Lord’s Supper Culminating the Preached Word and/or Worship?

Status
Not open for further replies.

mpb

Puritan Board Freshman
For those who hold to the view that the Supper culminates the preached Word and/or the worship service, I’m curious to draw out potential conclusions from that stance.

I assume those holding that view would advocate weekly observance.

Take this excerpt from Kim Riddlebarger as an example of the view I’m referencing:

“As we see in the apostolic pattern set forth in Acts 2:42, the apostle’s teaching and the fellowship seems to culminate in the “breaking of bread” and “the prayers.” Because the observance of the Lord’s Supper is the logical (and liturgical) culmination of the preaching of the word, the frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper provides the fitting, natural and, dare I say, “biblical” culmination of the worship service.”

Would those advocating this view say that you should also observe the Supper every evening service, so twice per week?

Are worship services that don’t include weekly observance, and hence are missing the culminating element, deficient or depriving the congregation in some way?

Hopefully my questions are clear enough. I’m in the midst of studying the Supper.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
“Are worship services that don’t include weekly observance, and hence are missing the culminating element, deficient or depriving the congregation in some way?”

No, not at all. That’s sacerdotal nonsense. The word stands on its own.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
“Are worship services that don’t include weekly observance, and hence are missing the culminating element, deficient or depriving the congregation in some way?”

No, not at all. That’s sacerdotal nonsense. The word stands on its own.
I agree. I sense no extra grace in my life on weeks we do communion.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
It's tragic how so many have such a low view of the Supper today or barely give it any thought. The church would do well to retrieve Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper.

Yes, I am one of the outliers that partake in the covenant meal each Lord's Day—what a blessing it is.

To the OP, if you are serious about studying the Lord's Supper from a Reformed perspective, read Calvin and Mathison's Given For You.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
It's tragic how so many have such a low view of the Supper today or barely give it any thought. The church would do well to retrieve Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper.

Yes, I am one of the outliers that partake in the covenant meal each Lord's Day—what a blessing it is.

To the OP, if you are serious about studying the Lord's Supper from a Reformed perspective, read Calvin and Mathison's Given For You.
At our past church we had the Supper every Lord's Day evening. I did this for probably six years. In theory the idea sounds great. I just personally don't see any difference between then and now, where communion is once a month. I would even say I'm in a better place spiritually now than I was then, but that has to do mainly with other factors in comparison to the churches.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
It's tragic how so many have such a low view of the Supper today or barely give it any thought. The church would do well to retrieve Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper.

Yes, I am one of the outliers that partake in the covenant meal each Lord's Day—what a blessing it is.

To the OP, if you are serious about studying the Lord's Supper from a Reformed perspective, read Calvin and Mathison's Given For You.

Mathison’s book has serious problems. For example, “Without the word, the sacrament is merely an empty sign. Without the sacrament, the word is not properly sealed and does not have its full, intended effect.” That is absolutely false and you don’t have to be against weekly communion to think so. It doesn’t ‘recover the reformed view of the sacrament’ rather it destroys the reformed view of the word.

The reformed tradition is far more than Calvin, and even then Calvin is more complex than he’s often thought to be on the issue.

Further, I’d wager that it’s the weekly communion folks in reformed circles who have a lower view of the supper. There are never set apart times of serious examination and the warnings of the supper are inherently lessened as it’s something tacked on the end of the service and rushed through rather quickly.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I’d wager that it’s the weekly communion folks in reformed circles who have a lower view of the supper.
That’s a fairly bold claim to make, especially if it’s just a “wager.” Every time I’ve read or heard someone mention all the supposed “problems” with weekly communion, they all end up being problems with the congregation, and not the Supper.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
At our past church we had the Supper every Lord's Day evening. I did this for probably six years. In theory the idea sounds great. I just personally don't see any difference between then and now, where communion is once a month. I would even say I'm in a better place spiritually now than I was then, but that has to do mainly with other factors in comparison to the churches.

This is a good test case. If I met a someone who went to church once a quarter, I’d likely be able to tell. The same cannot be said of Christian’s who go to churches with quarterly communion. In fact, it’s often the opposite.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
That’s a fairly bold claim to make, especially if it’s just a “wager.” Every time I’ve read or heard someone mention all the supposed “problems” with weekly communion, they all end up being problems with the congregation, and not the Supper.

I just explained after that a short reason why I’d make that claim. Weekly communion all but does away with the nearer approach to God in the sacrament. The Lords supper is the nearest communion we have with Christ and when it’s done weekly the ascent up to the mount of the Lord is inherently shortened. And in that sense, the benefit and communion with Christ sought out in the supper must be less. Now, if the claim is that weekly communion advocates have a view such that more often = more grace and that’s what constitutes a “higher view” then I’ll grant it. But such a supposition isn’t reformed.

