December 16, 2017

Reader Request: Problems With Baptists and the Lord’s Supper

lseUPDATE: Other IM posts on this topic: Baptist Reasons For Not Celebrating the LS, Confessional Resources, Discerning the Presence of Christ, Intro to the Baptist Way. LOTS of links to Baptist material on the supper in this posts, especially the last one. If you want to study our view from the best sources, I’ve brought together a lot of material here.

A commenter in the previous post asks,

For those of us who live in pretty close knit baptist circles, give us a short run down – playing devil’s advocate- of the weaknesses you mention in the Baptist view…Other than the whole “real presence” argument, I’m not aware of any other complaints or criticisms.

This gives me an excuse to write about the Baptist and evangelical situation involving the Lord’s Supper, which I’m always glad to do.

For starters, it might do us good to consider what happens when the various traditions articulate a theology of the Lord’s Supper at their best. In my opinion, the primary difference isn’t the issue of “real presence.” Baptists and the Reformed can come up with language that’s so close to the language I hear in some Eucharistic prayers that the differences become matters for theologians. No, the primary differences, in my view, are transubstantiation, i.e. [I was going to offer a simple definition, but that’s a fool’s errand], and the issue of the nature of the bread and wine themselves, which in my view eventually becomes a discussion of some aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit, no matter what you believe. Of course there are other issues, but these two seem to stake out the largest differences on a practical level. I don’t see any real possible progress on either, so we should move on.

As to Baptists- well, it’s a mess and I challenge anyone to show me that it’s not a mess. Really, it’s embarrassing and quite a personal matter. If my tradition of Baptists had some kind of moderately serious approach to the Lord’s Supper my wife and I would probably not be looking at the reality of never communing together again. I place that painful disaster at the feet of the Baptist failure to understand their poverty in this area. Don’t get me started.

Even more grievous is the knowledge that this failure isn’t necessary. Baptists took the Supper seriously in Spurgeon’s church. The 1689 Confession takes it seriously. Our failure to do so is simply an example of gnosticism traveling in a Protestant disguise and sheer, unapologetic neglect. Most of the Baptists that I know who have thought about this have come around to Calvin’s view of the nature of the Lord’s Supper anyway (which is what you have in the 1689 Confession.) Most Baptists wouldn’t defend our practice of the Lord’s Supper if they were paid to do so. The sermon by Chanski- like it or not- couldn’t be preached in 95% of the Baptist churches I know because no one has thought that long about what’s going on.

The singular worst part is the mad rush to deemphasize the meaning of the Supper so as to not have a shred of sacramentalism anywhere in sight. Most pastors are afraid that anything other that constant assurances that the supper means nothing will lead to rampant fascination with magic. When someone suggests emphasizing the supper more, all these pastors see is problems: sacramentalism, Catholicism, high church liturgy, issues of church discipline, boredom, confusion. The idea that Christ is present and preached in the supper seems to be intolerable. Now if you said the highest possible sacramental things about the Bible, they would be all over it. But not the supper.

The current reign of church growth pragmatism has virtually killed the Lord’s Supper among many evangelicals. It’s a high crime, as bad as any liberal betrayal of the Gospel. If it were an innocent omission, I could understand. But it’s not. It’s been radical surgery, and if you said that our church is only going to do this once a year, you’d hear very little opposition.

Talk about your “Jesus disconnect.’ “Yeah, Jesus inaugurated it and commanded we continue to do it, but I think we need to be careful not to emphasize it too much or else it will mean nothing.” Follow that path for a couple of generations, and it will mean nothing. It gives me a headache.

So here are the weaknesses enumerated. Enjoy.

