Communing Infants

This is the question for debate:

If churches are convinced by the grace attendant on infant baptism, based on (at least) a covenant theology of the household and the psychology of child development, but also bearing in mind the apostolic / New Testament connectivity of baptism and the eucharist, should not these churches also be chrismating / confirming and communing these infants and not separating the sacraments by whatever justification?

Please note that for the purposes of this question the validity of infant baptism is to be assumed. Debating that is for another and different thread.
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Comments

  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited January 11
    Yes, but I would prefer to imagine that this is on the basis of God's universal acceptance of all people and unwillingness to turn anyone away, than some arm-twisting involving "covenant theology" to get God to accept those he would otherwise be unaccepting of.

    At a pastoral, human level, I still see a value in having an opportunity for confirmation of faith at a rational age though.
  • Fr_Gregory_OrthoGuyFr_Gregory_OrthoGuy Shipmate Posts: 18
    I agree Karl ... I only included "covenant theology" to include those who might otherwise feel hesitant about the grace of acceptance by God in the baptising of infants, (the latter of course being the Orthodox Church teaching).
  • I'd largely go along with @KarlLB. Baptists - who dedicate infants rather than baptising them - have often taken one of two positions with regard to child communion. One is to wait "until the child is old enough to understand what it's all about" - which actually opens up all sorts of questions about intellectual ability, spiritual maturity et al; or to practice the more rigorous position (enshrined in some churches' Constitutions) that only believers who, having come to faith and been baptised as believers, may come to the Lord's table.

    My own belief is different. I (and the church I serve) have long held the position that children are loved by God and part of the church family. To exclude them from the "family meal" seems illogical and divisive. Therefore we welcome infants and children to Communion - this is one of the times when using non-alcoholic wine (much as I dislike it) is a bit of a blessing!
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited January 11
    What @Baptist Trainfan has said, with the caveat that the C of E (of course) has various Rules about this whole issue.

    Individual clergy do (again, of course) take varying views, but the *welcome* and *being part of the church family* is so very much more important ISTM than strict adherence to Rules - an attitude which, in a previous age, would have sent me to the stake, I expect.

    (BTW - should the verb be communicating, rather than communing ?)
  • Interesting, BF. I was a child brought up in the late 50s/early60s Church of England (Low Church), and it was unthinkable that a young person should commune/communicate before Confirmation.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited January 11
    Interesting, BF. I was a child brought up in the late 50s/early60s Church of England (Low Church), and it was unthinkable that a young person should commune/communicate before Confirmation.

    Indeed - times have certainly changed (for the better IMHO as far as this question is concerned).

    The Church of my Youth was snake-belly Low C of E, and the same applied - but, in those days, Holy Communion really only happened at 8am on Sundays, and once or twice a month after Morning or Evening Prayer.
  • Fr_Gregory_OrthoGuyFr_Gregory_OrthoGuy Shipmate Posts: 18
    What @Baptist Trainfan has said, with the caveat that the C of E (of course) has various Rules about this whole issue.

    Individual clergy do (again, of course) take varying views, but the *welcome* and *being part of the church family* is so very much more important ISTM than strict adherence to Rules - an attitude which, in a previous age, would have sent me to the stake, I expect.

    (BTW - should the verb be communicating, rather than communing ?)

    In the Orthodox Church we say "communing" not "communicating" although both terms are used well.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    We commune infants at the parents' discretion. Later, when they are about 8, we have a class for them on what communion is all about. When they are in middle school, we go through the basic doctrines of the church.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    We commune infants at the parents' discretion. Later, when they are about 8, we have a class for them on what communion is all about. When they are in middle school, we go through the basic doctrines of the church.

    With confirmation at some stage?
  • The Church of my Youth was snake-belly Low C of E, and the same applied - but, in those days, Holy Communion really only happened at 8am on Sundays, and once or twice a month after Morning or Evening Prayer.
    Although we were Low (none of that Incense or Genuflecting, thank you very much), my church got into the Parish Communion set up quite early on. That was at 9.30am, with Matins at 11 (which few went to). I vividly remember two things: the children's Communion pamphlet which included the words of the service, some line drawings, and explanatory comments: "We have now come to the most important part of the service"; and the fascinating tables for calculating Easter in the Prayer Book (which we given for the Psalms and Collects etc).

