Arguments Against Paedocommunion

by Rev. Peter M. Dietsch

Four broad reasons that the practice of paedocommunion is both erroneous and dangerous.

Yet, there have been some in the Reformed community, and in our denomination, who hold to and promote the practice of paedocommunion (sometimes, but not always, the doctrine of paedocommunion is connected with a person holding the broader erroneous teaching of “Federal Vision“). Having read and interacted with several people who hold to the practice of paedocommunion, it is my belief that paedocommunion is not only an erroneous practice, but also one that is dangerous. I sympathize with the impulse of Christian parents who want their children to receive the grace of discipline in the Lord’s Supper; however, there are several reasons for which I have arrived at the conclusion that the practice of paedocommunion is both erroneous and dangerous.

In our Sunday morning sermon series (“The Church and the Means of Grace”), we are examining the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption – especially, the word, sacraments, and prayer (Westminster Shorter Catechism 88). The audio recordings of the sermons preached thus far in this series are available online here.

This coming Sunday, we will examine the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as a place in which we receive the grace of discipline from the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). As is usually the case, we of course will not be able to address everything that could be said concerning this holy meal, but will simply be focusing on how the Lord uses this sacrament to sanctify His people and grow them in holiness.


Paedocommunion Debate: Gentry v. Rayburn (2 CDs)
 Full formal, two-hour public debate before 600 people at
Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Spring, 2004.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


One of the things that we will not have time to address is the erroneous practice of paedocommunion. If you’re unfamiliar with this practice, paedocommunion is giving the Lord’s Supper to baptized children before the age of discretion, and apart from being admitted to the Table through giving a credible profession of faith before the elders of the church. Usually, the proponents of paedocommunion would argue that the children of believers ought to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper as soon as they are physically able to eat solid food.

At Providence Presbyterian Church, and in the PCA, we distinguish between communing and non-communing members. The former are members of the church who have been admitted to the Lord’s Supper by the Session, the latter are those members who have not been admitted to the Lord’s Supper by the Session (e.g., the baptized children of adult members). As our PCA Book of Church Order puts it: “The time when young persons come to understand the Gospel cannot be precisely fixed. This must be left to the prudence of the Session, whose office it is to judge, after careful examination, the qualifications of those who apply for admission to sealing ordinances. (BCO 57-2).”

Yet, there have been some in the Reformed community, and in our denomination, who hold to and promote the practice of paedocommunion (sometimes, but not always, the doctrine of paedocommunion is connected with a person holding the broader erroneous teaching of “Federal Vision“). Having read and interacted with several people who hold to the practice of paedocommunion, it is my belief that paedocommunion is not only an erroneous practice, but also one that is dangerous. I sympathize with the impulse of Christian parents who want their children to receive the grace of discipline in the Lord’s Supper; however, there are several reasons for which I have arrived at the conclusion that the practice of paedocommunion is both erroneous and dangerous.


Paedocommunion: Faith or Fad?
6 CDs by Ken Gentry
Set 1 of a critique of paedocommunion.
This analyzes the paedocommunion argument based on the Old Testament Passover.
Shows exegetical mistakes made in their argument.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Here are the four broad reasons (explained in a bit more detail below): biblical, theological, historical, and practical. [By the way, whenever there is a question about right practice in the Church, I find it helpful to think through the issue – whatever it is – by way of these four categories.]

Biblical

Biblically and exegetically, there are two things for us to consider with respect to the practice of paedocommunion:

(1) Often, the argument for the practice of paedocommunion follows along these lines: the covenant children in Israel partook of the Passover meal in the Old Covenant, so too ought the covenant children in the Church partake of the Lord’s Supper in the New Covenant. There are a couple of problems with this line of reasoning. First, it is not entirely clear that all the covenant children partook of the Passover meal. There are several strong exegetical clues that speak against this assumption; for instance, Richard Bacon shows how the biblical data indicates that young children were most likely not included in the Passover meal. Second, upon returning from exile, the people of Israel gathered to renew the covenant with God (Nehemiah 8-10). It is instructive to note that those who participated in this covenant renewal ceremony are described as “men, women and all who could listen with understanding” (Nehemiah 8:2). Third, one of the key principles of biblical interpretation is to interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament and the fuller revelation which was given through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20; Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 1:1-2). The argument for paedocommunion seems to trend in the opposite direction, reading the New Testament in light of the Old Testament.

Continue reading: http://theaquilareport.com/arguments-against-paedocommunion/

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2 thoughts on “Arguments Against Paedocommunion

  1. jordan405 April 3, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    Ken, I love your work. I do, really. You were the one to bring to postmillennialism and biblical preterism.

    But next time you’re reading through 1 Cor. 11 (which seems ironically to be the go-to passage for anti P.C. guys), consider what he means when he says to “let a man examine himself”. Is he not combatting the unworthy many the Corinthians were eating and drinking at the Lord’s Table? Isn’t this unworthy manner defined in vs. 21-22: some were getting stuffed and leaving none for others and some getting drunk? Of course, there are other unworthy manners of partaking but to be a child with limited mental capacity isn’t what the text is talking about. Does not the Kingdom belong to them as Christ said to the disciples that were rebuking the mothers for bringing them to Him?

    And discerning the Lord’s body. Consider, if you would, that this is not talking about the person of Christ but rather His Body, the Church. It makes much more sense in the context that the statement is found. The folks who were being selfish by getting drunk or bogarting the bread were not discerning (at least in practice) that the folks around him / her also need nourishment from the Lord being a part of His Body. They were not discerning the Body.

    Let me know what you think.

  2. Kenneth Gentry April 6, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks for reading. However, I am historic Reformed and Presbyterian. I follow Calvin, the Westminster divines, and historic Reformed orthodoxy on participation in the Lord’s Supper. I have written a chapter in a Greenville Presbyterian Seminary book on the covenant in which I carefully examine 1 Cor 11. Perhaps you can get that and read my exposition. http://www.amazon.com/Covenant-Joseph-Pipa/dp/193163906X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428374252&sr=8-1&keywords=covenant+%2B+Pipa

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