Close Communion -- By: A. Baptist Divine

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:205 (Jan 1895)
Article: Close Communion
Author: A. Baptist Divine


Close Communion1

A. Baptist Divine

It is unfortunate when popular interest in a subject is worn out before the truth is reached. Possibly this may be the case with close communion. But I am so thoroughly convinced that the untenableness of the practice as it stands has not been sufficiently exposed, that I am inclined to incur the risk of a doubtful welcome for the sake of getting at the truth of the matter.

The proposition I undertake to establish is, that close communion, as represented by its ablest apologists, is a jumble of false assumptions and bad logic; and that self-consistency, reason, and Scripture require Baptists, either to abandon the practice in favor of open communion, or else to withdraw Christian fellowship from pedobaptists;—which, I would not presume to suggest. This proposition I shall argue from the Baptist point of view. That is to say, I shall assume the scripturalness of Baptist tenets on all other points but this one. I shall take my stand with Baptists and endeavor to show that the fundamental postulates of their own faith are totally incompatible with the present practice of close communion.

Nature Of The Practice

The word “communion,” as employed in the discussion of this subject, is embarrassed by an ambiguity of meaning. Etymologically and primarily it signifies the spiritual state of

those persons who have something in “common” (Latin commnnio, from communis, common); a state characterized by feelings of mutual sympathy and good will, and by a tendency to harmonious co-operation and unity of action. In this sense it is synonymous with “fellowship,” or the spiritual state arising from being “fellows,” or comrades. Christian communion or fellowship is the spiritual state of those who have a common religious faith and experience; who are fellow-disciples of Christ. But communion is also another name for the Lord’s Supper. And herein is an ambiguity upon which many a specious argument has gone to pieces. To avoid this ambiguity I shall discard this use of the word, and speak of communion only in the sense of fellowship.

The predominant idea of communion is a spiritual sympathy. That held in common, whatever its nature and whether it be in spiritual or in temporal things, gives rise to feelings of mutual appreciation and regard and to a consciousness of spiritual oneness, which are the essence of communion. But communion seeks to express itself, and the normal expression is in common action, — co-operation, affiliation, union, organization. This formal expression of communion is itself, in strict literalism, also a communion.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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