Qualifications or Requirements?

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Just a few more brief comments, and we can move on. Thanks to Lane for his reply on Venema’s definition of soft paedocommunion.

On 1 Cor. 10:17, my point is that it doesn’t matter how you translate it — the basic point remains the same. If the loaf is the body (KJV), then all who are bread should get bread. But take it the way Lane prefers, and go with the ESV. “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” This means that everyone that we want to be considered as part of the one body should partake. And this means that anti-paedo-communionists are in a tug of war over the kids. 1 Cor. 10:17 means (on this take) that the non-communicant kids are not considered part of the one body, because “all” who are the one body partake of the one bread. But then on the other hand, we were all baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13). Perhaps those who don’t think that our children should be treated as part of the one body at the communion table should stop baptizing them into that one body at the font.

I am reserving (or trying to) a more detailed interaction with 1 Corinthians 11 until we get to that part of Venema’s book.

A good question was raised in the comments at Lane’s blog, and I will try to address it briefly here. Here it is: “In Doug’s view, are there any spiritual ‘invisible’ qualifications necessary before taking communion?” The answer is no, there are no invisible “qualifications” before coming to the Table. There are invisible requirements for all who partake, but that is not the same thing. Everyone who comes to the Table is required by God to live before Him in true evangelical faith. That is a requirement, and it is never waived by God. But because it is an invisible requirement, the officers of the visible church have no business policing it, turning it into a qualification. The elders should not police it unless and until a rejection of this invisible faith requirement manifests itself in open disobedience. Then we are to disipline for any such rejection of the faith.

This relates to another set of questions that arose here on my blog, the one relating to my statement that kids should be able to “mentally chew.” Let me tell a story that might seem like an irrelevance for a moment, but I don’t think it is. A few weeks ago, one set of my kids and grandkids went over to the UK to team up with another set for a brief and wild jaunt around Europe. Four adults and nine kinds getting stared at by Europeans, and you can read about some of their exploits over at my wife’s blog. But Seamus Wilson, a two-year-old pistol, spent time every day that he was gone saying, “Church? Wine?” Then, after they got back, and they were able to come to worship last Sunday, late in the service, Seamus conked out, and couldn’t be roused for anything. Slept right through the Lord’s Supper, and woke up at the Gloria Patri.

Now he didn’t get the Lord’s Supper, but not because he was disqualified. He didn’t get it because he was conked out, the same way a six-month-old in a car seat is. When a faithful Christian falls into a coma, we are not supposed to make sure elements of wine and bread get into the IV bag. To insist on getting the elements to a member of the Church who is (for whatever reason) inert tends to turn the whole discussion toward the nature of the elements partaken of — where we have been stuck for 1500 years — instead of toward the nature of the body partaking. There will be more on this later, but I think it is really quite important. The issue is not the metaphysics on the Table, but rather the faith that chews and swallows in the pew.

Like I said, more later.

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