Eucharistic Wine and Evangelical Wineskins

I recently had the chance to write an essay about the Lord’s Supper as part of my studies here at Oak Hill. I chose the topic because recently I was asked to speak at a communion service and realised that though I was aware there was a theological debate on the subject, I had no idea what I thought about the Lord’s Supper. I was grateful, therefore, for the opportunity to read and think about the topic. I tried to edit the essay into a series of blogposts but found the process far too tedious and boring. Here, then, below is the unedited essay. As I have reflected on it. I think the real conflict is not between Calvinism and Zwinglianism but between thoughtful Calvinism and Zwinglianism and a thoughtless approach to the ordinances, often buttressed by anti-sacrementalism that justifies the perception that the sacraments are peripheral. Anyway, here is the essay (since I had a tight word count, most of the essay is in the footnotes!):

A striking difference between the Reformers and 21st century evangelicals is the relative prominence of debates about the Lord’s Supper. That which was the main source of division between the Reformed in the 1500s is barely mentioned in contemporary evangelical literature on the church.[1] None of the ‘tribes’ of evangelicalism are defined by their theology of the Lord Supper as were the Calvinists, Zwinglians and Lutherans.[2] Yet, due to its Biblical provenance, evangelical churches still practice the Lord’s Supper with varying degrees of frequency but without the accompanying theological reflection that so marked the early years of the Reformation.[3] I would suggest this absence shapes, and indeed is itself part of, our practice of the Lord’s Supper; it is a tacit admission that the Supper is peripheral despite the fact that it is one of the only parts of the Christian gathering explicitly mandated by Jesus.[4] That which is considered peripheral is unlikely to be understood or practiced in a biblically shaped and theologically rich way. We will examine the Biblical teaching on the Lord’s Supper under four headings, as covenantal, communal, enacted and eschatological, and then reflect on the way that tradition, culture and context shape evangelical practice.[5]

First, the Lord’s Supper is covenantal. Since the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus in the context of the Passover meal[6], connecting the two together, it is necessary to understand it in its covenantal, paschal, context [7]. As Jamieson puts it, ‘By reinterpreting the bread and cup in light of his coming death, Jesus transformed the Passover into a new ritual, one commemorating his new covenant-inaugurating sacrifice.’[8] Just as the Passover celebrated the Lord’s rescue of his people and fulfilment of his covenant promises, so the Lord’s Supper celebrates the salvation won by Jesus’ death and resurrection.[9] As Mathison says, ‘The future generations that will observe the Passover will not merely remember a past act of God. Their dramatic re-enactment of it illustrates their ongoing participation in this decisive act of redemption.’[10] The Lord’s Supper recapitulates the mighty acts of redemption performed by the Lord in faithfulness to his Covenant of Grace, now historically instituted in the New Covenant, and is thus inextricably linked to God’s Word as it applies them to those participating.

Second, the Lord’s Supper is communal. Just as the Passover was a family meal that constituted the old covenant community,[11] so the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated by, and demarcates, the new covenant community. This is Paul’s concern in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 where the failure of the Corinthians to eat together, as one body, greatly distresses him. The old social divisions of rich and poor do not have a place at the Lord’s table because it is where the new covenant community sit together, qualified only by their faith in, and invitation by, Christ. As Paul writes, ‘Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.’[12] Leithart comments,

‘Since the exercise of church discipline centers on the table, the feast establishes boundaries…Those who participate in the feast are members of the Body, to be treated as brothers and sisters, while those outside may be enemies of the church, apostates cut off from Christ, or the unevangelized. The feast draws the ever-shifting lines between the church and the world.’[13]

The Lord’s Supper, then, is a communal, ecclesial meal.

