Now THAT’s a Good Question!

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What is the Scriptural basis for Open/Closed Communion?

This is another one of those great anonymous ‘survey’ questions from the end of 2013.

For those of you who didn’t grow up in church, ‘communion’ is another word for partaking in what is also called ‘The Lord’s Supper.’

Open Communion is when a church allows anyone and everyone (‘Open’) to partake of the elements of the Lord’s Supper (bread and grape juice for us Baptists).

Closed Communion is when a church only allows members of THAT church (‘Closed’) to partake of the elements of the Lord’s Supper.

What do I believe the Scripture teaches? I believe the Scripture does NOT allow for anyone and everyone to partake of the Lord’s Supper, NOR do I believe it should be restricted to just church members when the elements are distributed.

First, the Scripture teaches that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed by BELIEVERS only. See Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26;  Luke 22:19-20; and  1 Corinthians 11:23-26. If you think about what the elements point toward – bread symbolizing Jesus’ body & juice symbolizing His blood – one cannot truly comprehend the significance of the Lord’s Supper unless the Gospel is understood. Couple that with what Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, it is pretty clear – followers of Jesus, serious in their relationship with Him are those eligible to partake of communion. I believe communion is OPEN only for believers when the elements are distributed.

Second, I do not find anywhere in the Scriptures where communion should be restricted JUST to church members when the bread and the juice are given out. For instance, if my parents were guests at FBC El Dorado on a Sunday when we observed the Lord’s Supper – I would definitely allow them to participate. If a missionary from India came to one of our worship services at a time when we offered communion, I would allow him/her to receive the bread and juice.

Think about it – if we ‘Closed’ our communion by restricting it to church members only, then if Jesus, or the Apostles Paul, or Peter, or James, or even the evangelist Billy Graham came to one of our services – we would have to ask them to sit and watch while we observed. Why? Well, none of them are members of our church!

Nope. Don’t think so.

I believe the Scripture teaches that communion is to be observed by followers of Jesus.

Only followers of Jesus. But followers of Jesus from anywhere on planet earth.

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2 thoughts on “Now THAT’s a Good Question!

  1. Jamie Coker says:

    I’m a day behind, but a follow-up question…scripturally, does the Lord’s Supper have to be led by an ordained minister?

  2. Jamie – GREAT question, and NO, I cannot think of anywhere in the Scripture that demands an ordained minister be who distributes the elements or leads the Lord’s Supper service. As a matter of fact, according to Acts 2:42 – we are simply told that the new believers simply ‘gave themselves’ to the breaking of bread. Luke wrote that the Apostle’s taught the doctrine, but that’s all. He could have easily – if the Lord expects only ‘certain people’ to give out the elements – said the Apostles distributed the elements. But he didn’t. Again, I find no scriptural warrant for it. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong for an ordained minister to do so, of course. But it also does not mean it is wrong for a layperson to give it either.

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