Lord's Supper During Pandemic -WCF

Status
Not open for further replies.

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
I have clarified already that fathers bring the bread and wine to elders and pastors to be blessed and prayed, then have them ready to be dispensed by fathers during the online worship on the Lord's day so all non-physically attending can partake together. I have never stated that this is initiated by fathers of households without the consent of the ministers of the Word. The only change is that instead of elders moving about in the physical sanctuary dispensing to individual members there are fathers between elders and individual members. Are you telling me that elders physcially have to give to individual members directly to be the right mode of dispensing the bread and wine? If you interpret WCF by the strictest letter, then the minister of the Word (which doesn't include the ruling elders) must dispense to individual members directly. Obviously, that is not how we interpret it and most if not all churches have elders dispensing physical elements of the Lord's Supper.

I am not trying to be hostile, but you use this word "forbidden" very loosely as if WCF's later statements of the method of regulative form of the Lord's Supper overrides prior statements. Before defining how the Lord's Supper should be done, WCF in Chapter 29 Section 1 states "Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord's Supper, to be observed in his church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death". It says that Lord Jesus instituted this to be observed in his church PERIOD. No where in WCF says that if not done in the form of regulative principle, then it is better to not have it at all.

You are forgetting that WCF was written during a culture where bodily assembly of Christians is automatically assumed as a Christendom. WCF is not addressing whether you actually have the Lord's Supper or not, but assumes that all churches will perform the Lord's Supper, then clarify what is regulated in the scripture of this sacrament.

People forgot that before the Reformation, the majority of the Roman Catholics degraded to the point where churches actually did not offer the Lord's Supper to assembled worshippers, but only clergy and nobilities partook while common people just looked on. That's why Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin all took to reform the Lord's Supper. Even Calvin himself in the Institute Chapter 17 states "Each week, at least, the table of the Lord ought to have been spread for the company of Christians, and the promises declared on which we might then spiritually feed". Calvin fought to have it at least once a week, but the Genevan Council denied his requests. He even wrote that future generations will overcome this difficulty. Just to be clear, my church was monthly although I interpret it as being weekly, but I can worship together knowing that God is gracious and forgiving.

Our confessions should be coherent as WCF is coherent. When WCF assumes that churches understake Lord's Supper during the worship, the latter statements do not nullify previous truths it has stated of actually having the Lord's Supper. Remember that presbyterian believe in the spiritual nourishment of the Lord's Supper. By denying or delaying spiritual food to those under Christ because the method of dispensing is not agreeable is like saying the church worship violates the regulative form of worship, so better not to attend or worship at all. Are we sure that we are all understanding WCF correctly or are we not being coherent ourselves?

I am not trying to be combative here, but asking people to read the whole sacrament section of WCF before focusing the "minister of the Word" section.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
If someone boldly stands on the WCF to say that at-home communion is a problem, but online-only worship is fine, then the inconsistency might certainly curl your hair a little. But if the real problem is saying that online-only worship is fine, it doesn't do much to fix the problem to say that private communion is acceptable as well. Consistency in the other direction is what's called for.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Thomas, if you tried to use the Bible to defend the idea that the church should hold Communion apart from each other, each family in their individual homes, I think the biggest obstacle you would find is the repeated phrase "when you come together" in 1 Corinthians 11:17-20. This is a key passage directly addressing the Lord's Supper, and coming together as a church gets as much attention as the bread and the cup. Would you conduct the Supper without bread, or without the cup? If not, why would you consider conducting it without the church coming together?

When you also notice the everyone-together picture described in Luke 22:14, and the fact that the Bible gives us no examples of families or individuals eating the Supper on their own, you get a high hurdle to clear. Even in Acts 2:46, which may or may not be taking about the Supper, the overall emphasis of the passage is firmly on the togetherness of the church rather than on individual families hunkering down in their individual homes. So I think the burden is on you to show how the Bible could still support observing the Supper without gathering as a church.

During this crisis, I have seen some pastors try to argue that a Zoom meeting counts as the church being gathered together. But it's hard to blame any group of elders for concluding that it does not, and that the Supper therefore needs to wait.

You've asked for biblical arguments, and I've given you some. Do you have any biblical evidence that the Lord's Supper is intended to be celebrated privately, without the church coming together? I ask because, outside of trying to argue from the example of Passover, which is a feast Jesus clearly changed at the Supper's institution, I'm having a hard time thinking of passages one might use to support single-family Communion.
 

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
Thomas, if you tried to use the Bible to defend the idea that the church should hold Communion apart from each other, each family in their individual homes, I think the biggest obstacle you would find is the repeated phrase "when you come together" in 1 Corinthians 11:17-20. This is a key passage directly addressing the Lord's Supper, and coming together as a church gets as much attention as the bread and the cup. Would you conduct the Supper without bread, or without the cup? If not, why would you consider conducting it without the church coming together?

When you also notice the everyone-together picture described in Luke 22:14, and the fact that the Bible gives us no examples of families or individuals eating the Supper on their own, you get a high hurdle to clear. Even in Acts 2:46, which may or may not be taking about the Supper, the overall emphasis of the passage is firmly on the togetherness of the church rather than on individual families hunkering down in their individual homes. So I think the burden is on you to show how the Bible could still support observing the Supper without gathering as a church.

