Paedocommunion - Arguments

Discussion in 'The Lord's Supper' started by C. Matthew McMahon, Aug 16, 2005.

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  1. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Let's discuss this topic.

    First, here are those "prominent men" who hold to paedocommunion.

    R. C. Sproul Jr., Tim Gallant, G. I. Williamson, James Jordan, Peter Leithart, Robert Rayburn Jr., C. John "Jack" Collins, Steve Wilkins, Gary North, R. J. Rushdoony, Andrew Sandlin, Ray Sutton, Curtis Crenshaw, N. T. Wright, William Willimon.

    Gallant says about "examining" om 1 Cor. 11,

    "The irony of the appeal to 1 Corinthians 11, in service to an argument against paedocommunion, is severely profound. In this chapter - and indeed in this epistle - Paul is fighting for the unity of the Church. There are to be no 'spiritual' or 'social' superiors/inferiors at the table, for all are one body in Christ. And yet the antipaedocommunionist appropriation of this text institutionalizes precisely such disunity. It denies the genuine status of baptized children, placing them outside of the meal that is, in a very real sense, the communal participation of Christ's people in Himself (10:16).

    Nothing could have been further from Paul's intention when he wrote 1 Corinthians 11. By means of his directives, he was ensuring unity, real unity, at the table. The examination that his warning calls for is, in part (and especially in the immediate context) a putting oneself to proof regarding who we are in relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ.

    And covenant children are members of that Church. The result of sound self-examination would rightly lead us to repent of our divisive history of shutting them out from the blessings of the table. That is the practical import of 1 Corinthians 11:28 in connection with the question of paedocommunion."

    This is a complete smoke screen. At any level whatsoever of rendering "self-examiniation" whether it is in light of a body or an individual, even regarding the inclusion of the whole covenatn community, it still renders the individual upon a task as to whether they are thinking about themsevles in relation to the whole correctly.

    Now a further argument to confound us is this -

    2 Thessalonians 3:10, "For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."

    Infants cannot work, thus this passage is not applied to them. So in communion they cannot "examine themsvles" thus this is not applied to them. This is how the paedocommunionist attempts to get around this passage.

    The logic, though, on this simpleton eisogesis is faulty:
    Those who pratake of the Lord's supper are to examine themsevles in relation to the whole. Those who work are to work and eat. In the former, infants are included if they are partaking of the Supper. In the latter infants are included if they are working. Since infants are not working, they are not included. That Scripture does not apply to them. Since they are partaking, they are included in 1 Cor. 11. Its impossible to deny one over the other, or use such an exegetical fallacy to state this argument as "aiding the paedocommunion cause."

    Here is another line of his thinking (part of it):
    "Brief Theses on Communion & Covenant Children"
    by Tim Gallant

    1. The children of believers are possessors of the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 19:13-14), and therefore members of Christ's Church.

    2. The children of believers are therefore rightly baptized, to signify and seal their real relationship with Jesus Christ, even as infants were circumcised under the old covenant (Gen. 17:10-14; cf. Col. 2:11-12).

    3. Those who are baptized into Christ possess full inheritance rights in the new covenant (Gal. 3:27), and are therefore included in all its privileges (Gal. 3:26-29).

    4. The sacrament of Lord's Supper is one of these privileges which belong to the baptized body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-17; cf. 1 Cor. 12:13)."

    Number 4 is not a logical step from #3 since #4 is a priveledge of growth not birth which requires specific interaction between the participant of the Supper and the body partaking in the Supper.

  2. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    When arguing against Paedocommunion, I'm told that I need to:

    "Think typologically"
    "Stop being so blinded by enlightenment thinking"
    "Stop hating children"

    The conversation rarely gets anywhere, as it is always polluted with emotive arguments and anti-intellectualism.

    My biggest question about all of this is the history behind it. They claim that it has a respected Church history for 1200+ years, but then was done away with when the doctrine of Transubstantiation was introduced, out of fear that an infant would "spill the blood of Jesus," being just an infant.
  3. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior


    That's one of my main questions, too. I know Augustine was for it, along with a number of others up until a little after the East/West split.
  4. AdamM

    AdamM Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes Gabe that argument frequently gets raised in support of pc, but I think in order for it to be valid, the pc advocates would need to show that the rationale behind the child participation is the same as what is being advocated today (and btw, it is not).

    For what it's worth, Origen (185- 254) denied that children partook of the Lord's Supper.
  5. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Lee says:

    "I oppose all attempts to reconstruct the clearly antipaidocommunionistic teaching of our Westminster Confession 28:1 & 29:3,8 & 31:4 and our Westminster Larger Catechism QQ. 169-177. True Presbyterians and other men of like persuasion respect Calvin's views in his Commentaries on Ex. 12:24-43; Lam. 2:12; John 6:53 & Heb. 6:2; in his Sermons on Deuteronomy 16:1-8 cf. vv. 16f; and his Institutes IV:13:6 & IV:16:30 & IV:19:4f."


