For churches that have adopted the Baptist Faith and Message as their confessional document or statement of faith, there is a simple defense of close communion — the practice of restricting access to the Lord’s Table to those who have been baptized in accordance with Scripture.
Article VII reads as follows:
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.
So, the defense consists simply of two lines from article VII.
- Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- It is a prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
Now, some may object that our shared confession does not bear the authority of divine Scripture and they would be absolutely correct in that assertion. In fact, the preamble of the confession itself states it most clearly: “the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.”
Nevertheless, this confession represents the consensus of Southern Baptists as adopted in 1925, 1963, and 2000. This reality, at the very least, means that Baptists need to take its conclusions seriously and that those holding views contrary to those expressed therein must acknowledge their own views as outside of those most commonly held.
Author’s Note: I have offered a more fully-orbed defense in four parts here.
Pastor at University Baptist Church, San Antonio.
Professor. PhD in Theology.
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