WHY DON’T YOU INVITE US? By J. M. Pendleton
WHY DON’T YOU INVITE US?
By J. M. Pendleton
This question is often asked of Baptists by Pedobaptists. It has reference to inviting them to the Lord’s Table. It is a fair question, and deserves an answer. The invitation is not given, and there are reasons why it is not. Before naming some of these reasons, it may be said that the failure to invite by no means implies a denial of the piety of Pedobaptists. So far from denying their piety, we gladly concede it. We admit that they love the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the various departments of Christian work in which they are engaged, they are entitled to commendation for their zeal and activity. But we do not give the invitation referred to for the following reasons:
1. THE COMMUNION TABLE IS THE LORD’S TABLE.
That is, the Lord Jesus instituted the ordinance of the Supper, and it is called „the Lord’s Supper,” because He appointed it, and because it is a commemoration of His death. If the Supper is the Lord’s, if the table on which it is served is His, then it must be His prerogative to say who shall partake of the sacred feast, and in what manner His table shall be approached. Baptists claim no discretionary authority. If the table were theirs, they could give invitations according to their pleasure. But now, they have no option in the case. The table is the Lord’s; invitations to it must therefore be given in accordance with His will; and His will must be ascertained from His Word. It cannot be ascertained from the reasonings of the most acute intellect, nor from the feelings of the most devout heart. The inspired Word is the Word of the Lord of the table.
The term „communion” has been used, and it is to be remembered that communion at the Lord’s Table is, primarily and supremely, communion with the Lord. Paul, therefore, says: „The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” Evidently the communion is with Christ; this is the prominent matter, and communion with fellow Christians is secondary and incidental.
II. UNBAPTIZED PERSONS CANNOT SCRIPTURALLY
COME TO THE LORD’S TABLE.
Here, as on the point just presented, there is not only substantial, but perfect agreement between Baptists and Pedobaptists. That is to say, both parties in this long mooted question believe that the table is the Lord’s, and that unbaptized persons have no Scriptural right to come to it. That this right is denied by Pedobaptists, will appear from the following quotations from distinguished men:
Dr. Wall, of the Church of England, in his History of Infant Baptism, says: „No church ever gave the communion to any persons before they were baptized. Among all the absurdities that ever were held, none ever maintained that any persons should partake of the communion before they were baptized.”
Dr. Doodridge, Independent, says: „As far as our knowledge of primitive antiquity extends, no unbaptized person received the Lord’s Supper.”
Dr. E. D. Griffin, claimed by both Presbyterians and Congregationalists as one of their great men, says: „I agree with the advocates of close communion in two points: 1. That baptism is the initiatory ordinance which introduces us into the visible church; of course, where there is no baptism, there are no visible churches. 2. That we ought not to commune with those that are not baptized, and, of course, are not church-members, even if we regard them as Christians. Should a pious Quaker so far depart from his principles as to wish to commune with me at the Lord’s Table, while he yet refused to be baptized, I could not receive him; because there is such a relationship established between the ordinances, that I have no right to separate them; in other words, I have no right to send the sacred elements out of the church. The only question, then, is, whether those associations of evangelical Christians that call themselves churches, and that practice sprinkling, are real churches of Christ; in other words, whether baptism by sprinkling is valid baptism.”
Dr. Hibbard, good Methodist authority, in his work on Christian Baptism, says: „Valid baptism they [Baptists] consider as essential to constitute visible church-membership. This also we hold. The only question that here divides us, is, What is essential to valid baptism?”
Now it is plain, in view of the foregoing statements, that Baptists and Pedobaptists are fully agreed in these two points: That the communion table is the Lord’s Table, and that unbaptized persons have no Scriptural right to come to it. Wherein, then, do they differ? The answer is, In regard to baptism. They differ as to who should be baptized, and they differ as to the baptismal act. Baptists say that believers in Christ, and believers alone, are Scriptural subjects of baptism. They believe, also, that immersion is the baptismal act, to the exclusion of every other act. No proofs are here presented to show that baptize means immerse.
Whether it does or not, Baptists believe it does, and they are obliged to act on their belief. Thus they are compelled to consider Pedobaptists unbaptized. What, then, are Baptists to do? They believe, without a doubt, that Pedobaptists are unbaptized; they also believe, in common with Pedobaptists, that the unbaptized lack the Scriptural qualification, for the Supper; hence they cannot invite them to the Lord’s Table. They would like to do it, but dare not. To do so, would be to change the order which the Lord has appointed. This they cannot conscientiously do. The thing is impossible. So much in answer to the question, „Why don’t you invite us?”