    In summary:
    1, infant baptism signifies regeneration (but not conversion);
    2, one's first communion at teenage signifies conversion (not regeneration);
    3, Eucharist replaces the Passover (but not circumcision);
    4, the 1st-century B.C. Hebrew Essenes (and even the Pharisees), like the Karaites till today, restricted their Passovers to their (post-)adolescent males after prior catechization terminating in their Bar Mitzvah not before age 13 (cf. Prov. 22:6's chanoch with Luke 2:40-47 and 22:1-20);
    5, no females nor any preteenagers ever partook of the Passover till it was thus deformed by Post-Christian Liberal Judaism (+/- 200 A.D.);
    6, there is absolutely no trace whatsoever of paidocommunionism in patristic writings but only in pagan sources prior to 250 A.D.;
    7, novel paidocommunionism is a ritualistic heterodoxy of the "Eastern Orthodox" and kindred denominations quite opposed to truly-orthodox Reformed Theology;
    8, the practice of paidocommunionism abolishes the need first of catechization and then of profession of one´s faith before one´s own very first manducation at the sacrament;
    9, paidocommunism ultimately leads to an uncatechized Church (which Calvin says cannot long continue without catechizing); and
    10, Calvin in his Institutes (IV:16:30) accordingly concludes against the Anabaptists: "œThey object that there is not greater reason for admitting infants to Baptism than to the Lord´s Supper "“ to which, however, there are never admitted.... The Supper is intended for those of riper years, who, having passed...infancy, are fit to bear solid food.... They cannot partake worthily without being able duly to discern the sanctity of the Lord´s body. Why should we stretch out poison instead of vivifying food to our young children? ... Circumcision, which as is well known corresponds to our Baptism, was intended for infants. But the Passover for which the Supper is substituted...was duly eaten only by those who were of an age sufficient to ask the meaning of it (Exod. 12:26). Had these men the least particle of soundness in their brain, would they thus be blind as to a matter so very clear and obvious?"
  6. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    :up: Excellent info, Matt! Thank you!!!
  7. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    For clarification's sake - looking at Matt's last post - are non-paedo churches required to wait until after 13 to admit someone to the table? Are we not to allow a 10 year old? When does communion become paedo? 7 yrs. old? 5?
  8. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior


    Item 3. is one are that I run into with peadocommunionist. They equate the Egyptian Passover with the Lord's Supper, but fail to deal with the Levitical Passover.
  9. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    Is the "in summary" your arguments? I think they are very good.

    [Edited on 8-16-2005 by raderag]
  10. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Historically, the Presbyterian Church would not allow a baptized child to become a communing member until the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-42).

    The PCA allows for participation when the child reaches the age of discretion, so there is no specific age.
  11. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    Does this mean that you define pc as communion given to anyone less than teenagers, or rather do you just extend your position to exclude pre-teens?
  12. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    So with the PCA definition there could be finger pointing going on that one pastor thinks another pastor is pro pc while the other pastor's definition of pc is pre-discretionary age. For instance Pastor A gives communion to a 6 year old that has been examined for a basic understanding. Pastor B says that is pc whereas Pastor A says it is not.

    Would there be an agreed upon definition of pre-discretion in the PCA world?
  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Do all the men listed above hold to infant communion, or just to child communion under the age of twelve?
  14. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    I think they need to deal with the catechistical nature of the Passover in general.

    Exodus 13:8 "And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.'

    Exodus 13:14 "So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' that you shall say to him, 'By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

    I am pretty "sure" ;) that infants and small children did not eat the lamb. "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household" (Exodus 12:3).

    They ahve to create a non-catechistical warrant for partaking on either Passover and the Lord's Supper.
  15. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    History behind this is EXCEEDINGLY thin in the early church.

    There is nothing said about this in any documents previous to 250 AD.

    Cyprian makes an allusion to it (ANF 5:444.) (C. 250 AD)

    Augustine makes a vague allusion about the "table" for infants. (Works, trans. Edmund Hill, ed. John E. Rotelle, 11 vols. Part III-Sermons. (New Rochelle, New York: New City Press, 1992), 5:261.)

    Augustine says, "Why is the blood...ministered that the little ones may drink." How "little" is little? From this one and the above, it could be that he means infants.

    In the Constitution of the Holy Apostles, 8:2:12, there is an allusion to children partaking when it gives an order and "then the children" are to come. how young or old? No mention is made. Catechumens could certainly still be children. If I had a 15 year old, a 14 year old, and a 13 year old, all professing and partaking, they would in fact be "my children."

    Leo the Great also says, "Those who can remember that they used to go to church with their parents can remember whether they received what used to be given to their parents." Letter, CLXVII, Q 17.

    Again, a bit vague. How old, how young?

    Its really a straining of the early church to get anything substantial.

    One must also remember that the early Father DID NOT exegete 1 Cor. 11 in the same way that present day Paedocommunionists do in respect to self-examination.

