October 16, 2017

Reposted: David Chanski on the Baptist View of the Lord’s Supper (With My Thoughts)

davidchanski1Good, solid, simple, basic Baptist teaching on the Lord’s Supper is remarkably hard to come by. David Chanski from Trinity Baptist in Montvale, N.J. takes care of business in less than 40 minutes. It’s Sermonaudio and requires a two line registration, but if you don’t know the Baptist view, have never heard it presented intelligently and winsomely or if you want to shore up your own understanding of the Baptist view, this is very good work.

Chanski doesn’t make the Lord’s Supper-Passover connection, which I think is absolutely essential to rightly understanding our view. Understanding that the Lord’s Supper is a Passover meal given a new focus is quite important. We also don’t get much of the Anabaptist emphasis on covenant community, which is also important to see how Baptists understand the supper in reference to the church.

I’m turning off comments so we don’t have a debate. I know we disagree on this. I am simply making available a resource that gives the Baptist view in the hope of greater understanding and more reasonable discussion when it occurs.

UPDATE: I posted this earlier, and was soon reading a steady stream of negative comments. For a moment, it rattled me, and then I spent a couple of hours writing, remembered why I blog and put it back up.

I’m well aware of the weaknesses of the Baptist view. I’m aware of the weaknesses in practice and in historical justification. I am aware that the first thing that appeals to anyone about a liturgical church is the Eucharist. It was for my wife. And the treatment of the Lord’s Supper by Baptists is a big reason some Baptists can’t stay on board. I truly and deeply respect that.

Someone said we should just admit we are restorationists. I suppose if we aren’t claiming to be identical in doctrine and practice to the apostles, then we’re all restorationists of some kind.

When I’m not writing a book, I’ll keep studying this subject. I’m happy with what the 1689 Second London Confession says. I’m happy with what Spurgeon did with the supper. I’m confident in my own reading of scripture. I’m in agreement with Chanski. (Sorry to disappoint, but you can’t have everything.)

I’ll do more research. If someone will send me Sam Waldron’s address, I’ll ask for an interview. If you want to write me an intelligent note on why Baptists are right or can’t be right, then I might publish it.

But here’s the thing: being in the blogosphere and having an audience of thousands isn’t going to put the integrity of my own journey to where I am or who I am up for compromise. Until I’m convinced, all the applause or derision in the world won’t move me. YOUR journey won’t move me, though I am happy for you to share it. I’m going to put this in its place in my quest for a Jesus shaped spirituality and I’ll change it when I’m convinced of another position.

NOTE: Jim Savastio of the Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville, Ky does a message on the Lord’s Supper as expounded in the 1689 Baptist Confession. Thank God for reformed Baptists who care enough to teach on the LS and to expound their confessions on this topic. It is incredibly frustrating to try and find resources on this subject from most Baptists.

Comments

  1. Interesting, I had not considered the link between the Lord’s Supper and the Passover until now; I have heard people try to connect baptism with circumcision, which I (at least until further study) don’t see a real connection for, but this one be more solid.

    Is there anyplace in the New Testament itself where the connection is made, or is it simply a matter of connecting the “blood of the lamb” metaphor? Baptism is connected to the flood in the writings (1 Peter 3:1), but I don’t recall offhand any mention of a Passover connection directly.

  2. Is there anywhere the connection is made? Well….in all the Gospel accounts it is a Passover meal, right? And in the passover meal you have the elements, a story of redemption and deliverance, and instructions for remembrance and celebration. I think the case isn’t to ask where the connection is made. The case is for those who believe the LS has become something quite different from Passover to explain why Jesus’ words of institution shouldn’t be seen as a refocus of Passover meaning.

    Christ out passover lamb is slain, so let us celebrate the feast. I Cor somewhere.

  3. One thing that has changed my mind and led me to become more sacramental in my understanding over the years has been studying the Lukan passages on the Lord’s Supper in Luke and Acts. Yes, the Supper does draw meaning from Passover, but Luke also connects it with the resurrected Christ (Luke 24) and the fullness of the Spirit in the new community (Acts 2, etc.). The words “He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread” seem to me not only descriptive of the Emmaus disciples’ experience, but also paradigmatic for our experience when we gather at the table Jesus has spread for us. I’m not into arguing metaphysics; I think those debates have deeper roots in Greek philosophy than in the Bible. However, the real presence of Christ at the table through his finished work and the outpouring of the Spirit is one of Luke’s distinctive contributions to the debate.

