On Ordinances!

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STOP! Who goes there?

Dr. Michael J. Svigel, chair of the Theological Studies department at Dallas Theological Seminary, writes a characteristically thoughtful article on the relationship between the two ordinances of the church—believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Here’s an excerpt:

For many churches and denominations, it would be unthinkable that a believer who has not been baptized as a mark of initiation into the covenant community would be invited to partake of the covenant community’s most intimate observance, the Lord’s Supper (or “eucharist,” “communion,” or “Lord’s Table”). Usually such churches initiate their members at a young age, if not in infancy, or they have a fairly high view of baptism and its role not only as a public profession of personal faith but also as a rite of initiation into the community of the faithful.

However, many other churches—usually of the independent evangelical “Bible-church” variety—have hardly considered the question. Many believers in those churches would be surprised that this even is a question. These congregations often practice communion in a way that makes it open to anybody who professes faith in Christ—even if it’s a quiet, invisible, personal, and sudden faith in response to the message just preached. It becomes, as it were, a point of personal devotion and reflection, unconnected to the person’s relationship with the covenanted community and body of Christ through the act of baptism.

Serving in an “independent evangelical ‘Bible-church’” myself, this hit close to home.

It has been my growing conviction that in the current climate of North American evangelicalism, far too few facets of church life are taken seriously-enough, considered carefully enough, and practiced reverently enough. For too long we have sacrificed unapologetic, biblical ecclesiology for accessible, pragmatics-driven children’s church for adults. Svigel’s thoughts are a welcomed detour.