The Lords Supper/Agape Feast

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zsmcd

Puritan Board Freshman
I recently read the below book where the author argues that the church must return to the practice of the Lords Supper taken together with what is commonly called the "agape feast." In short, he argues that the correctives given in 1 Cor 10 were not meant to cause the whole church to separate the 'ritual' aspect of the Supper from the communal feast but was only meant temporarily as a disciplinary action for the church in Corinth who had abused it. He argues that this misunderstanding and abuse of the discipline by church leaders have lead the church away from the fellowship that Christ intended for his Church in the Supper.

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the agape feast, the separation of the feast from the Supper, and would appreciate some suggestions for studying this issue further.

http://www.kuyper.org/books/2012/6/15/the-christian-passover-agape-feast-or-ritual-abuse.html
The book can be viewed in PDF format for free.
 

johnny

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is Stephen Perks saying the reason the Church has not been successful in its evangelical wittness is because we don't combine communion with the fellowship lunch? Isn't this just a way of justifying Paedo communion or are only adults allowed to eat at lunch.

I only read the forward so I don't really get what he is trying to say...
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
I recently read the below book where the author argues that the church must return to the practice of the Lords Supper taken together with what is commonly called the "agape feast." In short, he argues that the correctives given in 1 Cor 10 were not meant to cause the whole church to separate the 'ritual' aspect of the Supper from the communal feast but was only meant temporarily as a disciplinary action for the church in Corinth who had abused it. He argues that this misunderstanding and abuse of the discipline by church leaders have lead the church away from the fellowship that Christ intended for his Church in the Supper.

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the agape feast, the separation of the feast from the Supper, and would appreciate some suggestions for studying this issue further.

http://www.kuyper.org/books/2012/6/15/the-christian-passover-agape-feast-or-ritual-abuse.html
The book can be viewed in PDF format for free.

I'm all for eating together. It binds the church and knits the fellowship of believers. However, I believe that there is some rationale to be considered in that the sacrament time is to be considered a hallowed time. It would be hard to separate the two if they were just mixed together. I guess it could be had; but in my opinion, it may denigrate the moment for many. As well, it may be problematic in the fencing of the table. You're telling people that are not saved that they can eat this food but not that food. Lastly, the supper is given under the RPW and the actual call to worship, prior to the benediction. You couldn't place the love feast in the call; people talking and amusing themselves, etc. That won't work.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
He argues that this misunderstanding and abuse of the discipline by church leaders have lead the church away from the fellowship that Christ intended for his Church in the Supper.

1 Cor. 11:23, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you..." What follows is an account of our Lord's institution of the sacramental actions and elements as constitutive of the proper celebration of the Lord's supper. This was to clarify what was necessary to the Lord's supper and what was unnecessary. It is not simply the case that the meal was laid aside for disciplinary reasons. It was deliberately excluded from the institution so as to show that the action has no sacramental significance. Now following the regulative principle of worship, since it is not commanded by the Lord it has no place in the public worship of God. To make it a part of the public worship is to assume the place of Christ to command the conscience and to impose on Christian liberty.
 

zsmcd

Puritan Board Freshman
Is Stephen Perks saying the reason the Church has not been successful in its evangelical wittness is because we don't combine communion with the fellowship lunch?

He seems to be arguing that the church has become to 'ritual' focused, especially in regards to the Supper, and that this has caused the Supper and thus the church to lose its social/communal significance.


Isn't this just a way of justifying Paedo communion or are only adults allowed to eat at lunch.

It could very well be the case that he is trying to create a system in which his paedocommunion would fit, or it could be the case that his understanding of the Supper necessitates paedocommunion. Or both simultaneously.
 

zsmcd

Puritan Board Freshman
all for eating together. It binds the church and knits the fellowship of believers. However, I believe that there is some rationale to be considered in that the sacrament time is to be considered a hallowed time. It would be hard to separate the two if they were just mixed together.

This was my initial understanding of Paul's teaching in 1 Cor 11, but the author seems to suggest that Paul was simply issuing corrective/disciplinary instructions for a Corinth assembly that was abusing the combined feast/Supper and was not meant as instructions for the universal church to separate the two.
 

zsmcd

Puritan Board Freshman
1 Cor. 11:23, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you..." What follows is an account of our Lord's institution of the sacramental actions and elements as constitutive of the proper celebration of the Lord's supper. This was to clarify what was necessary to the Lord's supper and what was unnecessary. It is not simply the case that the meal was laid aside for disciplinary reasons. It was deliberately excluded from the institution so as to show that the action has no sacramental significance. Now following the regulative principle of worship, since it is not commanded by the Lord it has no place in the public worship of God. To make it a part of the public worship is to assume the place of Christ to command the conscience and to impose on Christian liberty.

