Recovering a Reformed Baptist Understanding of the Lord’s Supper

imagesCABW8BI3Baptists, 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.

This entry was posted in 1689 Baptist Confession, Lord's Supper, Reformed Baptist, Southern Baptist, Westminster Confession and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Recovering a Reformed Baptist Understanding of the Lord’s Supper

  1. Lon Hetrick says:

    Awesome, TC! Love this quote: “Rather than the actual presence of Christ, it’s the actual absence of Christ, at the Table.”

  2. Craig Benno says:

    While I don’t believe the elements literally become the body of Christ (Roman Catholicism); I do believe that the Spirit of God moves powerfully through, over and within the elements,and the activit when people take communion in a prayerful and worshipful manner.

    I believe that in the early church it was a full on meal. Paul addresses the issue of it being for all – making no room for any gender, age, social class or racial distinctions. If we are guilty of taking part off, creating and living out / forcing these false distinctions – we make a mockery of the Lord’s Supper and we become sick (both individually and corporately as the church)

  3. TC Robinson says:

    Lon: I thought so too. 😉

    Craig: yes, I hold to a spiritual presence of Christ, mediated by the Holy Spiriti. I believe this is an outworking of what it means to have communion with Christ body and blood (1 Cor. 10:16).

    Moving from house churches to buildings something was lost along the way.

  4. Colin says:

    A member of the church of England since I became a Christian in my mid 20s, OK but brought up in a Baptist Union of Great Britain Church, I too am totally comfortable with a spiritual presence, as per our 39 Articles and implied by the Institutes. And I see no reason not to describe such presence as “real”. Real does not equate to physical.

  5. theoldadam says:

    This may be of interest to you, and you might gain some appreciation of those with ‘another view’…even though you don’t agree with that view:

    Very good stuff, methinks, on The Supper. And not all that long a read, either.

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