Should I Take Communion If I Haven't Been Baptized? Theology

image courtesy of lumix2004 via sxc.hu
I started to write about why baptism should precede communion, before realizing that I am a woefully inadequate theologian to cover a topic like this. That is why I am thankful for Jeremy Keever, one of the pastors at Grace Church. He is not only a talented teacher and writer (for elementary-age kids, teenagers, and adults), but also a good friend. He and his wife Kelly have already contributed to this blog, sharing their perspectives on why they have intentionally chosen to have their kids in public school. That has been one of our more popular posts and series, and I'm sure you'll enjoy this 2-post series as well.


At Grace Church, where I am a member, we observe the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper monthly. I have always enjoyed the freedom and worshipful environment that is created as we “go to the table.” The pastoral team is very clear that this is meant to be a family (those who are in Christ) event. As a church we encourage all people to be a part of our weekly gathered worship services. In fact, we take very intentional steps to make sure non-Christians, de-churched and people of all faiths feel welcomed with us. (Side Note: Good thing that is what Jesus did!) 

However, the very act of taking communion is divisive. There is really no way around it. Those who take communion are acknowledging their love for Christ, communicating their daily need for his broken body and his spilled blood to cover their sin, and proclaiming the gospel message. Those who don’t are non-verbally choosing to not identify with him.  

Over the years I have become increasingly concerned at how many people actually observe The Lord’s Supper. We know that people regularly get up and take communion who claim to not be a Christian or who have never been baptized.  

In order to adequately answer the question at hand, we need to first be clear on what we are talking about:
 
Baptism is one-time act of obedience and worship to identify with Jesus in his death and resurrection for those who have received the benefits of the saving work of Christ.  A few important components:
  • It is a one time act
  • It is commanded by Jesus and the Christian Church
  • It identifies you with the church body
  • It proclaims the gospel to the world

Communion (The Lord’s Supper) is an ordinance that celebrates the breaking of Christ body and the shedding of his blood for sinners.  We remember the event, celebrate the covering it brings and are nourished by partaking in worship.
  • Is to be observed continually
  • Is a sign of continued participation in the benefits of Christ’s death
  • Signifies unity with the church
  • It proclaims the gospel message to the world



Be sure to read the rest of the interview


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7 comments :

  1. Claiming that you need to be baptised before taking the Lord's Supper (Communion) is seriously problematic. Any Christian is welcome at God's table. Here's a rebuttal.


    1. Faith alone is threatened.

    You are effectively claiming that faith alone is not sufficient to merit participation in the Lord's Supper. You claim faith + baptism will merit participation.

    You accuse faithful Christians of coming to God's table inappropriately because they are unbaptised. But you fail to truly comprehend that all Christians are made worthy through their faith. We are imputed with Jesus' perfect righteousness through our faith. If we have faith, nothing can disqualify us from receiving anything from our Lord.


    2. Grace alone is threatened.

    You claim that Christians who take the Lord's Supper when unbaptised do so in an unbiblical manner.

    This is contrary to the Gospel of Grace; we receive God's good things as a gift and do nothing to earn or merit our participation. By stating a Christian should be baptised to receive the Lord's Supper suggests that the act of baptism is an act that makes us a more worthy participant. This is contrary to the central Christian message that God gives us his death and resurrection (which the Lord's Supper is a remembrance of) to those who don't deserve it.

    3.God's character becomes a disappointed critic, not a joyful father.

    You imply that God is displeased with his own [unbaptised] child coming to his table to remember his death. But this is not what God's character is like. Instead, God is pleased when all his children remember him through the Lord's Supper. God does not desire to see some of his unbaptised children excluded. You misrepresent God's true character and identity. God doesn't frown upon his children as inadequate or incomplete (because of Jesus). The god you represent is not the God seen in the Gospel.

    4. Church leadership becomes a barrier between man and God.

    There is one mediator between God and man, Jesus. However, by obstructing people from coming to God's table, you are taking the role of a priest – but Jesus is our great high priest. Jesus offers his blood to all who believe in him (Romans 3:25). Jesus instructs his Church to participate in the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:25-26). Therefore a church has no authority to prevent or deter a faithful Christian's participation in the Lord's Supper.

    5. We are set free from one slave master, but you are making us captive to another.

    We have been set free from the Law (Romans 7:6) and from Circumcision (Galatians 5:1-2).

    But you are practically enslaving Christians to baptism. You [erroneously] claim that baptism is the replacement for circumcision. But you are treating baptism as if it were circumcision! By holding baptism as essential you enslave us to it. Baptism is not a obligatory ceremony that changes how God views us, but it is a tangible depiction of Jesus' work. You are taking the beauty out of baptism and enslaving us to it.

    Baptism has not replaced circumcision as our slave master! Jesus has broken our chains.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think your points are valid and I agree.

      Delete
  2. Part 2:


    6. God has instructed Christians to get baptised. But if they have been disobedient by not being baptised, God has forgiven then.

