Posted by: johnnyp1978 | April 7, 2008

Paedocommunion

 A debate which has risen in many Reformed churches is the issue of paedocommunion (children being admitted to the Table). Zwinglians (those who believe that the Lord’s Supper is only a memorial) probably don’t see what the big deal is because it’s just grape juice and bread. The reason why Calvinists find it to be a big deal is because of their understanding of Paul’s warnings found in I Corinthians 11:17-34. A Calvinist understanding is that you must profess Christ and have the ability to examine your self before you can be admitted to the Table. Though Calvinists believe children of believers are to be baptized and seen as being in covenant with the God of their parents this doesn’t automatically give them access to the Lord’s Table. Yes, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two sacraments of the church and both are means of grace, but this doesn’t mean that the baptized are automatically permitted to the Table. Baptism is one requirement for admission to the Lord’s Supper but so is a profession of faith and the ability to examine your heart to see whether you are even worthy to come the Lord’s Supper. Now, in one sense none of us are worthy of the Lord’s Supper, but our worth is found in Christ’s blood. The question is are you living a life that is looking to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for holiness? 

This month’s “New Horizon” has some excellent articles on this issue:  http://opc.org/nh9.html

I really enjoyed Stuart Jones’ article on the matter because he addresses two of the big questions raised by some of the pro-paedocommunion holders: questions of children participating in Passover and the issue of baptized covenant children. James Dennison’s article is excellent showing the heritage of the Calvinistic understanding of the Lord’s Supper. He quotes Calvin saying, “Since all are commanded to examine themselves, it follows that faith is required of all before they approach the sacrament.”

It is understandable why Zwinglians don’t see what the big deal is, but it’s sort of disturbing that many Reformed folk don’t see what the big deal is and don’t feel this to be a huge deal. But it is a huge deal in the eyes of those who follow Calvin and Westminster on the Lord’s Supper. Dennison ends his article with this heavy statement: “We dare not admit children without a credible profession of faith. Far from bestowing privileges of blessing upon them, to do so is to hang millstones about their necks.” The Lord’s Supper is dangerous. A priest entering into the Holy of Holies wasn’t just covered by his circumcision, he had to also be covered by sacrificial blood, and enter with a worthy heart or else be struck dead. The same holds true with the Lord’s Table, we are entering into the Holy of Holies and our baptisms are not going to be sufficient to hold God’s wrath from us, only the blood of Christ is sufficient to protect us as we partake of the elements. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23). 

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