  4. Imonk,

    For those of us who live in pretty close knit baptist circles. Give us a short run down playing devils advocate of the weaknesses you mention of the baptist view.

    Other than the whole “real presence” argument I’m not aware of any other complaints or criticisms.

    Thanks,
    Austin

  5. I just read this. I had actually gotten the link off twitter, listened to the sermon hoping for new insight, and responded entirely on twitter. I didn’t realize there was a blog post until right now.

    There wasn’t some sort of hidden agenda in my tweets or attempts to force people to admit they are anything, restorationists or otherwise. I was just expressing my own confusion.

    I’m a middle-aged man who has had an identity shaped by Jesus of Nazareth for perhaps fifteen years now. For that period of time I’ve been a member of a single SBC church. At first I accepted most interpretations more or less at face value. But I came to the table with a diverse spiritual background stretching back into my childhood, no particular predisposition toward modernistic approaches to the spiritual, and a long-standing interest in history, especially ancient history.

    So my questions and comments in twitter were entirely honest. It’s through the SBC lens that I learned what restorationist groups were and why they were called such. And the impression I consistently received was that Baptists were not restorationist like those other groups.

    But when this doctrine intersected with my long-standing interest in history and my … open attitude to premodern spiritual perspectives that things began collapsing. After fifteen years of reading Christian writings from every age from the first century onward, I have found no referent to the Baptist doctrine on the Eucharist (clearly not only central to Christians, but often recognized as central by pagans) earlier than Zwingli. Nothing. Nada.

    Now, if we teach that the Church was essentially apostate and lost the proper interpretation of scripture from the apostolic age until it was recovered and restored by the Baptists, that would at least make sense. But within my admittedly limited experience, that’s not what Baptists say.

    So I’ve been confused for a long time. And I’ve begun to feel … deceived. I don’t really know a better word. It’s not that anyone has maliciously or even deliberately tried to lie to me. I don’t believe that for a minute. But the end result is still the same.

    The historical issue is a significant one. As in the sermon you linked, the starting point seems to be that the Roman Catholic Church of the late middle ages had wandered into strange territory. Well, nobody really disputes that today. I wouldn’t use the language Thomas Aquinas tried to use because I don’t think that Aristotle (or Plato to all the reformers) offers a particularly good lens for understanding God and reality. I think I understand more or less what Thomas Aquinas was trying to express and I’m not sure I even disagree strongly with it. Unfortunately, few that followed him in the middle ages actually understood him. (And the sermon’s characterization I would say did not express any understanding of what Thomas Aquinas was trying to say.)

    If we do not claim that the church was essentially apostate from the apostles’ era (or maybe even during it) until the 16th century and that we have restored since restored the proper interpretation of scripture and practice of the faith, then I simply don’t know how to make any sense of the Baptist teaching of the Lord’s Supper. It lacks any framework of historical interpretation.

    I see essentially no chance that I’m ever going to become Roman Catholic and relatively little chance that I’ll become Orthodox (though if I were making book, I would give that better odds than becoming RC). So if I’m going to be Christian, I’m pretty much stuck somewhere in the Protestant realm. And even within that sphere, I’ve pretty much only been a member of one, specific church — an SBC church. So my questions were utterly legitimate, honest, and open.

  6. As to the Lord’s Supper and Passover:

    1. John the Forerunner (the Baptist), “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

    2. St Paul, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast.”

    3. Hebrews 12, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, . . . and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, . . . and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood . . . .” [That whole passage reminds one of the Passover passage in the Old Testament where the blood was sprinkled on the doorways, and it was one of the Great Feasts.

    4. The Orthodox word for Easter is Pascha, or Passover. It comes from the Hebrew word Pesach.

    I could go on, but you get the idea. Besides what iMonk mentioned, there is a very clear Scriptural and historical connection to say that we celebrate the Passover on a weekly basis.

  7. trooper says:

    scott,

    welcome to the Church and to the history thereof… it’s a rough journey, but i am with you in prayer as you journey to the place that you should be.

  8. dumb ox says:

    I have been a part of several good sader meals, where the meaning behind the passover really deepens what Jesus was trying to get across to the disciples. I have been a part of some bad sader meals, too, where some quirky, even heretical connections between the passover symbolisms and Jesus were attempted.

    I like Spurgeon’s take on the Lord’s Supper, too.

