults.

    The PCer is able to fufill all the requirements of administrating a sacrament 9it is just he would like to do more). ObviouslY there is a question for the individual minister as to what role his conscience allows him to play in a deficient celebration of the Supper. But if he agrees to abide by the Church’s teaching, there is no reason to hound the man out.

  2. Steven Carr said,

    June 17, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Andrew,

    What Lane says about the possible friction that may arise between the PC advocate and ministers who hold to the confessional view is an answer to your objection. What he says about worshipping apart for the sake of unity is valid. I think experience teaches us that those who hold to PC will eventually try to promote their view underhandedly. How long will a man of conviction last in a place that calls his convictions unconfessional, and won’t allow him to practice his convictions? Personally, I wouldn’t last very long.

  3. Larry said,

    June 17, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I don’t have time to go through the entire standards as you have, but may I suggest a further line of thought in the Confession to which paedocommunion runs contrary? It is the very definition of the visible church as consisting of PROFESSING believers and their children — WCF 25:2 — “The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of *all those throughout the world who PROFESS the true religion; _and_ of their children*: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”
    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.”

  4. Larry said,

    June 17, 2009 at 8:57 am

    In other words, the Confession itself makes a distinction between those who PROFESS FAITH (communicant members) and their children (noncommunicant members)

  5. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Good points, Larry. I hadn’t thought of that. :-) However, if children are not part of the visible church at all, then they shouldn’t be baptized, should they?

  6. Jack Bradley said,

    June 17, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Lane,

    I’m curious, given your position, how you view the many current PCA ministers who have taken a PC exception–such as the authors of the Philadelphia majority report. Should they all, in good conscience, leave the PCA?

  7. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I believe that they should not be in the PCA anymore than a credo-Baptist should. We are forcing their conscience to do something other than what they believe they should do. It is a matter of the correct administration of the Lord’s Supper. It’s not as if there aren’t PC churches out there.

  8. Jack Bradley said,

    June 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

    “I believe that they should not be in the PCA anymore than a credo-Baptist should.”

    Really, Lane? Seriously?

  9. ReformedSinner said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Don’t know whether PC crowd should or not leave the church, but if that is the case then John Murray would be asked to leave OPC then. In his writings he questions the consistencies of PB crowd on the issue of PC, and he argues that it’s probably more consistent to allow PC then reject it.

  10. Jack Bradley said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Lane,

    FWIW, here are the confessional changes the OPC majority report lists. This was not on the previous link, because for some reason the current link is truncated. If anyone would like the full document they can write me: jackbradley5@verizon.net.

    II CHANGES IN SUBORDINATE STANDARDS

    The model outlined above will, of course, require some important changes in our subordinate standards if it is adopted. In this section of our report we will attempt to briefly itemize these, and suggest the changes that would be appropriate.

    A. The Westminster Confession of Faith

    No changes would be required in chapters XXVII or XXVIII.

    Changes in Chapter XXIX will depend on the interpretation of section viii. If, in this section, we take the descriptive terms “ignorant and wicked” and “ignorant and ungodly” as coordinate, then no change will be necessary. Under this interpretation only those who are both ignorant and ungodly are not to be admitted to the Lord’s Table. But those who are baptized, despite limited knowledge – or even limited intelligence – are not to be barred unless they manifest ungodly, or wicked behavior. In the body of this report we have tried to show why we do not believe the view to be scriptural, which would refuse to admit covenant children on the grounds of ignorance. If the Confession of faith is, nevertheless, interpreted to mean two classes – the ignorant as one, and the wicked as another – then this section would need amendment.

    B. The Larger Catechism

    If it is determined that a change is necessary in Chapter XXIX, viii of the Westminster Confession, it will also be necessary to make the same change, substantially, in the answer to Larger Catechism Q. 173.

    We do not think questions and answers 171-175 will require alteration because both sacraments involve duties, or responsibilities. All who are baptized have the “duty of improving” their baptism “all” their “life long,” [L.C. 167] and yet this does not disqualify infants. So the fact that infants cannot, in the beginning fulfill the responsibilities incumbent upon all who receive the Lord’s Supper does not disqualify them from participation in that sacrament.

