Books for and against paedo communion

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by bill, Jan 4, 2010.

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  1. bill

    bill Puritan Board Freshman

    I have been studying Paedo communion and was just wondering if anyone new of any good books on the subject. I don't believe there is scriptural support for paedo communion, however I would like to see both sides of the argument.
  2. jawyman

    jawyman Puritan Board Junior

    Dr. Cornelis Venema wrote, "Children at the Lord's Table? Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion" which I highly recommend. The following information about the book comes from Reformation Heritage Books


    Publisher's Description: A growing trend among Reformed churches is the practice of admitting young children to the Lord’s Supper. In Children at the Lord’s Table?, Cornelis P. Venema provides an insightful analysis of the theoretical arguments used by advocates of this recent trend. After clarifying terms and explaining arguments often made in favor of paedocommunion, he considers the history of the church’s confessions, teaching, and practice regarding the proper recipients of the Lord’s Supper. Presenting a historical, exegetical, and systematic treatment of the subject, Venema demonstrates the validity and value of having covenant children partake of first communion subsequent to their personal profession of faith. This is an invaluable resource for every pastor within the Reformed tradition.

    Again, this is a very good book to start with. I am in agreement with you; I do not believe there is scriptural warrant for allowing children without a credible confession to come to the table. Blessing with your research.
  3. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    There is a website specifically dedicated to the advocacy of paedocommunion. It has lots of resources arguing for this anti-confessional practice. See paedcommunion . com (just remove the spaces).

    Here are good online Reformed resources arguing against this unbiblical practice:

    Faith Presbyterian Church Reformed

    Reformed Answers: Anti-Paedocommunion

    Paedocommunion: A Biblical Examination

    New Geneva Orthodox Presbyterian Church | Paedocommunion: A Return to or Departure from Biblical Practice?

    Report of the Committee on Paedocommunion
  4. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    Samuel Miller makes a good summary of the Reformed case against paedocommunion. He writes,

    This objection [that paedobaptism requires paedocommunion] is founded on an entire mistake and a recurrence, for one moment, to the principles of civil society, will at once expose it. Every child is a citizen of the country in which he was born: a plenary citizen; there is no such thing as half-way citizenship in this case. He is a free born citizen in the fullest extent of the term. Yet, until he reaches a certain age, and possesses certain qualifications, he is not eligible to the most important offices which his country has to confer. And after he has been elected, he cannot take his seat for the discharge of these official functions, until he has taken certain prescribed oaths. It is evident that the state has a right, and finds it essential to her well being, by her constitution and her laws, thus to limit the rights of the citizen. Still no one supposes that he is the less a citizen, or thinks of representing him as only a half-way citizen prior to his compliance with these forms.

    In like manner, every baptized child is a member a plenary member of the church in which he received the sacramental seal. There his membership is recognized and recorded, and there alone can he regularly receive a certificate of this fact, and a dismission to put himself under the watch and care of any other church. Still, the church to which this ecclesiastical minor belongs, in the exercise of that "authority which Christ has given, for edification and not for destruction," will not suffer him, if she does her duty, to come to the Lord's table, until he has reached an age when he has "knowledge to discern the Lord's body" (1 Cor. 11:29), and until he shall manifest that exemplary deportment and hopeful piety which become one who claims the privileges of Christian communion. If he manifests an opposite character, it is her duty, as a part of her stated discipline, to prevent his enjoying these privileges, just as it is her duty, in the case of one who has been a communicant for years (when he departs from the order and purity of a Christian profession), to debar him from the continued enjoyment of his former good standing.

    In short, the language of the apostle Paul, though originally intended for a different purpose, is strictly applicable to the subject before us: "The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from the servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father" (Gal. 4:2). In a word, in the church, as well as in the state, there is an order in which privileges are to be enjoyed. As it is not every citizen who is eligible to office; and as not even the qualified have a right to intrude into office uncalled; so youthful church members, like all others, are under the watch and care of the church; and the time and manner in which they shall recognize their baptismal engagements, and come to the enjoyment of plenary privileges, Christ has left his church to decide, on her responsibility to himself. No one, of any age, has a right to come to her communion without the consent of the church. When one, after coming to that communion, has been debarred from it for a time, by regular ecclesiastical authority, he has no right to come again until the interdict is taken off! Of course, by parity of reasoning, one who has never yet come at all, cannot come without asking and obtaining the permission of those who are set to govern in the church.

    This view of the subject is at once illustrated and confirmed by the uniform practice of the Old Testament church. The children of Jewish parents, though regular church members in virtue of their birth, and recognized as such in virtue of their circumcision, were still not allowed to come to the Passover until they were of a certain age, and not even then, unless they were ceremonially clean. This is so well attested by sacred antiquarians, both Jewish and Christian, that it cannot be reasonably called in question. Calvin remarks, that "the Passover, which has now been succeeded by the sacred supper, did not admit guests of all descriptions promiscuously; but was rightly eaten only by those who were of sufficient age to be able to inquire into its signification."

    The same distinct statement is also made by the Rev. Dr. Gill, an eminent commentator of the Baptist denomination. "According to the maxims of the Jews, " says he, "persons were not obliged to the duties of the law, or subject to the penalties of it in case of non-performance, until they were, a female, at the age of twelve years and one day, and a male at the age of thirteen years and one day. But then they used to train up their children, and inure them to religious exercises before. They were not properly under the law until they were arrived at the age above mentioned; nor were they reckoned adult church members until then; nor then neither unless worthy persons; for so it is said, 'He that is worthy, at thirteen years of age, is called a son of the congregation of Israel.'" (Commentary on Luke 2:42.)

    The objection, then, before us, is of no force. Or rather, the fact which it alleges and deprecates has no existence. It makes no part of the pædobaptist system. Nay, our system has advantages in respect to this matter, great and radical advantages, which belong to no other. While it regards baptized children as members of the church, and solemnly binds the church, as well as the parents, to see that they be faithfully trained up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4), it recognizes the church as possessing (and as bound to exercise) the power of guarding the communion table from all the profane approaches, even of her own children, and so regulating their Christian culture, and their personal recognition of Christian duty, as shall best serve the great purpose of building up the church as "an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).​
  5. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    The Venema book mentioned is the best book on the subject from a "con" perspective." Probably the most extensive defense of the practice is Tim Gallant's book "Feed My Lambs." Leonard Coppes wrote a full-length critique of PC in a book entitled "Daddy, May I Take Communion." However, the book is a bit idiosyncratic in its argumentation. Venema is much more mainstream Reformed in this regard. Peter Leithart wrote a question-begging response to Coppes entitled "Daddy, Why Was I Excommunicated?" Incidentally, there is an excellent exchange on this topic in the Confessional Presbyterian Journal volumes 2-3.
  6. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Okay, I'm no fan of Leithart for obvious reasons, but I just got a good laugh out of his title! :lol:
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