H&S: Paedocommunion

All right, Hoagers & Stogers, the Paedocommunion debate is now in the can. I’ve got a lot of requests already for the audio, and I appreciate that there’s a lot of interest in this topic, and I also appreciate all the hard work our speakers Glen Gundert and Josh Brisby put into their presentations.

So here are the links to the audio:

Note that with our special afternoon time slot, we were feeling especially loose with the timing of each speakers’ sections; I hope you enjoy all the extra discussion that resulted! (And I apologize for all the chatter between segments; I had an audio editing failure, and decided to just post these as-is rather than spend time trying again)

Mark your calendars now for the next H&S; Sat Apr 14, we are very privileged to host prominent Reformed author T. David Gordon, who will be speaking to us about his book Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal. (Also, if you’re interested, you can hear him on Friday night Apr 13, at this venue.)

And as always, please help our gratitude to Hess Brewing for continuing to provide excellent beer. As I always say, you can’t spell H&S without Hess! (Or is it the other way around, I forget…) In addition to regular tasting room hours (watch hessbrewing.com and their Facebook page), the next F.A.C. is Feb 17.


17 Responses

  1. Good debate, Josh. You changed my mind. Oh and I’m voting for Newt Gingrich. Maybe Obama. Shoot, I’ll just write in Netanyahu.

    All joking aside, with regard to the ‘unexcommunicable’ question, this objection seems equally applicable to paedo baptism. Doesn’t paedo baptism signify the infant’s membership within a community from which he cannot be removed until he reaches that ever elusive age of accountability?

    • “Excommunication” is an actual thing, “Unbaptization” is not. When one is removed from the community, they are excommunicated, but they are still validly baptized (indeed under threat of death by flood).

      • Rube, I didn’t ask if the child could be “unbaptized”. I asked if he could be excused from the community into which he had been admitted. Excommunication is more than being barred from the Table. Excommunication includes being unassociated from the community, being treated as a pagan or a tax collector, being handed over to Satan, etc.

        Since the obvious answer to this question is “no”, then by the elementary logic teacher’s logic, an infant shouldn’t be admitted to the community via baptism since he cannot be dismissed from the community.

      • You are confusing the distinct natures of the two sacraments (which is not surprising, for a paedocommunionist). Baptism is indelible, and communion is not. Since one can be removed from the community and yet remain validly baptized, or remain in the community though being secretly apostate (and yet validly baptized) it doesn’t make any difference whether a baptized child is removable or not.

      • Rube, I am not confusing anything. I recognize you can’t take baptism away, which is why I didn’t ask about unbaptism. I asked about a component of excommunication other than removal from the Table which, rather than addressing, you said didn’t matter. It matters to my argument and you can’t dismiss an argument so easily. You have to point out the fallacy or reject a premise.

        What is the premise of the “unexcommunicable” argument? Isn’t it something like, “If one cannot be excommunicated, he ought not to be communicated?” Doesn’t this premise boil down to “If one cannot be excluded, he ought not to be admitted?” Is this really a premise you would accept? If you require the words “from/to the Table” in the premise, I submit you are being arbitrary, I reject the premise, and I ask you to prove it. But without those words, the premise applies equally to being admitted to the community via baptism, which would be absurd.

  2. I also find it dangerous that is some communions, like the URC, children must be fully catechized before they can have a meal with their Lord while adult converts get immediate access. Matthew 23:4 comes to mind.

    • I am aware of a stereotype that CRC churches wait until age 18 to commune children, and since URC is The New CRC, there is probably some of that there as well. But with HC81 as a guide, it seems to me that merely an understanding and credible appropriation of the gospel (sin and redemption) is all that is required, not “full” catechesis.

      I have heard of the URC in Santee and Oceanside, that there is a pastor-led class, and a requirement to know a subset of HC (not the whole thing, and I don’t know where “know” falls on a continuum of being able to parrot the syllables vs. being able to explain the content). I don’t know first-hand though, so others would have to confirm or deny.

      And as for adult converts, I have also heard that they have a “close” table (if that’s the right term), so new adult converts may well have to go through a membership process that is equivalent to the level of catechesis expected before communing children. Again, though, I can’t really speak for them.

      • Either way, it looks like admittance to the Table of God’s grace is granted by works.

