The Lord's Supper

Maybe this is more of a confession than anything. Wayne Grudem writes of the Lord's Supper:

The spiritual nourishment, so necessary for our souls, is both symbolized and experienced in our participation in the Lord's Supper."

I suspect many who say such a thing advocate the "Memorial View" of the Lord's Supper (which I also advocate), but don't want to come off as cold or unspiritual. I don't think Grudem is that "cave in to peer pressure" sort of fellow. I think he means what he says.

But I have been a Christians for 35 plus years, and a pastor for 30. I have found examining my heart before communion a good thing; I have found recalling the price of my redemption a good thing. But the elements themselves -- I don't know that I would notice a difference taking them or not.

I know Christians who only celebrate communion once a year. I know others who do so weekly. I have noticed absolutely no more spiritual depth, power, or better testimony in the latter group (in fact, the people in the first group, my Grace Brethren friends, are some of the strongest Christians I know).

So what gives? I know Grudem is not talking goobledy goop, but is he wrong? Or am I missing something? Or is that something that "just is" but is not necessarily perceived?

And what are your observations about Christians who are big on communion?

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

From his systematic theology (bold mine):

he Lord’s Supper is not simply an ordinary meal among human beings—it is a fellowship with Christ, in his presence and at his table. Once again, we must avoid the idea that any automatic or magical benefit comes from sharing in the Lord’s Supper, whether a person participates in faith or not. But when a person participates in faith, renewing and strengthening his or her own trust in Christ for salvation and believing that the Holy Spirit will bring spiritual blessing through such participation, then certainly additional blessing may be expected. We must be careful here, as with baptism, to avoid the mistake of overreacting to Roman Catholic teaching and maintaining that the Lord’s Supper is merely symbolic and not a means of grace. . . There is a spiritual union among believers and with the Lord that is strengthened and solidified at the Lord’s Supper, and it is not to be taken lightly (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 954-955).
Grudem, in his ST does have some developed thought on the matter that is worth reading. His posture and language is somewhat common within Reformed circles, some preferring more limited language and some, like Grudem, employing more ornate terms used more regularly in by those holding to other views.

Ed Vasicek's picture

There is a spiritual union among believers and with the Lord that is strengthened and solidified at the Lord’s Supper, and it is not to be taken lightly (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 954-955).

Okay, other than the fact that we participate in common and somewhat uniformly practice this, how, exactly, does it "strengthen and solidify us?" I am saying that I have neither experienced nor seen this.
The things that do consciously strengthen me could conceivable occur apart from the elements: focusing on Calvary, examining my heart. So let me be specific: DOES PARTAKING THE ELEMENTS (I am not talking about the "rest" of the communion service) strengthen me in some way? How? Why don't I perceive it? How do these elements "nourish our soul?"

Are we saying these things just to sound like we have a mystical side, but really do not mean them?

"The Midrash Detective"

Dave G's picture

Christ said to the eleven,"...this do in remembrance of me..."

Since it is reinforced in the first letter to the Corinthians, I take it to mean we as believers should practice this.

I also believe it to be a memorial, but not absolutely necessary for our spiritual nourishment. For that to be true, this would qualify it as a "Sacrament", of which I don't hold to any of this type of belief, personally.


Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29