Wouldn't verse 25 and the RPW suggest that a full meal is necessary given the fact that Christ instituted the bread and wine in the midst of a full passover meal?

In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

It seems from verses 20-22 that the church in Corinth was indeed partaking of a full meal. So is Paul correcting them because they partook of a full meal or is he simply looking for them to wait on one another so that no one goes hungry?

I have not done enough study on the Lord's Supper so forgive my ignorance, I simply found the book to be something far different from what I have heard and fairly convincing. Hence why I am looking for the opposing view.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
all for eating together. It binds the church and knits the fellowship of believers. However, I believe that there is some rationale to be considered in that the sacrament time is to be considered a hallowed time. It would be hard to separate the two if they were just mixed together.

This was my initial understanding of Paul's teaching in 1 Cor 11, but the author seems to suggest that Paul was simply issuing corrective/disciplinary instructions for a Corinth assembly that was abusing the combined feast/Supper and was not meant as instructions for the universal church to separate the two.

If you understand the RPW, you will see that this idea is impossible, not to mention no one that I can recall historically ever held to such a view. It is quite possible that he is working a predisposition into his definition of 'feast'. Again, historically speaking, we find no evidence of such arrangements.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Wouldn't verse 25 and the RPW suggest that a full meal is necessary given the fact that Christ instituted the bread and wine in the midst of a full passover meal?

No, because he draws his account to a conclusion in v. 26, which omits the meal. The sacramental actions are eating the bread and drinking the cup. As often as this is done the Lord's death is shown. This is what the apostle received of the Lord and delivered to the church. The warning against unworthy participation and the need for examination only pertain to these sacramental actions.
 

zsmcd

Puritan Board Freshman
No, because he draws his account to a conclusion in v. 26, which omits the meal. The sacramental actions are eating the bread and drinking the cup. As often as this is done the Lord's death is shown. This is what the apostle received of the Lord and delivered to the church.

This makes sense to me, but...

The warning against unworthy participation and the need for examination only pertain to these sacramental actions.

it seems that the "unworthy participation" that they are guilty of is division (v18), drunkenness and eating their supper ahead of the poor, leaving them with nothing (vv 21-22). Paul's answer to this problem is that they examine themselves (v28) and to "wait for one another." (v33) If the church is partaking of a full meal when they are not supposed to be, wouldn't Paul have corrected them of this? Is Paul's statement that "if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home," this correcting?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
it seems that the "unworthy participation" that they are guilty of is division (v18), drunkenness and eating their supper ahead of the poor, leaving them with nothing (vv 21-22). Paul's answer to this problem is that they examine themselves (v28) and to "wait for one another." (v33) If the church is partaking of a full meal when they are not supposed to be, wouldn't Paul have corrected them of this? Is Paul's statement that "if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home," this correcting?

This neglects the most obvious fact that stands at the centre of the apostle's remedy -- the institution of the supper. He addresses the problem by separating the elements from the meal. Once he has done this, he warns against unworthy participation and sets down the requirement for examination. These things are only in relation to the elements and actions which he has isolated as necessary parts of the Lord's Supper. As for the meal, they have houses in which to eat and drink; and being natural actions the people are more than welcome to separate from one another and enjoy their own company in their homes. The Lord's Supper with its instituted elements and actions is the focal point of communion, not their own suppers.
 

zsmcd

Puritan Board Freshman
This neglects the most obvious fact that stands at the centre of the apostle's remedy -- the institution of the supper. He addresses the problem by separating the elements from the meal.

The fact that Christ himself places emphasis on the elements of bread and wine is helpful for me to understand why the church practices communion with just these two elements, because they seem to be at the heart of the institution and, of course, represent Christ's broken body and spilt blood. However, if 1 the Lord's Supper is to be celebrated as the New Testament Passover 2 the Lord instituted the Supper in the midst of a meal and 3 the church in Corinth understood it to be a meal than wouldn't it follow that the way it should be celebrated is as a meal? Wouldn't the RPW suggest that this is the way it should be celebrated since Christ instituted it as the NT Passover in the midst of a meal? Perhaps I am misunderstanding the RPW, I have not done enough study in this area, but I am going off of what I know.

(edit)
Once he has done this, he warns against unworthy participation and sets down the requirement for examination. These things are only in relation to the elements and actions which he has isolated as necessary parts of the Lord's Supper. As for the meal, they have houses in which to eat and drink; and being natural actions the people are more than welcome to separate from one another and enjoy their own company in their homes. The Lord's Supper with its instituted elements and actions is the focal point of communion, not their own suppers.