During this crisis, I have seen some pastors try to argue that a Zoom meeting counts as the church being gathered together. But it's hard to blame any group of elders for concluding that it does not, and that the Supper therefore needs to wait.

You've asked for biblical arguments, and I've given you some. Do you have any biblical evidence that the Lord's Supper is intended to be celebrated privately, without the church coming together? I ask because, outside of trying to argue from the example of Passover, which is a feast Jesus clearly changed at the Supper's institution, I'm having a hard time thinking of passages one might use to support single-family Communion.
If someone believes that an online worship is not a true assembly of worship and should not be considered as the public worship of God on the Lord's day, then I will accept that the Lord's Supper at home is private. If someone believes that online worship is still a worship, then they should accept at home Lord's Supper. If it is not a true worship, then we have bunch of pastors/elders leading church members without the worship of God which is absolutely disturbing.

I don't know how a person can read that early church members in a city all gathered into a single building structure for worship. The Lord added three thousand on Acts 2 and five thousand in Acts 4. That's referring to men only. With their families, you are talking about 10K-20K believers at least. What facility could hold that many people other than the Second Temple? Unless you believe that Mark's house is so gigantic that it can fit 10K-20K people, you will have to assume that they met at various different locations still be overseen by Apostles (BTW, this is how many smaller underground Chinese churches worship with pastors moving one house to another for sermons and sacraments). Even if Mark's house was that big, Romans would have never allowed that many people to gather regularly for the fear of insurrections.

The fact that you are insisting that they all met in one place is not credible. Many early church members were slaves. You have to assume that these Christian slaves told their masters that they need to go to church on the Lord's day, so don't bother them during that time?!?!? And the fact that their unavailability on Lord's day will be every Lord's day is ludicrous. If you read at 1 Corinthians 11, the Lord's Supper was performed during a full meal which indicates that it was a someone's home with prepared meals already which sadly became an abuse.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
I'm just going to jump in here, if you don't mind.
If someone believes that an online worship is not a true assembly of worship and should not be considered as the public worship of God on the Lord's day, then I will accept that the Lord's Supper at home is private. If someone believes that online worship is still a worship, then they should accept at home Lord's Supper.
I'm having trouble following this argumentation.
If it is not a true worship, then we have bunch of pastors/elders leading church members without the worship of God which is absolutely disturbing.
Yes, it is certainly less than ideal.
I don't know how a person can read that early church members in a city all gathered into a single building structure for worship... you will have to assume that they met at various different locations still be overseen by Apostles
Yes, this seems to make sense. Probably a number of smaller congregations, as meeting all together would have proved a logistical impossibility.
The fact that you are insisting that they all met in one place is not credible.
I don't think he said that. There is a difference, though, between a congregation (not the whole population of Christians in a city) and the home.
Many early church members were slaves. You have to assume that these Christian slaves told their masters that they need to go to church on the Lord's day, so don't bother them during that time?!?!? And the fact that their unavailability on Lord's day will be every Lord's day is ludicrous.
Slavery in the ancient world was not the way we often imagine it. Of course the bulk of slaves worked in mines and agriculture, but many slaves, especially in more urban settings, had the trust of their masters, and could even earn money. Look at Onesimus, a slave who was so trusted that he was sent abroad to deliver letters. It is entirely feasible that many Christian slaves had the Lord's Day off, although probably not all of them did.

However, I do not know how this relates to the matter at hand.
If you read at 1 Corinthians 11, the Lord's Supper was performed during a full meal which indicates that it was a someone's home with prepared meals already which sadly became an abuse.
You need to clarify this. Are you saying the Lord's Supper is a proper meal, and that the sacrament with bread and wine is an abuse?

In all of this, you're missing the point that churches - elders, deacons, laymen - met in people's homes. (Church buildings came later.) That is not the same as a father distributing the elements of the sacrament to his family.
 

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm just going to jump in here, if you don't mind.

I'm having trouble following this argumentation.

Yes, it is certainly less than ideal.

Yes, this seems to make sense. Probably a number of smaller congregations, as meeting all together would have proved a logistical impossibility.

I don't think he said that. There is a difference, though, between a congregation (not the whole population of Christians in a city) and the home.

Slavery in the ancient world was not the way we often imagine it. Of course the bulk of slaves worked in mines and agriculture, but many slaves, especially in more urban settings, had the trust of their masters, and could even earn money. Look at Onesimus, a slave who was so trusted that he was sent abroad to deliver letters. It is entirely feasible that many Christian slaves had the Lord's Day off, although probably not all of them did.

However, I do not know how this relates to the matter at hand.

You need to clarify this. Are you saying the Lord's Supper is a proper meal, and that the sacrament with bread and wine is an abuse?

