Does The Bible Command It?

In other words, when we are considering the content and conduct of our worship, the biggest question is not “Does the Bible forbid it?” but “Does the Bible command it?” That makes things much simpler because any list of what God forbids in public worship would take an encyclopedia to cover all that the human mind has invented as “worship.” Read more»

David Murray | “Everyone Has A Regulative Principle”


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  1. Dr Clark, do the Reformed Churches use a “common cup” for the Lord’s Supper? What view do the Reformed Churches take on whether or not there must be a (singular) common cup for the Lord’s Supper?

    • Hi Brad,

      They used to use the common cup. In my experience they went away about the same time HIV became an issue. We also used to sit at table to commune.

      There has been a fair bit of argument pro and con but I think most people would say that a common is not of the essence of the supper. I’ve administered and received the supper both ways. I prefer common cup for symbolic, historic, and pedagogical reasons but I understand why people have become reluctant. In the UK the person in line in front of me always seemed to have a hacking cough.

    • There is no reason to believe that Jesus and the Twelves used a common cup. Zero reason. It says that Jesus divided the bread and wine amongst them After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.” (Luke 22:17) The “cup” simply means “the wine” and it could’ve been in a flask, which was then poured into individual cups.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    I think most people would say that a common is not of the essence of the supper…. I prefer common cup for symbolic, historic, and pedagogical reasons …

    I wonder if you might clarify something for me. As I understand it, the Reformed tradition has two categories when it comes to prescribed worship, i.e., elements and circumstances. Elements are commanded, and as such, they are “of the essence” (your words). On the other hand, circumstances are those necessary concomitants of worship that are determined by the light of nature alone (not by Scripture), and thus they are merely accidental. I realize you have written about this a lot!

    But given that this is the case, it seems to me that if there are “symbolic” and “pedagogical” reasons for using the common cup, then those reasons are necessarily derived from Scripture and not derived merely from the light of nature, and therefore, the use of the common cup must in fact be of the essence, that is, elemental and not circumstantial.

    Is my reasoning fallacious here?

    • Hi David,

      Yes, you are quite right. Those are the categories by which we analyze worship. I was assuming that the mode of administration of communion is a circumstance and that it is communion itself that is the element.

  3. Dr. Clark, if what David said is true then how does it not necessarily follow that a common cup ought to be used?

    Inherent in Scripture is the assumption that the wine we use for the Lord’s Supper ought to be red, but since Scripture never states that we ought to use red wine, are we then free to use wine that is not red? If not, then in what way is this instance different from instance/example of using a common cup?

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