Third, the Lord’s Supper is enacted. John Stevens writes, ‘it is not the act of eating itself, but the mental reflection that takes place as a result of eating which strengthens faith.’[14] This, however, misses the fact that commands of the Lord Jesus in Luke 22:19 are not ‘consider’ but ‘eat’; not ‘think’ but ‘do’. The significance of the Lord’s Supper is not in the cognitive consequences of the eating and drinking but in the eating and drinking themselves. Reading Stevens’ treatment one wonders what the difference would be if a picture of some bread was circulated or a verbal description of bread read out instead of the congregation actually eating physical bread.[15] The problem with Stevens’ memorialist position is anthropological; it emphasises the cognitive to the exclusion of the other elements of the human condition specifically engaged by the Lord’s Supper.[16] The bread and wine are seen, felt and tasted and this is not incidental but the sine qua non of the matter. As Leithart comments, ‘though the Eucharist does not bypass the mind and conscious reflection, the effect it has is more in the realm of acquiring a skill than in the realm of learning a new set of facts’.[17] By calling us to eat bread and drink wine, the Supper affirms the significance of the body and the physical, the human and the cultural.[18] It affirms that the life of faith is, though never less, always more than the life of the mind.[19] The Bible’s understanding of the Lord’s Supper is not restricted to a few isolated references, but involves the entire corpus of Christian theology including its affirmation of the physical and bodily. [20]

Finally, the Lord’s Supper is eschatological in two ways. First, it looks forward to the feast of the eschaton.[21] We proclaim the Lord’s death, ‘until he comes’.[22] The Lord’s Supper is not the Wedding Feast of the Lamb but an anticipation of it.[23] The Lord’s Supper is not the fullness of the Lord’s blessing for those united to Christ but a foreshadowing of it. However, second, the Lord’s Supper is not merely a foreshadowing but a foretaste and first-fruits of the age to come. In the Lord’s Supper we really do commune with Christ: he is spiritually present in the meal. As Paul puts it, the Lord’s Supper is a ‘sharing in the body of Christ’,[24] we spiritually feed on Christ as we take the bread and wine.[25] In taking the Lord’s Supper, we actually partake of Christ, not only with each other, and receive the benefits of our union with him. [26] The Lord’s Supper thus looks back to the covenant sealed in Jesus’ blood on the cross, looks forward to the eschatological feast but is also a present participation in the blessings of our union with him.[27]

In the light of this Biblical teaching, how does tradition, culture and context affect our practice of the Lord’s Supper?

First, tradition. I would argue that part of the evangelical disengagement with the Lord’s Supper is precisely because it is a tradition. Since we define ourselves against Roman Catholicism, tradition, in the evangelical imagination, is a snare that denies us the freedom to read and obey the Scriptures.  It is, evangelicals believe, a locus of superstition and nominalism to be stripped away by the cleansing lotion of God’s Word. We are, therefore, unclear what to do with a tradition specifically instituted by Jesus which is to be repeated in perpetuity. Our aversion to tradition means that our tendency is to continually tinker with our practice of the Lord’s Supper, to keep it ‘fresh’ or ‘meaningful’, our assumption being that what is repeated is not meaningful and what is fresh is best. The Lord’s Supper calls both these assumptions into question.[28] Of course, the irony is that the evangelical aversion to tradition is itself a tradition, passed down through the generations. For instance, in my ecclesial tradition, it is assumed that the Baptist position is Zwinglian memorialism as it is the position furthest from Roman Catholicism.[29] Yet, as Haykin shows, memorialism was not the mainstream Baptist position until the late 18th century.[30] One wonders, then, if we have been driven more by traditional aversion to anything ‘mystical’, with its connotations of Roman Catholicism, than we have been by the Scriptures.[31]

Second, culture. Evangelical practice of the Lord’s Supper is shaped by an over-contextualisation to modern secular culture in two ways. First, the memorialist position is inherently subjective and individualistic. Despite Stevens argument that the Lord’s Supper should be a communal experience as a meal; his insistence that the bread and wine operate only as cognitive prompts means that the symbolic elements of the Supper can only be received as individuals in a subjective way. Mental distraction, at the moment of reception, renders the elements useless to the recipient.[32] This reflects a Cartesian ontology where what is truly real is the cognitive and individual, not the physical and communal. Part of Calvin’s motivation for maintaining the real presence in the elements was to ensure the objectivity of the ordinance; that Christ is truly offered regardless of the mental state of the recipient.[33]

