J. R. Graves Lives Again...

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J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Lamar Wadsworth » Fri May 11, 2012 6:47 am

I still get SBC Life, the slick Executive Committee publication that replaced the old Baptist Program, even though I am no longer Southern Baptist and haven't been for a long time. Not sure why they still send it to me. Every issue confirms that I made the right decision in leaving the SBC fold, but the current issue with its doctrinal feature "The Church--Worshiping at the Lord's Table" takes the cake with essays on "Less Open," "Close," and "Closed" Communion. Makes me wonder what's coming down the pike next month, a defense of the thoroughly discredited "Trail of Blood" successionist view of Baptist history? We just thought the "Great Triumvirate" of J. R. Graves, J. M. Pendleton, and A. C. Dayton had died out! The old 19th century heresy of Landmarkism is alive and well.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Haruo » Fri May 11, 2012 9:49 am

Pastors who think they are called of God to keep certain people from taking Communion?? Sounds fascinating. When you get done reading it, Lamar, I wouldn't mind at all if you'd send it to me.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Lamar Wadsworth » Fri May 11, 2012 11:24 am

@Harou--PM your e-mail address, I'll scan it and send to you. I remember way too many Lord's Supper observances tacked onto the end of the service as an afterthought because it was the first Sunday of the quarter, with the preacher talking about who was NOT welcome at the table. On that last essay advocating for strict closed communion, I felt like I was reading Graves' An Old Landmark Re-set
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby William Thornton » Fri May 11, 2012 3:43 pm

SBCLife can be accessed online although there is a delay for the current issue.

The publication has been doing a fair amount of comparison stuff. I'm not sure why Lamar sees an issue with presenting several communion positions. In some areas it is typical for SBC churches to practice restrictive communion policies.

When I get the issue, I'll be sure to read the article and would like to continue this conversation.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Sandy » Fri May 11, 2012 7:26 pm

The article in SBC Life doesn't set down an "official" SBC position on communion, does it? I'll read it when it comes out on line, but if you're going to be grateful for leaving the SBC over the diversity of positions in the various churches on communion, you need to be grateful you didn't join in with any other Baptist denominational group, because I don't know of a single one that doesn't have churches which practice both open and closed communion. There are 44,000 churches in the SBC, and I would be surprised if there were more than 5% which practiced closed communion.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby William Thornton » Sat May 12, 2012 10:03 pm

The article has two writers who favor closed communion, members of that particular local church and one who favors close communion, baptized believers only. There is no argument for open communion.

I suppose the definitions vary somewhat. My practice has always been close communion. You don't have to be a member of my church to participate but you do have to be a baptized believer. I also believe the ordinance to belong to the local church, not anyone, anywhere. One writer shares the story of a meeting of missionaries overseas where the mssy planning the opening service was to include the Lord's Supper in it. After some mssys declined to participate that part was dropped.

Lamar might wonder what is coming down the old SBC pike doctrinally but these communion positions are old news. When I lived in Memphis, some would call their preferred position "close, close" meaning closed as the articles describe it - members only. That particular practice was more prevalent in that area than here in GA.

What do my mod/lib friends practice?
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Haruo » Sat May 12, 2012 10:28 pm

Generally open hereabouts. The emphasis is more on inviting and/or making it clear that Jesus invites participation than on encouraging folks to disqualify themselves let alone doing it for them. William, does "baptized believer" postulate immerson in this context?
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby David Flick » Sun May 13, 2012 2:40 am

Lamar Wadsworth wrote:I still get SBC Life, the slick Executive Committee publication that replaced the old Baptist Program, even though I am no longer Southern Baptist and haven't been for a long time. Not sure why they still send it to me. Every issue confirms that I made the right decision in leaving the SBC fold, but the current issue with its doctrinal feature "The Church--Worshiping at the Lord's Table" takes the cake with essays on "Less Open," "Close," and "Closed" Communion. Makes me wonder what's coming down the pike next month, a defense of the thoroughly discredited "Trail of Blood" successionist view of Baptist history? We just thought the "Great Triumvirate" of J. R. Graves, J. M. Pendleton, and A. C. Dayton had died out! The old 19th century heresy of Landmarkism is alive and well.

