PaedoCommunion: Can Someone Give me a Sound Explanation?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by MamaArcher, Sep 11, 2008.

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  1. MamaArcher

    MamaArcher Puritan Board Freshman

    I am not brand new to the Reformed Faith but am definitely not seasoned yet. :D My wording may be elementary here...but...

    Can someone explain to me why when speaking of covenantal continuance (??) circumcision is replaced by baptism and Passover by the Lord's Supper BUT only baptism transfers to children. This is a struggle our family is discussing at the moment. It seems that Paedobaptism should go hand in hand with Paedocommunion as Credobaptism goes hand in hand with Credocommunion. Children in the OT were not excluded from the passover meal but participants why does this same participation not apply to the Lord's Supper?

    2nd there a reformed denomination that holds to both paedo baptism and communion and the confessions, other than the CREC???
  2. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    :up: Good question. I have been studying baptism, and this is also confusing to me. Looking forward to reading the replies!
  3. davidsuggs

    davidsuggs Puritan Board Freshman

    Excellent question. I really have trouble when Reformed people defend credocommunion using the same argument credobaptists use to defend their practice.
  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    There are two prongs to the answer. The first is that it is disputed as to whether or not children (as in infants, now) participated in the Passover. Some point to the catechizing mentioned in Exodus 13:14, as well as several other arguments. See Leonard Coppes's book "Daddy, May I Take Communion?" Secondly (and far more weighty, in my mind) are the participation requirements listed in 1 Corinthians 11. The self-examination necessary (vs 28), the judging ourselves (vv 29-30), the proclamation (vs 26), and the remembrance (vv. 24-25) are indicative of the active aspect of faith required to participate in the Lord's Supper, whereas baptism is more passive with regard to the recipient (if an infant).
  5. dcomin

    dcomin Psalm Singa

    You'll find a very helpful article on the subject here.
  6. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    Your second point is what confuses me. Baptism also seems to have "participation requirements." 1) The participant must be a disciple. 2) The participant must have "the answer of a good conscience toward God." 3) The participant must repent. So baptism doesn't seem "passive with regard to the recipient."

    If you say that baptism is passive with regard to the recipient ONLY if an infant, but that it is active with regard to adults, then you would have to say that communion is for both children and adults for the same reason (passive for children, active for adults).
  7. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    It is questioned by some (e.g Ridderbos in The Coming of the Kingdom) as to whether passover is actually the foundation of the Lord's supper.

    I don't really care, or give it much thought anymore, because all one has to ask oneself is "where do you see infants, or other children lacking comprehension of the Passover's significance, partaking in it?" All the texts taken together show that the children who partook of the passover had the ability to ask and comprehend the meaning of the passover meal.

    Even then there is still a difference between the two. Whereas the passover was something that was an historic event of deliverance for he Old Covenant people of God in the same way that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was an historic event of deliverance for all the entire Church, the latter requires a faith that rests in the work of God for our present and future salvation, looking for the return of Christ, while the passover was a historical acknowledgment of God's work in bringing Israel out of Egypt in display of His love for them. It had typological significance in pointing toward Christ to be sure, but one's salvation was not dependent upon "resting in the finished work of the Exodus".

    As well, although some in certain circles will still raise the issue, Paul's admonition to examine oneself before partaking pretty much excludes young children (at the very least it excludes infants and toddlers).

    Edited to add: much of this post is now redundant, since six of you decided to post in the time that it took me to write that...
  8. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    The difference between the two lies in the audience addressed and the purpose of the various passage governing baptism as opposed to the Lord's Supper. With regard to the baptism passages, the command is ultimately to make disciples. That's what baptism makes a person: a disciple. The person is not a disciple until he or she is baptized. Read closely the wording of Matthew 28, and you will that this is so. The commands that you refer to (about repentance, for instance) are written or spoken to adults, and are not framed as the complete NT teaching regarding baptism, unlike 1 Corinthians 11, which, aside from the record of the institution of the Lord's Supper in the 4 Gospels, are the only instructions we have regarding the Lord's Supper. There is far more available to us regarding baptism. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 11 exerts a far more controlling influence on our whole doctrine of the Lord's Supper than any one passage concerning baptism does for our doctrine of baptism. Hope this helps.
  9. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    That is all standard Baptist exegesis, that has been addressed on a good number of threads here, but:

    1) In Matt. 28:19 baptism is the initial step in making disciples, to be followed by instruction. That is clearly seen in the Greek by the fact that the initial command to make disciples it then explained by two sequential participles of "baptizing" and "teaching". It is at least an option, if not a necessity, that baptism precedes instruction in the process of making disciples. This is one of the most oft repeated gaffs of anti-paedo thought out there. I just can never let that one slide.