Second, the memorialist position reflects a post-enlightenment discomfort with mystery. Modernism is committed to the idea that the way the natural world works can be explained by natural phenomena. This chimes with Stevens argument that the Lord’s Supper should be a communal meal and that the elements are purely memorial. We understand how sharing a meal creates communal identity, we understand how reminders work, and so if that is how the Lord’s Supper works then there is no mystery to explain. If Thornbury is correct to say, ‘virtually every crucial development in the transition from medieval to modern philosophy was occasioned by an exploration of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper’ then it is not surprising that we have adopted the practice of the Lord’s Supper most in keeping with modern philosophy.[34] Calvin’s view relies on a relationship between the symbol and the thing signified which is mysterious and supra-rational;[35] while Stevens contention that the Supper should be a full meal diminishes this relationship. As Strivens notes, ‘the symbolic significance of the Lord’s Supper is then lost – it becomes its own reality and ceases to point to anything else.’[36] My point is not that evangelicals are uncomfortable with mystery per se but with mystery in relation to the physical, embodied, aspects of reality. We are prone, therefore, to reduce the symbols merely to prompts to our cognitive faculties.[37] Instead, evangelicals should return to a Chalcedonian, biblical, understanding of the relationship between the the symbol and the thing signified with confidence that Christ is truly present in the symbol beyond our cognitive recognition of it.[38]

Finally, context. The Lord’s Supper is an area of church life where geographical and historic context should be limited in shaping practice. Given the increase in secularism and the decline in church attendance it is understandable that Evangelicals normally understand their relationship to their context as mission and mission as evangelism.[39] However, as above, the Supper is about marking off the church from the world, a foretaste of the heavenly city distinct from the earthly one. It should, therefore, be recognizably similar to believers across generations and continents.[40] Since the Lord’s Supper is an ecclesial meal, it requires an ecclesia; that is, a baptized, gathered, ordered, regenerate, worshipping New Covenant community that practices proper discipline.[41] Wherever the Supper is celebrated in this way it creates its own context; one where any believer can be welcomed, both by the community and the Lord himself. It should, therefore, be celebrated weekly, since it is a means of grace, simply, with real bread and real wine[42], and an emphasis on what they represent. The tone should be joyful solemnity with what Lewis called, ‘a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious.’[43] The task of the church is mission but the mission of forming a new community, as physical and material as any other, but shaped and formed by Christ through the Spirit. A proper practice of the Lord’s Supper is crucial in fulfilling that mission in whatever context each local church finds itself.

The evangelical near silence about the Lord’s Supper is shaped by our tradition, our culture and our context. The Lord’s Supper, an enacted meal for insiders, is awkwardly inserted into our outsider-orientated, logocentric services. If it were not in the Scriptures, we would not invent it. Does this not suggest we differ somewhat in outlook from Jesus, who did? Perhaps our problem with the Supper is that Eucharistic wine bursts contemporary evangelical wineskins?

Bibliography

Barcellos, Richard C. The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More Than a Memory. Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2013.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics Volume Four: Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation. Edited by John Bolt. Translated by John Vriend. 4 vols. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2003.

Beynon, Graham. God’s New Community: New Testament Patterns for today’s church. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2005.

Billings, J. Todd. Calvin, Participation, and the Gift: The Activity of Believers in Union with Christ. Changing paradigms in historical and systematic theology. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Edited by John Thomas MacNeill. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. 2 vols. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960.

Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Leicester, England : Grand Rapids, Mich: Inter-Varsity Press ; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991.

Cheng, Gordon. “The Lord’s Supper.” The Briefing, 15 June 2008. Cited 23 February 2016. Online: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2008/06/the-lords-supper/.

Chester, Tim, and Steve Timmis. Everyday Church: Mission by Being Good Neighbours. Nottingham, Engl.: Inter-Varsity Pr., 2011.

____. Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007.

Dever, Mark. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. New expanded ed. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004.

Dever, Mark, and Paul Alexander. The Deliberate Church: Building your Ministry on the Gospel. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2005.

Frame, John M. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2013.

Haykin, Michael A. G. “‘’His soul-refreshing presence’: The Lord’s Supper in Calvinistic Baptist Thought and Experience in the “Long” Eighteenth Century,’” 28 February 2008. Cited 20 February 2016. Online: http://d3pi8hptl0qhh4.cloudfront.net/documents/icw/haykin3.soulrefreshingfull.pdf.

____. Kiffin, Knollys and Keach: Rediscovering English Baptist Heritage. Leeds: Reformation Today, 1996.

Horton, Michael Scott. The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2011.

Jamieson, Bobby. Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership, 2015.

Leithart, Peter J. Against Christianity. Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2003.

____. Blessed are the Hungry: Meditations on the Lord’s Supper. Moscow ID: Canon Press, 2000.

Lewis, C.S. The Last Battle. 22nd impr. The Chronicles of Narnia 7. London: Lions, 1989.

