Communion

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Communion

Postby Joseph Patrick » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:50 pm

From Gerry Milligan...I recently had a conversation with a person who knows quite a bit more about the Bible than I do (most of those who are alive fall into this category). This person challenged my beliefs as to who could take the Lord's Supper. I am vaguely familiar with close, closed and open communion, all of which are traditionally reserved for born again believers. The person with whom I was discussing asked why is it reserved only for born again believers. Not being the Bible scholar that I should be, I could not answer this challenge. I have tried to get the answer from the Bible using several search engines but have not found an answer. What do you know about this? Is it clear from the Bible that the Lord's Supper is for any and all, or only for those born again?
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Re: Communion

Postby Sandy » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:11 pm

1 Cor. 11:26-29, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly."

Lots of room for interpreting "in an unworthy manner" and "examine himself." So what makes one "worthy," since no one apart from Christ is?
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Re: Communion

Postby Haruo » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:24 pm

Joseph Patrick wrote:From Gerry Milligan...I recently had a conversation with a person who knows quite a bit more about the Bible than I do (most of those who are alive fall into this category). This person challenged my beliefs as to who could take the Lord's Supper. I am vaguely familiar with close, closed and open communion, all of which are traditionally reserved for born again believers. The person with whom I was discussing asked why is it reserved only for born again believers. Not being the Bible scholar that I should be, I could not answer this challenge. I have tried to get the answer from the Bible using several search engines but have not found an answer. What do you know about this? Is it clear from the Bible that the Lord's Supper is for any and all, or only for those born again?

I wouldn't try to limit the table to any particular subset of humanity. "Born again believer" strikes me as a sectarian wording, which would put a barrier up even against many whom the one using the term in this way would probably adjudge "born again" if she knew them. I think it should be open to all who feel themselves called to it. The supper should not be a closed-club membership benefit of the local church or of a denomination, but rather symbolic of the Wedding Banquet. I don't turn so much to scripture as to hymnody. These are among my proof texts:

The Wedding Banquet

Come and Dine

The true Supper is probably coffee hour, anyway. That's what they taught me at Friends' Memorial Church, back before I had come back to the point of calling myself a Christian. If you want a scripture, don't look at Maundy Thursday so much as the feeding of the umpteen thousand.
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Re: Communion

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:39 am

In the small church past of Baptists, the restriction of communion was part of the discipline of the church to keep members in line under community norms for that area. Then communion was parceled out to those in the local congregation considered worthy. The Baptist roots of this were in the Landmark Movement of J. R. Graves and C. M. Pendleton on the western frontiers in KY and TN. The actual roots are probably in Catholicism where the denial of eucharist was a way to imperil someone's salvation. Baptists have actually practiced four forms of communion practice: local church members only, Baptists only, Christians who have professed Christ, and Open.
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Re: Communion

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:28 am

Dave Roberts wrote:...Christians who have professed Christ, and Open.
Dave, how are you differentiating between Christians who have professed Christ and Open? I ask because most Baptists I know who speak of "Open Communion" mean open to all Christians who have professed Christ, regardless of or apart from the issue of baptism.

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Re: Communion

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:01 am

Joseph Patrick wrote:The person with whom I was discussing asked why is it reserved only for born again believers.
I guess my question would be "Why would any unbeliever desire to take communion?"
Joseph Patrick wrote:I have tried to get the answer from the Bible using several search engines but have not found an answer. What do you know about this? Is it clear from the Bible that the Lord's Supper is for any and all, or only for those born again?
I think that the Lord's supper is intended for the Lord's disciples can be seen in the following.
  • It is a memorial or remembrance of the Lord's death (e.g. Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25).
  • It is in prospect of the Lord's return (1 Cor. 11:26).
  • It was observed when the church came together out of the world rather than in the world (Acts 2:42; 20:7ff; 1 Cor. 11:18).
  • It requires a self-examination and discernment in relation to the body and blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:27-29).
  • It is not ecumenical, in the sense of embracing other religions (1 Cor. 10:20-21).
  • It is a communion for the partakers of "that one bread," Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
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Re: Communion

Postby Sandy » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:36 am

Dave Roberts wrote:In the small church past of Baptists, the restriction of communion was part of the discipline of the church to keep members in line under community norms for that area. Then communion was parceled out to those in the local congregation considered worthy. The Baptist roots of this were in the Landmark Movement of J. R. Graves and C. M. Pendleton on the western frontiers in KY and TN. The actual roots are probably in Catholicism where the denial of eucharist was a way to imperil someone's salvation. Baptists have actually practiced four forms of communion practice: local church members only, Baptists only, Christians who have professed Christ, and Open.


