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Posts Tagged ‘descriptive’


I’ve tried to become less reactionary in my blogging. I might have made some progress, or perhaps I’ve just been busier and don’t think about it very much. Sometimes there is an article or blog post that comes to my attention that is so annoying that I feel compelled to consider it for blog fodder. This morning I read one of them called 16 Ways Progressive Christians Interpret the Bible. I suppose I am tempted to read too much into his Patheos post, but aware of this and will try my best to interpret his words well.

He is Roger Wolsey, a “progressive” United Methodist pastor. What he does is helpful because he does lay out his assumptions when he interprets the Bible. He doesn’t defend those assumptions, he just assumes they are superior to the assumptions held by “Fundamentalists”. By the way he articulates his argument you’d think there were only “Fundamentalists”, “Atheists” and “Progressives.” I am part of the great unknown (perhaps not to him but at least “Sir Not-Mentioned-in-this-Article”) that would fall under the category of Conservative and Confessional.

“All Christians pick and choose which portions of the Bible (to interpret) literally, progressive Christians simply admit this and share how we discern.”

Not sure I’d agree with that statement. Most people I know admit this and talk about how they discern the difference. Progressives are not superior to anyone in this matter. They don’t have “interpretative righteousness” as a result. I am bringing my men’s study through the book Bible Study that addresses many of these issues and I often verbalize these things as I preach or teach SS (the Revelation series was not an exception). I suggest he doesn’t give those pesky Fundamentalists enough credit. So much for the love (or charity) he talks about later. He seems to always paint them in a most negative light.

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After examining church history, the Reformed Confessions and the Old Testament, Cornelius Venema turns his attention, and ours, to the New Testament in Children at the Lord’s Table?.  He is looking to see if the claims for infant communion can be found in the New Testament. Well, most of the New Testament. He saves 1 Corinthians 11 for a chapter of its own since that passage is so important to the discussion. Venema plays his hand on the first page of the chapter by noting that like with the Old Testament, the New does not address the question as clearly as we might want.

He begins with a puzzling thought- “the alleged analogy between the Passover and the Lord’s Supper.” You have to be patient and not pull a knee jerk reaction to the statement. This is one of the most important aspects of the argument for infant communion. He does not deny a connection, but builds a case for it being connected to all the covenant meals. But before we get too far ahead, he surveys the types of NT evidence we encounter. The first are the account of the Lord’s Supper in the synoptic Gospels.  Second, there are texts that allude generally to the celebration of the Supper by the new covenant community (descriptive). Third, there are texts that address how it should be observed (prescriptive).  Fourth, there are passages describing who should observe it (1 Corinthians 10-11), which is also prescriptive in nature.

The institution of the Lord’s Supper, as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels do not directly address the issue to whether children may participate. There is no mention of a household celebration here. He is reclining at the table with his 12 disciples- all adult males.  They had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. But it also differs from the Passover in a few ways. While the Passover was seen as a sign of the covenant, it was not seen as conferring grace. It was a memorial of God’s redemption of Israel. It functioned as a reminder, and a call to trust in this same God. But there did not seem to be a “sacramental” function. Zwingli would be happy. But, as we will see in 1 Corinthians, there is blessing and cursing involved in the Supper. It is no mere memorial (sorry, Zwingli). We also see that Jesus expected them to celebrate it more frequently than once a year. It was to be a regular part of worship for the covenant community. But partaking in the Supper also seem to require “remembrance”.  There is a remembering and doing involved here. It seems to require active participation in a way that baptism does not. The language of “blood of the new covenant”, as noted earlier, point us to the covenant ratification ceremony on Sinai (Exodus 24), not simply the Passover.

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