    If the church does decide to admit infants to the Lord’s Table, however, the answer to question 177 will certainly have to be changed. We here reproduce this with our suggestion, which is simply to delete the two italicized phrases (as shown below).

    Q. 177 – Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ?

    A. – The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.

    C. The Form of Government

    In Chapter XIII, section 8, the following phrase would be deleted: “both of communicant members and of their baptized children.”

    D. The Directory for Worship

    In the model proposed, above, we have already provided a new formulation which would replace Chapter IV, section B.

    Chapter V will also require extensive revision. The model we propose places the emphasis on baptism as the divinely authorized rite of admission to the privileges and responsibilities of church membership. In this model a verbal declaration by the pastor (or an elder) is, of course, made in connection with this sacrament. In this section again, we offer suggested changes by way of a parallel presentation.

  11. Jack Bradley said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Sorry, the italicized phrases don’t show up in html, but should be self-explanatory.

  12. Chris Hutchinson said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Lane,

    This may be a bit lengthy, but this is how our presbytery threaded this particular needle, allowing in PCers, but only under a number of conditions. Here is our motion (BRP = Blue Ridge Presbytery):

    Whereas, holding to paedocommunion for exegetical reasons without any other larger theological agenda is not by itself hostile to the system of PCA doctrine, cf. BCO 21-4; and

    Whereas, the mere holding to paedocommunion without its practice cannot by definition strike at the vitals of religion, cf. BCO 21-4; and

    Whereas, a man’s willingness to forego his own preferences on secondary matters in order to submit to the Church’s common confession is both commendable and Biblical, cf. BCO 21-5.4; Ephesians 4:1-6; and

    Whereas, the ministry of BRP and the spread of the Gospel may be hindered by an undue strictness on this matter, cf. BCO 13-9.g; and

    Whereas, many presbyteries across the PCA ordain men who hold to paedocommunion while yet forbidding its practice with no widespread breakdown of order; and

    Whereas, the below conditions are more than adequate to assure presbytery of a man’s evangelical convictions as well as to prevent any danger from arising in BRP; therefore

    We move that BRP finds that candidates who hold to paedocommunion may be members of BRP in good standing under the following circumstances:

    a. They agree not to practice paedocommunion in any setting, nor tolerate its practice within BRP, cf. BCO 21-5.2; Acts 16:4.

    b. They agree not to advocate paedocommunion outside of the courts of the PCA, cf. BCO 21-5.4; I Corinthians 11:16.

    c. They affirm that all covenant children must be called to a personal profession of faith, and must be regenerated by the Spirit in order to be saved, cf. WCF 10.1; John 3:3-5; Romans 2:28-29; Ephesians 2:1-7.

    d. They affirm that ordinarily, saving faith is wrought by the ministry of the Word, cf. WCF 10.3; 14.1; Luke 8:11; Romans 10:14-17; I Peter 1:23.

    e. They affirm that the keys to the kingdom belong to the Church=s officers, not to parents, cf. WCF 30.1, 4; Matthew 16:19; John 20:21-23; Hebrews 13:7.

    f. They affirm that the sacraments are means of saving grace by faith alone, and not by the mere partaking, cf. WCF 27.3; Romans 4:1-12; 9:6-8.

    g. They affirm that those of years and ability are required to examine themselves before partaking the Lord=s Supper to test, among other concerns, whether they be in Christ, cf. WCF 29.8, WLC 171-177; I Corinthians 11:28-29;II Corinthians 13:5; I John 1:6-10; 4:14-24.

    h. They affirm the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant in the fullness, evidence and spiritual efficacy of its sacraments, cf. WCF 7.6; Hebrews 7:22, 8:7-13.

    i. They agree that they will only admit non-communicant members to the Lord’s Table after they have given a credible profession of faith and intelligently answered the membership questions found in BCO 57-5, cf. BCO 6-2, 6-4; 58-4; I Corinthians 11:28-29. (Note: this does not forbid the open invitation to “all those who profess the true religion and are communicants in good standing in any evangelical church,” cf BCO 58-4).

  13. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Jack, I could not disagree more with their assessment of WLC 171-175. The duties listed do not disqualify infants? Their interpretation of the questions is certainly flawed.