Lamar, I, as are you, am no longer a Southern Baptist. Haven't been one for well over a decade and still get the slick publication. Like you, it's a mystery to me why I still get it. Could be, however, that I get it because I have continued my subscription to the hard copy of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. I have maintained my subscription primarily to keep current on activities and actions of the Baptist General Convention. Nothing more than that. I saw the articles and didn't think too much of them because they pretty much reflect the traditions of the local church in which I grew up.

My home church practiced "closed closed communion" (given only to members of the local church). I made my personal commitment to Christ and was baptized in 1950 (at the age of nine). I remember "getting" to take communion (the Lord's Supper") shortly after I was converted. It was a special deal for me the first time because I couldn't take until after I was baptized. As I recall, we never observed the ordinance on Sunday morning. We always took it on Sunday night because, after all, it was the Lord's "supper" not the Lord's "breakfast." :lol: I didn't realize that there were other options to observing the Lord's Supper until I moved away to go to college and joined a church that practiced simply "closed" communion (given to any baptized member of a "like minded" Southern Baptist church).

I can remember wondering why the pastors of my home church always invited nonmembers to excuse themselves or refrain from taking communion because, as he always explained prior to the observance of the ordinance, the Lord's Supper is given to members of the local church. It never seemed right to me that people should be excluded from observing the ordinance. I suspect that the close closed idea is rooted in the last phrase of the first paragraph of the Church Covenant. ["...most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ"] Incidentally, a huge framed copy (3'x5') of the church covenant (similar to this), which is decidedly Landmarkian, has been hanging in the very same spot, high on the front wall to the left of the choir loft, in my home church since before I was born in 1941. The church has renovated the sanctuary several times through the years, but that church covenant has not moved a single solitary inch since I was born. I suppose it will still be hanging there when the Lord returns.

Anyway, through the 45+ years of my ministry in Southern Baptist churches, I always practiced open communion. I never made a big deal out of it, but I never "fenced the table." I tend to believe that communion is a personal thing. Who am I, as a pastor administering communion, to restrict a believer from a personal worship experience? I could never have done such a thing.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby William Thornton » Sun May 13, 2012 7:17 am

David, do you mean open communion in the sense that any believer can partake and that the ordinance may be given outside of local church authority?

Haruo, yes, I presume immersion since baptism is immersion. We don't have baptismal mode police in a service to check, though.

Back to Lamar's initial post here, I'd think that moderates of all Baptists would understand historical diversity in this practice. If a church chooses more restrictive communion practices, it is not an issue for which they should be condemned. One has to say that the NT is not explicit in its instructions on the matter.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sun May 13, 2012 8:16 am

Haruo wrote:Generally open hereabouts. The emphasis is more on inviting and/or making it clear that Jesus invites participation than on encouraging folks to disqualify themselves let alone doing it for them. William, does "baptized believer" postulate immerson in this context?


Ed: At Burnthills Baptist Church the emphasis is on "let every one examine themselves" least they eat and drink unworthily .
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby johnfariss » Sun May 13, 2012 9:12 am

Interesting, Lamar & David, that you still get SBC Life. The church I serve and have been at 8+ years considers itself the be SBC even though we designate our cooperative funds to missions agencies only, and give an equal amount to the CBF--and the church I served before did the same thing--I don't remember when I received a copy of it. Actually, the last one I remember getting was probably in the mid- or late 1990s. That was after I wrote a letter to whoever was editor back then disagreeing with some article he wrote in it. Not only did the editor reply to me, but even Paige Patterson sent me one. Surprize, surprize, surprize (quoting my fellow Talladega Countian Jim Nabors/Gomer Pyle), they did not appreciate my disagreement.

Come to think of it, I haven't missed SBC Life either.

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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun May 13, 2012 9:13 am

William Thornton wrote:David, do you mean open communion in the sense that any believer can partake and that the ordinance may be given outside of local church authority?

Haruo, yes, I presume immersion since baptism is immersion. We don't have baptismal mode police in a service to check, though.

Back to Lamar's initial post here, I'd think that moderates of all Baptists would understand historical diversity in this practice. If a church chooses more restrictive communion practices, it is not an issue for which they should be condemned. One has to say that the NT is not explicit in its instructions on the matter.