  • Presumably, children at the 930am Parish Communion would have been invited to the communion-rail for a blessing? I think that's been common practice for a long time.

    The Church Of My Youth never got into *Parish Communion*. The best it achieved was a full Rite A service once a month at 1030am, and a similar service once a month at 630pm (the 8am BCP on Sundays carried on, although I don't think they hold it now...)
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Lutherans, I should say, vary on communion practices according to congregational custom.

    Again, same with confirmation. In our congregation we have moved away from a unit confirmation (were kids of a certain age are confirmed at once) to a more individual confirmation because kids in our congregation move on after the academic year.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited January 11
    Presumably, children at the 930am Parish Communion would have been invited to the communion-rail for a blessing?
    Yes. And, as far as liturgy is concerned, I think we went straight from BCP to Series 2.

  • Ha! We never touched Series 1 or Series 2, but (for the bi-monthly *main services*) went from BCP to Series 3...O! how radical it seemed at the time!

    IIRC, Series 3 was authorised from 1973, which would be the year when we acquired a new Vicar. He was happy to use the new contemporary-language service, but not every Sunday...

    As to communing/communicating young children, we did at one point welcome a family whose children - with one exception - had already been confirmed. The youngest boy (he was aged 10, I think) had various mental and physical health issues, but was able to eat and drink normally. The Vicar and PCC agreed to allow him to also receive Communion, alongside his family (presumably with the Bishop's consent), but this was very much a one-off case IYSWIM.
  • This is the question for debate:

    If churches are convinced by the grace attendant on infant baptism, based on (at least) a covenant theology of the household and the psychology of child development, but also bearing in mind the apostolic / New Testament connectivity of baptism and the eucharist, should not these churches also be chrismating / confirming and communing these infants and not separating the sacraments by whatever justification?

    TEC offers communion to all baptized Christians, including children. At our place, we have never, to my knowledge, had someone request communion for their infant, but we have a couple of toddlers who receive on a regular basis.

    We tend to do a formal "first communion" which usually has little girls in white dresses, following the local Catholic practice, when the children are 7-ish. About half the first communion class will have been regular communicants for a long time, and for half this will be their actual first communion. It's mostly an opportunity for education about the sacraments.

    Our confirmation class is usually ages 14-16. We often have an adult confirmand or two, but they take instruction separately - we don't throw them in with the teens.
  • My New Frontiers church has the same approach as Baptist Trainfan, we don’t baptise infants, instead doing dedication, but any family member is welcome to take communion. Our wine is alcohol-free and our communion informal.
    I became a Christian as an adult in the Anglican Church and was taking communion before I was baptised (I was not confirmed). St Helens welcomed anyone who believed to receive communion regardless of baptismal status.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    RC children are prepared for their first communion once they are about 8. It is quite a "thing" and involves attendance at special classes.
  • Our infant children received their first communions on the days of their baptisms: 6 weeks and 3 weeks respectively. They have continued to receive ever since. They were both confirmed at about 12 years of age, and they took it very seriously. If we believe that baptism is entry into the church, why would we turn baptized folks away from the nourishing table of the Body of Christ?
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I remember one young girl who had attention deficit disorder, She could not stay still during worship, but there is one thing that always got her to focus That was when she got the Jesus bread. She is now in the fifth grade. The ADD is under control. She remains one of the most active kids in the congregation. I enjoy working with her.
  • My New Frontiers church has the same approach as Baptist Trainfan, we don’t baptise infants, instead doing dedication, but any family member is welcome to take communion.

    I always feel this position doesn’t bear much examination. Side note; one of the churches I attended as a child adopted this position and even then I felt the support for it was weak and I’ve discussed it with people in NFI circles.

    It’s much more reliant on the argument from silence than any of the traditional views while claiming it isn’t.
  • Could you elucidate that a bit, please? I can't quite follow what you mean. Sorry.
  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited January 12
    I don’t understand either. But I’m no theologian.
  • If we believe that baptism is entry into the church, why would we turn baptized folks away from the nourishing table of the Body of Christ?
    That’s where my denomination ended up. Historically in the Reformed tradition, young people were “admitted” to the Table when they were confirmed/made a profession of faith. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began the move away from that position around 40 years ago. Baptized children may commune, and I’ve known of instances where a just-baptized infant was the first to commune in that service.