1. The historical problem. How do Baptists relate their view of the Lord’s Supper to the ancient church’s far more eucharistic, real presence language? Do we believe the ancient church was wrong until the Baptist reformation? Yes? No? What?
2. Articulation. Despite having helpful confessional resources that articulate the Supper beautifully, all Baptists can do is denigrate the supper as “not this” and “not that.” We need an entire revolution of the language- liturgical and confessional- we use with the Lord’s Supper.
3. Frequency. Four times a year or less. Insane.
4. Teaching. No one teaches on this subject in any depth or seriousness.
5. The theology of the supper itself. Our view should be far more open to the Lutheran and Reformed approach, but we’ve simply gone over the edge in refusing to come out of our bubble, so we have a lobotomized practice of the Lord’s Supper and we are the only ones who can’t admit it.
6. The elements themselves: Baptist Chiclets and shot glasses are not Biblical. One loaf. One cup. And lose the grape juice. Good grief. Can’t we do the simple things right?

Comments

  1. iMonk-

    did not mean to lead us down this path of open and closed communion, but it is interesting..we love to know if any of Wesley’s tribe would care to weigh in..I know they are out there!

  2. I spent almost 8 years studying Catholicism and the early church. I came extremely close to converting to RCC over one thing: the Eucharist. It became a huge issue in my life and my marriage, as my wife refused to even consider the idea of becoming Catholic. So iMonk, I can somewhat understand what you are going through.

    One of the things that drove me absolutely insane then, and still does, is the insistence on pastors to put the words “represents” in front of body and blood in the communion service. Uhhh…correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never read a single translation of Scripture that adds “represents.” Why the need to add it? The only thing I could come up with was it was a knee-jerk reaction to the Catholic claim of transubstantiation. It really aggravates me.

    I ended up, after a LONG period of prayer and meeting with several RCC and Protestant friends, deciding against converting (won’t go into all that here), but the centrality of the Lord’s Supper in the RCC liturgy is something I do believe they got right. I think most Protestant churches (that I’ve attended, at any rate) threw the baby out with the bath water. Jesus commanded it to be done in His memory, and it seems to me that the early church (Acts on up) felt that couldn’t be done too often.

    And as for the argument that “if we do it every week, it will become rote”…then why do we meet every week and follow a set order of service?

  3. Forgot to mention that my church now (non-denom) makes the connection between the Passover and the LS. That has helped my understanding tremendously, as well as the actual participation in the LS each time we celebrate it (monthly).

  4. How many of you would be willing to take Holy Communion at a Roman Catholic parish?

    If it were open to me (it’s not; the RCC has closed communion) I would gladly take communion, there.

    When my best friend was received into the RCC, he/she had to affirm that everything the RCC taught was correct. Amazing. I mean, truly, truly amazing.

    Right there, I couldn’t do it. Had I been a cradle Catholic, I could stay, but I would be lying in my conversion if I affirmed everything. I don’t even agree with everything I say, never mind a church.

  5. A question about Baptists and the quarterly communion. How common is this? Is it the SBC only that does this. I only ask, because all of my experience is with ABC Baptist churches, and they serve communion on the first Sunday of each month (which is pretty common for Protestant Churches as a whole, in New England, my own included).

  6. PatrickW says:

    Aboht non-Catholics receiving Communion…

    When you line up for communion in an RC church, and you get to the front, the priest or minister holds up the Host and says “The Body of Christ.” It’s a question as much as a statement: Do you believe this is the Body of Christ as defined by the Church? Amen = I Believe.

    If you say “Amen” but don’t really agree that it is the Body of Christ in the way the Church teaches, you are bearing false witness. I don’t get why a non-Catholic Christian would even want to do such a thing.

    Aside from violating a Commandment, you’re also doing something that the owners of the place in which you are a guest have asked you not to do. It’s bad manners no matter how you come down on the theological issues.

    It is very sad we have to be separated in this way, but the alternative – compromising what we believe to be Truth – is even worse.

  7. Well, that’s the point. You either believe the doctrines, or you don’t.

    Suppose someone said “I’d love to become a Lutheran*, but I just have this teeny little problem – I pretty much love everything, but this whole Trinity thing – do I really have to believe that there’s a separate Spirit? I mean, I believe Jesus is my Saviour and that God is His Father, no problem!”

    *Not picking on the Lutherans; add denomination of your choice.

