Of the Lord’s Supper.
Chapter 30, Paragraph 4.
“The denial of the Cup to the people, worshiping the Elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this Ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.”
Strange traditions have arisen over the centuries regarding the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Sad to say, many of these traditions are still practiced today, most notably in the Roman Catholic church. Let’s have a look at them:
- denial of the cup to the people: For most of the Roman Catholic church’s existence, the laity was unable to partake of the cup. It is only in the last fifty years or so that provisions have been made to allow partaking of the cup and the communion wafer. There is justification given for this, but it is a moot point, as such a practice has no Biblical warrant.
- worshiping the elements: From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration…” Worship is reserved for the living God alone, not to elements (Luke 4:8).
- lifting up elements: the elevation of the bread, and subsequently the cup, held great superstitious belief in medieval times. It was supposed that looking upon them would preserve the looker from death that day. Nowadays, such elevation is supposed to increase devotion to Christ. Again, there is nothing in the Bible that instructs such a practice.
- carrying them about for adoration and reserving them for religious use: a ciborium is a special container specifically meant to hold consecrated bread. It is kept in a golden box called a tabernacle in roman Catholic churches, and brought to give communion to those who are sick or dying. Such devotion to things does not honor God.
Now, is any of this Biblical? Of course not! In such examples we see the importance of the Regulative Principle of Worship. When various traditions are introduced into the worship of God that He has not commanded, the tendency is for those traditions to become elements of the service. Thus people are bound to practice them, despite what their conscience may say or what Scripture may prescribe. Modern churches would do well to guard the worship of God against such encroachments. The ordinances, especially, have been instituted by Jesus. Let us observe them with care.
Questions to Consider
- How are these actions (denying the cup, etc.) contrary to the nature of the Lord’s Supper?