      • Well as everybody agrees (with one exception) “The activity of the participant is brought to the fore with much more emphasis in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in contrast to the relative passivity of the one baptized.”

      • I agree with that statement which is why I always taught my children to actively participate in the Supper and not just sit there while everyone else did.

  3. Hi Ron, glad you enjoyed the debate. To answer your question regarding baptism, I agree with Rube that you have flattened out the sacraments. If someone is disciplined in the church, they are barred from the Table, but do not have to be rebaptized. We’re not Baptists (anymore!). Baptism is for life. It is done only once. The Table is done continually.

    Perhaps an analogy may help. If some citizen of our country commits a misdemeanor, sometimes he or she may lose their driver’s license. Yet, they are still considered United States citizens. They are not outside the citizenship of the community. No, to lose citizenship they must be convicted of a serious crime, and, when this happens, they lose their citizenship, and therefore, their right to vote, for example.

    This is why, if someone returns to the faith, they do not have to be rebaptized. I believe, respectfully, that you have once again confused the nature and purpose of the two sacraments.

  4. *sighs*…

    Josh, please support your assertion that I have “flattened out the sacraments,” or “confused the nature and purpose of the two sacraments.” Acknowledging distinctions (e.g. one Baptism vs. perpetual Eucharist) while maintaining similarities (e.g. these are only for Christians and for all Christians), can hardly be called “flattening”.

    This seems to me to be a standard WSC/WHI/RSC tactic of dismissing the objector rather than tackling the objection. If all else fails, malign the objector’s ability to make elementary distinctions using neat words like “conflate”, “blur” or “flatten”. Or alternatively, provide links to a useless tome you are peddling on Amazon with the comment, “Every possible objection to what I am saying has been more than adequately addressed here. Good day.”

    As I said in two separate comments, “I didn’t ask if the child could be ‘unbaptized’,” and “I recognize you can’t take baptism away.” In spite of this, you still feel the need to parrot Rube’s straw man rather than actually handle the reductio I laid out against your “unexcommunicable” argument.

    Your analogy regarding the revoking of certain civil privileges breaks down immediately when one considers the scriptural demands to disassociate with the excommunicant. We aren’t even supposed to eat with him. Unlike your analogy, he is indeed “outside the community”. The once only nature of Baptism isn’t a sufficient distinction to make your case since excommunication means a baptized person is to be treated as if he wasn’t (i.e. like a pagan). Can this be done to an infant? No, we all agree that would be absurd. Hence, the reductio.

    PS, the only reason I am taking the time to address this is my curiosity to see how this new argument pans out. Everything else I heard you say in the debate has been more than adequately handled here:


    Good day.

  5. Just worshipped at Trinity Reformed in Moscow yesterday. James Jordan was preaching in colorful, priestly, Epiphany garb. Believe it or not, he is a great preacher, especially to the children. Leithart’s children call him “Uncle James”.

    Halfway through the sermon, my oldest, London, age 11, looks over to me and whispers, “I like this preacher.” My youngest, Roman, age 2, says “Amen” with the congregation after prayers and songs, sings the Lord’s Prayer fairly fluently (it is an every week song), and lifts his hands during the doxology. They are participating in worship and that participation doesn’t become observance when the Eucharist is celebrated.

    I am so thankful to finally have the opportunity to worship where all of Christ’s Body is welcome at their Lord’s Table.

  6. Hi Ron, the above is another example of the appeals to emotion I consistently see in paedocommunionist literature and hear from paedocommunionists that concerns me. Appeals to emotion are fallacious argumentation. It would be more fitting for us to avoid such argumentation.

  7. Josh,
    Yes, my previous comment would indeed have been an appeal to emotion if I was making an argument, but I wasn’t. I was just posting an experience I recently had to see if you were still monitoring this thread. For some reason, the comment before my last went unanswered for over a week, but when you see an easy pitch, you immediately come out of hiding to hit the “fallacy” out of the park. Finally, you prove something. :b

  8. Ron, I did answer your question (as well as did Rube), but you didn’t like the answer. I’m not sure how that qualifies as not being answered. :) Peace out, my friend. :)

  9. Josh, you answered my initial question with the baseless assertion that I am confusing the nature of the sacraments, but then passed over my comment requesting that you substantiate that assertion.

    I can understand if you want to put an end to this discussion. I would too if I was in an untenable position.

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