The Lord's Supper - Fencing the Table

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by scottmaciver, Feb 22, 2018.

  1. Yes

    21 vote(s)
    87.5%
  2. No

    3 vote(s)
    12.5%
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  1. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    I posted on my blog Here about our recent communion and the audio of the minister fencing the table.

    It got me thinking about whether or not it is practiced much out with Scotland, where it is seldom practiced. I decided to post a simple Yes/No poll, which can be elaborated upon in the thread.

    Your thoughts would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    'Close' or closed needs to be considered; both are fencing. Most churches use close.
     
  3. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Scott,
    Note that the language "fencing the Table" is used differently in different churches. Some pastors think they're fencing the table simply because they issue a warning before they invite everyone to come whose conscience allows.

    I trust that what you are referring to is the practice of a session meeting with an individual to assess whether he has a credible profession of faith before admitting him to the Table.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    In our Congregation you have to meet with the Consistory before Worship if your visiting to ask permission to partake, if not they won’t serve you. But pretty much you have to be a member of a Conservative Continental Reformed Church Or a conservative Presbyterian Church in good standing to partake. They used to let Lutherans partake but not sure if they do anymore. If your a Reformed Baptist they won’t let you, because I believe they see you as being in rebellion by not being part of a True Church; don’t know the exact details on this one but there very strict at the URCs around my area when it comes down to fencing the table and who’s able to partake.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
  5. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks Tyler. Yes, that's the case in our own circles, although I'm interested to hear what the fencing looks like in other churches.
     
  6. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks Scott. I suppose I was initially interested in whether or not there was a fencing in the churches represented on the PB, which is why I kept the poll to a basic yes or no. Beyond that, elaboration within the thread is welcome to cover all other variations.
     
  7. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ray, that does seem very strict. I can understand the requirement to be part of a member of a church in good standing. However, are you saying that your church would only allow Presbyterian's to partake of the Lord's Supper?
     
  8. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes. Only someone who’s a member from a Reformed Church. Either Continental or Presbyterian. But maybe Lutheran too. I think it’s in the URCs Church Order from what I remember. Our bulletin states all members of NAPARC churches are welcomed. And Those who subscribe to the Westminster and 3 Forms.
     
  9. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I've worshipped with congregations of the RPCNA, PCA, RPCGA, and FCC where the table was fenced. This has varied from part of the session asking about my church membership to an interview with regards to my faith and my understanding of the Lord's Supper, but they have in common that I would not have been able to partake without first speaking with the session. This is not the norm in the PCA; I think this is standard in the FCC; I am not sure about the other denominations how common fencing is.
     
  10. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    We maintain the historic Reformed practice: only communicant members in good standing and guests who have been admitted by the elders are permitted to partake in the Lord's Supper. Admission of guests is normally by way of a written attestation from the consistory of a sister church.

    Historically, a similar practice prevailed in Presbyterianism. I have written about it here, if anyone is interested.
     
  11. beloved7

    beloved7 Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm not quite sure if how my congregation administers communion would be considered fencing or not; all are welcome who are beleivers though it is explained that parents should refrain from having their children participate if they'e not educated and do not understand what communion represents. We have a formal class series on the Lord's Supper for this. I attended it with my oldest daughter and actually learned a lot from the class myself.
     
  12. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Thirty years ago, having come from a Continental Reformed background and moving to a PCA church where I had not yet joined, I approached the pastor on Communion Sunday to ask whom I should speak with about partaking. I assumed there would be an elder or two standing by to do brief, on-the-spot interviews to confirm that I gave a credible profession of faith and was a member in good standing of a Christ-confessing church.

    The PCA pastor told me those were in fact the criteria, but I didn't need to speak with anyone. I was on my own to determine whether or not I was fit to partake. There was a warning to that effect given in the service, but nothing further. This seems to be the PCA norm.

    Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I like the idea of guests speaking to an elder and being officially welcomed to the table, even if it happens easily and briefly.

    My current church issues a warning, but that warning says nothing about church membership. As a culture, American churches seem to be moving away from the idea that participation in the Supper is tied, in part, to church discipline that comes through church membership. I think part of the encouragement the Supper brings is lost when I am at the table solely by my own decision rather than because the church has affirmed that I belong there.
     