    As for confirmation, that is not a sacrament for us, but rather is understood in the context of living out one’s baptism. It is an occasion for making a public profession of one’s faith and accepting responsibilities of life within the church. In some ways, it’s comparable to a bar/bat mitzvah. So confirmation immediately after an infant baptism would be nonsensical in our understanding.

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    If we believe that baptism is entry into the church, why would we turn baptized folks away from the nourishing table of the Body of Christ?
    That’s where my denomination ended up. Historically in the Reformed tradition, young people were “admitted” to the Table when they were confirmed/made a profession of faith. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began the move away from that position around 40 years ago. Baptized children may commune, and I’ve known of instances where a just-baptized infant was the first to commune in that service.

    As for confirmation, that is not a sacrament for us, but rather is understood in the context of living out one’s baptism. It is an occasion for making a public profession of one’s faith and accepting responsibilities of life within the church. In some ways, it’s comparable to a bar/bat mitzvah. So confirmation immediately after an infant baptism would be nonsensical in our understanding.

    @Nick Tamen I grew up in the Reformed tradition, and clearly remember that covenant theology, with statements like "children of believers are holy and therefore ought to be baptized." What made no sense to me, even as a young child, was why the Lord's Supper was inaccessible until I would make public profession of faith at the expected age of 18ish. I remember feeling starved in my spiritual life as a child.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    If we believe that baptism is entry into the church, why would we turn baptized folks away from the nourishing table of the Body of Christ?
    That’s where my denomination ended up. Historically in the Reformed tradition, young people were “admitted” to the Table when they were confirmed/made a profession of faith. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began the move away from that position around 40 years ago. Baptized children may commune, and I’ve known of instances where a just-baptized infant was the first to commune in that service.

    As for confirmation, that is not a sacrament for us, but rather is understood in the context of living out one’s baptism. It is an occasion for making a public profession of one’s faith and accepting responsibilities of life within the church. In some ways, it’s comparable to a bar/bat mitzvah. So confirmation immediately after an infant baptism would be nonsensical in our understanding.

    @Nick Tamen I grew up in the Reformed tradition, and clearly remember that covenant theology, with statements like "children of believers are holy and therefore ought to be baptized." What made no sense to me, even as a young child, was why the Lord's Supper was inaccessible until I would make public profession of faith at the expected age of 18ish. I remember feeling starved in my spiritual life as a child.
    Same here, though we did confirmation around age 11. (I was 10. The normal age now is more like 14.) I’m glad the PCUSA has moved away from that approach, and that my children have never known anything other than being welcome at the Table.

    Meanwhile, I’ve made sure that the Thanksgiving for Baptism in my funeral liturgy includes that Reformed baptismal phrase “child of the covenant”:

    “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ
    have clothed yourselves with Christ.
    In his baptism Nicholas,
    a child of the covenant,
    was clothed with Christ;
    in the day of Christ’s coming,
    he shall be clothed with glory.”


  • CharlesReadCharlesRead Shipmate Posts: 17
    Confirmation only exists in the west as a fairly late development so the Anglican obsession with needing to be confirmed before receiving communion lacks historical justification. It also lacks theological justification as others note above. It is not the same as chrismation in the east.

    The International Anglican Liturgical Consultation (the worldwide liturgical advisory body for the Anglican communion) recommended receiving communion on the basis of baptism alone (confirmation not necessary) as long ago as 1984. Most provinces accepted this with TEC being very firm and clear on this. The Church of England has been halfhearted - we allow it subject to the diocesan bishop's agreement and I think all diocesans do now. So some parishes do and others do not. I find ordinands and trainee lay ministers do not know this!
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    If we believe that baptism is entry into the church, why would we turn baptized folks away from the nourishing table of the Body of Christ?
    That’s where my denomination ended up. Historically in the Reformed tradition, young people were “admitted” to the Table when they were confirmed/made a profession of faith. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began the move away from that position around 40 years ago. Baptized children may commune, and I’ve known of instances where a just-baptized infant was the first to commune in that service.

    As for confirmation, that is not a sacrament for us, but rather is understood in the context of living out one’s baptism. It is an occasion for making a public profession of one’s faith and accepting responsibilities of life within the church. In some ways, it’s comparable to a bar/bat mitzvah. So confirmation immediately after an infant baptism would be nonsensical in our understanding.