    So – would you say “Sorry, but that’s a non-negotiable. Please think about it until you come to a definite decision” or would you say “Okay, sure, come on in! Fake it till you can make it! Some way down the line, you’ll accept the Trinity. Besides, who knows what the theologians will tell us next year?”

  8. Juanita says:

    Patrick and Martha,

    I feel very sad as I read your posts.
    I almost cried the first time I attended a service that stated that all baptized persons were welcome at the Lord’s Table. I believe what the RCC teaches about the Eucharist; I also believe in the importance of the Bible. I do not acknowledge the primacy of the Pope and do not see how that should prevent me from receiving the sacrament.
    The sacrament by its very definition (an outward sign instituted by God to give grace)is bigger and more powerful than any human institution. I suspect that this is probably why churches try to control it.
    I take Communion when I attend the church where I was baptized and confirmed. I’m sorry you have a problem with that.

  9. iMonk, thanks for sharing your own journey so transparently with regard to this issue. I especially grieve for the wall in your own family, which in my view is so unnecessary.

    I’ve studied this alot, but still can’t understand how we have come so far from the basics: (1) I’m hungry and thirsty. (2) Only Jesus can feed me. (3) He invites me to the table. (4) When I come, he meets me there and nourishes me with the benefits of his finished work.

    Isaiah 55.1, period.

  10. I’m Baptist, but if I were to ever switch denominations it would be Lutheran. After all, as of my knowledge, the Luther and Zwingli agreed on pretty much everything (in terms of Reformation theology) except the Lord’s Supper — sacrament or recognition?

    Personally, it seems that these are more a matter of semantics. I would say our personal attitude towards should be of remembrance. However, will Christ be there for it? Of course. Will he be there “more” than other times? Only if he is there more when we pray than when we don’t. Or when we are faithful more than when we sin.

  11. sue kephart says:

    Martha,

    You wouldn’t want to become a Lutheran if you didn’t believe in the Trinity. We are a creedal Church. If you are baptized and communing in your own tradition you are welcome to the table. You don’t have to become a member to commune with us.

    When I have communed in the RCC it was with the understanding that it was OK. Yes, I also know it is against the Big Church rules. So I won’t say where or who. Some RCC priests just see a bigger picture.

    This reminds me of Jan Haus who was a RCC Priest who was burned at the stake for giving the Communion wine to the laity. (Will get that one passed imonk?)

  12. Imonk do you affirm everything you teach to be true or just maybe true. Is it not even more amazing to think that a multitude of Christian individuals all with honest intension discern the truth of the faith. How many different positions are on this single issue alone on this page, all thinking they have some sort insider view of the truth, that is amazing.

  13. I think that everyone here would be welcome to take communion at any Christian Church or Church of Christ.
    Historically, Christian Churches & Churches of Christ in the US originated around this issue of closed communion and the divisions it causes among denominations.
    Today, the Lord’s Supper retains a central focus of worship every Sunday. Technically, communion is open to all immersed believers. Practically, I doubt anyone’s participation would be questioned. The focus seems to be more a memorial than presence. It has both a personal & corporate component.
    I value this part of our worship service every Sunday. It is a time of reflection and thankfulness; a time to think of Christ’s sacrifice & the reason we gather as a body.

  14. …..all i know is that if i believed that the bread and wine change into the actual body and blood of the Christ then it would have a dramitic positive effect on me personally as well as spiritually each time i partook…as is im in the “represents” camp..but as i said here a few days ago..this subject seems to be persuing me…..

  15. ….oops

  16. ..he’s my alter ego…….

  17. Steve:

    My confessions make it clear that the Bible is infallible and our confessions are not. No man, no church is teaching the perfect truth and I would tell any audience anywhere that my best efforts to know that truth fall short in many ways.

    If I am not convinced by scripture and evident reason…..sound familiar?

  18. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
    (1Co 11:23-31)

    As a young christian, growing up in a Methodist culture where monthly communion was the norm, I remember being very concerned that taking communion on a weekly basis would cheapen it. In point of fact, I have found the opposite to be true. Taking communion once a month cheapens it by rejecting much of what Our LORD Christ taught about it.