    I'll let someone with more time answer the rest of them.
  10. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Here's where having a Confession really helps.

    As I understand this, the Lord's Supper requires self examination. Non-believers and those in major unrepentant sin should abstain.

    This comes from the Reformed view that Christ is actually spiritually present during this sacrament. Real grace is actually offered and it is not something to be done carelessly but with great care and with sincere spiritual reflection.
  11. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    Lane, you apparently type much faster than do I.

    I give up!
  12. FrielWatcher

    FrielWatcher Puritan Board Sophomore

    I agree with this man because if I were to have taken communion at a young age, say less than ten, I would not have understood what it signifies. Especially in the PC (USA) where the instruction in Sunday school was minimal. I wanted to take it because everyone else was doing it during the service.

    Every time we take the bread and wine, we are remembering Christ's death until his return. Can the young remember Christ's death if they don't have a good concept of what the sacrifice of Christ was, or even what death is, let alone an atoning death? Children are very important to the church and the body of Christ. With instruction and with age, they will learn how to reflect on the death of Jesus and what communion means in both senses - the eucharist and communion with the triune God.
  13. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    Good answers have been given, but I'm fool enough to add my :2cents: :lol:

    Grammatically, baptism and circumcision are both stated in the passive. One is baptized, or one was circumcised. The act was performed upon them. As for the objection that baptism requires participation, please see Romans 4 where it is clear that participation was required in circumcision as well (belief in the God who justifies apart from works, and trust in his promise, circumcision of the heart (repentance), etc.). Thus, Paul was baptized, and Cornelius was baptized etc.

    However, grammatically, the Passover and the Holy Supper both require active participation: take and eat. These are active imperatives. They are not framed as "be given, and be fed". They require active participation, whereas the initiating signs don't.

    Also, in Exodus 12, the child asked his father "‘What do you mean by this service?’". In other words, the child frames the question as an outsider to the participation. What do you mean? Not, what do we mean.

    Again, in chapter 12, the stranger who wants to participate is given the following rule:

    Exodus 12:47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.”

    So, all of his males are circumcised (the rite of initiation), but only he partakes. This is the law for all covenant children, and for those converted to the faith. Anywho, you get the point. Even if we concede that the Passover is "replaced" by the Holy Supper, it does not logically follow that paedo-pushers are right.

    I read these passages to some CREC-types once, only I replaced the words "What do you mean" with "What do we mean", and they started celebrating. Then I promptly informed them that the text actually says "what do you mean", and they began to shamefully backpedal.

    FORC is quasi-confessional and paedocommunion. My father-in-law ministers in a church of the FORC in Virginia.

  14. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    I have tended toward paedo-communion in the past due to the logical progression metioned above, and that a father is federally responsible to see that his children properly discern the Lord's body, which I see as refering to the Church in the 1 Cor: 11 passage. But recently a brother noted during a discussion of it that there is a distinction that has put me to rethinking it all over again. That was that the baptism is an ordinance that the Church does to a person, whereas communion is one in which we as individuals are commanded to do as a part of the Church. I'm working, very slowly, over what that implies. I am a member of a Church that does not practice paedo-communion, and so submit to my Shepherds in the matter.
  15. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    If I were reading this, coming from certain church backgrounds, my antenae might go up and suspect this is a claim that Reformed believes baptism makes one a Christian (i.e. that Baptism makes the person saved). I know that is not what you mean and that is not what the Confession says. Could you explain this a little more fully for all of us?
  16. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Sure, Scott. In the early church, baptism made one a catechumen, a disciple, one numbered in the church, counted as one with the church. That is what I mean. It is the sign of entrance into the visible church. When one enters into the fully committed state by confession of faith, then that brings one into the realm of the table. Some people scornfully call this a two-tiered membership in the church. Peter Leithart's book is entitled _Daddy, Why Was I Excommunicated?_, which is a ridiculous question to put into the mouth of a child. The two levels in church membership are parallel to levels of citizenship. We say that, in one sense, a baby born in the US is a citizen of the US. Period. However, at age 16 (in most states), the person is able to drive. At 18, they can vote, and at 21, they can drink.
  17. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    And is it fair to say baptism of an infant is the enterance into the covenant community?

    This being a visible community, which like Israel, was composed of "the remnant" who believed and were saved and "the rest"- others who at a given time were not. Everyone in the community of Israel benefited in some way by being in the covenant community, though not all were redeemed. Likewise, baptism in the new testament marks out children of believers into the covenant community.
  18. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    There is also the fact that it is not the father's primary responsibility to guard the sacraments and teach on them. It is the church's. This is an unwelcome by-product of the resurgence of "family integrated" models of church. It essentially comes down to father's will trumps the elders' will. And that is unbiblical and dangerous.
  19. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    I would agree with you there, Fred. The office of father is not above the office of Elder, which is why I submit to my Elders in this matter.
  20. Roldan

    Roldan Puritan Board Junior

    The quote that I put in red really strikes me the most as to being anti-paedocommunion.

