Children and the Lord's Supper  -     By: Guy Waters, Ligon Duncan
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Children and the Lord's Supper

Mentor / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Mentor
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 1845507290
ISBN-13: 9781845507299
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Publisher's Description

What age is it okay for a child to partake in the Lord's supper? This book takes a constructive look at the doctrine of paedo-communion as defined: "as the admittance of a covenant child to the Lord's Supper on the basis of his descent from at least one professing Christian parent." Looking at this doctrine, these essays will provide food for thought across the various disciplines such as Biblical, Theological, historical and pastoral. It will be a guide as you seek to explore this key pastoral issue.

Author Bio

Dr Guy Waters is the Professor of New Testament at the Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi who has a particular interest in the letters and the theology of Paul. He is a teaching elder in the Mississippi presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of America. Ligon Duncan is the Chancellor and CEO of the Reformed Theological Seminary System where he is also John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology. Prior to his appointment he was Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi.

Editorial Reviews

Pastors and elders are shepherds of the hearts and souls of their people. Parents are shepherds of the hearts and souls of their children. All shepherds have a significant stake in this consideration of whether covenant children should participate in the Lord's Supper prior to making their own public profession of faith. Are shepherds hurting the children by keeping them from coming to Christ if they keep them from participating in the Supper or are they helping and protecting the children by pointing them to Christ before they participate in the Supper? I believe the latter and I am grateful for this careful Biblical consideration of the issue.
Like an unending case of the "terrible two's," infant communion advocacy stubbornly persists in many Reformed churches. Finally we have a single resource to counter the scope of exegetical, biblico-theological, historical, systematic, and practical arguments proffered by paedocommunion proponents. Honest, persuasive, yet irenic, this compilation of essays puts to bed infant communion's errant theologizing and exposes the ecclesiologically hazardous results of its practice. But the authors have done much more than polemicize. They have served a positively edifying and nourishing meal for the Church on the theology and practice of the Lord's Table. I heartily recommend partaking in Children and the Lord's Supper.
For those who believe that the children of believers are covenanted members of the church, and eligible to be baptised, the issue of children's participation in the Lord's Supper can be a difficult one. If they may be admitted to one ordinance, why not to the other? This timely and useful book not only answers that question definitively and persuasively, it also explores much more besides: the relationship between Passover and Lord's Supper, the theological, confessional and liturgical implications of the sacraments, and the place of children in the covenant of grace. This is a careful guide around a difficult subject, full of pastoral insight and biblical teaching.

Product Reviews

4.7 Stars Out Of 5
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4.3 out Of 5
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Meets Expectations:
4.7 out Of 5
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  1. Wichita Falls, Tx
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Good book on a tough topic
    December 29, 2011
    Chris Land
    Wichita Falls, Tx
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    One tough topic pastors deal with from time to time is the issue of, can a child observe the Lord's Supper? This is what Children and the Lord's Supper talks about. This book was edited by Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan. There were many contributors to this book, which made this book very theological.

    The book starts off with how the Lord's Supper has taken over the Passover, and discussing the theology behind the Lord's Supper. George W. Knight III takes an exegetical look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, which is read almost every time I have observed Communion at different churches. The end of the book deals with what a church is to do to deal with this issue, which every leader in the church needs to read a discern how to deal with this issue.

    Very good book on a tough subject. Every church leader and parent needs to read this book.
  2. Joliet, IL
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Definitive Collection of Essays on the Table
    December 28, 2011
    Kevin M. Fiske
    Joliet, IL
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Addressing those in attendance at the Desiring God 2008 National Conference, Pastor Mark Driscoll, in his lecture entitled "Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words", delivered an aside on a peculiar topic_paedocommunion. He said:

    "I once had a guy who wanted to talk about paedocommunion. I told him you have more important things to do than argue about paedocommunion. He said "I'm willing to fight over this issue." I said, "I'm not." Some people won't fight for anything. Some fight for everything."