    We take the supper by his command, obedience to his commands is part of our abiding in him as the fruit on the vine must in order to grow.

  19. iMonk, there are many Orthodox who will not receive communion if they do not have a recent confession. The idea is that of 1 Corinthians 11, where it remarks that some sleep and some are sick due to their inability to think correctly about the Lord’s Supper.

    The issue is not whether they are saved, but whether they are in communion with God coupled with a desire to neither be sick nor sleep. This is not just a “Catholic” thought, the Westminster Confession of Faith points out that the Holy Spirit can be “lost” due to our behaviors. “Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.”

    The Orthodox viewpoint on the Lord’s Supper is neither Protestant nor Catholic. But, it is true that we preach against transubstantiation.

    But, putting all the theological arguments aside, I have enjoyed your posting on the Eucharist.

  20. If the truth of Christianity begins with me and my understanding of the faith than your position is perfectly fair, I admit for me to become Catholic it had more to do with surrender of my biblical opinions on many issues rather than human reason or a biblical proof text. If protestantism was a united front it would cause me personal pause, it just begets theological relativism, it is irrational from my perspective with no fixed points. Why have confessions or biblical teachers unless what they are saying is true. Why not just read the infallible word and let it speak for itself, if any explanation would just necessitate false or misguided doctrine. What good is an infallible text without an infallible interpreter? And if you are fallible how could you be convinced of anything you thought you were convinced of through reading sacred scripture. And only an infallible teacher could state that no man or church is teaching the perfect truth. Your declaring a universal truth just in that simple statement. This all gives me a headache, sorry.

  21. Thanks for this post iMonk.

    A big help to me in understanding the sacraments from a historical Baptist perspective is the ‘Studies in Baptist History and Thought’ series by Paternoster. In particular, ‘Baptist Sacramentalism 1’ and ‘Baptist Sacramentalism 2’. Also a gem in the same series, ‘More Than a Symbol’ dealing with baptism.

    I highly recommend them.

    Nev

  22. I visited a different church every Sunday for a year in 2007-2008, mostly in the Philadelphia area, and am in process of posting accounts of my visits on my blog, A Stranger Every Sunday, now. So far I’ve put up accounts of visits to these churches: ELCA, American Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Bible Presbyterian (a small denomination, and the one in which Francis Schaeffer was ordained), and a mostly black independent mega-church. I decided to do all this church visiting after my husband, a PC(USA) pastor, converted to RC. Later today I hope to post my Mormon, Brethren, RC, and UCC church visits.

    I’m very glad I undertook the project, but I do have to say that doing something like this quickly brings to the forefront what a problem the LS can be for visitors. Who knew that “the joyful feast of the Lord” would be such a stumbling block?

  23. Bill Bryant says:

    The evangelical world is gnostic not only about the Lord’s supper but about baptism too. For every evangelical pastor’s dismissive disclaimer about the Lord’s supper I’ve heard ten about baptism.

  24. Steve,

    Most- not all, but most- of the evangelicals who swim the Tiber are looking to solve the authority issue. I’ll never go for that reason, because I am utterly convinced- fallibly- that there is no infallible human being or human institution. I actually doubt that most converts believe that either, but the choice they make ends what is for many of them an intolerable situation of uncertainty.

    peace

    ms

  25. Great post; great questions. As a Lutheran, I can only smile and say, “You’re not far from the kingdom when it comes to the Lord’s Supper.”

    Patrick Kyle (vide supra) nicely summarizes the Lutheran position. The Roman doctrine of “transubstantiation,” the teaching that the substance of bread/wine is changed into the substance of Body/Blood by the power of God working through the priest while the accidents of bread/wine remain is saying too much. It is an Aristotelian attempt to understand “This is my Body/Blood.” The Protestant view that these are but material symbols or signs of Christ’s Body/Blood which are not in, with, and under the Bread/Wine but located somewhere in heaven is saying too little. It is a Platonic attempt to understand that little word “is” in terms of signifies or represents.