Mathison, Keith A. Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. Phillipsburg, N.J: P&R Pub, 2002.

Rorem, Paul. Calvin and Bullinger on the Lord’s Supper. Alcuin/GROW liturgical study 12. Bramcote, Nottingham: Grove Books, 1989.

Schreiner, Thomas R., and Matthew R. Crawford. The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes. NAC studies in Bible & theology 10. Nashville, Tenn: B&H Academic, 2010.

Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Volume 1 of Cultural liturgies. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2009.

____. How (not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.

Stevens, John. “Not Reformed Enough: Critiquing Contemporary Practice of the Lord’s Supper.” Foundations 68 (May 2015): 26–56.

Strivens, Robert. “Response to John Stevens, ‘Not Reformed Enough: Critiquing Contemporary Practice of the Lord’s Supper’, Foundations 68.” Foundations 69 (Autumn 2015): 39–51.

Thiselton, Anthony C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The new international Greek Testament commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000.

Thornbury, Gregory Alan. “The Lord’s Supper and Works of Love.” Pages 341–63 in The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes. Edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford. NAC studies in Bible & theology 10. Nashville, Tenn: B&H Academic, 2010.

Vander Zee, Leonard J. Christ, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

Woodhouse, John. “The Body of the Lord.” The Briefing, 4 November 1993. Cited 23 February 2016. Online: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/1993/11/the-body-of-the-lord/.

[1] To take an unrepresentative sample: the Lord’s supper is mentioned in passing in Graham Beynon’s excellent God’s New Community: New Testament Patterns for today’s church (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2005); I cannot find a reference to it in Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007) (the book does not have an index) nor in Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Everyday Church: Mission by Being Good Neighbours (Nottingham, Engl.: Inter-Varsity Pr., 2011); Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (New expanded ed.; Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004) mentions the topic only in the context of church discipline while Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, The Deliberate Church: Building your Ministry on the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2005) give the topic one page, 107-108 ,while music is given twelve, 115-127. Likewise, John Frame gives three pages to the topic in his Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2013), 1066–1069.

[2] I am not commending, of course, the schismatic nature of these divisions; but simply the fact that the Reformers felt the Lord’s Supper worthy of attention. There is no inherent reason, surely, why theological reflection on the Lord’s Supper should be divisive; in fact, one would imagine the opposite should be the case.

[3] Not all evangelicals agree that the practice is biblical. John Woodhouse writes, ‘if you built your understanding of Christianity by studying the whole New Testament (except 1 Corinthians 10-11), you would not have any reason to think that Christianity involves a sacramental meal instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper, in which the bread and the cup are given symbolic significance.’ He goes on to suggest that a close reading of 1 Corinthians 10-11 does not change this picture. John Woodhouse, “The Body of the Lord,” The Briefing, 4 November 1993, [cited 23 February 2016]. Online: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/1993/11/the-body-of-the-lord/.

[4] Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Of course, other parts of church life are not biblically warranted but we do not find the same kind of explicit instructions in regard to small groups, evangelism strategies, or even the mode and means of preaching as we do in regard to the Lord’s Supper.

[5] My definition of evangelical practice will be vague, impressionistic and almost entirely derived from personal experience.

[6] Luke 22:15.

[7] Note though Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Volume Four: Holy Spirit, Church and New Creation. (ed. John Bolt; trans. John Vriend; vol. 4; Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2003), 548. ‘The Lord’s Supper is akin to but not identical with Passover. As the new covenant is related to the old, as the sacrifice of Christ is related to that of the Old Testament, so the Lord’s Supper is related to the Passover.’

[8] Bobby Jamieson, Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership, 2015, 111.

[9] See Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (The new international Greek Testament commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 871–874 for further discussion.

[10] Keith A. Mathison, Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (Phillipsburg, N.J: P&R Pub, 2002), 188.

[11] Exodus 12:3 & 12:47.

[12] 1 Corinthians 10:17. See also the significance of eating together in Galatians 2:12, who we eat with has soteriological implications in Paul’s mind. My point is not that Galatians 2:12 is a reference to the Eucharist but if that ordinary table fellowship had significance in the 1st Century, then how much more then does sitting at the table of the Lord have.

[13] Peter J. Leithart, Blessed are the Hungry: Meditations on the Lord’s Supper (Moscow ID: Canon Press, 2000), 178. (Author’s italics).

