Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Baptist "disconnect"?

When he was six James Kushiner's parents told him that he shouldn't take communion until he was old enough to understand and until after he had been baptized. That sequence has certainly been my understanding of Baptist doctrine [believer's baptism, church membership, then participation in the Lord's Supper], but, as he discovers, perhaps not Baptist practice. Shouldn't partaking in communion be for those who have made a profession of faith and who have been baptized? Kushiner:
...I read this story yesterday from the Baptist Press about a survey taken among Southern Baptist congregations:
According to the survey, 52 percent of SBC churches offer the Lord’s Supper to “anyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ.” Thirty-five percent say “anyone who has been baptized as a believer” may participate. Five percent of SBC churches serve communion to “anyone who wants to participate,” while 4 percent of churches don’t specify any conditions for participation.

Only 4 percent restrict participation to local church members.
I was curious about offering Communion to those not baptized and whether this had been a change in policy among Baptists, so I read on. A change in policy, no, but a change in practice, yes:
“Clearly, though, this survey points out a difference between the beliefs expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message, and the Lord’s Supper practices of many Southern Baptist churches,” [researcher Scott] McConnell said.

Article VII of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (SBC.net/bfm) lists baptism as a “prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.” Article VII also says the Lord’s Supper is for “members of the church.”
That official policy is what I would have expected. Some congregations (of various denominations) will invite “baptized Christians” to partake. Others will invite anybody who wants to partake to come and do so, sometimes without even specifying being a Christian.

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper surely requires a deep commitment to Jesus Christ, to the Way of the Cross, to “drinking the cup” which he drank, as well as to be baptized with the baptism with which he was baptized. To not have accepted baptism yet but to feel all the same that one is ready for participation in the the Body and Blood of the Lord would indicate some level of “disconnect.” .... [more]
Who May Partake? - Mere Comments