Bahnsen on Ethics Arrived At Apart from God

With painful irony we note the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Man has learned to cope with all questions of importance without recourse to God. . . . [God] is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without him.” The pathos of these words is that they were penned in Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, penned after Hitler’s Gestapo, learning to get along very well without God, had imprisoned Bonhoeffer, thereby preventing the completion of his book on Ethics and resulting in his hanging in 1945. When the questions of ethics are answered without recourse to God, the following views of the state become inevitable:

The State incarnates the Divine Idea upon earth (Hegel).

The State is the supreme power, ultimate and beyond repeal, absolutely independent (Fichte).

Everything for the State; nothing outside the State; nothing

against the State (Mussolini).

The State dominates the nation because it alone represents it (Hitler).

The State embraces everything, and nothing has value outside the State. The State creates right (Franklin Delano Roosevelt).

Thus Bonhoeffer’s assertion represented the very outlook which condoned his immoral execution. The source of moral authority and law within a society will either be theistic or political; when the former is repudiated, the latter allows of no logical barrier from tyranny.

Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics

God Goes to War — Plague #1; Nile & Blood

Ex. 7:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”

19 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels[a] of wood and stone.”

20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

We enter now into a series on the plagues of Egypt and we do so, in part,

In order to see how God is a God who delivers His people
In order to see how God deals with the wicked who oppress His people
In order to see how God is true to His promises
In order to see how the pseudo gods are no gods at all

These and other realities will be brought to light as we consider these ten plagues against Egypt.

In order to provide the background to these plagues we are reminded that Israel went down into Egypt in order to escape a famine. God had set this all up via the life of the patriarch Joseph which begins this drama  w/ being sold into slavery. We could well say that Israel’s occupation in Egypt begins with Joseph in slavery and ends in Joseph’s people being delivered from slavery.

Israel, as a separate people, are given the best of the land in Egypt so that Israel would not get genetically lost in Egypt. However eventually there arose a Pharoah over Egypt, who did not know Joseph (Ex. 1:8) and because of the threat that Pharoah viewed Israel that Pharaoh made Israel slaves in Egypt.

With the passage of time Israel’s bondage became so onerous that they cried out and God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

At this point God rolls into motion what He had determined from eternity past. He rolls into motion the deliverance of His people from the great and mighty Egyptian empire. God unseen enters into the cosmic ring to absolutely enervate and disembowel the gods of Egypt.

That is was a battle between God and the gods of Egypt is testified to over and over again in Scripture. Here are some examples;

Ex. 12:12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.

Later, Jethro speaking to Moses

 Ex. 18:11 “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 

 Numbers 33:4 for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods.

Now as moderns we don’t think in these terms any longer. We moderns think we are too sophisticated to have gods and so all of this kind of language is just the stuff of myths or legends.

This is proven by the fact that many liberal commentaries do backflips in order to prove that all of these plagues, including this first plague, was a natural occurrence.

Remember, what you have been taught on this score. The liberal give naturalist interpretations because they begin their inquiry by presupposing that the supernatural cannot be true and since the supernatural cannot be true other explanations have to be found. For these anti-Christs the explanation of this supernatural reality are

1.) Astronomy view — Accounts for the Exodus events as the result of comets hitting the earth.

2.) Geological view — Accounts for the Exodus events as the result of volcanic eruptions or tidal waves

3) Seasonal view — The Nile hit a supercharged high tide water mark whereupon a chain reaction of plague events occurred.

In this 1st plague we are looking at we get the explanation that the Nile turned red because of minute fungi or perhaps because of tiny reddish insects that had overbred.

Anything to avoid a conclusion that all this happened by the hand of God (Ex. 7:5).

As your Pastor allow me to encourage you in the years to come to never make a home in a Church where any of the Leadership takes up this view of the supernatural.

So, as we said we have before us in the plagues an example of God going to war against His Egyptian competition.

We see that first in this text with the mention of Pharoah. In the Egyptian Pantheon Pharoah was a god. Ancient Egyptian texts characteristically describe Pharoah’s power in terms of “Pharoah’s strong hand,” “Pharoah being the possessor of a strong arm” and “Pharoah as the one who destroys the enemies with his arm.” These are the descriptors of a god and we know that because the Exodus account will speak the same way about Yahweh who is opposing Pharoah.

… for by [b]a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place. Ex. 13:3

Ex. 6:6 Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the labors of the Egyptians, and I will rescue you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments.

That Pharoah was an Egyptian god whom Yahweh is taking to the woodshed is also testified to by the fact that Pharoah was understood as the one who in the Egyptian mindset was responsible to maintain cosmic order. Through the plagues Yahweh is overturning the Egyptian cosmic order. With each plague Yahweh is casually whittling away at the perceived godlike power of Pharoah to maintain the cosmic order. With each plague the God of the Bible is mocking Pharoah as god.