In all of this, you're missing the point that churches - elders, deacons, laymen - met in people's homes. (Church buildings came later.) That is not the same as a father distributing the elements of the sacrament to his family.
I am not saying the Lord's Supper is a full meal, but Jesus instituted the bread and wine within a full Passover meal. I am giving the example of the Church in Corinth where the Lord's Supper was abused and Paul disciplines the church for observing the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner. The fact that they performed the sacrament during a full meal is undeniable. That most likely suggest someone's home since it is unlikely that they had a separate building structure with a furnished kitchen. Apostle Paul does not reprimand because it was held at someone's home, but the manner and attitude of unworthy church members.

Assuming that slaves had the Lord's day off is looking at it from the Judaeo-Christian culture which wasn't true during those days. Sure, some slaves had it easier than the others, but many of them had to serve/work during the Lord's day. If you look at the Chinese churches, it's probably more like early churches who were persecuted heavily. Many of them do not worship on the Lord's day when CCP's persecution becomes more pronounced and the crackdown is harsh. CCP knows that the Sunday is the Lord's day, so they start looking for number of shoes or people going in and out of houses. In fact, during heavy crackdowns, they split up into one to three families and pastors/elders visit these families for the worship and sacraments. They don't all meet on the Lord's day, but on different days. A missionary that my family supported told me that some of them met in rice paddies and took about few hours for worship to finish because it looked too conspicuous when too many people all headed somewhere at the same time.

We tend to view the church worship from a safe western civilization perspectives and forget to apply both the letter of the law and spirit of the law. Just as RC Sproul once explained that Jesus healed on Sabbath days and Pharisees became angry because they only cared for the letter of the law and violated the spirit of the law. Current situation is sadly a different time than we are used to in America (much of it is self-inflicted). Denying the Lord's Supper for extended period of time over the letter of the law while the spirit of the law languishes isn't what WCF was trying to convey in my opinion. WCF is a wonderful theological confession and I truly admire it, but I don't believe that the Westminster Divines wanted everyone to follow the letter of the law only, but both the letter of the law and spirit of the law. We are so focused on "ministers dispensing and must be whole church gathered together", we need apply this norm to all situations. I think we forget that Jesus is the Lord of Sabbath, not the Westminster Confession of Faith.

 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Look at Onesimus, a slave who was so trusted that he was sent abroad to deliver letters.

I have always understood him to be a disloyal, lazy, runaway slave who was sent back to his master after he became a Christian. " I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. "
 

JennyGeddes

Puritan Board Freshman
I have always understood him to be a disloyal, lazy, runaway slave who was sent back to his master after he became a Christian. " I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. "

I was told his name, Onesimus, means “useless” so Paul is making a play on words there by saying useful.
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not saying the Lord's Supper is a full meal, but Jesus instituted the bread and wine within a full Passover meal. I am giving the example of the Church in Corinth where the Lord's Supper was abused and Paul disciplines the church for observing the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner. The fact that they performed the sacrament during a full meal is undeniable. That most likely suggest someone's home since it is unlikely that they had a separate building structure with a furnished kitchen. Apostle Paul does not reprimand because it was held at someone's home, but the manner and attitude of unworthy church members.

Assuming that slaves had the Lord's day off is looking at it from the Judaeo-Christian culture which wasn't true during those days. Sure, some slaves had it easier than the others, but many of them had to serve/work during the Lord's day. If you look at the Chinese churches, it's probably more like early churches who were persecuted heavily. Many of them do not worship on the Lord's day when CCP's persecution becomes more pronounced and the crackdown is harsh. CCP knows that the Sunday is the Lord's day, so they start looking for number of shoes or people going in and out of houses. In fact, during heavy crackdowns, they split up into one to three families and pastors/elders visit these families for the worship and sacraments. They don't all meet on the Lord's day, but on different days. A missionary that my family supported told me that some of them met in rice paddies and took about few hours for worship to finish because it looked too conspicuous when too many people all headed somewhere at the same time.

We tend to view the church worship from a safe western civilization perspectives and forget to apply both the letter of the law and spirit of the law. Just as RC Sproul once explained that Jesus healed on Sabbath days and Pharisees became angry because they only cared for the letter of the law and violated the spirit of the law. Current situation is sadly a different time than we are used to in America (much of it is self-inflicted). Denying the Lord's Supper for extended period of time over the letter of the law while the spirit of the law languishes isn't what WCF was trying to convey in my opinion. WCF is a wonderful theological confession and I truly admire it, but I don't believe that the Westminster Divines wanted everyone to follow the letter of the law only, but both the letter of the law and spirit of the law. We are so focused on "ministers dispensing and must be whole church gathered together", we need apply this norm to all situations. I think we forget that Jesus is the Lord of Sabbath, not the Westminster Confession of Faith.


But if you subscribe to this confession and let’s say the PCA BCO, how can you disregard them just because of extenuating circumstances?

Isn’t they way church is “done” just as important as what you do?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
What do we do with the nursing home people who couldn’t take communion even pre-COVID?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
What do we do with the nursing home people who couldn’t take communion even pre-COVID?

I recall that some RP congregations holding public services in the nursing homes so that the residents could receive communion but without there being any hint of it being a private communion.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top