Baptists, at least Reformed Baptists, were not always as dualistic (resembling a Zwinglian) when it comes to the Lord’s Supper as they seem to be today.
In fact, one can trace a shift in some notable “Statements of Faith/Confessions of Faith.” The 1689 Second London Baptist Confession, patterned after the Westminster and Savoy Confessions (with Baptists views on the church and baptism), reflects a Reformed understanding of the Lord’s Supper.
Neither were these 17th Particular Baptsts (as they were called) cutting and pasting from the Westminster and Savoy Confessions. On the contrary, if the reader looks carefully at say the article on the “Covenants,” they would see a few changes to reflect what these Baptists believed.
They were not wholly dependent on the Westminster divines. They worked things out for themselves.
So when it came to what they believed about the Lord’s Supper, for them to keep the same wording as the Westminster Confession, is to state exactly what they believed (because they were not afraid to reword and even reject certain beliefs, as noted above).
When American Reformed Baptists published the Philadelphia Baptist Confession in 1742, it was the 1689 Second London Confession with the addition of two articles on “Singing Praise” (23) and “Laying on of Hands” (31). They did not change their views on the Lord’s Supper (32). It was Reformed Baptist.
However, when the New Hamsphire Baptist Confession was published in 1833 and 1853 (Art. 14), we see this dramatic shift toward a more Zwinglian understanding.
And then the Southern Baptist Convention Statement of Faith went right along with the New Hamsphire Confession (1925, 1963, and 2000).
It is no surprise, then, when the majority of our Baptist churches have a somewhat impoverished view of the Lord’s Supper–nothing more than an add-on.
Or as someone has said about Baptists understanding of the Lord’s Supper, “Rather than the actual presence of Christ, it’s the actual absence of Christ, at the Table.”
I believe we’ve lost our way and need to recover a Reformed Baptist understanding of this most holy meal.