    @Nick Tamen I grew up in the Reformed tradition, and clearly remember that covenant theology, with statements like "children of believers are holy and therefore ought to be baptized." What made no sense to me, even as a young child, was why the Lord's Supper was inaccessible until I would make public profession of faith at the expected age of 18ish. I remember feeling starved in my spiritual life as a child.

    I felt that way too, a bit, and it's why when my son expressed a hunger for communion we moved heaven and earth (well, not THAT bad) to get him catechized and properly admitted per the customs of our church body only way early. I did warn him that for the sake of peace with our host congregation, he would have to go through the catechetical process twice, and was he willing? and he said yes, from which I concluded he was much more mature than most adult Christians I knew.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    When we first joined our present congregation, they did not commune unconfirmed children. However, our kids had been communing at our previous congregation. I raised the issue that my kids were feeling left out with the pastor. He took it to the council. All of the sudden any baptized child was welcomed to the table.

    Confirmation is still important in that it gives the kids a chance to understand the basic doctrines of the Christian church as we understand them. Once they are confirmed, they are allowed to become voting members of the congregation. However, few if any will stay for a congregational meeting. I think the one exception was my one son. He became a member of the church council and a voting delegate to the synod assembly before he graduated from high school. He later became an ordained minister.
  • TelfordTelford Deckhand, Styx
    In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul said that those taking part should understand what they were doing and take it seriously
  • TurquoiseTasticTurquoiseTastic Kerygmania Host
    edited March 12
    I am really interested that both @Baptist Trainfan and @Heavenlyannie are from traditions that do not accept infant baptism but do give communion to children who have not yet been baptised, and in fact would not yet be eligible for baptism. Have I understood you correctly?
  • I am really interested that both @Baptist Trainfan and @Heavenlyannie are from traditions that do not accept infant baptism but do give communion to children who have not yet been baptised, and in fact would not yet be eligible for baptism. Have I understood you correctly?

    Yes, because we don't link baptism with communion. However there are Strict Baptists (sometimes called Grace Baptists) who operate a "closed table". Only those baptised by immersion as believers are eligible to partake.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    I am really interested that both @Baptist Trainfan and @Heavenlyannie are from traditions that do not accept infant baptism but do give communion to children who have not yet been baptised, and in fact would not yet be eligible for baptism. Have I understood you correctly?

    Yes, because we don't link baptism with communion. However there are Strict Baptists (sometimes called Grace Baptists) who operate a "closed table". Only those baptised by immersion as believers are eligible to partake.
    And among some Baptists in the US, only those who are members of that particular church are eligible to partake.

  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited March 12
    I didn’t link baptism with communion even when I was an Anglican. I was baptised as an adult in my mid-twenties in St Helens and had been taking communion for several months.
    (Apologies, I see I said this before).
  • TelfordTelford Deckhand, Styx
  • TurquoiseTasticTurquoiseTastic Kerygmania Host
    I am really interested that both @Baptist Trainfan and @Heavenlyannie are from traditions that do not accept infant baptism but do give communion to children who have not yet been baptised, and in fact would not yet be eligible for baptism. Have I understood you correctly?

    Yes, because we don't link baptism with communion.

    Okay, I can see that. But why is the same argument that you make about communion ("we don't want to exclude children from the family meal") not applied to baptism (why are children being excluded from this sign of belonging?).
  • TurquoiseTasticTurquoiseTastic Kerygmania Host
    I didn’t link baptism with communion even when I was an Anglican. I was baptised as an adult in my mid-twenties in St Helens and had been taking communion for several months.
    (Apologies, I see I said this before).

    Yes, but in that case the two were in fact connected. You began to take communion because you had come to faith, and you were (subsequently) baptised for the same reason. This seems consistent.

    Whereas in the situation you and @Baptist Trainfan are now describing, children are permitted to take communion but are not permitted to be baptised. This seems less consistent.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    I am really interested that both @Baptist Trainfan and @Heavenlyannie are from traditions that do not accept infant baptism but do give communion to children who have not yet been baptised, and in fact would not yet be eligible for baptism. Have I understood you correctly?

    Yes, because we don't link baptism with communion.

    Okay, I can see that. But why is the same argument that you make about communion ("we don't want to exclude children from the family meal") not applied to baptism (why are children being excluded from this sign of belonging?).
    Not a Baptist, much less a British Baptist, but I think Baptists in my part of the world (the Southern US) would say because baptism is not a sign of belonging. They would say it is a profession of one’s faith. In the words of the Baptist Faith and Message of the Southern Baptist Confession,
    [Baptism] is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead.

