Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ordinances: Boyce on the Lord's Supper

James P. Boyce (1827-1888) was a Calvinistic Southern Baptist who studied at Brown under Wayland and at Princeton with Hodge and was one of the founding fathers of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Boyce's A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine is included in James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (original 1887, den Dulk reprint): pp. xxiii-xxiv.    Below is the section on the Lord's Supper.  Of interest is question 3 on the proper participants in the Supper which Boyce defines as "The members of His churches."  Baptism is the prerequisite for participation in the Lord's Supper (see question 5), but Boyce also seems to insist that the participants at the Table be not merely members of the invisible church but also of the visible.  

The Lord’s Supper

1. What other ordinance has Christ established?

The Lord’s Supper.

2. In what does this ordinance consist?

In eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Christ.

3. Who alone are authorized to receive it?

The members of His churches.

4. In what way is it to be observed?

As a church ordinance, and in token of church fellowship.

5. Is there any established order in which these ordinances are to be observed?

Yes; the believer must be baptized before he partakes of the Lord’s Supper.

6. What does the Lord’s Supper represent?

The death and sufferings of Christ.

7. Does the mere partaking, either of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper confer spiritual blessings?

No; they are worthless, if not injurious, to those who do not exercise faith.

8. But how is it when they are partaken of by those who do exercise faith?

The Spirit of God makes them, to such persons, precious means of grace.

9. Whom has Christ appointed to administer Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

The authorized ministers of His churches.

1 comment:

AJ said...

Pastor Jeff,

I rejoice as I read your postings on the ordinances, thoughtful consideration to such a worthy subject is a blessing.

I have a dear friend that pastors an ARBCA congregation in Louisiana. I gleaned much from the wrestlings of this congregation over how to administer the Table and to whom. The practice is a partially fenced table. In short, the reasoning for this is the following:

The table is the place of corrective discipline.

Discipline can ultimately only be practiced on the members of a church,

Therefore, only those who are under the authority of the local church should partake of the Lord's Table in that particular church.

Of course, it is "partially" fenced because those that are spoken to in advance by the pastor(s) may be invited to partake, or well known visitors (other pastors, former members, visitors from other like-minded congregations, etc.).

Interestingly enough, when ARBCA was reviewing the church for membership, they had some reserve over this policy and thus, consulted James Renihan. Dr. Renihan actually confirmed the historicity of such practice and explained that in the past, people would carry letters of commendation from their pastor when they were traveling, so they could partake with churches. I suppose Dr. Boyce would heartily agree.