The author believes that Paul is disciplining the church in Corinth by separating the elements from a meal but that this is by no means instruction for the church as a whole to do so and was only meant as a temporal action. The church, he argues, abused the meal by neglecting the poor and by being factious and so the remedy was to take away the full meal that could be abused in this way. He doesn't rebuke them for celebrating the Supper by eating a meal together when they should only be partaking in a ritual eating of small bits of bread and wine. He rebukes them for abusing the meal aspect itself. The author argues that disciplinary actions should not be applied to the church as a whole, so the full meal should continue as the right way of celebrating the Lord's Supper as the Christian Passover that Christ meant it to be.

Hope this makes sense. Thank you for your help and patience. This is all new to me. I know of many who are now understanding the Supper in this way so I want to ensure that I am understanding both sides of the argument and will be able to give an account for the biblical stance.

Grace.
 

Alex the Less

Puritan Board Freshman
Perks is wrong, my opinion

This neglects the most obvious fact that stands at the centre of the apostle's remedy -- the institution of the supper. He addresses the problem by separating the elements from the meal.

The fact that Christ himself places emphasis on the elements of bread and wine is helpful for me to understand why the church practices communion with just these two elements, because they seem to be at the heart of the institution and, of course, represent Christ's broken body and spilt blood. However, if 1 the Lord's Supper is to be celebrated as the New Testament Passover 2 the Lord instituted the Supper in the midst of a meal and 3 the church in Corinth understood it to be a meal than wouldn't it follow that the way it should be celebrated is as a meal? Wouldn't the RPW suggest that this is the way it should be celebrated since Christ instituted it as the NT Passover in the midst of a meal? Perhaps I am misunderstanding the RPW, I have not done enough study in this area, but I am going off of what I know.

(edit)
Once he has done this, he warns against unworthy participation and sets down the requirement for examination. These things are only in relation to the elements and actions which he has isolated as necessary parts of the Lord's Supper. As for the meal, they have houses in which to eat and drink; and being natural actions the people are more than welcome to separate from one another and enjoy their own company in their homes. The Lord's Supper with its instituted elements and actions is the focal point of communion, not their own suppers.

The author believes that Paul is disciplining the church in Corinth by separating the elements from a meal but that this is by no means instruction for the church as a whole to do so and was only meant as a temporal action. The church, he argues, abused the meal by neglecting the poor and by being factious and so the remedy was to take away the full meal that could be abused in this way. He doesn't rebuke them for celebrating the Supper by eating a meal together when they should only be partaking in a ritual eating of small bits of bread and wine. He rebukes them for abusing the meal aspect itself. The author argues that disciplinary actions should not be applied to the church as a whole, so the full meal should continue as the right way of celebrating the Lord's Supper as the Christian Passover that Christ meant it to be.

Hope this makes sense. Thank you for your help and patience. This is all new to me. I know of many who are now understanding the Supper in this way so I want to ensure that I am understanding both sides of the argument and will be able to give an account for the biblical stance.

Grace.

To me it is clear that the early practice of churches was not the complete Passover observation. Please look at what the Passover involved and it becomes obvious that neither the Jewish believers *in the Land* nor gentiles followed the Passover meal as an observance of The Lord's Supper.

The point of Paul say: "you have houses to eat and drink in" was to address those who were waiting for other to arrive and were famished. Paul tells them to satisfy mere hunger at home so that in unity and witness, to observe the rite with all.

The poor couldn't observe the rite due to their lack of the significant elements. That is one point of the rebuke: "you are not really observing the Lord's Supper (reason of lack on one hand while being drunk also does not furnish the correct picture and is instead contemptible). The neglect of the poor in the setting has to do with them lacking the elements and therefore cannot observe the missional rite of "proclaiming the Lord's death until He comes."

For sure the church should be concerned and help its own however appropriate, but in the context, 1Cor. 11.29 is speaking about the elements of the supper and not referring to the "body" of believers.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Wouldn't the RPW suggest that this is the way it should be celebrated since Christ instituted it as the NT Passover in the midst of a meal?

A simple summary of the RPW is, What God has not commanded is forbidden. Paul states what is commanded -- the elements and the actions of giving and receiving. Where does that leave the "meal?" Uncommanded. What does this entail in terms of the RPW? That the "meal" is forbidden.

The author believes that Paul is disciplining the church in Corinth by separating the elements from a meal but that this is by no means instruction for the church as a whole to do so and was only meant as a temporal action.

As noted, the elements show the Lord's death, the judgment relates to the elements, and self-examination is required in light of the elements. These concern the whole church. Moreover, if the apostle only meant to lay down a provisional corrective, and intended that the "meal" should continue, he has left us without any prescriptive information concerning the observation of the "meal" or its significance. The fact this "meal has become obscure to us is a fair indication it was not intended as a perpetual ordinance.
 
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