  14. Jack Bradley said,

    June 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Lane, I’d also be interested in your take on this excerpt (from the OPC report)
    (BTW, I can’t find your email address on your blog–could you send it to me? I’d like to send you the entire document)

    “In Ephesians 4:5 the Apostle says there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” In the model we propose it is precisely this that we seek: one baptism, to take the place of two. Under our present form of administration we have adult baptism, and we have infant baptism, each with a different set of rules. Why is it so? Is it not because the traditional requirement of a public profession of faith – additional to, and distinct from baptism – is within the realm of possibility for adults, but not for infants? Hence the form for the baptism of adults requires, in addition to the profession of faith previously made before the Session, another more public profession just before baptism (which is not required of infants). But baptism is not what we say about ourselves, but what God says about us. Since there is only one baptism, God is saying the same thing about infants baptized at his command that he is saying about adults baptized at his command. There is every reason to expect an adult convert to give an expression of his faith when he seeks approval by the Session to become a part of the church of God [Ex. 12:48, Acts 16:30-32]. But there is no propriety in requiring an additional rite of public profession. Baptism itself, without adding any other ceremony” (as our present Directory inconsistently says, at this point) is sufficient.”

  15. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    This also in the report I would strongly disagree with , since it leaves out entirely the covenantal aspect of families: in paedo-baptism there is still a profession of faith; it’s just that the parents make it proleptically for the children. Whereas in the baptism of an adult, that adult is his own head of house. They drive way too big a wedge between infant and adult versions of the one baptism. My email is pastorlane AT juno DOT com.

  16. Todd said,

    June 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Why would a PC advocate want to minister in a non PC denomination, especially when there are PC churches available? How can they justify keeping children from Christ (in their thinking). Our Lord rebuked the disciples for such a thing. If keeping kids from the Table is so wrong, why choose to do it?

    Todd

  17. Jack Bradley said,

    June 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    That is a fair question, Todd. For myself, I’m happy to have my credentials in a PC denomination, the CREC. I certainly understand, however, that many who are persuaded of PC do not see it as of sufficient weight to depart. Lane apportions it the same weight as someone holding to credo-baptism, but I cannot, nor, I’m sure, would most others.

  18. Andrew said,

    June 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Re 2

    Stephen,

    But there you are barring someone for a possible and hypothetical problem. If the mdifficulty is one of teaching, your arguement would apply to ALL exceptions to the confession.

    I would offer G.I Williamson as an example of a PCer who has worked within a non-PC denomination for its benefit, without being ‘underhand’.

  19. Jack Bradley said,

    June 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Lane wrote: “the report. . . leaves out entirely the covenantal aspect of families. . . They drive way too big a wedge between infant and adult versions of the one baptism.”

    Regarding covenants and wedges, the OPC report is saying the actual dividing wedge being driven is between the two covenants, violating the regulative principle:

    “In the Old Testament period covenant children were identified as Israelites, not by circumcision plus something else, but by circumcision alone. And we see no evidence that this regulation was changed under the new covenant… Therefore, since there is no indication in either the old or New Testament that those who received this sign in infancy were later required to submit to an additional rite – namely, public profession of faith – we do not lose, but gain, in dispensing with it altogether.”

  20. Steven Carr said,

    June 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Andrew,

    There is more to PC position than just allowing children to come to the Lord’s Table. Many PCists hold to a sacramental efficacy or a presumptive regeneration. These things will come out in the preaching, and these issues are not small ones.

  21. Jack Bradley said,

    June 18, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Steven, I hope you hold to sacramental efficacy in the Westminster sense, which is the sense that I sense most PC’s hold to.

    WCF 27.3: The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

    28.6: The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

  22. Andrew said,

    June 19, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Re 20:

    Stephen,

    Perhaps, but then those issues (presumptive regeneration/ high view of the sacraments) are the problem, not paedocommunnion.

    Besides, presumptive regeneration and sacramental efficacy are standard, mainstream posistions within the Reformed camp. If you want to challenge this, by all means list those parts of the Confessions which deny these doctrines. It might be more simple to start with presumptive regeneration, as it is a simpler doctine.

    You might also want to list historical figures whom you would also decalre non gratia within your denomination as preachers because of their covenant theology – – Calvin perhaps, and Hodge; Kuyper certainly. Thornwall will get in; possibly Spurgeon?