    If God has forgiven them, then you have no right to exclude them from God's table. By excluding them, you disregard God's forgiveness.

    7. You have an insufficient understanding of the implications of the Gospel. The scope of what Jesus achieved never fails to amaze me. Jesus' saving work has such extensive consequences that we all fail to entirely grasp it. What Jesus has achieved is always more abundant than we think. Our minds and words fail to capture the lavishness of what Jesus' death has achieved for us.

    If Jesus died to save sinners, then they are saved from being separated from God. But separating unbaptised Christians from God's table shows that you do not deeply understand the magnitude of Jesus' saving work. The breadth of the cross means that no Christians are turned away from God's table. Dare to let go and be courageous by completely trusting in Christ for all things.

    8. Jesus did not die for me so I could rest on anything other than his life.

    The heart of the Gospel is when I depend on Jesus' actions and status. I reply upon Jesus, not baptism. But false religion is when I depend on my own actions. You are depending on your contribution of baptism. This is a false gospel!

    We are not worthy through baptism, our attempts at repentance, or our obedience. Instead, we depend solely on Jesus, and by depending on Jesus we receive perfect worthiness.

    9. Your whole argument seems abstract from God himself. You are discussing ideas but you are detached from the personal God.

    10. We have access to God's table because we are his child. We have the same relationship privilege with God that Jesus has. God's abundant table is ours. There will always be a place at his table for us.

    11. Stop everything if the Gospel ceases being central.

    12. The concern in the Corinthian Church is that some in Christ's body are being excluded from the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:29). But you are not recognising some in the body of Christ by excluding unbaptised Christians.

    In an act of bitter irony, you are committing the specific sin that you are trying to prevent.

    13. We are unequivocally told to take the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:19). If faithful Christians are instructed to take the Lord's Supper, they should take it. But you are being pharisaical by teaching Christians they should ignore this instruction unless they have upheld the instruction of being baptised.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Part 3.



    14. Some unbaptised Christians become torn whether they should observe their leaders' instruction (i.e. abstain from the Lord's Supper) or to obey God (i.e. participate in the Lord's Supper). This can establish a congregational culture of hypocrisy.

    15. Even if your argument were Biblical (which it is not), you are focusing on the 'letter of the law'

    16. The Bible never explicitly instructs that you must be baptised to take the Lord's Supper.

    17. We should not restrict non-baptised believers from participating in activities that were clearly for “all the believers” as per Acts 2:44

    The early church communion was literally a meal which they ate together. This showed their unity, Christian family, community, etc – as well as being an opportunity to remember Jesus. We lose some of this 'togetherness' by excluding some people. If the Lord’s Supper is the meal of Jesus’ household then all of Jesus' household should be invited.

    18. Your argument lacks circumspect, and does not make considerations for real individuals in specific situations.

    19. You are being unloving to the weaker brother or sister who is not baptised.

    By excluding unbaptised Christians from the Lord's Supper, you are excluding people from participating in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). You are being unloving as you exclude them, and you do not have a legitimate reason to exclude them.

    20. It's ridiculous to say that faith alone guarantees our salvation, but we need more than faith to participate in the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is not harder to achieve than salvation.

    21. To prove that baptism was a normal part of becoming a disciple in the early church does not prove that God is displeased with Christians who have not been baptised, but still take part in the Lord's Supper.

    22. There are no examples of unbaptised believers in the early church, so we cannot make such definitive rules about them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, I have some questions to ask:
      1. Pleasethrow more light on the place of baptism in the Christian Life.
      2. What are the conditions to belong to the body of Christ?
      3. What is it that qualifies on to be called in to the great commission?
      4. How can I proof my separation from the world and belonging to Christ. And,
      5. What the advantages, benefits, pros and the disadvantages or cons of being baptised.
      N.B: All baptism mentioned above refers to water baptism.

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  4. Once again i see people with their own interpretation and bias of scripture. First off no where does it say that unbelievers cant remember the Lord. Was Paul not visited by Jesus and blinded then sometime later he was baptized into into Christ! Lots of people come to the Lord gradually and remembering the Lord ie communion is a great help for them to reflect on his sacrifice. And this whole idea that baptism is not a requirement for salvation is is again false. There are over 20 scriptures that directly tie salvation to baptism but sadly the new testament has been cherry picked into a false doctrine. Hello Galatians 1: 8-9. Personally for me and my house we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). Deuteronomy 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Train a Child in the way he should go and when he becomes old he will not depart from it (Proverb 22:15). I implore you to read the whole scripture and each parts context. Blessings .ps Would it be a sin to remember the Lord if not baptized? I believe the Church should be dedicated to help people remember the Lord! I'm sure i read that somewhere.

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  5. If you want to know more about the holy communion and if those who aren't baptize can take communion read the bible 1 corinthians chapter 11 verse.26-29

    ReplyDelete