I also don’t know why it’s a bold claim. Weekly communionists claim it all the time in the other direction. Upon what basis. Because they do it more frequently?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Weekly communion all but does away with the nearer approach to God in the sacrament. The Lords supper is the nearest communion we have with Christ and when it’s done weekly the ascent up to the mount of the Lord is inherently shortened. And in that sense, the benefit and communion with Christ sought out in the supper must be less.
Your claim is bold because nothing here is a logical entailment of weekly communion. It’s just a guess on your part—or, as you said, a “wager.” And it’s really one you ought to consider more carefully before making. There are members of this board who take weekly communion. (My church is considering it.) It is very unfair for you to just put them all under a blanket of having a lower view of the Supper.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
Your claim is bold because nothing here is a logical entailment of weekly communion. It’s just a guess on your part—or, as you said, a “wager.” And it’s really one you ought to consider more carefully before making. There are members of this board who take weekly communion. (My church is considering it.) It is very unfair for you to just put them all under a blanket of having a lower view of the Supper.

This is an extremely common claim by weekly communion advocates, I don’t know why it’s bothering you that much. It’s an anecdotal claim. The weekly communion arguments I read do not make me think that they have a particularly high view of the supper. Rather it makes me think they’ve totally misunderstood the entire reformed confessional tradition on the matter. More does not equal better, and when I hear that nonsense by almost every weekly communion advocate in the reformed world I am left but nothing but to think that their view of what is required and given in the supper is rather low.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
Your claim is bold because nothing here is a logical entailment of weekly communion. It’s just a guess on your part—or, as you said, a “wager.” And it’s really one you ought to consider more carefully before making. There are members of this board who take weekly communion. (My church is considering it.) It is very unfair for you to just put them all under a blanket of having a lower view of the Supper.

I mean, read Mike Horton for a couple pages and he’ll ascribe all that is wrong with reformed sacramentology to the supposed Zwinglian views of non-weekly communion. He says non weekly communion is the result of a low regard for the supper. I’m not offended, I just think he’s dead wrong here like he is almost everywhere else. Why is that so offensive?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
@MChase, I’m not offended. It’s just that you have yet to demonstrate how weekly communion necessarily causes (or is caused by) a low view of the Supper—as opposed to the problem being fundamentally with the people. All you have provided is anecdotes. Fortunately, we don’t form our theology from anecdotes.

You’re going to have to show a logical connection here other than, “I read a few guys somewhere,” for your claim to stick.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
For those who hold to the view that the Supper culminates the preached Word and/or the worship service, I’m curious to draw out potential conclusions from that stance.

According to Calvin, the Lord's Supper does not exist apart from the Word preached.

Institutes Chapter 17:39

39. This most admirably confirms what I elsewhere said—viz. that there cannot be a right administration of the Supper without the word. Any utility which we derive from the Supper requires the word. Whether we are to be confirmed in faith, or exercised in confession, or aroused to duty, there is need of preaching. Nothing, therefore, can be more preposterous than to convert the Supper into a dumb action. This is done under the tyranny of the Pope, the whole effect of consecration being made to depend on the intention of the priest, as if it in no way concerned the people, to whom especially the mystery ought to have been explained. This error has originated from not observing that those promises by which consecration is effected are intended, not for the elements themselves, but for those who receive them. Christ does not address the bread and tell it to become his body, but bids his disciples eat, and promises them the communion of his body and blood. And, according to the arrangement which Paul makes, the promises are to be offered to believers along with the bread and the cup. Thus, indeed, it is. We are not to imagine some magical incantation, and think it sufficient to mutter the words, as if they were heard by the elements; but we are to regard those words as a living sermon, which is to edify the hearers, penetrate their minds, being impressed and seated in their hearts, and exert its efficacy in the fulfillment of that which it promises. For these reasons, it is clear that the setting apart of the sacrament, as some insist, that an extraordinary distribution of it may be made to the sick, is useless. They will either receive it without hearing the words of the institution read, or the minister will conjoin the true explanation of the mystery with the sign. In the silent dispensation, there is abuse and defect. If the promises are narrated, and the mystery is expounded, that those who are to receive may receive with advantage, it cannot be doubted that this is the true consecration. What then becomes of that other consecration, the effect of which reaches even to the sick? But those who do so have the example of the early Church. I confess it; but in so important a matter, where error is so dangerous, nothing is safer than to follow the truth.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Regardless of who wrote what, the central question is: what do the scriptures tell us to do? That we are to participate in the Lord's table, "do this in remembrance..." is clear. How often, not so much. We have plenty of examples of the apostles preaching or teaching without mention of the Lord's table. As to the order of the service, I can see an argument to culminate with the supper, but no clear command to do so.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I don't believe we should necessarily do it every week (though that is awesome if that is the case), nor do I believe it should culminate in the Supper. That being said, I can't imagine not wanting to eat with Jesus as much as I could.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Frequency is not really the issue; none is prescribed and none is forbidden in Scripture. That's the Westminster position (frequency a circumstance best determined by the local church session). The rub is how much preparation is sufficient, whose responsibility it is, and the extent to which the church adds aids to preparation and guards to keep the unworthy from participating.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't believe we should necessarily do it every week (though that is awesome if that is the case), nor do I believe it should culminate in the Supper. That being said, I can't imagine not wanting to eat with Jesus as much as I could.