  23. Jack Bradley said,

    June 19, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Andrew,

    I think the term “presumptive regeneration” is not helpful, although I agree that there is reformed precedent and that there is a presumption, which is not presumptuous. Dr. Godfrey explains this well. Here is my (very careful) transcript of Robert Godfrey’s taped lecture: Blue Ridge Bible Conference, Tape #10, 6/16/97

    “Well, what to say about Abraham Kuyper? Was Abraham Kuyper right about presumptive regeneration? The answer is yes and no. Now, if you want a little fuller answer: Kuyper asked the question, on what basis do we baptize our children? If John Murray had asked the question he’d say, what is the warrant for baptizing our children? And Kuyper said the warrant for baptizing our children is that we presume they are regenerate, that the warrant for infant baptism comes from regeneration. I think Kuyper was wrong on that. I think it was an interesting theological point. Kuyper was trying to clarify some things. I don’t think he was right. I think the warrant for infant baptism is not in regeneration but in the covenant.

    The misuse of Kuyper’s notion of presumptive regeneration is to say, I can be presumptuous about my children’s spiritual state. I don’t need to worry about them, I don’t need to pray about them, because the Lord will take care of them, and no matter what happens everything will turn out fine. That is not what I would call presumptive regeneration. I’d call that presumptuous regeneration. Kuyper never taught that, and attacked it, but that somehow is what Kuyper is thought to have taught and if that’s what you think he taught, then he was wrong. But he didn’t teach it.

    Now what’s right in what Kuyper was saying? I would say that what’s right in what Kuyper is saying is that we should presume, as we raise them, that our children are regenerate. That is, we should act as if they are regenerate. But I don’t think that leads to presumptuousness. I think what it leads to is that we treat our children as we treat all regenerate people, namely, we call them to faith and repentance, as I tried to say in the last hour. And I think to the extent that Kuyper says, don’t treat your children as little pagans but treat them as genuine members of Christ, that’s good advice. But genuine members of Christ are not just left alone and told, ah, well, boys will be boys. Genuine members of Christ are not just told, oh, go ahead and live anyway you want, it doesn’t really matter. Genuine members of Christ are encouraged to live for Christ. And that’s, I think, how we ought to raise our children.”

  24. andrew said,

    June 19, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Re 23

    Jack, I heartly agree with just about everything you say. Good stuff!

    On the other hand, I don’t know of any prominent Pcer who teaches presumptous regeneration (as you neatly term it).

  25. Jack Bradley said,

    June 19, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I agree, Andrew. I don’t know of any PC’s who teach presumptuous regeneration. But there is a presumptuous tendency in some of those who disagree with PC to link these together.

  26. Jack Bradley said,

    June 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Here’s a great passage about the necessity of weekly communion:

    Leonard J. Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper p. 191f:

    “Why do we need to celebrate the Supper when we have the preaching of the Word? . . . While the sacrament without Scripture and preaching would be an empty sign, Scripture and preaching without the sacrament do not offer us the here-and-now assurance we need. For Calvin, ‘the sacraments, therefore, are exercises which make us more certain of the trustworthiness of God’s Word’ because God ‘attests his good will and love toward us more expressly than by word.’ [4.14.6] That is not a point most of us would have expected Calvin to make! Calvin, who so honors Scripture and preaching, says that the sacrament presents the promises of the gospel to us more clearly. ‘The Lord here not only recalls to our memory. . . the abundance of his bounty. But, so to speak, gives it into our hands and arouses us to recognize it.’ [4.17.37]

    We need the sacrament alongside the Word simply because we are human. It’s not merely that the sacrament aids our human understanding of God’s promises. That is Zwingli’s approach. It’s rather more that the sacrament aids our appropriation of God’s promises. . . Belgic Confession of 1561:

    ‘We believe that our good God, mindful of our crudeness and weakness, had ordained sacraments for us to seal his promises in us, to pledge his good will and grace toward us, and also to nourish and sustain our faith. He has added these to the Word of the gospel to represent better to our external senses both what he enables us to understand by his Word and what he does inwardly in our hearts, confirming in us the salvation he imparts to us.’

