Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Lord’s Supper Perverted

In recent years, several books have been published which advocate a very different view of the Lord’s Supper than that which has normally been held. F. Lagard Smith, in his book Radical Restoration, advocates the observance of the Lord’s Supper in conjunction with a common meal. On page 135 of his book he writes:

The ritual we now euphemistically call ‘communion’ (not wholly unlike the Catholic’s sacramental eucharist) doesn’t hold a candle to the dynamic koinonia communion of the first-century disciples in their sharing together of the Lord’s Supper within the context of a fellowship meal.”

Likewise, John Mark Hicks, in his book Come to the Table, advocates revising the Lord’s Supper to make it into a full meal. He calls the practice “table fellowship”, and goes on to indicate the appropriateness of substituting leavened bread and fermented wine because the New Testament is not legalistic (read, New Hermeneutics), and the elements mentioned in scripture only reflected the “bread of daily meals” and the “drink of daily meals.” (pp. 182-183).

The main arguments made by these brethren revolve around two parallel passages of scripture regarding the dangers of false teachers:

“…They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you (2 Peter 2:13).

“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves…” (Jude 12).

The problem is immediately obvious when looking at these two passages. There is no mention of the observance of the Lord’s Supper in either place, and there is not even the mention of a called assembly of Christians. It is important that we not seek to establish practice based upon our assumptions of what a passage might mean. While we admit that the text of Jude 12 is a bit problematic (What was the feast of charity?), we must not allow the lack of revelation on the matter to embolden us to worship that is unauthorized by God.

More problematic for Smith, Hicks, and those who uphold their teaching is the admonition of the Corinthians by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. Here Paul wrote, concerning the Corinthians practice of turning the Lord’s Supper into a common meal:

(22), “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”

(34), “But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.”

While these false teachers claim that Paul was not condemning the practice of a common meal, but rather was regulating it, one fact is abundantly clear; the only time that the eating of a common meal is ever directly addressed in scripture, it is condemned. Paul clearly established that the observance of the Lord’s Supper in the assembly was not to be turned into a common meal, and made a clear distinction between that act of worship, and the common meal which was to be taken in the home rather than the assembly.

Unfortunately, the views of these false teachers have had an influence, even upon our non-institutional brethren in some instances. An appeal is made to the concept of fellowship being strengthened through intimate meetings around food, in homes of individual Christians.

While we indeed should be hospitable, and our love for one another is strengthened through daily association, we should never allow these desires to cause us to abrogate our duties to God. We must worship Him in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Nowhere in scripture is there any direct evidence of Christians assembling to take a common meal. It is not a work of the church, not a part of Christian worship, and demeans the concept of spiritual fellowship. It is, as one brother noted, “Carnality dressed up as piety” and should be rejected by all.