Paedocommunion, Paedobaptism, And Covenant Theology: A Baptist Assessment And Critique -- By: Brent E. Parker

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 20:1 (Spring 2016)
Article: Paedocommunion, Paedobaptism, And Covenant Theology: A Baptist Assessment And Critique
Author: Brent E. Parker


Paedocommunion, Paedobaptism, And Covenant Theology: A Baptist Assessment And Critique

Brent E. Parker

Brent E. Parker is a PhD candidate in systematic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and assistant editor of Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. He is the co-editor of and a contributor in Progressive Covenantalism (B&H Academic, 2016).

Introduction

One of the distinguishing marks of the Church is the proper administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.1 Since the time of the Reformation when these two visible signs were recognized as ordained by Christ, they have been hotly debated. The correct mode and the proper recipients of baptism have a long pedigree of opposing viewpoints, and the nature of the Lord’s Supper has been historically contentious as well. More recently, however, the inclusion of all children of believing parents to the Lord’s Table, a practice known as paedocommunion, has become a contested issue among Anglican2 and especially Reformed and Presbyterian circles.3 Advocates of paedocommunion assert that baptized children or infants who are physically capable of eating should participate in the Lord’s Supper.4 On the other hand, many paedobaptists reject this practice and seek to maintain what they believe is the biblical teaching (including the teaching of John Calvin and the Westminster Confession of Faith) that the Lord’s Supper should be reserved only for those who have consciously responded to God’s grace in Christ.

Interestingly, some of the impetus among covenant theologians and pastors to include children in communion is derived from Baptist polemics. Baptists claim that hermeneutical consistency in covenant or federal theology demands that if infants are baptized into the church, then so should they have a share in the other ordinance, the Lord’s Supper.5 Thus, proponents of infant communion, desiring to see their covenantal theology worked out consistently, assert that all members of the new covenant community, believers and their children, should participate in the Lord’s Supper.6 Furthermore, motivation is found for incorporating infants or children who have not reached the age of discernment, based on the fact that children participated in the Passover feast and were included in other OT meals and sacrificial feasts. These OT covenantal meals, especially the Passove...

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