    I think we can agree that no matter what view of communion one holds that God is at work: touching, forgiving, empowering. I also believe that any view of communion is quite out of place within the pragmatism and utilitarianism which has grown to dominate evangelicalism. Nothing has symbolic meaning above that of a spoon or a hammer – whether it’s the music, adornments, architecture, or even the sermon. Nothing enraptures or inspires the senses, heart and mind to a greater meaning or presence. Post-modern art and post-modern religion have suffered the same fate.

  9. “4. The Orthodox word for Easter is Pascha, or Passover. It comes from the Hebrew word Pesach.”

    Well…the word in pretty much every European language aside from English, whether Orthodox, Protestant, or Catholic. But yeah.

  10. Thank you, Fr. Ernesto, for pertinent verses. Here is Paul in context:

    Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Corinthians 5:6-8)

    Sure sounds like Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, to me.

  11. wow i think this is the first time i have ever come across the names of pastors i grew up with on the blogosphere – interesting.

  12. Sam – I would turn that around and say that the word is pretty much in every European language because the connection between the Passover cycle and the Death and Resurrection of Christ was part of the common understanding of Christianity, which was the point I was trying to make.

    I admit that I was thinking too much as an Anglophone and forgetting other languages. For those of you who may not realize what Sam is talking about, using “Easter” for the Death and Resurrection weekend is a particularly English and German-speaking custom. In most other languages, the word is a variation of Pesach.

    Spanish – Pascua
    French РP̢ques
    Danish – Paske
    Bulgarian – Пасха
    etc.

  13. Scott Hahn has some interesting insights about the Passover and the Lord’s Supper which he first made as a Protestant (ultimately he became Catholic) which helped me understand how deep the connection goes (called “The Fourth Cup”): http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1991/9109fea1.asp

  14. sue kephart says:

    I had a hard time following this sermons logic. I will admit that I have a prejudice against this type of preaching. IE having a point of view, then finding Bible verses and verse fragments to prove your point. But I tried to understand.

    I think it is my early upbring in Scripture reading. So if I wanted to know if Jesus is present in the bread and wine I would go to ( Using Mark as it is imonks favorite)Mark 14:12 and read to 26. Then I would go back to 14:1-11. Then to 14:27-72. Then go back and slowly read 14:12-26. Hoping with an open mind and heart that the Divinally Inspirired Word of God (the logos=logic of God) would “breath out” to me. I may use other Scripture also in this manner to help understand.

    I approach Communion in the same way. Submitted to my Lord, I come with an open mind and heart ready to receive what He has for me. Not with a list of expections or ideas of what it should be about. He gives me Himself. In this intimate way He shares in my humanity and I share in His Divinity.

    Also and I could be wrong but I think the term Easter comes from East. Jesus rose at sunrise. The English language term that comes to my mind is Pascal.

  15. Easter does not come from East. Easter is more akin to Ishtar or Ashtoreth (pagan goddess of fertility and spring and probably a few other things).

    I say “Resurrection Day” instead.

  16. Imonk & scott,
    What do you mean by “admit we are restorationists”. It reads like a bad thing. Most everything else I’ve read here has made sense to me, but I’m missing that reference.
    Thanks

  17. The reason I ask is that I’m a part of a small movement (read: neurotic denomination in denial ;)) called the American Restoration Movement, or Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. We have a very high view of the Lords Supper.

  18. Restorationists believe some aspect of the faith was lost after the first century and was only restored with their movement. Campbellite movement is a major example.

  19. Louisiana Catholic says:

    NOTE FROM MOD: This post is way too long and takes the whole discussion over to the RCC. I am publishing it to be gracious to my RC readers, but I won’t publish another one anywhere near this length. USE LINKS PLEASE.

    IMonk: I haven’t posted in a while as it seems in the last month or so, your threads have dealt with inter-communion issues among Protestants, particularly the SBC convention and the disputes between Reformed-Calvinist, old-school Baptist in the SBC and Pastor Mark Droll, thus I felt inappropriate to comment on what is an issue for Southern Baptist to discuss among themselves. However, after reading your thread on the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper [both appropriate terms in Catholic Doctrine], I thought I would comment and stay with the scriputure understanding of the Eucharist understood through Typology {OT signs, events point to Christ and find there fullfillment in the person of Christ] and not get into later theological statements from St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, etc.
    I hope some of your readers will find this helpful to see how the Catholic Church sees the Sacred Scriptures as pointing to the Eucharist as key Liturgical act when the Christian people gather at prayer.