Now there is another wrinkle here that is going on between God and Pharoah and that is that one of the symbols of power that Pharoah wore on his crown. When Moses confronts Pharoah there stands Pharoah as the seed of the serpent adorned with serpent power. The Egyptian Pharaohs wore a headdress with a serpent in the form of a cobra, and it was embroidered on the robes of princes.

So, not only do we find Pharoah taken as a God but we find him as the embodiment of the seed of the serpent rising up to strike Israel as the seed of the woman. This is Genesis 3:15 in living action.

God speaks to the serpent;

“And I will put warfare
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”

So, in this warfare between the gods of Egypt and Yahweh there is also redemptive history that is in bold relief. Yahweh has raised up a deliverer (Moses) to deliver His people from the clutches of the seed of the Serpent with the purpose of making His name known to Pharoah who had said that he had not heard of the God of the Hebrews (Ex. 5:2).

By this you will know that I am the Lord: (Ex. 7:17)

There is another Egyptian God to deal with in this text besides Pharoah and that is the river Nile. The Nile was the lifeline of Egypt. Without it Egypt would have been one with the deserts surrounding it. The Nile was the center of many of its religious ideas and many temple to various gods were built on the shores of the Nile. Many of the gods of Egypt were associated with the Nile;

The god Khnum was considered to be the guardian of the Nile sources
The god was the ‘spirit of the Nile’ and its dynamic essence

The oldest Egyptian text to mention Hapi was “Texts of Unas” where Hapi is mentioned as “Hep.” Hapi was believed to be the god of the Nile River which played the most important role in constructing the Egyptian civilization. It was believed that ‘Hapi’ actually was the name of Nile River during the pre-dynastic period in Egypt. Generally, he was considered as the god of water and fertility.

One of the greatest gods in the Egyptian pantheon was Osiris and the Egyptians believed that the river Nile was his bloodstream. When Yahweh turns the Nile to blood there is then a certain mocking factor to this. It is as if Yahweh is saying, “You think the Nile is Osiris’s blood. Fine! Let it be turned to blood.”

Of course this action reverses the effect of the Nile from being a blessing to the Egyptians to being a curse. They could not drink the water. It gave off a foul odor. The fish could not died.

The Egyptians had sang hymns to the Nile

“O sacred Nile
The bringer of food
Rich in provisions
Creator of all good
Lord and Majesty
Sweet of fragrance”

Yahweh had given a solid kick in the teeth to more than a few Egyptian gods.

And what of these gods of Egypt. Let us note something here about them;

What we see here is that all the gods of Egypt are, are a projection of Egypt collectively speaking.

One thing I hope to tease out in this series is the fact that all peoples and cultures are only a reflection of the Gods that they project reality onto. We will see that that was true of Egypt. Egypt by means of collective projection created their own gods. What the Egyptians did is that they supernaturalized the natural — they invested the natural with the supernatural — and in doing so made gods out of the natural realm.

The fundamental sin of Egypt was to see the world in naturalistic terms. Whatever gods there were to the Egyptians, were merely the projections of the Egyptians upon the natural world.

This is a point to camp on for a moment because this is the reality of all false gods that people serve, whether ancient or modern. People project their own desires and wishes and by that action give life and reality to that which has no life or reality on its own. The false gods people and peoples serve have no reality. In our language today we would say that are all merely social constructs.

We see that with this first plague. Both Pharoah and the Nile were natural phenomena and yet both were invested with the supernatural and were so treated as one of the 80 or so gods that belonged to the pantheon of Egyptian gods.

This should pause us to ask what are the fake gods in our culture that we have, by means of projection, imbued with the supernatural?

What of our Scientism wherein we project divinity upon something that clearly is only a natural phenomenon? What of our technology wherein we do the same?

We laugh and make fun of the ancient Egyptians for their turning crocodiles, rivers, hippopotami, snakes, frogs and vultures into gods but how far are we from just that by turning psychology, management techniques, and the FEDS into gods by means of projecting the supernatural upon them.

We should also note, that all these Egyptian gods running around demonstrates once again that all cultures are hopelessly expressive of the gods they serve. Modern man in the West likes to pretend that his culture isn’t an expression of the gods he serves and yet a how far removed are we really from the Egyptians?  It was clearly the case for the Egyptians that in Pharoah they lived and moved and had their being. Is it any less the case for the Modern West that we look to the State as our god?

Well… let us consider one more reality before leaving off this morning.

Many scholars believe, and I submit that they make a good case that what is going on with the plagues including this turning water to blood is that Yahweh is doing to Egypt a reverse of what he did in Creation. The argument is that just as Yahweh ordered the universe in creation so Yahweh is disordering and undoing creation as applied to the Egyptian world. Now we have already hinted at this but note here some of the Biblical evidence particularly as it applies to the first plague of blood; 

To initiate the plague of blood, we are told that Aaron is to take his staff and hold it over all of Egypt’s bodies (or gatherings) of water. The Hebrew word used in Exodus 7:19 to describe the “bodies” or “gatherings” of water is מקוה the same word that appears in the opening chapters of Genesis when God creates the seas:

בראשית א:י וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לַיַּבָּשָׁה אֶרֶץ וּלְמִקְוֵה הַמַּיִם קָרָא יַמִּים וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים כִּי טוֹב

In Gen 1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the gatherings (מקוה) of waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.[6]

The use of the unusual Hebrew word מקוה in connection with the plague of blood[7] cannot fail to evoke an association with the creation of the seas in Genesis 1:10 and indicates the cosmic import of the plague.