    It is spiritual norishment to the soul AND (this is the kicker for me) to confirm our CONTINUANCE AND GROWTH IN HIM.

    This would imply that the infant is ALREADY saved and is continuing to grow in the salvific grace of Christ that we attain in regeneration hence as many as those who believe in presumptive regeneration for baptized infants of the Covenant, paedo-communion would logically follow. But since the Divines did not believe in that either:worms:paedo-communion would logically be rejected since the infant and/or toddler are not saved at baptism.

    Therefore, in my understanding anyways, paedo-communion is to be rejected on the grounds that they are not CONTINUING AND GROWING IN Christ since they are not part of the inward spiritual community of the Elect who can only participate since they are really the ones continually growing in Grace that they really and truly have recieved. :2cents:
  21. Seb

    Seb Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks Pastor Comin, that's an excellent article, and it will be very handy to me.

    I'm concerned about where my denomination is headed on the issue of PC.

    The CRCNA is one year into a 5 year study on the issue. I fear what their decision will be.

    Let's face it; our track record over the past 10-20 years been fairly dismal. :um:
  22. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I thought that a year or so ago the CRCNA synod (or GA, whatever they call it) said paedocommunion was ok but perhaps I'm mistaken.
  23. Seb

    Seb Puritan Board Junior

    They did sorta, but not exactly -- it didn't stick. And to further complicate matters some Councils (Sessions) jumped the gun by assuming that PC is ok based on the 2006 Synod, and they have not yet been 'corrected' (I assume) pending the outcome of the Synod's Study Committee. This committee is to provide yearly reports to Synod for the next 5 years (from 2007). It's all very unclear as to where things are headed at this point.

    From Synod 2008:

    I'm very concerned because it seems like it's going the way of the Women In Church Office (WICO) decision in the mid '90s.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  24. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    To address the OP, in reformed theology there are two sacraments, not one. Baptism is for initiation into covenant privileges and the Lord's supper is for confirmation. It is evident that paedocommunionists have fallen into the Anabaptist error of seeing the Lord's supper as nothing more than a continuation of what is signified in baptism. The reality is that the participant is passive in baptism, signifying the reception of saving grace. In the Lord's supper the participant is active, consciously feeding on the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving benefits. In the one a profession of faith is only a fundamental qualification in the case where one has consciously lived as aliens to the covenant, which does not apply in the case of the children of covenant members; whilst in the other the conscious exercise of faith is basic to the sacramental action and therefore required of all participants.
  25. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    I have found this a helpful way to understand infant baptism, initiation into the covenant community with all the benefits pertaining to that. Not automatic salvation, but many benefits and promises of God's grace- even to an infant child of a believer.

    I think I know what you mean here but could you explain this a little more fully?
  26. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, Rev. Winzer, that is the best description of the thought that has brought me to rethink paedo-communion that I've seen. Thank you. Still working it out in my thick, slow mind, but this really helps.
  27. ewg

    ewg Inactive User

    I would recommend Fred Malone's book: The Baptism of Disciples Alone

    In the book, he deals with his own troubles on this topic. This topic is clearly something people wrestle with. To be fair, I have included a link to a critique of his book from While I am a Baptist, I think it important to examine issues such as this from all sides.
  28. Roldan

    Roldan Puritan Board Junior

    Yeah what he said, thats what I was trying to say anyways. Great post!

    An infant is not saved therefore does not have saving faith hence is fenced from the table, right? or did I say that wrong.

    Here is what I stated in my previous post and please correct any misunderstandings that I presented so I can know better to hold my view correctly, thanx......

  29. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    This also demonstrates his unfamiliarity with the Exodus 12 passages mentioned previously. "What means this observance that you observe?"

  30. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    I don't think it is either/or. For instance, who chastises a covenant child under age? The eldership or the parents? Are they usurping the "rights" of the elders by doing so? Or, would it be a usurpation of the parents' authority for the elders to start chastening the children of the church? Why is this particular area different? It's not either/or situation, in my understanding. While I think the "first communion" model is a good transition point, where do you think the transitional point would be from family authority to church authority; for instance, when would church discipline kick in vs. family discipline? Would the family have any say as to when the child would take "1st Communion" in your opinion? Even if left to the ultimate decision of the local session?

    Curiously yours,
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
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