I am convinced, generally speaking, that we do the things that we treasure the most. Therefore, the reason that many evangelicals do not take the Lord’s Supper more frequently comes down to the simple fact that they do not truly treasure this sacrament that Christ gave to his people to celebrate until He comes. For all of their talk about the body and blood of Jesus these evangelicals strangely do not treasure the very means that Christ gave to us for receiving the grace of God through the elements. This generally happens because evangelicals are focused almost exclusively on the preaching of the Word without the symbols that make the Word real to both our senses and our faith. Why not focus on both?
I also am amazed, by my experience in evangelical churches across America, that for all their talk about treasuring the Bible they almost never read it in public worhsip these days. It is strange that we talk about the authority of the Bible a lot and read it very little.
I just came from a service in which both the preached Word and the celebrated Word were central. And the Bible was read, about 40 plus verses in today’s liturgy. What a joy to worship in such a context on the Lord’s Day. My soul was fed, my faith was strengthened and my heart is filled with deep and abiding joy. I am ready to begin this new week strengthened by His grace alone.
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good post John. I was raised Roman Catholic and after I became a christian I started attending charismatic and other protestant churches where the sacrament was celebrated, at most, once a month. Usually, worship consisted of 4 hymns and a sermon, pretty barebones stuff from what I grew-up with. It’s been about 25 years since my conversion, and I’ve come to the conclusion that both the Word preached and the sacrament celebrated is needed weekly. I’m now attending an Anglican Mission in America church, and I’m loving it. Having the Comminion celebrated weekly, the Word preached, and the rich liturgy has been such a breath of fresh air to my soul. To me, this is truly relevant worship, and it speaks to a culture dying for something transcendant.
John, you wrote:
“…these evangelicals strangely do not treasure the very means that Christ gave to us for receiving the grace of God through the elements.”
Is the doctrine that the grace of God is received through the elements directly drawn from the biblical text, inferred from the text, presented from the early writings of the church fathers, or none of the above?
Nathan . . . it is all three. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 very carefully (read Calvin on this text as a solid place to begin) and then look at the inferences of the NT and the teaching of the Tradition as well. My forthcoming Zondervan book (January 2007) on the Lord’s Supper will underscore this I hope.
I think a lot of it is that there isn’t a very strong evangelical theology of the sacraments. By “evangelical” I am referring to the popular understanding of the term. I suspect that when communion is considered an ordinance, a mere optional mental recalling, there really is no need for regular communion. I may be wrong, but what percentage of evangelicals would you say share your understanding of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament?
As for the Bible reading, when I first walked into Catholic and Anglican churches 8 years ago, I remember being amazed how much Bible was read aloud in Church. In fact it was even a little much for me, a solid bible-believing evangelical, since I had to increase my attention span. I agree, the best worship is hearing the word of God read and preached on, followed by meeting the Word of God in communion. It is a both/and thing as opposed to an either/or thing.
I just found your blog by the way. It looks great.
David, I would guess a very small percentage of evangelicals really share my view of the “presence” of Christ in the sacraments. I have written on this in older issues of Viewpoint, which can be found on our Web site at http://www.act3online.com.
I also have two books coming from Zondervan on the sacraments, one in January 2007 and the other likely a year later. The first is on Baptism, the second on the Supper.