Friday, September 5, 2014

Renew the Table: A Symptom of a Deeper Problem

Renew the Table is a series of thoughts and opinions concerning the renewal of the Lord's Supper. For more information please see Goals and Disclaimers

Let’s start like this: infrequent observance of the Lord’s Supper is not the problem; it is a symptom of a deeper problem. This means you can’t fix the problem by simply observing more often. That’s just masking the symptom and ignoring the real issue.

The reason I crunched the frequency numbers in the last post and belabored the fact that frequency or infrequency is an effect of a held belief is because I wanted you to see the ginormous number of churches that are exhibiting this symptom. And this, for me, serves to highlight a major roadblock to overcome. The fact that there are so many churches exhibiting this symptom skews our perspective a little. The idea being that if 50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong, neither can 80% of SBC churches.

This do in remembrance of a coupla months
When the symptom cuts across such a majority, it soon becomes settled, a mere fact of life. For years you drove to work past that plot of land until one day someone built a building on it. The landscape changed starkly and for the first few weeks you are mindful of it. But months go by and you soon adjust to the new construction, so much so that you don’t even think about anymore. You have gotten so used to it that you virtually ignore it. It has become just another blur you pass on your way to work.

In this way it is not hard to see how the majority fails to recognize the symptom. It has become so settled that it is hard to be unsettled by it. And this is where we find the difficulty, for if infrequent observation of the Supper is truly a symptom of a larger problem, then there is a majority of people don’t recognize that there is, in fact, a problem at all.

And so now we have issues. I just told 80% of SBC churches (at least) that they have a problem with their worship and that most churches probably don’t even recognize it. That’s bound to make me some friends. So while I’m at it I might as well just cut to the chase.

I contend that a church which observes infrequently has a low, or inadequate, view of the Supper. I add “or inadequate” because I believe there are many churches that infrequently observe who may hold a very high view of the Supper, but perhaps not a complete or robust view.

To that end I intend, over the next few posts, to think through some of those reasons which I believe cause or contribute to a low or inadequate view of the Lord’s Supper.

Some of these reasons center around preservation and protection of the event, such as preserving its uniqueness or guarding against things like legalism. Some reasons are related to pragmatism and seeking to be relevant to our time and culture. And some of these will be theological reasons, such as observing the Supper as a mere memorial.

In these last three posts have been saying, “I see a symptom which indicates a problem.” Going forward I want to say, “Here are the problems that might be related to this symptom. Are these true? Do any of these hit close to home?” And hopefully, either during or after we discuss the problems, I will attempt to offer a good and biblical prescription which, if doesn't lead to anything else, will at least contribute to folks thinking deeper about the Lord’s Supper.

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