    For us Lutherans, “is” means is. It’s an identity. The bread is the Body of Christ, the Body of Christ is bread to eat. The wine is the Blood of Christ, the Blood of Christ is wine to drink. We partake of His sacrificial death (Body) and His life (Blood), for our forgiveness, life, and salvation. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)

    I also appreciate your clarification about “real presence.” The term is used differently among us. “Real presence” for a Lutheran means the real presence of the very Body and Blood of Christ received by the mouth in the Supper. Not Jesus omnipresence. Very important clarification.

    I write this not to stir the pot of controversy among believers in Christ, but to encourage the regular and frequent eating and drinking of the Lord’s Supper by the faithful. We learn and remember by hearing and by doing. He said, “Do this for my remembrance.” This is how Jesus wishes to be remembered – by eating His Body and drinking His Blood. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26)

  26. iMonk,

    This is such an interesting topic, although somewhat painful to read.

    You keep referring to belief in the Real Presence as “some theological footnote,” in the Catholic Church. To me that trivializes the core Catholic doctrine that takes Jesus at his word when he tells us in John 6 that “this IS my BODY.” We believe him when he says “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you.”

    To enter the communion line in a Roman Catholic Church thinking Christ’s sacrificed body is a symbol, a shared meal, a simple memorial ritual, or anything other than the Real Presence, is a repudiation of what Jesus expressly says and what is further described by St. Paul in I Corinthians.

    Let me use a Baptist analogy (which I may have wrong, and I’m sure I’ll be called out for it I am):

    If I were to go to a Baptist church and witness a baptism, I could conceivably say I wanted to be baptized as well. I could get in line to be the next to be baptized, but the pastor isn’t going to do it on the spot (or he shouldn’t). He’s going to ask me questions and discern my heart and my intent. He’s also going to make sure I understand what I’m being baptized into. Just because I would say, “I believe” or “That looks like a good spiritual idea,” it wouldn’t be enough to permit me to receive that sacrament. I would have to be “in communion” with what the Baptist church teaches about belief and salvation before I could partake of that holy event.

    PatrickW said it well: “If you say ‘Amen’ but don’t really agree that it is the Body of Christ in the way the Church teaches, you are bearing false witness.”

  27. Aboht non-Catholics receiving Communion…

    When you line up for communion in an RC church, and you get to the front, the priest or minister holds up the Host and says “The Body of Christ.” It’s a question as much as a statement: Do you believe this is the Body of Christ as defined by the Church? Amen = I Believe.

    If you say “Amen” but don’t really agree that it is the Body of Christ in the way the Church teaches, you are bearing false witness. I don’t get why a non-Catholic Christian would even want to do such a thing.

    In re the first paragraph: I do believe it is the Body of Christ. I could take it.

    In re the second: I am agnostic to the hows of it all. I don’t disbelieve the Roman church’s explanation. It is unknowable to me, ditto the Lutheran, Anglican (and pick your favorite Protestant denoms and insert them, here _________) explanations. I am unable to know it. I am mystified.

    What is knowable to me is what Scripture says. I believe Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus said those words, and I believe Him when I read the words he said. That’s why I could take communion at a Roman Catholic church. I wouldn’t, because I believe it would be disrespectful of me to do so, because I’m not invited to the table, but were I invited, I could join my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ — in Christ.

  28. PL: Could you show me where I specifically said that the real presence was a theological footnote? I believe the discussion of the nature of the real presence quickly becomes a discussion of matters well beyond 99% of Christians of any tradition and is therefore a “footnote” practically speaking, but the real presence is the center of Catholic religion.

    If I misspoke I apologize.

    This topic could really drive me out of the faith. It’s without peer in the pain and despair it causes me.

    peace

    ms

  29. Michael,
    Adding one more [perhaps not unique] perspective, I have to say that the issues of RP or TS mean significantly less to me than the issue of open- vs. closed-communion and frequency. From my heritage in the Restoration Movement (which has it’s own brand of theological issues with the Lord’s Supper), it was their semi-closed stance that irritated me–but darn it all, they ate it every week.