William, I think that depends on whether the practice is grounded in historical truth or historical falsehood--aka the Trail of Blood which still rears its head proclaiming that Baptists are the only true believers and share a successionism to the New Testament. Nice story, but patently untrue.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Sandy » Sun May 13, 2012 9:28 am

William Thornton wrote:Back to Lamar's initial post here, I'd think that moderates of all Baptists would understand historical diversity in this practice. If a church chooses more restrictive communion practices, it is not an issue for which they should be condemned. One has to say that the NT is not explicit in its instructions on the matter.


I would guess that, within any Baptist organization or denomination, the diversity of practice related to the Lord's Supper would be wide, from when and how often to do it, to the manner in which it is served, to who is invited to the table, to whether you offer both wine and juice, just juice or just wine. I've been in Baptist churches which require you to leave your seat and come forward to receive it individually, because that is some kind of a sign of personal commitment. I've been in churches that had you pick your own piece of bread off of the loaf, and I've even been in one that used a common cup.

Moderate Baptists these days exhibit an understanding of diversity unless something tends to be more identified with conservative views, particularly conservative Southern Baptist views. Then their understanding and tolerance tends to evaporate.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Gene Scarborough » Sun May 13, 2012 9:40 am

I think this discussion simply proves "Baptists love to find something to fight about!"

We have been watching Calvinism raise its head---for no good reason since it is pimarily a Presbytherian thing. We have had debate among churches over "open / closed" communion as if Jesus really cares who joins him around his table for the Memorial Meal. Last time I checked, Jesus was about inviting rather than excluding. That was the Disciples' approach!

I have always simply stated: "All who are in right relationship with God and one another are invited to attend." No one was given time to leave--and they could partake or not as their conscience provided direction.

In a typical church few know what they are really doing unless it is explained in detail and often. Your typical kid often sees the glasses like in a cowboy movie saloon! I know I gave it that thought when I was a kid and my daddy was the Pastor. I loved going downstairs in the kitchen as they cleaned up and really slug some Welch's glasses down and push back my coat to get to my gun for a quick draw :wink:

We started using both kosher Manishevitz wine and Welsh's grapejuice at my historic church. It was welcomed when the history disclosed a church family was "chosen" for their special wine-making skills to provide the wine of pre-prohibition services. Like good Baptists, we provided both kinds of juices and it was visible by color variance on the tray as well as smell. This was in NC where some of the ancient recipts for wine really do exist and are produced.

The only problem there were 2 of the deacons' kids gathering at the table after the service and slugging down the real stuff to a fault! At the least, we weren't lying anymore about who used alcohol or not :oops:
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sun May 13, 2012 2:46 pm

Sandy wrote:
William Thornton wrote:Back to Lamar's initial post here, I'd think that moderates of all Baptists would understand historical diversity in this practice. If a church chooses more restrictive communion practices, it is not an issue for which they should be condemned. One has to say that the NT is not explicit in its instructions on the matter.


I would guess that, within any Baptist organization or denomination, the diversity of practice related to the Lord's Supper would be wide, from when and how often to do it, to the manner in which it is served, to who is invited to the table, to whether you offer both wine and juice, just juice or just wine. I've been in Baptist churches which require you to leave your seat and come forward to receive it individually, because that is some kind of a sign of personal commitment. I've been in churches that had you pick your own piece of bread off of the loaf, and I've even been in one that used a common cup.

Moderate Baptists these days exhibit an understanding of diversity unless something tends to be more identified with conservative views, particularly conservative Southern Baptist views. Then their understanding and tolerance tends to evaporate.


Sandy you again paint with a broad brush. While it is true that some some moderates on these boards sometimes seem to relish in seeing who can tell the more horrific tales about SBC churches or SBC leaders in their past and to delight in pointing out foibles of the current SBC leadership when they make national news. We are hardly monolithic in our condemnation of the SBC, nor in our support or criticisms of CBF . It is true that in the most part we reject the control exercised by the new ultraconservative leadership of the SBC. And most of us do not ascribe to the theory of infallibility of scripture as espoused by the SBC leadership of the past 40 plus years. And most are supportive of women in pastoral leadership.

The things we more often(but not uniformly) askew have to do with our understanding of theology rather than their being identified with the SBC. If you look around the SBC, is not the only group that teaches Biblical inerrancy and infallibility nor who oppose women in pastoral roles and have established a top down ecclesiology. This moderate and I am not alone, tends to agree with many SBCers on the question of homosexuality and have no hesitancy to call it a sin. And yea that is uncomfortable for some of my more left leaning moderate friends. And I am uncomfortable with their support of gay marriage.