Yes, it was the closest thing Baptists had to excommunication. And the closed communion practices among Baptists come from the belief that unless someone was saved in a Baptist church and baptized by immersion, they might receive communion in an "unworthy" manner.

I tend to look at that passage as part of a whole. As Rvaughn said, it requires self examination and if you look at the whole passage, especially the part prior to this statement, he gives a list of things to use in a self examination. The context of being a "born again believer" or having been sanctified by the spirit or whatever term you use gives meaning to what would otherwise be a meaningless act, interpreted as a ritual to perform because it imparts grace.
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Re: Communion

Postby Tim Bonney » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:45 pm

OK, count this for what its worth coming from a Methodist, but we have completely open communion, including if a non-believer wanted to commune. The reason being that John Wesley believe that someone, by being invited to the table to meet Christ, might be converted at the table.

That being said, I basically followed the same policy (without Wesley's input) when I was an American Baptist. We were open communion and welcomed all to Christ's table at all the ABC churches I pastored.
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Re: Communion

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:01 pm

My reference to "open communion" meant that it is served without direct reference to qualifications.
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Re: Communion

Postby Haruo » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:13 pm

Most non-Catholic communion services I have attended have been pretty open to whoever is present and wishes to partake. Christ is the one doing the inviting, generally. Maybe even in the LDS Sacrament service (bread and water!), I don't recall the words of institution there, but the elements were served to all and sundry, Mrs H and me included.
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Re: Communion

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:44 pm

Haruo wrote:Most non-Catholic communion services I have attended have been pretty open to whoever is present and wishes to partake. Christ is the one doing the inviting, generally. Maybe even in the LDS Sacrament service (bread and water!), I don't recall the words of institution there, but the elements were served to all and sundry, Mrs H and me included.


I pastored one Baptist church in Illinois (the only SBC church I ever pastored full-time) that was open communion but another SBC church down the street was closed communion. We benefited greatly from people coming to our church because when they visited the closed communion church they were told that visitors all had to leave when communion started and many chose never to return.
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Re: Communion

Postby Jon Estes » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:04 am

I would not dare stop someone in our service from participating. They would all end up at Timothy’s church. ;-)

THis is between the individual and God and I’m not God so I leave it to Him to deal with.
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Re: Communion

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:04 pm

Jon Estes wrote:I would not dare stop someone in our service from participating. They would all end up at Timothy’s church. ;-)

THis is between the individual and God and I’m not God so I leave it to Him to deal with.


Our theologies agree here. :-)
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Re: Communion

Postby Lamar Wadsworth » Mon Dec 10, 2018 9:51 pm

Two women profoundly shaped my understanding of the Lord's supper. One was a young woman named Judy about 30 years ago when I was pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Dalton GA. Following a communion service, she lingered to speak to me after the others left. Tears were running down her face. She said, "I hope I didn't do something wrong, but you did say (she quoted my words of invitation to the table). I do love Jesus, He has forgiven my sins, and I want to follow Him, so when the trays were passed, I took communion." I told her that she did the right thing. A smile broke across her face, followed by beautiful holy laughter. "I guess that means I need to be baptized." I told her "I guess it does." Not realizing that she didn't know how to do evangelism, she led her 11 year old daughter to faith in Christ that afternoon, and I baptized both of them that night.

The other woman was our oldest daughter Linda who was 18 when she held my feet to the fire and told me exactly how it made her feel to see only men serve communion. I will never lead another communion service where women are excluded from serving the bread and the cup.
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