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Question and Answer

What is the church's position on altar cloths?


What is the church's position on the use of altar cloths?


The answer to your question is easy but profoundly important; it takes us to the heart of the gospel. There is no place in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, or in any church true to Scripture, for altar cloths because there is no place for an altar of any kind.

The table used for celebrating the Lord's Supper is just that, a family table before or around which the congregation gathers for a meal as God's children. It is a table for communion with the ascended Christ, not an altar where he is in some sense re-sacrificed or his sacrifice "re-presented" to God.

Christ's sacrifice for sin has a once-for-all finality and sufficiency (see, for example, Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26; 10:10). Because of that sufficiency and finality, an altar—and so an altar cloth of any sort—is excluded from the worship of God's people that would be "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).

I hope this reply will be of help to you.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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