    Now, as I am in the wilderness with everyone else, for reasons unrelated to the LS, I have to say that it’s the LS that has suffered most in my life, rather I have suffered most due to its lacking in my life now.

    Everywhere I turn, as I seek that church community we all need, the LS either isn’t celebrated particularly often (taking second or third or fourth seat to the circus) or it is closed to me and my family unless I meet the demands of it’s dispensers. I suppose I could go back to that good ol’ CofC, but that resurrects us so many dead issues that, frankly, life here in the wilderness is more desirable.

    I don’t know that my despair reaches your level, but I do share it… more of a desperation for something real. I hope I find it before I die alone.

  30. iMonk –

    I feel so badly for you that this subject causes you such pain. If it’s any consolation, I am in the same situation with my husband, and it’s a heartbreak.

    I may have misunderstood your intent in the following two statements:

    “I’m supposed to believe that Jesus doesn’t want me to commune with my wife because I don’t agree with some theological footnotes of a bishop somewhere. Uh-huh. Right.”

    “I believe doctrine matters too, Steve. But I don’t believe Jesus ever told anyone to ban another believer from the Lord’s table over theology footnotes.”

    Since in this subject the conflict between Catholics and other Christians comes from a difference in the belief in the Real Presence, your comments seemed to say that this difference/conflict was merely a footnote to some more important belief. But I would say that it’s a core belief, the truth of which is central to the Catholic faith. All the bishops of the early Church believed in it and it has been taught throughout the centuries.

    However, I may have misunderstood your intent.

    Jesus didn’t specifically say, “Ban those who don’t believe in my Real Presence – body, blood, soul and divinity – from future celebrations at the Lord’s table.” But neither did he call back the disciples who left him over their offense at the literal meaning of “eat my flesh” and “drink my blood.” (John 6:66).

  31. >”I’m supposed to believe that Jesus doesn’t want me to commune with my wife because I don’t agree with some theological footnotes of a bishop somewhere. Uh-huh. Right.”

    >”I believe doctrine matters too, Steve. But I don’t believe Jesus ever told anyone to ban another believer from the Lord’s table over theology footnotes.”

    In neither case was I referring to the RP. No, I have to agree with the bishop about 100% of everything the RC teaches, and that it’s infallible, in order to commune. It’s all or nothing. For example, as a barrier to communion, my rejection of Marian titles in heaven is as significant as my rejection of transubstantiation.

    The irony is that our family is barred from communing together even though I can say the Nicene Creed with my wife but because I can’t agree with her about purgatory.

    That’s footnotes.

    peace

    ms

  32. Oh right, I see. And of course, that opens up an entirely new subject of apostolic authority and succession, Tradition, etc., which I’m sure we don’t want to get into here.

    But I understand your point, now. Thanks for clarifying.

  33. Imonk I think authority may often be the beginning of the leap but more times than not many a convert wish to eat the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and that drive is unrelenting. For me to let go of my theological freedom felt like I was going crazy, Mary Queen of Apostles have I gone crazy; perhaps, but not to let go felt just as maddening.

  34. trooper says:

    iMonk: As a fairly new Catholic who struggles with the Marian dogmas.. my breakthrough moment was finally deciding that if the Church is what it says it is, and I disagree with Her, then I must be wrong in my thinking. So, I’m trying to believe those things, and I’m hopeful that the Church will help me to believe them completely. The Church seems to be ok with that.

  35. iMonk:

    I think much of this conflict and discussion about Communion comes from the different views you as a Protestant and those of us who are Catholics have of the Church: You believe in an “invisible church”, we believe in a visible Church. (So do the Orthodox, btw.) So you feel rejected when you are told that you mustn’t partake in the Eucharist, while Catholics here don’t really understand why you would want to take the Catholic Eucharist at all if you don’t believe in Catholicism. It may be difficult to understand, but the Eucharist is not only the Lord’s Supper, it is “the” spiritual reality that gives the Church her form – John Paul II’s last encyclical was even called “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”, “The Church (comes) from the Eucharist”!

