Ask Doug: Communion & the Wedding Ceremony

In this Ask Doug segment, Pastor Wilson tackles a question related to the use of the sacraments during wedding ceremonies: “As my fiancée and I approach our wedding date, a few questions come mind regarding the ceremony itself. What is your opinion of the couple taking private communion during the ceremony; does this go against Paul’s charge to partake together as a church body in 1 Corinthians 11?”

 

8 Comments

  1. Caleb Ripple says:

    It appears that it doesn’t appear.

  2. Andre says:

    Thanks Pastor Wilson for answering my questions, I really appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

  3. Dear Pastor Wilson,

    Thank you for your help with these great questions and answers.

    My wife and I are curious about the following Westminster Confession of Faith’s passage on the Lord’s Supper:

    “That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood … is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason.” (WCF, On the Lord’s Supper, XXIX:vi)

    These are two of the verses related to this WCF passage:

    (1) Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53).

    (2) “[Jesus] took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me”” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

    We then consulted reference works collected during our days at Reformed Theological Seminary (where we met) including the text, Early Christian Doctrines. The author, noted Protestant historian of the early Church, J.N.D. Kelly, wrote that the Early Church Fathers (ECF) were:

    “at the outset, … in general unquestioningly realist, i.e., the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be, and were treated and designated as, the Savior’s body and blood” (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p 440).

    Although this was a very challenging realization for us, we conceded that Christ is really and truly present in the Lord’s Supper (seemingly contrary to the WCF passage cited) and that, in some way, we are without life if we do not eat of and drink from His body.

    Then, we discovered the following website with quotes from 15 ECFs which corroborates Kelly’s quote that the Lord’s Supper is the real physical presence of Christ:

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Real_Presence.asp

    One example from this list describes the Lord’s Supper as follows:

    “Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands”
    (Augustine of Hippo, Explanations of the Psalms, 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]).

    Therefore, please help us understand why one should believe the Westminster Divines who stated that the “realist” position is “repugnant” to the Bible, common sense and reason when the ECFs were “unquestioningly realist.”

    There must be something that we’re missing.

    Thank you.

    In Christ,

    Allan Schwarb
    Chesterfield, MO

  4. Rick Davis says:

    Augustine also said in a sermon:

    “These things, my sisters and brothers, are called sacraments, because our eyes see in them one thing, and our understanding another. Our eyes see a material reality; our understanding perceives its spiritual effect. If you want to know what the body of Christ is, you must listen to what the apostle Paul tells the faithful: ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it.’

    If that is so, it is the sacrament of yourselves that is placed on the Lord’s table, and it is the sacrament of yourselves that you are receiving. You reply ‘Amen’ to what you are, and thereby agree that such you are. You hear the words ‘The body of Christ’ and you reply ‘Amen.'” (Sermon 272: PL 38, 1246-1248)

    Clearly there’s something going on in Augustine’s mind other than an Aristotelian “substance swap”. (It still looks like bread, but we know what it ‘really’ is.) The bread of communion is the Body of Christ, which in turn is the congregation partaking. A Presbyterian, following the Westminster Confession, can say that we truly partake of the body of Christ (WCF 29:5), but are also able to affirm that we are partaking of one another as well. However, if the accidents of the bread remain, but the substance of the bread changes to Jesus’ physical body, then it would be hard to say that the substance has also changed into the physical bodies of all the saints present at the supper, making us all feel very cannibalistic and weird… ;)

  5. Aaron says:

    What about serving communion for everyone (who are presumably In Christ) at the wedding?

  6. Brent says:

    It looks like this video is still not working.

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