Communion to Non-Christians

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by saintjonny, Jan 27, 2009.

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  1. saintjonny

    saintjonny Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok, throughout Church history, people have taken this verse:

    As a commandment that a person must be aware of forgiveness of sins and the cross and coming in a spirit of repentance in order to receive the Lord's Supper. As such churches throughout the years have barred non-Christians and even sometimes un-baptised or non-members.

    But the thing is this verse doesn't refer to that, but they refer to the spirit it is taken in the sense of not being greedy, not fighting to get the meal, but eating as a loving community where we put each other first. The context makes this clear as that is the issue Paul has been addressing with the Corinthians, and he goes on to say:

    So my question is this. On what basis do we not give the Lord's Supper to non-Christians? I have even heard it proposed that if we allow non-Christians to partake, then it's a physical and practical communication of the gospel in that it allows them to see how the gospel creates a community of love and grace in Christ. What do you think?

    (And obviously this is going to be shot out of the water in your mind if you hold a higher view of the Lord's Supper such that it is more than just a symbol of remembrance.)
  2. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    It is more than just a remembrance of what He's done. It is a means of receiving Christ through a spiritual means. It isn't His literal body, but this is one way of receiving His grace. It is considered one of the tools of grace. I'll go look up some Scripture cuz I know there is one which speaks to the fact that it is more than just a remembrance. Might take me awhile to find.
  3. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member


    "So then my brethren..."

    1 Corinthians 11:32 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

    Same chapter as the 1 Cor. 11:27. Here Paul clearly contrasts the believer from the world.

    1 Corinthians 10:16-17 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

    Do unbelievers have a part in the blood of Christ? Do unbelievers have a part in the body of Christ? Are unbelievers part of the body of Christ? Obviously, no.

    Lastly, here is what the 1689 LBC says about unworthy participants:

  4. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    WSC 96 What is the Lord's Supper? a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving the bread and wine, according to Christ's appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, and partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace. 1 Cor 11:23-26; 1 Cor 10:14-22

    WCF 29.7 Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, (1) do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine: yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses. 1 Cor 11:28; 1 Cor 10:16

    WSC 97 What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord's supper? It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord's supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord's body, (1) of their faith to feed upon him, (2) of their repentance, (3) love, (4) and new obedience (5) lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves 1 Cor 11:28,29 2 Cor 13:5 1 Cor 11:31 1 Cor 10:16,17 1 Cor 5:7,8 1 Cor 11:28,29
  5. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    The sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper are for the visible church. They are not to be given to those who are outside this covenant community which is the household of God (Eph. 2:11-12, 2:19; cf. 1 Tim. 3:15).

    Baptism is the sign of initiation into this covenant community while the Lord's Supper is the sign of covenant renewal. So baptism is a pre-requisite to the receiving of the Lord's Supper. Those baptized as infants should profess their faith before they are allowed to partake of the Lord's Supper.

    Unbelievers are outside God's covenant community. They are outside the visible church. So they have no right to receive any of the sacraments. Churches that give the Lord's Supper to unbelievers and/or to the unbaptized, and others who practice paedocommunion (thereby going against the teaching of the Reformed confessions) are not obeying the Bible's instruction on the proper administration of this sacrament.

    Giving the Lord's Supper to unbelievers and/or to the unbaptized in our day would be like allowing the uncircumcised and/or idolatrous Gentiles to partake of the Passover in the OT, or giving the Lord's Supper to the unbaptized and/or unbelieving Jews and pagan Gentiles in the NT church. This is a practice that would have caused the Apostles to recoil in horror. From a confessional (and Biblical) perspective, allowing unbelievers and/or unbaptized in our churches should neither be entertained nor practiced in our churches.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    There's nothing especially "loving" about refusing to draw lines that "separate".

    If it be "wrong" to so draw lines, then I suppose "free love" should be the order of the day. Why not reject marriage, if the vows erect a moral barrier to "sharing" your partner? Hey, it's not "loving" of you to keep her/him from me!

    Listen, it comes down to this: there as people inside the church, and people outside the church. That is the fundamental barrier. And there are people who are inside but ineligible for the Supper (that's what discipline is about), and those who are inside and eligible. In fact, DISCIPLINE is what LOVE does. If ye are not chastized, then are ye bastards, and not true sons. For the Father disciplines every son that he loves.

    Lines are for the protection of all concerned. Elders, like parents, will have their performance examined, as those who must give an account, on the Day of Judgment.
  7. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    This question also lay at the heart of the "communion controversy" in which Jonathan Edwards rejected {rightly} his grandfather Stoddard's view of the sacrament as a "converting ordinance" for the unbeliever.

    There's nothing new under the sun :)
  8. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This is also an extension of the OT practice where only the covenant community participated.
  9. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I would go further, and posit that based on the available Scriptural evidence, under the Old Covenant only circumcised adult males were invited to the actual memorial table of Passover.

    Just another way the New Covenant is better.
  10. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have sometimes studied diagrams that show who could go where in the temple and its surrounding courtyards and have marveled at the wonder of all believers now being able to go into worship and to participate in the means of grace. We are truly blessed.
  11. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Not only should non-believers not partake, "disorderly" believers should not.
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