Back to the current discussion, a point that seems to have only been touched on here is the frequency of the communion service. Most of the several SBC churches where I have attended, have communion only once a quarter, whereas most of the ABC -USA churches I am familiar with have it at least once a month. We now have a church in the BFNE that is CBF/UCC and they serve communion every Sunday. Moderates in CBF do seem to to tend toward more frequent practice. And to more often do so out side the of local church meetings than do conservatives. I have participated in a variety of communion services during CBF meetings at both State/ Regional and at National events.

And I would say to My Ga., Friend Lamar W., J.R.Graves ideas have never been dead in the minds of many in the SBC, so to say Graves lives again is superfluous . A resurgence of landmarkism perhaps, but I really doubt that is where this renewed discussion come from.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Lamar Wadsworth » Sun May 13, 2012 5:34 pm

My practice has been open communion throughout my ministry. I usually say something to the effect of "All who love the Lord Jesus Christ, who look to him alone for the forgiveness of their sins, and desire to live a life pleasing to him are welcome at the Lord's table." I will never forget a Sunday morning service at Unity Baptist Church in Dalton GA when I was pastor there. We had observed communion, and after the service a young woman who attended but was not a member waited to speak to me. She said, "I don't know if I should have done what I did, but you did say, 'All who love the Lord Jesus Christ...'(she proceeded to quote my words back to me). I do love the Lord, he has forgiven my sins, and I do want my life to please him, so when the bread and grape juice were passed to me, I took it." I assured her that she had done the right thing. She replied, "I guess that means I need to be baptized." I told her, "I guess it does." I baptized her and her 11 year old daughter the next Sunday. (Not realizing that she didn't know how to do evangelism, she led her daughter to faith in Christ all by herself without my help.
I know it is the tradition of many Baptist churches including most in this area, but I can find nothing in scripture that makes baptism a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper. Indeed, as I learned by experience, the act of taking the bread and the cup can be one's first profession of faith in Christ. I do like to observe communion in conjunction with baptism. My favorite way to do it is on a creekbank dripping wet with baptismal water. When I served Hill City Baptist Church, a rural church in Gordon Co. GA, we often baptized in the creek, followed by communion on the creekbank, using the hood of Deacon Will D. Haley's Ford pickup as our communion table.
I can't bring myself to begin a Lord's Supper observance by talking about who is NOT welcome at the table. That would be like having guests in your home at mealtime and telling them that the meal that is prepared is only for the immediate family, but they are welcome to sit in the living room and watch you and yours gather around the dining table and enjoy your meal.
Two of the most meaningful Lord's Supper observances that I have been a part of:
One was at the kitchen table of a couple who have been friends of ours since seminary days. They had been forced out by a faction in the church after only ten months. We spent the day with them, helping them pack, basically grieving with them. At the end of the day, we embraced them and prayed with and for them. I asked Carol to get a piece of bread from the loaf on the kitchen table, and my wife Marilyn got the small bottle of grape juice we bought on the way from her purse. I told them that I believed in church as formal organization, but I also believe in church as a phenomenon that occurs whenever two or more gather in Jesus' name. Their kitchen table became the table of the Lord.
The other was when I was the supply preacher one Sunday at a church in Baltimore. I drafted a 7 year old girl named Emily who had been baptized the previous Sunday to assist
me at the communion table because I won't lead a communion service where only men are allowed to serve the bread and the cup. It was her first time to take communion, and she served the elements to the deacons--including her father and both grandfathers.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby William Thornton » Sun May 13, 2012 7:09 pm

I don't recall ever being in an association where any church was singled out for observing any communion practice. Lamar's practice may not be mine but I don't fault him if his church approves or prefers his way.

The original post here was critical of the SBC publication featuring communion positions. That was merely recognizing historical differences, not shoehorning all SBC churches into any single approved practice.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby David Flick » Mon May 14, 2012 4:52 am

David Flick wrote:Lamar, I, as are you, am no longer a Southern Baptist. Haven't been one for well over a decade and still get the sick publication. Like you, it's a mystery to me why I still get it. Could be, however, that I get it because I have continued my subscription to the hard copy of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. I have maintained my subscription primarily to keep current on activities and actions of the Baptist General Convention. Nothing more than that. I saw the articles and didn't think too much of them because they pretty much reflect the traditions of the local church in which I grew up.