    What is paedocommunion? Is it worth discussing? Is it a matter of urgency for the church? Can it be defended from the Scriptures? Does it have a history of observance in the church historic? These are a sampling of the questions Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan, with a host of Reformed scholars, seek to address in the 2011 Christian Focus Publications/Mentor release, Children and the Lord's Supper.

    Formatted as a collection of essays on the topic, Children and the Lord's Supper seeks to examine paedocommunion exegetically, theologically, historically, with respect to contemporary scholarship, and in terms of its implications for the church, and particularly children in the church, today.

    The book begins with a helpful introduction to the topic by Waters and Duncan. Defining paedocommunion as "the admittance of a covenant child to the Lord's Supper on the basis of his descent from at least one professing Christian" (that is, a child who has yet to make a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ), the issue is initially set within its current ecclesiastical context. Though remaining a minority issue, it has taken root within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Reformed Church in America. Additionally, the Christian Reformed Church has been discussing the possibility of adopting the practice since 1984. Then a brief overview of the case against paedocommunion is offered, with special attention given to the pro-paedo literature and arguments of Peter J. Leithart, along with some pastoral implications.

    The book then proceeds with two essays addressing the Lord's Supper as it relates to Passover. Bryan Estelle in his essay, "Passover and the Lord's Supper: Continuity or Discontinuity?," and Iain M. Duguid in "Christ our Passover" provide the reader with an excellent study in the relationship of the Lord's Supper to the Passover. Both authors do a particularly good job of demonstrating the particularities of the relationship between old and new covenants as well as the forward-looking new creational kingdom aspect of the Supper. Notably, Estelle argues that the Supper "far from merely fulfilling the Passover meal, actually fulfills the entire sacrificial system. Jesus fulfills the whole sacrificial order, not just the Passover."

    Continuing, George W. Knight III examines 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 in his essay, "1 Corinthians 11:17-34: The Lord's Supper: Abuses, Words of Institution and Warnings and the Inferences and Deductions with respect to Paedocommunion". (Talk about a title reminiscent of the Puritans_). Knight, by thoroughly walking the reader through the 1 Corinthians pericope, demonstrates that the Table is only open to those who have made a credible public profession of faith and are able to understand and act upon the Apostle Paul's instruction.

    Derek W. H. Thomas in, "'Not a Particle of Sound Brain' -a theological response to paedocommunion" takes on the issue theologically as it pertains to three strands of argumentation: sacramental, covenantal, and ecclesiastical.

    Cornelis Venema then looks at the issue through the lens of the Reformed confessions in "Paedocommunion and the Reformation Confessions." Though obviously giving time to the issue at hand, this essay is particularly valuable as it gives the reader a crash course of sorts on a Reformed view of both baptism and the Lord's Supper in and of themselves.

    Before the concluding chapter, Nick Needham looks at the patristic sources for evidence of paedocommunion in "Children at the Lord's Table in the Patristic Era". Though the documentation is "thin", as Needham puts it, he provides helpful primary source examples from the Cappadocian fathers, John Chrysostom, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo.

    Additionally, Joel Beeke looks at paedocommunion as addressed in the Reformed liturgies in "'Only for His Believers': Paedocommunion and the Witness of the Reformed Liturgies". Those he examines include, but are not limited to: Roman Catholic (backgrounds), Calvin's Catechism and Liturgy (c. 1541), The First Prayer Book of King Edward VI (1549), and John Knox's Genevan Service Book (1556). Through his examination, Beeke shows that these voices are unified in that ‘Christ has appointed this food only for His believers.'

    Finally, Waters and Duncan provide helpful pastoral discussions and perspectives as to how children are to be viewed and shepherded within the church. They conclude with a section addressing how pastors may understand, appreciate, and receive the Lord's Supper.

