Two posts which relate to communion and attitudes to it.
First from Adrian something written by Sam Storms as a new instalment in his debate on Baptism, the whole post is worth reading: Sam Storms, John Piper, and John Bunyan vs. Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever.
fact, let’s suppose, just for the sake of argument, that the Lord’s
Table is celebrated every Sunday at Capitol Hill Baptist Church
(although I don’t think it is). This would mean that Dever’s Anglican
or Presbyterian friend might conceivably preach a profoundly biblical
message on the gospel of the dying and rising Christ and salvation
through him alone, only to be told (if not in words then surely by the
actions then taken) that he must sit to the side and refrain from
receiving the elements that symbolize and embody the very dying and
rising Christ whom he only moments before so faithfully and biblically
In this not unlikely scenario, the visiting paedo-baptist might
even reinforce the truth of the gospel message by pointing to the
elements on the table before him, articulating with passion and
humility how the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood, here symbolized
by the bread and wine, have secured for all Christians forgiveness of
sins and eternal life. He would then, I suppose, be led away from the
elements and told that although he is no less trusting in what they
represent than are his credo-baptist brothers and sisters, he cannot
partake with them in the supper.
and from earlier in the post
some brethren to look at Ligon Duncan (or others in his camp) and say,
"We believe the same gospel, we preach the same gospel, but we refuse
to express that belief and proclaim that gospel with you by means of
the ordinance that Jesus commissioned as an expression of our unity and
our confident hope in its capacity to save," calls into serious
question the significance of the word "together".
At a moment when right wing American Christianity is ascendant, when religion worldwide is rife with fundamentalism and exclusionary ideological crusades, I stumbled into a radically inclusive faith centered on sacraments and action. What I found wasn’t about angels or going to church or trying to be "good" in a pious, idealised way. It wasn’t about arguing a doctrine – the Virgin birth, predestination, the sinfulness of homosexuality and divorce – or pledging blind allegiance to a denomination. I was, as the prophet said, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. I found it at the eternal and material core of Christianity: body, blood, bread, wine, poured out freely, shared by all. I discovered a religion rooted in the most ordinary yet subsersive practice; a dinner table where everyone is welcome, where the despised and outcasts are honoured. And so I became a Christian, claiming a faith that many of my fellow believers want to exclude me from; following a God my unbelieving friends see as archaic superstition.
So this lady, Sara Miles, met Christ at Holy Communion (which, as I have said before, in the Methodist tradition is considered a saving ordinance).
First how do we connect the dots? I know we will not agree on this but I think it is important to discuss. Sam makes a strong argument on the divisions within the Together for the Gospel team. The other case takes it further, in that we have someone who discovered a thirst for righteousness and route into faith through receiving the very communion that many churches would deny her. How do we respond to the challenge that in our desire to be righteous we may keep others from salvation?
Secondly, I think this gets to the heart of many of arguments I have with supporters of Together for the Gospel. Take for example the issue of gender. Suppose we consider two other scenarios similar to Sam’s.
A member/supporter of Together for the Gospel, maybe Adrian himself, is invited to preach in Raunds. This is important to us, so we have a joint service with Methodists and Anglicans to make it a big occasion. As part of our progress to sharing in mission together we decide to celebrate communion during that service. The vicar presides. Our vicar is a woman. Having preached to this congregation will you receive communion from a woman?
I, with some colleagues, come to one of the services at a church where the minister is a member/supporter of Together for the Gospel. Suppose you have decided that we can receive communion despite having been baptised as infants. Will it matter that there are ordained women in our group?
There are many many more scenarios that need to be considered. As we do so I guess that there will be fears about slippery slopes. To me these are signs of the costs of love and discipleship, kingdom values and living are always going to challenge and stretch us (that is one of the things I love about being a disciple). The alternative is a simplistic approach that appears to make life simple but has dangers. Sam has started to address what I consider to be the edges of this, that is a good start but only a start.
What do you think?