    [Edited on 8-16-2005 by webmaster]
  16. AdamM

    AdamM Puritan Board Freshman

    Chris, I think in principle a paedocommunion advocate would be against any type of profession of faith before admittance to the LS at any age. I think in a sense the debate over the age at which we admit children after profession of faith is different animal, except that today many paedocommunion advocates have simply redefined (in my opinion) what is a profession of faith. So in some churches you could find that amazingly all the three and four years olds have made profession of faith and participate in the LS. I say that it's amazing, because being a dad and having taught kids, I find the idea that all the toddlers or young children somehow matured in their faith or even all at that time possess faith, a stretch.

    However, assuming the Session practices a traditional profession of faith, I am hesitant set an age limit or on the other side push older kids to make profession that do not show evidence yet of a proper understanding of the LS. I think it should be every parents goal to lead their children to make a valid profession of faith, that evidences the kind of faith that Remembers, Proclaims and Discerns as soon as they can, but I don't believe under normal circumstances that happens for most kids at age three or four.
  17. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Age is immaterial. (Now don't go getting all flustered on that note for those who hold to a certain age or use a certain age).

    For the minister to rightly dispense the sacrament to anyone, he would need to be humanly assured that the participant is someone who can intellectually grow in grace. In other words, sanctification is discernible (see "good works" in the WCF). The minister must discern that the communicant can in fact communicate their faith, regardless as to "intellectual degree." My explanation of justification and atonement is going to be a bit higher in verbiage and cogency than a 6 year old.

    Are 6 year olds permitted to the table? Saved, professing, and examined six year olds? - absolutely. James Janeway's "A Token for Children" is a great little book that demonstrates, by example, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year olds that were excessively more sanctified than many church goers today that partake of the Supper. It is published by Soli Deo Gloria and is a very keen look at the heavy hearts of those children who loved Christ and hated their sin. this is not advocating, in any way, paedocommunion. So I hope everyone remains clear on what I've said.

    At the same time, I don't think you can arrange an "age" by which those who are regenerated and saved, and then professing adequately, to come to the table. There is no blanketing like that in the OT or NT. It is simply a matter of catechizing and profession at a certain point. i would personally be against the "age barrier" because that smells too much to me like the "age of accountability" (though I know it is not the same).
  18. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    As far as I know there is no agreed upon definition. Each Session must be satisfied that the child has made a credible profession and understands the sacrament and that's about it. I do know that some Sessions in the PCA have set an age requirement for communing membership for children, but I think most don't.

    I know one pastor mentioned that a family was looking to transfer their membership from another PCA church in which their 3 year old son was accepted as a communing member. The pastor said that this created a real problem for them because they would not have admitted a 3 year old to the table under normal circumstances. He said that they talked to the church that the family transferred from about it, but since the child was a communimg member, they felt they had no choice but to accept the child's transfer.
  19. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Of course they had a choice. What if the child had been 1 or 2? This may well be how this practice will spread to churches that do not practice paedocommunion now.
  20. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think that is a reasonable standard. My daughter was 7 when she was admitted at the table. I have a 4 year old that is a couple of years off. She has a basic understanding of "Jesus died on the cross", but doesn't understand very much else.

    On the other hand, we may be kicking our 2 year old out of the house if she doesn't shape up soon. :)

    [Edited on 8-16-2005 by raderag]
  21. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    If it were me, I would examine the child, and when it became obvious (barring some sort of miracle) that the 3 year old did not have a credible profession, I would deny the transfer. Then let them complain to the Presbytery, where they would be shot down. If they wanted to take it to GA, then it would provide an opportunity to have charges filed against the transfering Session.
  22. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Exactly.:up: Someone needed to do the hard work on this one; sadly, accepting such things is certainly easier....
  23. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Agree. The line has to be drawn somewhere and GA is as good a place as any! :up:
  24. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I have said it before, so it is no shock - this is a line in the sand, a line worth breaking fellowship over.
  25. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Closed communion, also, obliterates paedocommunion since the biblical view of this sacrament is intended to purify the individual, church and state. But then that is going to destroy "sorta closed communion" and "open communion."

    What about making a list of detrimental affects on the church as a result of Paedocommunion? What would you say?
  26. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It was inferred earlier: undermining of the doctrine of conversion.
  27. AdamM

    AdamM Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed Fred.

    I find it ironic that many of the paedocommunion advocates profess to have a high view of the Church, but when it comes to their "issue" that all gets tossed right out the window. So no matter what kind of disruption it causes (as evidenced by the 3 year old trying to transfer in as a communing member - good grief!), no matter that the Reformed Churches have ruled over and over that the practice is contra-confessional, on this issue, the paedocommunion folks simply thumb their noses at the church and go about their business as if they were hard-core independents.
  28. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    You are drawing the line at those that can reasonably profess the faith, right?
  29. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    The undermining of the authority of the Session and the usurpation of its authority by the family.
  30. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Yes. Paedocommunion is so serious and systemic an error that men who espouse the position should not be permitted to minister in bodies that confess the Westminister Confession.
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