    Of course, the Baptist Faith and Message goes on to say, “Being a church ordinance, [baptism] is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.”


  • @Telford - I can see what you're getting at and would have fully agreed at one point, but how do you, I or anyone else know or can ensure that everyone who receives communion at any point in any given church or denomination are fully aware of what they are doing?

    How do we know that about ourselves?
    How do we know whether we have done sufficient self-examination before we receive?

    Clearly we are going to have our own views on how these things should be done according to our own understanding of scripture and small t tradition (sola scriptura is never solo scriptura of course!). Or Big T Tradition if we are RC or Orthodox. But I'm not sure it behoves any of us to sit in judgement on what particular polity other people adopt in their particular churches.

    We have to look at these things in context.

    How @Baptist Trainfan or @Heavenlyannie are going to understand and practice these things is going to differ from the approach taken in a Lutheran setting, say, in a Presbyterian one or in a Roman Catholic or Orthodox one. And it wouldn't be an issue at all within groups like the Salvation Army or Quakers.

    Heck, there'll be different approaches within Anglicanism depending on 'churchmanship' - as Heavenlyannie indicates.

    I suppose my own view would be that the self-examination element kicks in when we are mature enough to be able to do that. The Orthodox view of course, is that the children of believing parents are able to receive communion and are 'sanctified' as it were, but at some point are expected to 'own' their faith for themselves. Whether this always happens in practice is a moot point of course.

    It's a tricky one. It's not uncommon to see parents bringing their children for communion in Orthodox parishes but not receiving themselves. This may sometimes be because they don't feel they have examined themselves sufficiently or it could be they are co-habiting or not married in the eyes of the Church. Or for other reasons.

    I'm glad it's not my responsibility to sort all that out!

    I've got all on to examine my own spiritual condition not other people's.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    @Telford - I can see what you're getting at and would have fully agreed at one point, but how do you, I or anyone else know or can ensure that everyone who receives communion at any point in any given church or denomination are fully aware of what they are doing?

    How do we know that about ourselves?
    How do we know whether we have done sufficient self-examination before we receive?
    I’m reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis: “I hope I do not offend God by making my Communions in the frame of mind I have been describing. The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand.”

    And likewise of the words of Frederick Buechner (speaking of infant baptism): “When it comes to the forgiving and transforming love of God, one wonders if the six-week-old screecher knows all that much less than the archbishop of Canterbury about what’s going on.”

    I'm glad it's not my responsibility to sort all that out!

    I've got all on to examine my own spiritual condition not other people's.
    Amen!

  • TelfordTelford Deckhand, Styx
    edited March 12
    @Telford - I can see what you're getting at and would have fully agreed at one point, but how do you, I or anyone else know or can ensure that everyone who receives communion at any point in any given church or denomination are fully aware of what they are doing?

    How do we know that about ourselves?
    How do we know whether we have done sufficient self-examination before we receive?

    At the main church I used to go to, the Pastor used to warn everyone and I guess it was then down to them.

    Children of all ages would not be attending alone. It would tbe the parent's job to make sure that they undserstood what they were doing.

  • The odd thing is, in terms of what the Bible says, there doesn't seem to be any danger associated with receiving baptism "wrongly" (if there's such a thing), but there is for communion--though there are huge arguments about what exactly that means. I don't think they come down to intellectual incapacity, though. More heart attitudes. But if you can't refuse someone communion, IMHO that ought to go triply for baptism.
  • Telford wrote: »
    @Telford - I can see what you're getting at and would have fully agreed at one point, but how do you, I or anyone else know or can ensure that everyone who receives communion at any point in any given church or denomination are fully aware of what they are doing?

    How do we know that about ourselves?
    How do we know whether we have done sufficient self-examination before we receive?

    At the main church I used to go to, the Pastor used to warn everyone and I guess it was then down to them.

    Children of all ages would not be attending alone. It would tbe the parent's job to make sure that they undserstood what they were doing.

    I know what you mean by this bit it sounds a bit harsh and judgmental to me now. If that isn't a contradiction in terms my sitting in judgement on what other churches and church leaders do having said that it isn't a good idea to do that ...

