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October 07, 2012 Q & A

Why doesn't the OPC "fence" the Lord's table more strictly?

Question

OP churches allow to the Lord's table any visitor who is a member in good standing of an "evangelical church." That means, of course, that we regularly commune those who hold views different than ours, most frequently the "memorial view." Why do we do this? It seems that we are saying implicitly that the view one holds is not particularly important, and that the memorial view is acceptable. So my question is, why aren't we more strict? I understand that Continental Reformed churches typically are more strict, having visited one a few times.

Answer

The requirements for admission to the Lord's table include, according to 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, repentance toward God and not living impenitently in any known sin, faith in Christ and a recognition at least of what the elements represent. They do not include exact agreement with all we believe about Christ's spiritual presence and theologians from differing theological perspectives have come to different conclusions regarding that presence (e.g., Zwingli and Luther).

Some of our individual congregations are more strict than others, but those who, like the congregation I serve, simply fence the table by a warning to come in a worthy manner believe it is a matter best left between the conscience of the one partaking and his God. Before his own God he stands or falls. I believe Romans 14:1–4 covers this position quite nicely.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (ESV)

I hope this answers your question.

 

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