Sacrament of the Lord's Supper

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Puritan Board Professor
In the thread called Reformed Baptist Ministering Word & Sacrament in PCA Church, Fly Caster wrote:
Isn't there a problem if he doesn't see the Lord's Supper as a sacrament?
So as not to take that thread off topic, I was just wondering how the Presbyterian church's understanding of the Lord's Supper differs from the Baptist's. What is meant by the term "sacrament" and what are the things about the teaching of the sacrament that generally a Baptist wouldn't believe?


Puritan Board Junior
Most baptists use the term "ordinance" instead of sacrament for the Lord's Supper and baptism. Essentially, the term "sacrament" carries a connotation of the thing actually having a spiritual effect, and I guess that rubs some folks the wrong way.

Joseph Scibbe

Puritan Board Junior
A lot of Baptists have a very low view of the Supper due to their reaction against Catholicism and claim it is only a symbol and nothing more. That is generally what is meant by ordinance. Sacrament implies a spiritual aspect.

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
An "ordinance" in today's everyday language is something one must obey. For many Baptists I know, this is the primary way they look at both baptism and the Lod's Supper. They are first of all things we do out of obedience. Only secondarily might they be ways we receive something from God.

I realize that an increased emphasis on the obedience side of things is part of Baptist thought. But I've often wondered if the original Baptists who chose the word "ordinance" did so because they meant to emphasize obedience to that extent. Or was there some other reason for choosing that word? I suspect there may be disagreement between Reformed Baptists and garden-variety Baptists on the OP's question, so I'm looking forward to answers from those here who know more history than I do.


Puritan Board Junior
Calling baptism and the Lord's supper an "ordinance" emphasizes that Jesus himself "ordained" them to be practiced until the end of the age. Obedience is part of it, but it's more about that Jesus instituted it.

London Baptist Confession Chapter 28
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.

Baptists, even Reformed Baptists, vary across the board on ordinance vs. sacrament. The above replaces WCF Chapter 28; many (but not all) Baptists would reject the sacramentalism contained therein.


Puritan Board Graduate
A comparison between the relevant sections of the WCF and the LBCF is instructive.

A Tabular Comparison of the 1646 WCF and the 1689 LBCF

Notice what the WCF includes, but the LBCF omits:

1. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits, and to confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.

2. There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.

3. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorising the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.


5. Although it be a great sin to condemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

6. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinancy the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.

7. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered to any person.
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