Open vs Closed vs Close?

Joe Thorn wrote a series of posts several months ago about Lord’s Supper issues.  One of the issues he addressed was Open vs Closed Communion. You can read the whole post, and get a link to the entire series here.

For quick reference: open communion is the practice that allows any true believer to partake of the Supper. Close communion is the majority Baptist practice that allows only believers who have been immersed in water as a believer to the Table. Closed communion is the practice that allows only members of your own local church to partake. I hold to close communion (the second one). But all three practices are widespread; all three are viable positions; all three would want to bar a professing Christian who is living in open, unrepentant sin from the Table; all three are driven by love for God and love for brother; all three, BTW, are Baptist positions, as you have to hold to certain Baptist principles for these debates to even make sense!

I actually just want to pick a fight with the way this debate is sometimes framed. I think Joe Thorn was half-joking, but he frames open communion as if open is automatically more inviting and loving and gracious by saying, “We’re open, come on in.”  I realize these are the historical terms. But in our contemporary culture, you must understand that the world automatically thinks ‘open’ is better. It automatically demonizes any stricter position. And I cannot help but think many in the Reformed Camp try to overplay the “open” card on some things, since we are so often seen as close-minded in most things.

But on the open vs close vs closed issue, I could just as easily say I prefer biblical communion to open or closed communion. I could just as easily say I prefer narrow-road communion to wide-road communion. But I choose not to demonize other positions if I can help it. Just be careful to always try and present other views as fairly as possible.

Just for kicks: on this issue, do you, Baptist, actually think there were any un-baptized believers who took the Lord’s Supper in the Bible? Do you think God overturned the principle from Exodus 12, that only those who took the covenant sign could take the covenant meal?

So yes, we’re open! Come on in! Anyone– and I mean anyone– who is baptized as a believer can partake!


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