This is the kind of stuff that ends up poisoning the well. It proceeds on the assumption that sessions who decide for some other frequency than weekly do not want to “eat with Jesus as much.” Why isn’t this logic applied to preaching? Why only two services on a Lord’s day? Why not 5. Don’t you want to hear from Jesus?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
This is the kind of stuff that ends up poisoning the well. It proceeds on the assumption that sessions who decide for some other frequency than weekly do not want to “eat with Jesus as much.” Why isn’t this logic applied to preaching? Why only two services on a Lord’s day? Why not 5. Don’t you want to hear from Jesus?

I'm not saying they don't. Some arguments do, some don't. Lord willing, I will be on my church's session next year and I won't be pushing for weekly communion. I probably left out a premise. Many people who don't like frequent communion (weekly or monthly) says that too much communion makes it less special, to which, as you note, one could also apply to the offering or to preaching.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
Regardless of who wrote what, the central question is: what do the scriptures tell us to do? That we are to participate in the Lord's table, "do this in remembrance..." is clear. How often, not so much. We have plenty of examples of the apostles preaching or teaching without mention of the Lord's table. As to the order of the service, I can see an argument to culminate with the supper, but no clear command to do so.
Yeah I agree. This is where my faulty mind and thinking is.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not saying they don't. Some arguments do, some don't. Lord willing, I will be on my church's session next year and I won't be pushing for weekly communion. I probably left out a premise. Many people who don't like frequent communion (weekly or monthly) says that too much communion makes it less special, to which, as you note, one could also apply to the offering or to preaching.

Again, “don’t like frequent communion” isn’t helpful. The Scots were perfectly fine with the use of “frequent” in relation to the LS and surely weren’t anything close to weekly or monthly for that matter. Frequent as compared to what? If someone prayed once a week, I’d be pretty concerned that they weren’t praying frequently enough.

I agree though that arguments of “less special” don’t hit when framed that way.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Again, “don’t like frequent communion” isn’t helpful. The Scots were perfectly fine with the use of “frequent” in relation to the LS and surely weren’t anything close to weekly or monthly for that matter. Frequent as compared to what? If someone prayed once a week, I’d be pretty concerned that they weren’t praying frequently enough.

I agree though that arguments of “less special” don’t hit when framed that way.

I understand that the Scots didn't have communion that much. At first it made sense, given the killing times and the lack of ministers. I disagree with communion seasons, though.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
For those who hold to the view that the Supper culminates the preached Word and/or the worship service, I’m curious to draw out potential conclusions from that stance.

I assume those holding that view would advocate weekly observance.

Take this excerpt from Kim Riddlebarger as an example of the view I’m referencing:

“As we see in the apostolic pattern set forth in Acts 2:42, the apostle’s teaching and the fellowship seems to culminate in the “breaking of bread” and “the prayers.” Because the observance of the Lord’s Supper is the logical (and liturgical) culmination of the preaching of the word, the frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper provides the fitting, natural and, dare I say, “biblical” culmination of the worship service.”

Would those advocating this view say that you should also observe the Supper every evening service, so twice per week?

Are worship services that don’t include weekly observance, and hence are missing the culminating element, deficient or depriving the congregation in some way?

Hopefully my questions are clear enough. I’m in the midst of studying the Supper.
I think it’s a good practice, for each Sunday (morning?) worship. I don’t believe it’s binding but I do believe it’s biblical.
 
Last edited:

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
I understand that the Scots didn't have communion that much. At first it made sense, given the killing times and the lack of ministers. I disagree with communion seasons, though.