  13. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Our church requires membership in good standing in a true church in order to partake, and visitors of unknown status are commonly passed over--if they are qualified to partake they'll be sure to talk to the elders before next communion Sunday. My habit, if visiting a church where communion is to be celebrated, is to find an elder or deacon to ask permission of--not for my conscience's sake, since I know I'm supposed to partake, but for theirs, so that they need not feel concern to see a stranger at the table.
     
  14. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Ben,

    Just curious about your church's criteria for determining whether or not a church is considered a "true church"?

    When I've visited at an OPC and RPCNA church in my area the criteria was membership in a NAPARC affiliated denomination, which was simple enough.
     
  15. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    The language is: "A Bible-believing evangelical church." Pretty wide net, in my opinion, and I'm sure folk from even the most apostatized church would think they fit the bill. So a wide latitude is left to the conscience of the visitor. But the elders are pretty skilled at prying, and a visitor will not be allowed to partake a second time even if they sneaked under the criteria a first time.
     
  16. Ben Mordecai

    Ben Mordecai Puritan Board Freshman

    God's wrath is against the offending individual who unworthily partakes of the Lord's Table. That makes me think that an adequate warning with qualifications should be plenty for admittance to the table. Ultimately, you could be just as guilty of profaning the table by withholding supper from someone worthy as you would be wrongfully serving the supper.

    1 Cor. 11 says this directly. The chief violation of the supper in their context was that their divisions resulted in people going hungry while others got drunk.

    Paul's conclusion is to "Let a person examine himself."

    It is not like an unworthy person can sneak their way into the table. They would not be receiving the Lord's Supper. They would be receiving guilt and storing up wrath.

    A pastor should never knowingly serve an unworthy person, and obviously in cases of discipline they should be barred, but it seems reasonable enough to me to make a clear warning and leave it at that.
     
  17. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    My pastor informs the congregation who is and who isn't allowed to partake of the Lord's Supper. I find this to be sufficient.

    You have three types of people in the congregation: the truly saved which are apart of your church or/and are the visitors, hypocrites which are apart of your church or/and are the visitors, and the unsaved who are visiting.

    The unsaved visitor would more likely adhere to my pastor's instructions than the hypocrite would. If it were a requirement for visitors to get permission from an elder in order to partake of the Lord's Super, the hypocrite could easily ease the mind of the elder of his salvation, but you have not fenced in the Lord's Supper any better than my pastor does when he informs those who may and may not partake of the Lord's Supper.

    My mother knows of Baptist churches who refuses the Lord's Supper to all visitors. This is wrong in my opinion. They have excluded one of God's children from his table when God has not excluded him.

    Unless you know someone is not saved or that they say they are saved but are practicing sin, you cannot exclude them from the Lord's Supper....visitor or not.
     
  18. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    Yet this is contrary to the historic Reformed and Presbyterian practice. I would draw your attention to my post above again, especially in the blog post where I point out the agreement that the OPC made with the Canadian Reformed Churches prior to entering into ecclesiastical fellowship.
     
  19. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I can appreciate what our forefathers of the reformed faith had to say, but I would have to be convinced by scripture. Where in scripture does it say that you’re allowed to forbid visitors from partaking of the Lords supper unless they ask an elder’s permission?
     
  20. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    Does it have to be a text or texts directly from Scripture or can it also be something deduced "by good and necessary consequence" from Scripture?
     
  21. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Whatever Scripture you can find I’ll read it tomorrow.
     
  22. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Did not Jesus dismiss Judas before He instituted The Super?
     
  23. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This isn’t an argument of whether or not we should keep unbelievers from the Table. Jesus knew he was an unbeliever. We should keep known unbelievers from the Table also.
     
  24. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    Where your practice differs Scott, is that not only is there a fencing at the table, a kind of mini sermon which not only presents the substance of participation, but also distinguishses those who may or may not come: but in the services the Saturday night before the Sabbath communion, members and visitors have to apply for the tokens, which they give to an elder as they go to the reserved communion seats for the table on the Lord’s day. This method does away with any hurried consultation before the Sabbath service. Any visitor (may be on holiday)that is a late applicant on the Sabbath morning, is “vetted” by an elder at the vestibule.
     
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