I apologize to SBCLIFE. I did not proof the post. I didn't intend to write "sick publication." I intended for the sentence to read, "slick publication," exactly as Lamar posted in his original message. I am embarrassed that I didn't proof the post prior to punching the submit button. My sincerest apologies to the editors of SBCLIFE. While I often disagree with material in the publication, it's most certainly NOT a "sick" publication. My bad...
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby David Flick » Mon May 14, 2012 5:06 am

William Thornton wrote:David, do you mean open communion in the sense that any believer can partake and that the ordinance may be given outside of local church authority?
    Yes. As an American Baptist and an active participant of the Emmaus Walk movement, I have both administered and received communion outside of local church authority. ABCUSA quite often has communion outside the local church authority. Same for the Emmaus Walk. Some of the most worshipful experiences I've had related to communion have occurred when administering and receiving communion outside local church authority. I'm not convinced that the very first communion taken by the disciples was administered under local church authority. I don't believe the disciples were technically a "local church."
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Gene Scarborough » Mon May 14, 2012 6:24 am

I think communing is simply an extension of friendship between believers and the symbols of the sacrifice which draws us together.

To turn it into an opportunity for fussing and fighting is a total misuse to the point of evil.

J.R. Graves was a person lusting after power and position. My father knew him and he had an earned PhD in Theology. For him to use his position to hurt and confuse average trusting Baptist church members is unacceptable for me. Best I can tell, he did far more harm than good in separating and angering people.

In that one outlook, I see more of Satan than Christ motivating him. It would not be the first wolf in sheep's clothing we have had to visit us---trying to feed his appetite for power.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Ed Pettibone » Mon May 14, 2012 10:49 am

Gene Scarborough wrote:I think communing is simply an extension of friendship between believers and the symbols of the sacrifice which draws us together.

To turn it into an opportunity for fussing and fighting is a total misuse to the point of evil.

J.R. Graves was a person lusting after power and position. My father knew him and he had an earned PhD in Theology. For him to use his position to hurt and confuse average trusting Baptist church members is unacceptable for me. Best I can tell, he did far more harm than good in separating and angering people.

In that one outlook, I see more of Satan than Christ motivating him. It would not be the first wolf in sheep's clothing we have had to visit us---trying to feed his appetite for power.


Ed: So Graves is dead and God has dealt with him. Many of his ideas linger on in followers and we may need to deal with those, but I see some here creating a martyr for his followers out of J.R. himself.

And Gene while I am convinced that many of the take over cable have self serving motives, I am also persuaded that many folk genuinely believe that those of us to the left of center on the theological spectrum are instruments of the devil. I believe therefore It is incumbent upon us to be circumspect in regard to speech and actions.
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Gene Scarborough » Mon May 14, 2012 11:47 am

I believe therefore It is incumbent upon us to be circumspect in regard to speech and actions.
---Ed

Define???? :)
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Tim Dahl » Tue May 15, 2012 3:21 pm

William Thornton wrote:What do my mod/lib friends practice?


I think I qualify as a mod/lib friend of yours.

Granted, we've not gone on a double date or anything like that. But, I'll do my best to answer your question as it pertains to the church where I get to pastor.

I've always said that we practice "open" communion. However, I wonder if I haven't miss-named it. We allow anyone who self-identifies as a "follower of Jesus" to participate in the "Lord's Supper." I do put a fence up, in that I respectfully ask that those who don't self-identify as a "Jesus follower" not participate. I also go on to say that we don't check anyone's card at the door.

Is that "close" communion?

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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Ed Pettibone » Tue May 15, 2012 4:38 pm

Gene Scarborough wrote:
I believe therefore It is incumbent upon us to be circumspect in regard to speech and actions.
---Ed

Define???? :)


Ed: Gene if you do not have a dictionary I suggest you google the words that you do not understand. :wink:
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Re: J. R. Graves Lives Again...

Postby Gene Scarborough » Tue May 15, 2012 5:32 pm

Ed---and I gave you the perfect opportunity to pontificate!!!!
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