You’re not going to see me arguing for Thursday-Tuesday services, that’s for sure.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
@MChase, I want to clarify that I’m not arguing for weekly communion. I am arguing against the idea that weekly communion is inherently deficient, for which you seem to be arguing rather strongly, though notably without clear biblical or logical evidence or argument. The fact of the matter is that any deficiency lies ultimately, not in the frequency of the Supper, but in the worldliness of the participant. Personally, I would prefer weekly communion, and I hope my session ends up at that position. And I don’t think I want that because I have a low view of the Supper, which you have rather unfairly—though I hope unintentionally—charged to my account. But I am also more than willing to recognize that each church must decide for themselves what is best because, as others have rightly noted, the matter is not clear cut in Scripture.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree. I sense no extra grace in my life on weeks we do communion.
This is a problem.

WLC
Q. 175. What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper?
A. The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
@MChase, I want to clarify that I’m not arguing for weekly communion. I am arguing against the idea that weekly communion is inherently deficient, for which you seem to be arguing rather strongly, though notably without clear biblical or logical evidence or argument. The fact of the matter is that any deficiency lies ultimately, not in the frequency of the Supper, but in the worldliness of the participant. Personally, I would prefer weekly communion, and I hope my session ends up at that position. But I am also more than willing to recognize that each church must decide for themselves what is best because, as others have rightly noted, the matter is not clear cut in Scripture.

I do not think that weekly communion is inherently deficient and if I have given that impression forgive me. In times of extreme distress, revival, persecution, etc. I can see strong reasons to partake weekly if not more often as our sense of sin and Christ is providentially heightened. I am rather put off by those arguments for weekly (or more frequent) as the norm and if you disagree with them then you are some sort of Zwinglian.

That being said, I think weekly communion in the present day is wrong headed and I would petition my own session very strongly if they were to go that route. The Lord's supper is a nearer approach unto Jehovah in Christ and in a day of waning spirituality I think increasing the frequency of that near approach will almost do away with it all together. Different ordinances require a different degree of preparation and result in different degrees of communion with Christ. When the time for preparation and reflection isn't sufficient, we grow cold to the means of grace and take them for granted. So instead of the intended effect of communicants having a greater assurance of Christ and his love, the result can be presumption and coldness to the things of Christ. This can happen because the nearness experienced by the believer is not entirely or even primarily objective. Christ is present to those who receive him with the hand of faith, but faith isn't always lively and I am not convinced that the best way to awaken faith in the lives of sleepy believers is to administer the sacrament more frequently. Such a line proceeds on the assumption that more often = more grace; and we do not operate on this line with respect to any other means of grace. Lastly, I am not convinced that renewing my wedding vows are necessary as often as I tell my wife I love her. The Lord's supper is a renewing of one's engagement to the covenant and taking up the terms of the covenant; it is a renewing of vows. And I do not think the scriptural example best lends itself to renewing of one's vows every time he meets with his beloved. There are times and seasons for everything. None of these things are closed case arguments against weekly communion and they are not designed to be. Like Chris said, frequency is circumstantial. However, Christian prudence is involved in determining the frequency and the effect it may have upon the congregation is an important thing to consider.

The unintended result of more common observance of the Lord's supper is the less emphasis that is placed on it. I think we see this in Reformed churches today where the Lord's supper is tacked on at the end of the service and rushed with everyone sitting in their own chairs eating of the pre-sliced bread and wee cups. The zeal for the Supper has almost vanished. So a church may have the Lord's supper every week and folks come away from the table (or their seats) with no change. They felt nothing, sensed nothing, and are no different. Their renewing of the covenant hasn't happened because there was not much time for reflection, meditation, and examination even in the service. They may not even know their duty for such a thing, because all they heard was the form saying how we aren't Lutherans or Papists. There is a time for that, but what is it for? Tell the congregants of the blessing and give them food to chew on! It becomes an appendix of sorts. I don't think the Lord's supper should be an appendix, but rather a climax. A climax of nearness to Christ, sense of my sin, love to my brethren, and joy in the Holy Ghost. I don't think the right way to emphasize that is to make it more frequent at the expense of it's relative importance, but rather to slow down and be more deliberate in our celebration of the Supper in the life of the Church.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
This is a problem.

WLC
Q. 175. What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper?
A. The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.
So I don't personally elevate any elements in worship above one another, except the Word being attached to grace. God has blessed me in different ways through different elements, at different times.

I am confessional, but I do recognize that question 175 is a system made by men, and I think you would have to show me those teachings in the Bible. In this area I can't hold my spiritual life accountable to something I don't believe the Bible does. In fact, one would be hard pressed to even show Communion as a means of grace in the Bible, as opposed to simply a memorial and reminder.

Does the Bible promise grace attached to Communion?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top