The SBJT Forum: The Lord’s Supper -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 06:3 (Fall 2002)
Article: The SBJT Forum: The Lord’s Supper
Author: Anonymous

The SBJT Forum:
The Lord’s Supper

Editor’s Note: In this Forum each contributor was asked to respond to the following question: What advice would you give to pastors regarding the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in our churches?

D. A. Carson: In brief compass, I think I’d organize my advice into three areas.

First, make sure that your own theology of the Lord’s Supper is stable, mature, exegetically grounded, and thought through. I suspect that one of the reasons why we settle for mere rote in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is that we have not done the work that would enable us to be much fresher and more evocative.

Practically speaking, that means, above all, doing careful exegesis and reading several major, reliable commentaries on the crucial passages—not least the words of institution in the Synoptic Gospels, the well-known 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 and the less well-known 1 Corinthians 10:14–22, and some passages that do not primarily refer to the Lord’s Supper at all but have a rather indirect connection (such as the “bread of life” discourse in John 6). Precisely what does Paul mean when he writes that “the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks” is “a participation in the blood of Christ”? (Suggestion: Begin with the NICNT commentary on this passage by Gordon D. Fee!) Read some theological works that treat this subject from different stances.

Once in a while I suspect that our approach to these matters may be worse among the better trained, theologically speaking, than among the less well educated. A certain percentage of Baptist pastors, well enough educated to know something of the historic positions that others have taken, feel somewhat intimidated by the fact that most other positions refer to the traditional Baptist approach (the so-called Zwinglian position) to the Lord’s Supper as “minimalist”—and who wants to be “minimalist” about anything in God’s Word? Though they are sure that the transsubstantiation of Roman Catholicism is wrong, and are equally suspicious of orthodox Lutheranism’s consubstantiation, they are less sure, perhaps, that the Reformed heritage is mistaken on this point. Feeling threatened, they never do enough work in the area to find satisfying answers, to have their doubts cleared up one way or another. It is safer, and certainly a lot easier, to retreat to wellknown and comforting formulae, even if no one is quite sure what they all mean!

If this were another sort of article, it would be good at this point to lay out some of the neglected turning-points in the doctrine. But gra...

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