A question about the sacraments

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by RandPhoenix, May 9, 2010.

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  1. RandPhoenix

    RandPhoenix Puritan Board Freshman

    I have noticed that in all of the confessions it says that only an ordained minister can administer the sacraments.

    Can I ask where the Scriptural support is for such a position? I am not trying to dispute it. I am rather new to the confessions and such.

  2. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    There are exegetical, theological, and practical reasons for the restriction.

    Exegetically, there is approved example of ordained men, and no example of a non ordained man, administering the sacraments in the New Testament. Further, there is the positive principle of tying official administration of the new testament to the ordained ministry, as taught by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:1 and 2 Corinthians 3:6. Acknowledging the Bible to be the only rule of faith and life, and the regulative principle of worship, we are bound to the conclusion that only ordained ministers may administer the sacraments, which are signs and seals of the new testament.

    Theologically, the commitment to the reformed view of sacraments entails the restriction. The reformed view is that the sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace. As such it does not work automatically to produce blessed results. It requires the working of God's Spirit and faith in the recipient. Faith only comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It follows that the benefit of the sacrament is tied to the ministry of the Word. The administration of the sacrament is therefore tied to the administration of the Word, and the ordained pastor and teacher is the minister of the Word.

    Practically, the restriction is required by the consideration that wholesome discipline and a pastoral tie is to be maintained in the church. (1.) The Lord adds to the church those who are to be saved. If baptism and the Lord's supper were administered by anybody then there would be no way of discerning who are and who are not members of Christ's church. No kind of order or discipline could be maintained. (2.) We are to know them who labour among us, and are over us in the Lord, and who admonish us. A pastoral tie is instrumental to Christian nurture. Just as communion strengthens the bond with Christ and with His people, it likewise strengthens the bond between pastor and people so that commitment to the Word is increased. See Acts 20:7-12. Allowing others to administer the sacraments strengthens a bond and commitment to something which does not include the pastor and the Word, which will be detrimental to Christian nurture.
  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


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  4. RandPhoenix

    RandPhoenix Puritan Board Freshman

    Could the sacraments (specifically the Supper) be served in a context NOT in a church? My Bible college on occasion served Communion during "dorm devos." I have come to the position that this was not in keeping with Scriptural or historical practice. Isn't the sacrament tied to the local church?

    ---------- Post added at 07:51 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:49 PM ----------

    Sorry. Fixed the signature mishap.
  5. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, the only proper venue for the sacrament is during the worship service when the corporate body of believers are gathered. Additionally, the administration of the sacrament by ordained men prevents intentional/unintentional misrepresentation or abuse of the sacrament.
  6. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    I'm also not disputing, but with baptism, I'm wondering if this must be in a service of worship ... as the Rev. Winzer stated,
    so having an example outside of worship, would seem to push baptism into a different class. We do have an example of baptism occurring outside worship (Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch ... the eunuch was baptized even though it was completely outside a worship service).

    I do appreciate the Rev. Winzer's original post and have thought along the same lines myself in terms of the Lord's table, but I've never given any thought to where a minister could perform baptism. It would seem a pool by the roadside could be a suitable place if a officer witnessed to a person, and they then believed and asked for baptism "behold, here is much water, what keeps me from being baptized?" would seem just as valid driving down the road as riding a chariot.
  7. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Brian, I wonder if the circumstance of the Ethiopian Eunuch has any bearing, namely that he was, indeed, an Ethiopian and returning to his own land where, presumably, there were no churches in which he could be baptized. For the typical person driving down the road in modern America, it is unlikely that they are at the moment journeying to a far-off land in which there are no churches, and thus there is no reason for which they would have to be baptized *now* lest they never have the opportunity.
  8. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Thanks much, Pastor Winzer.
  9. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    I've mulled over the Ethiopian Eunuch account more than a few times. My conclusion is based mostly on the transitional nature of Acts. The fledgling church was not established in Ethiopia. Add to the fact that Philip was an Apostle and acted within that authority. I don't see the Ethiopian Eunuch account as normative for the administration of the ordinance of baptism.
  10. RandPhoenix

    RandPhoenix Puritan Board Freshman

    Aside from 1 Corinthians 4:1, is there any other Scriptural warrant for this? The person whom I'm trying to convince doesn't necessarily view the confessions as a truly convincing argument.
  11. RandPhoenix

    RandPhoenix Puritan Board Freshman

  12. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I guess I'm confused about your question because all the arguments given so far have not been from the confession and have been Scriptural.
  13. RandPhoenix

    RandPhoenix Puritan Board Freshman

    I saw that 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians was quoted, and I understand that ministers are the stewards of the mysteries of God. However, does that include necessarily that they are the only ones who may administer the sacraments?

    I hold to that position if out of nothing else but safety of guarding the table. But my fiancee, who was raised mainly in a seeker Baptist church, is very new to the confessions and as such asks if there are more Scriptural references (either inferential or explicit) which state that ministers are the only ones allowed to administer the Supper, and whether or not the Scriptures speak to the local church gathering alone as the place where they are administered.
  14. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Try the example of the Last Supper, which was, I suppose, the last Passover and first Communion. Who officiated and why? Ask her why Mary Magdalene didn't distribute the elements, or if she thinks it would have been appropriate. Ask her why or why not.
  15. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would say it does not come from specific statement (but then, very little does), but by the nature of the sacraments and the church and eldership. Administering the Lord's supper (and guarding it) to the people of God during the Lord's day meeting is one of the purposes of a minister. If you let somebody else do it--and outside of church, no less--who decides that it is, in fact, the Lord's supper? Who protects people who shouldn't take it from taking it? This is a function of ministers.
  16. RandPhoenix

    RandPhoenix Puritan Board Freshman

    Tim: That is a pretty good argument. She actually did a paper in Church History on the role of women in the EC, and found that historically women were not allowed to deliver the elements. We recently talked more amicably about this subject last night (it often has brooked an argument, sadly), and she agreed that the EC argument is pretty convincing.

    Austin: I agree wholeheartedly. It also would make excommunication moot. "Oh? I can't take communion here? I'll just hold my own communion with my church drinkin' buddies!" This argument also made headway in last night's discussion. Thanks!
  17. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Start by asking whether anyone should NOT administer the sacraments and work backwards. Should my 3 year old daughter administer the sacraments? Where does the Bible say that? etc. etc.
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