    In the sacrament, then, God communicates to us in a way that is particularly suited to our creatureliness. . . Why do we need to sacrament of Holy Communion alongside the Word? The sacrament offers us something the Word alone cannot: deep assurance that is exactly fitted by God to our human need and receptivity. The Lord’s Supper is a physical handle faith grabs hold of, allowing us to grasp God’s promises with our bodies as well as our minds. We dare not neglect this handle that God has so graciously and wisely provided us.

    . . . I am familiar with a congregation that moved, a number of years ago, from a monthly celebration of Communion to a weekly celebration. There was a great deal of discussion about the fear that this might lead to over-familiarity, therefore reducing the effectiveness of the sacrament. (Try the same argument for sermons or even prayer.) Some people simply felt they didn’t need the sacrament that often. After some time, the reaction of the vast majority of the congregation was that they could never return to a more sporadic celebration of the sacrament. The more they experienced the Lord’s Supper, the more they realized their human need for this particular medium of God’s promise, and the assurance it provides.”

  27. Jack Bradley said,

    June 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    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.

  28. Todd said,

    June 19, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Jack,

    How did a thread on PC turn into the need for weekly communion?

  29. Jack Bradley said,

    June 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Because I just couldn’t resist :) I know that doesn’t surprise you, based on our past interactions.

    Seriously, I do think that as soon as the Supper starts happening every week, becoming a regular part of life, the kids (and their parents) really start to notice that they are being excluded every week.

    I think the natural trajectory for such churches is to gradually lower the *traditional* age for profession of faith. Which is a good thing.

  30. Zrim said,

    June 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Jack,

    Don’t worry. There are plenty of us credo-communionists who share your view on the regular and frequent use of the means of grace.

  31. Jack Bradley said,

    June 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I know, and I’m glad for it.

  32. reformedtheonomy said,

    April 2, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Reblogged this on reformed theonomy.

  33. Tim Harris said,

    April 5, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Credo-communion has analogs in the rest of life: reaching majority status in the civil realm (able to make binding contracts without consent of parents), or “coming of age” rituals such as the bar mitzvah. The notion of making the transition from “dependent of parents” to autonomy is an inescapable one.

    Thus, to “gradually lower the ‘traditional’ age for profession of faith” (#29) is NOT a good thing, but is an antinomian circumvention of the principle. In a mature, agrarian society, 13 might have been considered old enough, but not in our debased age of perpetuated immaturity.

    As far as “the kids (and their parents) really start to notice that they are being excluded every week,” this does not have to be. I love what I have frequently seen in Lutheran and Anglican churches, where the children go forward with their parents, and receive a blessing from the presiding minister, without taking the elements. In this way, they very much feel they are part of the covenant community, and are blessed, yet can acknowledge that they are still “kids” and look forward to growing up and being their own agent — legally, intellectually, emotionally, and spirtually.

  34. roberty bob said,

    April 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Greenbaggins, commenting on WSC #91 states that the sacraments are only of benefit to those who by faith receive them, and that this is true of both baptism and the Lord’s supper; those who receive either or both of them without faith fall under God’s judgment.

    This is what gives me fits: fencing the table to keep out ignorant infants who cannot yet express their faith, even if they have the [seed of] faith in them, lest they come under God’s judgment for partaking faithlessly, but already having fearlessly baptized these same ignorant infants whose faith can neither be seen nor confessed!

    Notice what was acknowledged above. Baptism is of no benefit to those who receive it with out faith. Such persons are at risk of falling under God’s judgment. Yet, those who put their ignorant, non-professing infants at risk by having them baptized are risk-averse when it comes to admitting those same ignorant infants to the Lord’s Table; they forbid them to eat and drink.

    The paedo-communionists have take the logically consistent position, by risking all for the sake of their children’s salvation.

  35. June 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    […] See also Exceptions Required to be Taken by Paedo-Communion Adherents […]

  36. Titus2Homemaker said,

    July 6, 2016 at 11:35 am

    “This also in the report I would strongly disagree with , since it leaves out entirely the covenantal aspect of families: in paedo-baptism there is still a profession of faith; it’s just that the parents make it proleptically for the children. ”

    This is exactly what PC advocates believe is true of PC, as well. The requirements for partaking are no more absent or ignored than the need for a profession of faith to precede baptism. Rather, parents act together with their children and/or on their behalf, because that’s how covenant family WORKS in the bringing of children to maturity.


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