    Sure, it's part of the pastoral role to warn and exhort but in my experience within independent charismatic evangelicalism that could easily topple over into interference and over-stepping the mark when it came with messing about with people's lives.

    I'm treading carefully here lest I accuse the pastor at your 'main church' (I presume you had a secondary one too?) of doing that.

    It does indicate a legitimate concern about thought and care and the need for reflection and self-examination when approaching communion. No problem with that.

    I'm with Lamb Chopped on this one though. Why should we hold children to exacting standards we might apply to ourselves?

    Besides, isn't the context of the Apostle Paul's instruction that things were becoming a free-for-all with people jostling for the bread and wine and some people being left without whilst others were getting drunk?

    Whatever the case, I find it quite touching and moving on a Sunday at my Orthodox parish to see the kids going up to receive communion first. Babies in arms are carried, of course but toddlers and young children go to the front and form a line on cue, fidgeting and squirming as kids do. They seem very unselfconscious about the whole thing.

    'Suffer the little ones to come unto me ...'
  • Truthfully, I think the babies and young children are safer than anyone. They haven't got the capacity to willfully and knowingly reject him yet the way we do.
  • TelfordTelford Deckhand, Styx
    The odd thing is, in terms of what the Bible says, there doesn't seem to be any danger associated with receiving baptism "wrongly" (if there's such a thing), but there is for communion--though there are huge arguments about what exactly that means. I don't think they come down to intellectual incapacity, though. More heart attitudes. But if you can't refuse someone communion, IMHO that ought to go triply for baptism.


    In the days when the New Testament books of the Bible were written, it was a dangerous thing to be a Christian. I can't see people wanting to be baptised unless they were really serious.

    From what I am seeing on news programmes it could well be an issue these days.
  • I was thinking of spiritual or even supernatural danger--the kind of thing Paul mentioned. Ordinary human danger exists in every century, more's the pity.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Paul's admonition about each person examining themselves has to be seen in context with what was happening in the Corinthian congregation. Certain people were being excluded because they were not of the right status (maybe they could not bring food to the agape feast) and others were getting drunk with the wine.

    Paul reminds the Corinthians what the Eucharist is about. Its not a big party. It is not about exclusion. When Jesus says this is my body, it means something. When Jesus says this is my blood, it means something. If a person has a good understanding of this, they are welcomed to the table.

    I have actually found young children seem to understand what is happening more so than the adults. They accept it without question. One young girl used to pick up the bread and announce she had the Jesus bread. She also knew what the Jesus juice was. She is older now and going through confirmation. But I still remember her announcing to everyone what she had as a little girl.
  • In Scotland, where the tradition was (and maybe still is) to have Communion rarely and make a Big Thing out of it, this exhortation to self-examination was known as "Fencing the Tables". Allegedly the fences were sometimes made so high and spiky that virtually no-one dared communicate, lest they be subject to divine wrath.
  • In Scotland, where the tradition was (and maybe still is) to have Communion rarely and make a Big Thing out of it, this exhortation to self-examination was known as "Fencing the Tables". Allegedly the fences were sometimes made so high and spiky that virtually no-one dared communicate, lest they be subject to divine wrath.

    I think I recall hearing that Jehovah's Witnesses have a similar issue, in that by partaking of communion you are declaring yourself one of the 144 000 and at most Kingdom Halls nobody is confident/arrogant enough to do so.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Hell Host
    More heart attitudes. But if you can't refuse someone communion, IMHO that ought to go triply for baptism.

    Yes, and the implication of the various passages in Acts are that there were some who had not made a prior commitment to being baptised at the point at which they being notionally marked for baptism as part of a "covenant family". You can infer that some were being baptised without making a conscious decision to do so in a way that is a bit harder in the case of communion.

    Which gets to my point earlier; because the reasoning I often heard was that 'confirmations aren't in the bible' or alternatively 'there's nothing that says baptism comes before communion' (which while true ignore the fact that we see people being baptised rather rapidly after their confession of faith and then along with any accompanying family).
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Paul's admonition about each person examining themselves has to be seen in context with what was happening in the Corinthian congregation. Certain people were being excluded because they were not of the right status (maybe they could not bring food to the agape feast) and others were getting drunk with the wine.

    I think there's certainly an element of that in that passage, but the inclusion of both the body and the blood and the stress on discernment makes me thing there's more going on than just an admonition for table side unity of the (local) body of Christ.
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