Communion?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by ktn4eg, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. ktn4eg

    ktn4eg
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    Recently my church has started a Bible study on her campus. It is conducted by one of our full-time staff members. I decided to attend it (It is not one of our regularly-scheduled corporate services.) just to see what it was all about.

    While I thoroughly enjoyed the Bible study and fellowship, at the end they did something I wasn't used to doing in any of the Bible studies I've ever attended. He proceeded to have a Lord's Supper commemoration.

    The bread wasn't unleavened, and what the observers did was to dunk the bread into a large cup in order to soak up some of its contents and then individually eat it.

    I felt a little funny about partaking it in that way but I went ahead and did so.

    Although I couldn't find anything inherently unscriptural about this (except, perhaps, the use of levened bread), I wonder if my partaking of it was the right thing to do.

    I haven't gone back to that Bible study since then....not that I didn't like the Bible study per se, and I don't know if they still observe the Lord's Supper in that way every meeting that they have.

    Was this practice of observing the Lord's Supper scriptural? Was my one-time participation in it wrong? Your thoughts about this would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Salty

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    I think you are asking two separate questions:

    1) Should communion only be served by the authority (if authority is required) of a church, or may an informal Bible Study scripturally serve communion?

    2) When serving communion must unleavened bread be served? Is grape juice an acceptable substitute for the symbolism of the Blood?
     
  3. mont974x4

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    The only commands associated with the Lord's Supper are the following:

    1. It is to be done as a memorial until He returns
    2. Examine yourself first

    Everything else is tradition or preference. If people really want to do it as it was done in the early church then they should use wine and Communion would be part of an actual meal.
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    I hold to closed communion--that is, that it should be observed as a congregation, and only by members of that congregation who have met for that purpose.

    Some Baptist churches--mine, for instance--are "close" communion. That is, it is open to those of like faith and order, which will mainly mean Baptists only.

    The issue turns on how one views the Lord's Supper. Is it a Christian ordinance or a Church ordinance? Then, it turns on how you define Church ordinance. Is it that entity made up of all believers (the Universal Church) or is it mainly a local congregation?

    Since I hold that Communion is a Church ordinance, and Church refers to local congregations, I must, then, hold to Closed Communion.

    I hold that it is a Church ordinance, because it was first observed by Jesus (who established the church during his ministry) and the core material of that church (the Eleven disciples). The example in I Cor 11 also demonstrates that it was observed by the congregation at Corinth as a congregation.

    I think the case can be made, as well, that the first Lord's Supper was separate from the Passover Meal; and that the Lord's Supper at Corinth was separate from the fellowship meal.

    Wine or grape juice? We use grape juice at my church, but I think a strong case can be made that the scriptural way is fermented wine. This is not a test of fellowship for me.

    Because of my view, whenever I have been visiting another church when the Lord's Supper is observed, I have declined to participate.

    There is one other factor that needs to be examined. That is church discipline. For example, let's say a sister congregation disfellowshipped a man for flagrant sin. Would that church have grounds for refusing him the Lord's Supper? I think so.

    Would my own church have grounds for refusing him, if it was aware of his sin? I think so, but only if we knew about it.

    Paul, in I Cor 11, admonished the Corinthian church to "guard the ordinaces." Open Communion fails to do that.

    I recognize that my view is probably a minority view, but I didn't just snatch it out of the air.
     
  5. saturneptune

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    I serve in the same church as Tom Butler, and this is an issue that will never be solved. I agree that the local church is the authority to decide how to adminsiter the Lord's Supper, but a church can decide to serve open communion. In the 35 years, I have been there, I have seen Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Pentecostals served to my knowledge, and who knows what I have not seen.

    First of all, there is no doctrine in our church Consititution or bylaws. We had a Pastor in the past, that exceeded his authority, and called all members to the front, without warning, to serve the Lord's Supper, and left the non members in the back. We lost several prospective members due to that stunt. The only thing I have observed about closed communion is that it is destructive, not edifying, and divisive in a congregation.

    If we are there to "guard the ordinances" then that means guarding those unworthy, and that would be about 60% of our membership that has decided not support our church. To imagine a truck driver, for example, stopping in to worship on a Lord's Supper day, who saw our church from the interstate, deny it to him, then turn right around and serve it to someone who walks in after a decade, it's not going to happen.

    Had I known better when the former Pastor pulled that stunt, I would have walked up to the elements and served them to the non members. The thing is, in our church, if this ever became a raging issue, less than half would remain, and the church would become disfunctional and cease to exist. We have enough problems with attendance.

    As mentioned in another thread, as Sunday School director, I am not authoritarian, as our Pastor wishes, about enforcing Sunday School start times, or keeping people from roaming the halls. I have said something to them in a gentle manner, but it would not work at our church.

    This is an issue that creates high emotion, but not worth destroying a local church over.

    By the way, the one thing I have changed on this issue, and my wife, is that we do not take Communion in other churches anymore, but that has nothing to do with who can partake in our church.
     
    #5 saturneptune, Apr 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2012
  6. Jon-Marc

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    Leaven is symbolic of sin, which is why unleavened bread was used originally. I would prefer wine instead of grape juice--depending on the wine used; I don't like grape juice and have only participated once where wine was used--wine for the adults who chose to use it and grape juice for the others. That was a non-denominational service. I've been in many Baptist churches, and none of them used wine.
     
  7. Tom Butler

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    Hmmm, that's an interesting twist, wine for adults, grape juice for others.

    That might solve a problem for those with strong convictions about one or the other.

    In most Baptist churches though, it's not going to be a problem because it's grape juice all the way.

    But not always

    A former associate pastor was called to pastor a church in a nearby county. The search commitee told him right up front, "we use fermented wine in the Lord's Supper. If you can't live with that, tell us now, and the conversation will be over."

    He thought about it, and told the committee, "I can live with it as long as you don't buy the wine at the local liquor store."

    He was told of a lady in the church who made it at home for that occasion.

    (Didn't she have to make it quite a while in advance to allow it to ferment?)
     
  8. mont974x4

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    When we have Communion as a family we always use wine, even the kids. I have juice available for anyone who wants it, but no one has used it so far.
     
  9. convicted1

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    Personally speaking, I do not think you did anything wrong. If what you ate and drank, you did in remembrance of the Lord's body and blood, I think its okay. If you were somewhere on a deserted island, and all you had was a saltine and H2O, as long as you recognized it as to the Lord, I think He would be okay with it. But this is just me.......
     

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