    In Genesis 14:18, we read “Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram.” Later in Genesis, we read where Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac and he tells his son, that God will provide the Lamb. Of course, God command Abraham to not sacrifice Isaac, and Abraham later sacrifices a Ram (c.f. Gen 22:7-14). So, two themes are already developed here, Melchizedek a priest offering Bread and Wine and the image of the Lamb.

    As we move to Exodus, we see the Passover ritual described in Exodus 12: 1-20. Some key themes emerge in this text, “the blood of the Lamb is spread on the doors” (c.f. Ex. 12: 7) and the Jewish People “should partake of the Lamb and eat unleavened bread” (c.f. Ex 12: 7-8). Later in the text, we read “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generation shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution” (c.f. Exodus 12”14) and again, “keep the custom of unleavened bread…celebrate as a perpetual institution” (c.f. Ex 12:17). So some themes emerge hear, that connect back to the passages in Genesis. The blood of the Lamb is put on the door, and the angel of death passes over God’s people. To celebrate and actually participate in this saving action of God, God prescribes a Liturgy/Rite whereby the Jewish People are to celebrate the feast of unleavened bread as a “Perpetual Institution”, i.e. a celebration that transcends time and space. For the record, the Exodus 12 passage is read every Holy Thursday in Catholic Churches ,which is when Christ celebrates the Last supper with the Apostles.

    As the Jews cross the read sea in Exodus 14 [a prefigurement of Baptism], we see them on the journey to the promise land and they are without food, and thus we in Exodus 16:13-15, God providing his people with “manna”, i.e., “bread from heaven” as Moses states “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat” (c.f. Ex 16: 15). So again, the sign of God giving his people bread to sustain them on the journey to the promise land is coming into play here again. As we get to Exodus 24: 6-8, we see the covenant ratified in blood as we see Moses taking blood and sprinkling it on the altar [a sign of the presence of God among the people] and then taking the same blood and sprinkling it on the people. So, from this text we have a covenant being made in blood and the mingling of the blood on the altar and people now indicates that God and the people are one, i.e. in communion. Again, for the record, this OT passage is read in Catholic Liturgy on the Feast of Corpus Christi [celebrated 6/14/2009].

    Two Psalms have strong Eucharistic imagery, as well as sacramental imagery. For example, in Psalm 104:14-15, we read “You raise grass for cattle and plants for our beasts of burden. You bring bread from the earth and wine to gladden our hearts, Oil to make our faces gleam, food to build our strength.” In Psalm 110:4 we see the connection to Melchizedek again as we read “The Lord has sworn and will not waver: like Melchizedek, you are a priest forever.” In addition, the Prophet Malachi (c.f. Mal 1:11) writes “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, a pure offering.”

    So again, the signs of bread and wine are in the Psalms and the Psalmist makes a prophetic statement about Christ being like Melchizedek, you are a priest forever and later the prophet Malachi indicates that a sacrifice will be offered everywhere. So in closing with respect to the OT, the themes, signs, persons and events in these passages, which include bread and wine, priest, sacrifice, Lamb, Passover, unleavened bread, and Melchizedek, through typology, point to the person of Christ and find there fulfillment in his person.

    So, staring with the New Testament, John the Baptist identifies Christ as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (c.f. John 1:29). In St. John’s chapter 6, we see Christ giving the bread of life discourse, where he cites manna that God gave in the OT and now indicates that he is the true bread from heaven. In the Gospels we read that Christ Passion took place in the context of Passover (c.f. Mt 26:17; Mk 14:12; Luke 22: 7; John 19:14) and all them make the point to indicate that it was the “feast of unleavened bread and St. Mark and St. Luke make the point that this was when the Passover lamb was sacrificed. We also read in the three synoptic Gospels that Christ celebrated the Last supper with his Apostles (c.f. Mk 14: 22-26; Mt 26: 26-30; Luke 22: 14-20), using bread and wine, and stated “This is my Body; This is my Blood and do this in memory of him” and Christ stated that the bread and cup were the new covenant of his blood (c.f. Luke 22:20). St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-29, which interestingly, is written before any of the Gospel accounts gives a strong narrative on the Tradition of the Eucharist as he writes that Christians are to celebrate the Eucharist and indicates that it is a covenant in Christ blood and each time you celebrate the Eucharist, you proclaim the death of the Lord. St. Paul also clearly states that partaking of the Eucharist must be done worthily and a person should examine himself/herself before receiving the Eucharist (c.f. 1 Cor 11:27-28).