    Another reason for such misunderstandings may be as well that today’s spirit, especially in Protestantism, is quite individualistic and tending to go into the direction of over-emphasizing feelings – which I think is detrimental to spiritual and theological clarity. I guess that a Baptist of the 17th century wouldn’t have had any problems with “not feeling invited” but rather would have rejected the Catholic Eucharist outright, even if it had been offered to him – because he “wouldn’t partake of that Bread of the Devil confected by the pagan minions of the Antichrist” (or some similar rhetoric ;-)).

  36. iMonk – you sound sad in this post and comments. You can’t think of the ministries you’ve been a part of as a waste. Though you are coming to different beliefs, God led you through that path for whatever reason. I understand the pain you (perhaps inadvertently) expressed, as a wandering post-baptist/evangelical myself. Where I have just moved to I have the choice of shallow mega-churches, liberal Lutheran and Episcopal churches or the alienating unity of the Catholic Church. I, too, have come to the point of questioning God as to what is the point? How can I possibly be a Christian here without a hand to be a finger to, or an arm to a body? Don’t give up. I know the Lord has used your ministry and gifts and though you don’t know where it’s leading it can’t be in vain if you goal is to give God glory and worship Him with your whole life. Which, I’m inclined to think, it is. I hope I’m not pushing your new button by saying any of this, but you just sounded so discouraged.

    Grace and Peace be upon you+

  37. iMonk, viz. RC communion and footnotes, it’s because the central article of faith for the Roman Catholic Church is the power and primacy of the pope. From the First Vatican Council:

    So, then, if anyone says that the Roman pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole church…or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

    The problem isn’t that, for-example, that knowing and believing every last little detail of Trent’s ordo salutis is intrinsically salvific (especially since good chunks of it were of recent intellectual origin); it’s that by disagreeing with them, you’ve rejected the pope’s God-given authority to tell you everything you’re supposed to believe and do. What’s of central importance isn’t the content of the doctrine; it’s that the pope said you’re supposed to believe it.

    There is only one with the authority to teach the Church or interpret Tradition; the Holy Father in Rome. And Pope Pius IX was very, very, very clear at Vatican I: Anything and everything, things great and things small, ultimately comes down to the pope’s authority. For Rome, “the article on which the Church stands or falls” is the power and primacy of the Roman pontiff. That’s why when you read about priests or bishops getting excommunicated, it’s almost always for insubordination or one kind or another, whereas nearly every other sin gets some forbearance.

  38. We can talk about the real presence without localizing it.

    Calvinism, and all its various denominational heirs, including Baptists, have been doing this since the 16th century, and in so doing placing itself precisely at odds with the text of Scripture and the greater majority of the Christian Church since its earliest days.

    The rationalistic aversion to deal with the reality of our Lord’s locating himself in the sacramental elements is the root cause of Calvinism’s persistent denial of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

    That’s the problem.

  39. I guess we can’t talk about it.

    Anyone who wants to participate in the above pissing contest may do so anywhere but here.

    Sorry for the Driscoll-esque vocabulary. I’ve been denied the actual presence of Jesus for my entire life.

  40. Michael, you are a better theologian than your comments here would indicate. You are well aware that the Reformed view of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a denial of Christ’s presence where He says He is in the Eucharist.

    You have not been denied of Jesus’ presence, but you have denied his presence where He says He is in His supper.

    I am not sure why it matters since the Baptist view of the Supper is that it is merely a meal of remembrance. If you guys actually thought more of it, I’d be more concerned about what you do, or don’t believe, about the bread and wine.

    As it is you have nice memories with bread and wine, but it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat and drink.

    In other words, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t cling to your Baptist opinions about the Supper and then get cranked up when Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Eastern Orthodox say, “Nope, nothing doing.”

    The fault lies with the Baptist view, not the view of historic Christianity.

  41. After nicely disposing of my entire ministry in a sentence, I’m closing the thread. I actually tend to like Lutherans, and I forget that there are people who will denigrate everything I believe in a succinct, happy paragraph.

    This discussion is over. Hope the truly saved are praying that the rest of us become one of them someday.