    With the content in view, I want to include a few remarks regarding the helpful nature of this volume_ Initially, one of the great strengths of this book is the way in which it provides the reader with a rich, Reformed understanding of the Lord's Supper (and Baptism). The volume itself could be used as a primer on a Reformed perspective of both sacraments/ordinances even apart from its addressing paedocommunion. Thus, even if the reader has no specific interest in paedocommunion, this volume is still of value!

    As well, I found the discussions pertaining to the continuity and discontinuity with the Passover to be some of the most engaging. Particularly Estelle and Duguid's essays are exemplary studies in biblical theology. As such, it's worth noting that Estelle engages a good amount of the work of Ridderbos, Hodge, and Vos within his discussion.

    Overall, Children and the Lord's Supper is a great help as it relates to a Reformed understanding of the sacraments. The reader will benefit from a well-argued, well-researched, well-engaged study of paedocommunion along with an excellent series of arguments in opposition to the practice. It may be noted that any position argued effectively, must have thorough knowledge of its opponents argument/position, and communicate it credibly. The authors in Children in the Lord's Supper know the opposing argument and approach it with pastoral urgency and wisdom, careful exegesis, and a faithful call to a robust and biblically faithful sacramental praxis and care for covenant children.

    I recommend it to you highly!

    *As a part of the Christian Focus Blog Tour, the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of this book. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.
  3. Canada
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Lots to learn from this book
    December 26, 2011
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I just finished reading'Children and the Lord's Supper, edited by Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan. Christian Focus Publications once again generously sent me a free copy of the book with the intention to review it.

    This book is a collection of essays addressing the issue of paedocommunion. It is written from a Reformed perspective, which is important for those who may read this who are from a non-denominational perspective, i.e. like me. It's important to know that, because the issue of paedocommunion is a natural outflow of the reality of infant baptism. My church does not subscribe to infant baptism, and thus does not deal with the issue of children and the Lord's Supper in the same way. That being said, I learned a great deal from this book about the Reformed position of both baptism and the Lord's Supper. Ultimately, each author who contributed said something which I, from a non-denominational perspective, can agree with: the Lord's Supper is meant for those who are in the faith already, and can properly examine themselves before they partake. Each author supported the view that in light of the fact that a small child -- not to mention an infant -- cannot examine him/herself, they are not invited to the table. The authors all also presented the reality that membership in the church does not necessarily imply full participation in all aspects of church life. I think that is something that I can learn from in my own context. The final chapter of the book, by Waters and Duncan, asked the reader to evaluate how we regard children in the church, how we disciple them, and how we prepare them for the eventuality of taking the Lord's Supper. I found that very helpful. In my own local church, we allow a child to partake of the Lord's Supper based on their profession of faith in Christ. It has been my experience that sometimes, a child of five years old who says they have been converted, may in fact not be converted as later life bears out. I wonder if perhaps we ought to be more diligent about ascertaining that fact before we start making asssumptions. This book was a good reminder of the need to continually be teaching our young children and not making assumptions about their faith.

    The book addressed the issue of paedocommunion from a number of vantage points: from the hermeneutical position, from its relationship to the Passover meal, from the theological perspective, the church history perpspective, and the liturgical perspective. Their goal was to adequately describe why paedocommunion is not a biblical practice, and I believe they accomplished that well. I especially enjoyed Derek Thomas's explanation of the theological aspects of the question. I knew very little about what a "covenant child" was before reading; after reading his contribution, I feel like I understand much better.

    The book has the Mentor imprint on it, indicating that it is for advanced readers or pastors. I think many people would find it readable, but it is more work reading than other books I have read. When one of the authors brought in literary theory as it relates to the language of the Passover, and then proceeded to allude to Northrop Frye, I had to smile to myself. I recently read a work by Frye about literary theory, and knew what he meant, but I did wonder how many people know about Frye's literary theories. I don't think my pastor has even heard of him. That being said, however, I found the whole book an excellent one, and highly recommended to anyone who wants to seriously examine the issue of children at the Lord's Table.
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