    In St. Luke’s Gospel, we see the post resurrection account of the road to Emmaus (c.f. Luke 24: 13-35) Christ appearing to two of his Apostles (who are not named) and they do not recognize him until Christ celebrates the “Eucharist” as we read “And it happened that while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him…….and the two recounted how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread (c.f. Luke 24:30-35). St. Luke, in Acts of the Apostles, gives us an account of Church life as he writes “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (c.f. Acts 2:42). We see the importance of gathering to break bread again in Acts 20:7 where we read “On the first day of the week, when we gathered to break bread” and Paul again breaks bread before he leaves (c.f. Acts 20:11).

    So, taken collectively, the Catholic Church sees the Eucharist as the ritual, sacramental action of thanksgiving to God which constitutes the principal Christian liturgical celebration of communion in the paschal mystery of Christ and the celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life (Catechism paragraph 2177). The Eucharist then fulfills all of the Old Testament signs and events in the person and actions of Christ, and thus it is the celebration commanded by Christ to make present the sacrifice of Christ throughout the ages until Christ comes again. Christ entrusted this memorial of his body and blood to his spouse, the Church and thus it is an action of both Christ and His Church and it again, re-presents [makes present] the sacrifice of the cross and an because it is a memorial, it applies its fruits. The sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharist are one in the same and as Christ once offered himself in a bloody manner on the Cross, the Eucharist as a sacrifice and an offering of bread and wine is the same offering in an unbloody manner.

    Pax et bonum

  20. ChristSpeak, in addition to the scripture references and good explanations given here, and the link to Scott Hahn’s writing, the organization Jews For Jesus has a Christ in the Passover presentation. You can see a video of it at video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5272606142394767394 (I didn’t include the http bit of the link, so that this comment wouldn’t get stuck in moderation mode.)

    If you find these explanations valid and end up seeing the first Passover as a type of the Incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, I think it’s likely you’ll see a strong connection between Passover and the Eucharist/Communion/Lord’s Supper.

  21. sue kephart says:

    Bob,

    I have heard that Ishtar comment by Evangelicals who hate the Roman Catholic Church. “See they are really pagans”. I don’t think it is true because Easter is an English word and not used in other languages. The ‘Resurrection of our Lord’ is what the Christian Holiday is called.

  22. Imonk wrote “Restorationists believe some aspect of the faith was lost after the first century and was only restored with their movement. Campbellite movement is a major example.”

    I’m fairly new to the site and a little surprised we’re on your “doctrinal radar”. Guess I shouldn’t be. You seem to always have a good handle on all the views on things. (note: not sucking up).

  23. I live in Ky. Campbellite revolution happened here and took a third of Baptists churches at the time. I know them well, from the Disciples to the hardcore Church of Christ.

    Also Ky is home of SE Christian, Southland Christian, Owensboro Christian. All megas.

  24. OK, so I was raised Roman Catholic, and although transubstantiation is a nice thought, it never really worked for me. This was one reason I left the RC faith (among many others).

    However, the respect that RC’s display for the eucharist, as well as the communion service, is one that I think a lot of people could learn from.

    Back to the Baptist belief of eucharist, for me the biggest issue is that it becomes nothing more than a symbol. Yes, I realize that the bread is bread, and the wine or juice is just that. However, during a communion service in most denominations, the bread and wine are blessed. We as God, through the Holy Spirit, to make the bread more than bread. To make it a method of transporting the Holy Spirit to us.

    But it seems to me that most Baptist churches I have attended see the act merely as reenactment of Jesus’s acts (and weak reenactments at many), not as an actual blessing of those present, much less a blessing of the species (bread and wine).

    I will try to maintain my respect of the eucharist. And I will try to respect other’s beliefs and practices as well.

  25. Just a note to say that bread and wine are often served after synagogue services.

    I believe the same was practiced in certain of the ancient mysteries of Greco-Roman times.

  26. Sue,

    I am an Evangelical who does not hate the Roman Catholic Church. When I made the Easter/Ishtar/Ashtoreth connection, the Roman Catholic Church was the furthest thing from my mind. Actually I am a Jewish-Metho-Bapti-Costal with definite Lutheran/Anglican leanings and a great respect for Eastern Orthodoxy, but hey, I don’t like labels.

    But I do rather like what Flannery O’Connor (RCC) said to Katherine Anne Porter (RCC) or Mary McCarthy (RCC) or whoever it was regarding the Eucharist: “Well, if it’s only a symbol, I say to Hell with it.”