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Can We Talk About The Lord’s Supper?
I ask us to reexamine our traditions concerning the Lord’s Supper.

The Doctrinal Point of View

The point of view behind this work is Bible based, but not denominationally specific (though I am Protestant). No attempt has been made to either challenge or champion any particular theology. That doesn’t mean this work is in any way ecumenical, or that it conflates theologies, or blurs denominational lines. At times specific theological viewpoints, for example such as either Catholic or Reformed may be pertinent to the topic. When mentioned, every effort has been made to state those doctrines accurately and treat them with respect.

The heart of what is addressed here are various aspects of the Lord’s Supper which affect the value and place we give it. These are in most ways independent of various theological views. Issues that are theologically specific like the transformation of the elements are not addressed. The author’s personal point of view is essentially memorialist and non-sacerdotal which is a polar opposite of Catholic sacerdotalism and sacramentalism. However Catholics profoundly recognize the memorial aspects of the Lord’s Supper. What this illustrates is that the aspects of the Lord’s Supper discussed in this study, such as the aspect of memorial, are neither Catholic nor Protestant, but inherent qualities of the Lord’s Supper. And it is by giving these various aspects a fresh look that our vocabulary, our ability to think and talk about the Lord’s Supper will be refreshed. Other subjects that are a necessary part of this discussion such as God’s character, and the topic of worship, are also attempted in a non-denominationally specific manner. But there is no truly neutral ground from which to disuss anything like this, such ground would necessarily be exceedingly nondescript. So fairness is the goal.

This dicusssion has an underlying assumption that the Lord’s Supper is God’s work, and that He has definite purposes He intends to achieve through its celebration. The chief purpose is to focus our attention upon His Son, Jesus Christ, so that He might have the preeminence in all things. There is also His purpose to foster within us a devotion of purity and power to Jesus, leading us onward to become more like Him. Being conformed to the image of God’s Only Begotten Son is never a bland nor lukewarm thing, God will refine and purify His Church, just as He did with Israel (Zechariah 13:9).

There is also an underlying assumption in this work that the Lord’s Supper has not been given its proper value and place in our public worship services. And in keeping with that assumption, there is the hope that taking a fresh look will lead us to find new significance in it.

Given the long and often dismal history of many teachers, books, and sects that have claimed standing in the Church, it must be said firmly and clearly that there are no new doctrines, no new revelations, no hidden knowledge, nor secret wisdom in this work. Actually, some of the aspects of the Lord’s Supper, in truth I hope all of them, may seem obvious to us once they are addressed. But, it is suggested that most of these aspects of the Lord’s Supper have been so taken for granted as to become nearly invisible because of what could be called an unthoughtful tradition. It is an unthoughtful tradition because most of us have a set of denominational teachings and traditions that we generally follow, and the truth is that we just haven’t given the Lord’s Supper that much thought outside or even inside of our own boundries.

This is Bible based, which means that the words of Paul to Titus are taken at face value, taken literally,

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Paul also explains the role Scripture plays in the formation of our faith, in Romans chapter 10 he wrote this conclusion to his discussion of salvation,

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

And Paul made plain how important it is that our understanding of things conform to Scriptures. When he summarized the Gospel as he preached it, he emphasized that it was … according to the Scriptures … rather than according to his own imagination. He wrote,

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures …(1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

The question throughout all this is, what shall we prefer to God’s work? If we take into consideration the aspects of worship and the Lord’s Supper the thoughtful answer will be Nothing.

©FH 2012

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