[14] John Stevens, “Not Reformed Enough: Critiquing Contemporary Practice of the Lord’s Supper,” Foundations 68 (May 2015): 44.

[15] If Jesus’ agenda was merely to stimulate memory why did he institute a meal of bread and wine and not merely a reading of the apostolic accounts of the passion? Leithart is correct, ‘it is all but impossible to make a meal look like a death by crucifixion.’ Blessed are the hungry, 179. All of which suggests that Jesus’ agenda was more than commemorative.

[16] We shall address some of the possible philosophical and cultural influences on Stevens’ position below.

[17] Leithart, Blessed are the hungry, 184.

[18] See Leonard J. Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 17. ‘The only way in which particular sacraments can have meaning is if the universe is so created and structured that this can happen.’

[19] See Horton’s comments that the problem with the memorialist view is that ‘at the heart of Zwingli’s thinking was a spirit-matter dualism.’ Michael Scott Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2011), 808.

[20] Stevens complains of the ‘relative paucity of material in the New Testament’ in regard to the Lord’s Supper. Stevens, “Not Reformed Enough: Critiquing Contemporary Practice of the Lord’s Supper,” 27. This suggests a lack of reflection on the way in which the Lord’s Supper is situated at a nexus of, at least, Christology, soteriology, pneumatology and ecclesiology. See Horton’s comment, ‘Calvin’s entire theology is “eucharistic” in orientation.’ Horton, The Christian faith, 807.

[21] Revelation 19:9.

[22] 1 Corinithians 11:26.

[23]Smith puts it well, ‘there’s a certain sense in which the celebration of the Lord’s Supper should be experienced as a kind of sanctified letdown…another week that the kingdom and its feast have not yet fully arrived.’ James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Volume 1 of Cultural liturgies; Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2009), 200.

[24] 1 Corinthians 10:16.

[25] John 6:56. Stevens cites Carson that there is ‘no exegetical case for importing a sacramental reading into the “Bread of Life” discourse.’ Stevens, “Not Reformed Enough: Critiquing Contemporary Practice of the Lord’s Supper,” 28 fn 5. This is an unlikely reading of both Carson and John. First, Stevens’ claim is hard to square with Carson’s statement that, ‘John 6 does not directly speak of the eucharist; it does expose the true meaning of the Lord’s supper as clearly as any passage in Scripture.’ D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Leicester, England : Grand Rapids, Mich: Inter-Varsity Press ; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 298. Second, Calvin himself did not think that John 6 was directly about the Lord’s Supper – see, Mathison, Given for you, 221. Finally, it is surely unlikely that John, writing after several decades of eucharistic practice, dominically and apostolically instituted, could believe that Jesus words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood would not be associated with the sacrament in regard to which he had used exactly the same language and metaphor. Far from John’s omission of the institution of the Lord’s Supper indicating a lack of interest in the subject, it more likely suggests that John felt had covered the subject adequately in his sixth chapter.  John 6, then, is a rich resource for reflection on the Lord’s Supper and ‘by good and necessary consequence’ teaching about its nature.

[26] As Calvin puts it, ‘In this way the Lord intended, by calling himself the “bread of life” to teach not only that salvation for us rests on faith in his death and resurrection but also that, by true partaking of him, his life passes into us and is made ours.’ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John Thomas MacNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vol. 2; Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), 4.17.5.

[27] See Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 751. Stevens cites Thiselton in support of the view that ‘sharing’ in 1 Corinthians 10:16, ‘refers to the “fellowship” the participants in the meal have with each other, and not to fellowship with Christ himself’. Stevens, “Not Reformed Enough: Critiquing Contemporary Practice of the Lord’s Supper,” 50. Again, though, a close reading of  Thiselton does not support Stevens’ point. On the very same page from which Stevens cites Thiselton, he writes, ‘the (fellowship) is primarily “vertical” and then by inference also “horizontal”.’

[28] For a defence of repetition in liturgy, see Smith, Desiring the kingdom, 75–88.

