Reviewed by: Larry Wilson
Date posted: 08/12/2007
The Lord's Supper: Eternal Word in Broken Bread, by Robert Letham. Published by P&R, 2001. Paperback. 85 pages, list price $8.99. Reviewed by editor Larry Wilson.
Why do we have the Lord's Supper? How can we better experience its blessings? We affirm it as a "means of grace," but in practice we are largely uninstructed about what that means. We readily lose sight of the big picture in disputes over fragments of it.
In a most welcome new book, Dr. Robert Letham (senior pastor of Emmanuel OPC in Wilmington, Delaware) capably advocates the Reformed doctrine and practice of the Lord's Supper. In four compact chapters, he reminds us how, by God's amazing grace, believers actually feed upon and receive Jesus Christ and his benefits in the Supper. First, he reviews the foundational Bible teaching. Second, he evaluates the four major views which have surfaced: "transubstantiation," the Romish view (Christ's real physical presence in the bread and wine); "consubstantiation," the Lutheran view (Christ's real physical presence with or under the bread and wine); "communion," the Reformed view (Christ's real spiritual presence in the bread and wine); and the "memorialist" view, which pervades modern evangelical, Reformed, and (dare I say?) OP churches (Christ's real absence). Third, he further explicates and defends the biblically Reformed view of Calvin and the Westminster standards. Fourth, he surveys practical implications of the Reformed view. Who may administer the sacrament? Which elements should be used, and how? Who may receive the sacrament? How often should the sacrament be celebrated? He ably defends the Reformed position and presses the implications of it.
The Lord's Supper is a pithy introduction to a profound subject. At times, one wishes for more detail (for example, in its refutation of paedocommunion). The book makes no claim, however, to be a comprehensive treatment of the sacrament. (It does include helpful endnotes and a good Scripture index for those who want to do further study.) But as a lucid, readable synopsis of the Reformed view of the Lord's Supper, it is an excellent resource!
Dr. R. B. Gaffin. Jr., writes (on a cover blurb), "Clearly written, this little book should encourage and challenge its readers - church officers, lay persons, study and discussion groups - to a better understanding of, and, much needed today, a higher regard for, the blessings spread before the church at the table of the Lord." Amen. How our churches could be blessed and be a blessing to the broader body of Christ if only we could recover the long-neglected biblical truths this book advocates. Recommended.