Some HB readers have been discussing the question of fencing the Lord’s Table. Fencing is a figurative way of speaking. There aren’t literal fences in Reformed Churches. It’s a way to describe the Reformed attempt to apply Paul’s instruction in 1Corinthians 11:27–32. This is a somewhat controversial topic but that controversy is partly due to the fact that we’re becoming unfamiliar with the older Reformed approach to this question. It’s also partly due to the fact that, in the USA anyway, we have a habit of transferring our civil/political autonomy to the church. It can be difficult to relinquish our autonomy when we enter the church but the church is a visible expression of Christ’s kingdom and the kingdom is not an egalitarian democracy.
The historic Reformed practice is reflected in the church order of the Synod of Dort (1619).
61. Only those shall be admitted to the Lord’s supper who, according to the usage of the churches which they join, have made confession of the Reformed religion, together with having testimony of a godly walk, without which also those who come from other churches shall not be admitted.
Historically, Reformed churches have not practiced “open communion.” There have always been some restrictions. There are generally, in practice, now fewer restrictions than there once were. We might ask whether that is a good thing. It might seem friendlier and more inviting to lift restrictions to the table but does that do justice to Paul’s teaching in 1Corinthinans 11 and to his solemn warnings about eating and drinking judgment? Is open communion really in the best interest of all those who come to the table?
- How to Fence the Lord’s Supper
- Calvin on the Administration of the Lord’s Supper
- Fencing the Table or the Scandal of the Church
- More on Fencing the Table: Dutch Reformed Voices
- Fed By Christ Or The Guy Next to Me?
- Children At The Lord’s Table
- Resources On The Lord’s Supper
- Resources On Reformed Piety