[29] See Gregory Alan Thornbury, “The Lord’s Supper and Works of Love,” in The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes (ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford; NAC studies in Bible & theology 10; Nashville, Tenn: B&H Academic, 2010), 358–359. Thornbury misreads the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith when he argues that it presents a Zwinglian doctrine of the Lord’s Supper on the basis that it uses the phrase, ‘only a memorial’. The problem is that this occurs in both the Savoy Declaration and the Westminster Confession of Faith in their chapters on the Supper and the WCF is used as an exemplar of the Reformed Calvinist position by Shawn D. Wright in his critique of the Reformed tradition in the same volume. In fact, the drafters of the Second London Confession were strongly Calvinistic in their understanding of the Supper. See Michael A. G Haykin, Kiffin, Knollys and Keach: Rediscovering English Baptist Heritage (Leeds: Reformation Today, 1996), 77–81.

[30] Michael A. G Haykin, “‘’His soul-refreshing presence’: The Lord’s Supper in Calvinistic Baptist Thought and Experience in the “Long” Eighteenth Century,’” 28 February 2008, 14, [cited 20 February 2016]. Online: http://d3pi8hptl0qhh4.cloudfront.net/documents/icw/haykin3.soulrefreshingfull.pdf.

[31] For a contemporary Baptist defence of the Calvinist, and Particular Baptist, view of the Lord’s Supper see Richard C Barcellos, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More Than a Memory (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2013).

[32] This is perhaps why some argue for doing away with the elements altogether. Gordon Cheng argues, ‘those regular dinners we used to have when we ordered in pizza after church, and invited absolutely anyone who wanted to come to share, and then we prayed, and then we reminded each other in our conversations about what we had learned about the gospel during church, seems (at least, to this leader of the Lord’s Supper) a far better example of how eating and drinking in memory of Christ should look.’ Cheng writes that ‘I’m unlikely to go to the stake for this understanding of the Lord’s Supper’. Perhaps just as well. Gordon Cheng, “The Lord’s Supper,” The Briefing, 15 June 2008, [cited 23 February 2016]. Online: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2008/06/the-lords-supper/.

[33] Mathison, Given for you, 47.

[34] Thornbury, “The Lord’s Supper and Works of Love,” 347.

[35] Calvin, Institutes of the Christian religion, 4.17.32. ‘ If anyone should ask me how this takes place, I shall not be ashamed to confess that it is a secret too lofty for either my mind to comprehend or my words to declare.’

[36] Robert Strivens, “Response to John Stevens, ‘Not Reformed Enough: Critiquing Contemporary Practice of the Lord’s Supper’, Foundations 68,” Foundations 69 (Autumn 2015): 45.

[37] There is, of course, complexity here. Not only is memorialism a product of secular modernity but it is also, arguably, one of its causes. See James K. A. Smith, How (not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014), 58–59. Note Leithart’s comment, ‘We are trained to accept as a matter of course that it is possible to think or way through life, all of life’ (author’s italics). Peter J. Leithart, Against Christianity (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2003), 83.

[38] For a discussion of the relationship between Chalcedonian Christology and the Lord’s Supper in Calvin’s thought see Paul Rorem, Calvin and Bullinger on the Lord’s Supper (Alcuin/GROW liturgical study 12; Bramcote, Nottingham: Grove Books, 1989), 11 and Mathison, Given for you, 22.

[39] Haykin explains how this focus on evangelism affected the practice of the Lord’s Supper amongst Baptists in the nineteenth century, ‘(it) tended to downplay the importance of the Lord’s Supper, an ordinance that was expressly designed for believers…an aspect of the Christian life that played little part in the evangelization of the lost. The memorialist view of the nature of the Lord’s Supper was well suited to the growing ambivalence regarding its importance.’ Haykin, “‘’His soul-refreshing presence’: The Lord’s Supper in Calvinistic Baptist Thought and Experience in the “Long” Eighteenth Century,’” 18–19.

[40] It may be that this cultural and historic continuity is why we are given explicit instructions as to the nature of the elements, bread and wine, which are themselves are ubiquitous in human culture.

[41] I would advocate close, but not closed, communion. That is, for the Lord’s Supper to take place in the course of the public worship of the church rather than a private, members only, gathering, but in the context of proper discipline where those who have been excommunicated by the church can be excluded; by declaration if not compulsion. This allows for visiting Christians who are members of other churches to partake in the meal.

[42] Since the symbolism of bread and wine is not arbitrary but points to realities about the Gospel.

[43] The kind of joyful solemnity one sees, for instance, at a wedding. C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle (22nd impr.; The Chronicles of Narnia 7; London: Lions, 1989), 160.

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