"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Friday, April 19, 2013

Of Baptismal Regeneration, Paedocommunion, and Intinction.

Last night, while reading "Children at the Lord's Table: Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion" by Cornelis P. Venema, a connection between three issues aligned for me for the first time. Venema's book lays out a case against allowing children to partake of the Supper before they have professed faith. Within the PCA [Presbyterian Church in America], three controversies have been raising their head lately, all from the same group of people: agitating for intinction (dipping the bread in the wine to partake, rather than separate actions), paedocommunion (allowing children from birth up to partake of the Supper before making a credible profession of faith), and a variation of baptismal regeneration (saying all baptized children are regenerate/believers by virtue of their baptism). These three items are all foreign to historical Reformed and Biblical Theology, so I wondered why do "Federal Vision" types seem to hold all three?

Venema traces the emergance of the idea of "baptismal regeneration" in the late 300s, and then observed about the emergance of the practice of infant communion this:

"[In ancient eastern churches] the baptized member is immediately given the body and blood of Christ by 'intinction' (dipping of the bread into the wine). Unlike the Roman Catholic church, the Eastern church teaches that the mystery of the Eucharist must be communicated in both elements, is administered by intinction, and is given to infants upon their baptism and chrismation." [pg 19]

It then all made sense. If one believes a baby is always regenerated by baptism, they then are undoubtably a believer. If they are a believer, they take the Lord's Supper, and if they take the Lord's Supper and cannot yet drink from the cup, you need to dip it for them.

Thus is one example of how one error in theology (baptismal regeneration) can distort many other areas, and this without mentioning how it distorts the idea of union with Christ and justification, which then become benefits bestowed without faith - an idea at enmity to the gospel. The more you know, the more clear it is that "Federal Vision" is another system entirely and not merely a variation of Reformed Theology. It is a hop skip and a jump away from Rome, and has no place in evangelical churches, let alone Reformed Churches.


Paul Cain said...

I don't think you are being complete in your dismissal of baptismal regeneration. I am an LCMS Lutheran pastor. We don't do intinction or padeocommunion. Why? Jesus gave bread and wine as His Body and Blood separately. We therefore distribute them separately. Also, 1 Corinthians 11 requires communicants to examine themselves. Infants are believers and have faith but cannot examine themselves. Don't confuse faith with knowledge, faith with the ability to speak, faith with reason, or faith with experience. Some days I can commune my members with Alzheimers because they can examine themselves. Other days, they can't.

Jared Nelson said...

Greetings Pastor! Although I am a confessional Presbyterian, I do have a great affection in my heart for confessional Lutherans and especially those in the LCMS. I thank God for your witness to the gospel of justification by faith.

My post was actually directed at an internal debate currently occurring in the Reformed world over "Federal Vision" and paedocommunion. Federal Vision, in my understanding, has a view of the sacraments that are more properly understood as Romanesque than Lutheran, with an ex opere operato view of the sacraments. Their view then leads them logically to embrace paedocommunion, intinction and justification by faithfulness (i.e. works) - somethign I am thankful that Lutherans do not hold.

That said, I find myself confused by Lutheran sacramental theology, especially on the point of holding baptismal regeneration of a sort (imparting faith) while still holding to justification by faith alone. Yet, Lutherans are known to happily hold to contradictory statements without feeling a need to harmonize, which perhaps aids me in rejoicing that justification by faith is declared with what I believe to be a contradictory view of the sacraments. Perhaps you could actually help me there if you know of any Lutheran theologians explaining that tension, I would be greatly appreciative.

Paul Cain said...

I'd be happy to participate in a more detailed and personal conversation off the site. Send me a private g+ message.

To start, consider Augsburg Confession IX, http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php#article9, which says in part: Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace.

We would say that Baptism is a means of grace, one of the ways the Lord has promised to deliver forgiveness, life, and salvation, the justification Christ won on Calvary. 1 Peter 3:21, "Baptism now saves you," means what it says. Baptism saves because we are told it does in Acts 2:36-41, Titus 3, et al.

Andrew Lohr said...

I am--so one can--be for infant communion as Biblical without being for FV (I'm unsure on FV), without insisting on intinction (wait until weaning is OK), and without water regeneration (one might say Spirit baptism--in a reformed, not pentecostal, sense--saves or at least accompanies salvation.) We're showing Christ's death; he died (we suppose) for covenant infants; so how can the showing exclude them? Examine yourself specifically to see if you're including everyone you should (read the context!) And if infants are saved, are they saved without faith? If so, where's sola fide? (Hint: my pretalking infant trusts he, and hears the gospel. My 3- infant says "Jesus loves me best.") For 30-40 pages on paedocommunion starting with 1-page summaries, try http://andrewlohr.wordpress.com/2013/02/page/2/; be ready to scroll.

Adam said...

I've never read or heard of ANY Federal Visionist advocating intiction. In fact, when it has been discussed, it has been vehemently opposed. The bread and wine are kept distinct by Jesus himself in his institution. Two prayers, two rites. This is consistent with the sacrificial system where the blood was drained from the body of the animal. It's also consistent with the FV crowd, since they draw their principles of worship order from the sacrificial system.

I'd like to see some proof of a Federal Visionist advocating intinction.