Similarly, the expression in Exodus 7:19 “Let them be(come) blood” (וְהָיָה דָם) echoes the use of the same verb (though not in the exact same form owing to a different linguistic context), “Let there be(come)” (יְהִי), in the creation story in Genesis.[8]

However, in contrast to the creation, where the primeval waters are not altered by a creative act, the first plague demonstrates that God is able to change the very nature of things.

God is visiting chaos upon the Egyptians. He is uncreating them.

This is altogether appropriate given that Egypt refuses to live in God’s reality. Egypt has created a false reality to live in and now God is uncreating their false reality. He is disabusing them of their social constructs. He is essence turning them over to their sin.

“You want to live in a false reality… I’ll take from you real reality and you let me know how that goes.”

This next observation is probably controversial, but you’ll be hearing it week to week so we should get it on the table. I think what is going on here is God is mocking the Hades out of the Egyptians. In this battle between the Egyptian gods and Yahweh God is rubbing their pretentious Egyptian noses in their profoundly stupid social constructs. What’s more it is a polemical mockery.

And why does he do all this?

Because God will not share His glory with another. God will not be mocked which is what all idolatry is. Idolatry is a mocking of God.

God does this to rescue a people who are not any better than the Egyptians. He has set His love upon Israel and it is that love alone … a love that was constantly unrequited that drove God to deliver His people.

It is the same love, grace and compassion that provided delivery for us in our houses of bondage. God could have rightly left us in our sin and misery but out of His great love He provided a deliverer for us and rescued from the slavery of sin. It is the character of God to love because He loves. It is the character of God to rain nuclear vengeance upon those who touch the apple of His eye.

Remember vs. 7. He does all this to make Himself known.

Christianity & the Family Part II

I Timothy 3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is [a]good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in [b]pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

So we pick up again this theme of the centrality of the family that we are being taught here by the Holy Spirit.

This is not the first time that we have taken up this theme over they years and it will not be the last. We take up this theme repeatedly because it is one of the main themes in the Scriptures. It is a driving element in the whole idea of God being in covenant with families. It provides the foundation of the great analogy for the Church being “the family of God.” Four out of the 10 commandments deal directly with family matters. God is God to us and our seed. When the patriarchs die in Scripture often the language that is used is familial as it is said that “they were gathered to their Fathers.” The well-known passage in Romans 11 regarding branches cut off and grafted back in is a passage that deals with families of men as the branches. The relationship of the incarnate Jesus Christ with God is of a Son to the Father. Indeed it is not to much to say that should we get the matter of family wrong, if we should not pay attention to the voice of God in Scripture as it pertains to the family we will so far amiss on what it means to be Christian that it is doubtful that our Christianity will have any lasting power.

It is in this context that St. Paul deals with the issue of family in I Timothy 5 as he writes to Timothy. If you recall, there are problems with issues surrounding widows among the Church for which Timothy is responsible.

It seems that the widow’s list is a mess. There are widows on it that should not be there because they should be being taken care of by their families (5:4, 16). There are widows on it that should not be because they are apparently too young so that some are living in “pleasure,” and/or are being busybodies (11-13)which is perhaps hinting at the fact that some are loose women (6). There may well be widows among Timothy’s flock who are not being provided for by the Church which explains why the Holy Spirit says to “Honor widows who are really widows,” and goes some lengths to explain who qualifies for the widows list (9, 11).

And so because matters are a bit of a mess St. Paul writes in order to set things decent and in order touching the matter of widows.

And the passion by Paul on this subject is one of continuity that one finds throughout the Scripture. I offer just a Whitman’s sampler of text to sustain that observation;

Ex. 22:22 “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry;

Dt. 10:18 God administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.

Dt. 27:19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

Dt. 14:29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

Job 24:3 The wicked drive away the donkey of the fatherless;
They take the widow’s ox as a pledge.

Job 24:21 For the wicked[d]preys on the barren who do not bear,
And does no good for the widow.

Psalm 68:5 – A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.

94:6 – They slay the widow and the stranger,
And murder the fatherless.

Psalm 146:9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He [a]turns upside down.

You can find this same theme repeated in Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and Malachi.

Then the same concern bleeds into the NT because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

There we find it front and center in Acts 6 w/ the early Church. How and who will take care of the widows of the Church.

Then in James 1 it hits us right between the eyes:

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

So, this providing for Christian widows is elemental to Christianity and where it is absent so is basic Christianity.

But as we began to learn last week it is elemental not only to the jurisdictional responsibilities of the Church, it is also elemental to the jurisdictional responsibility of the family. Indeed, financially providing for widows is not a concern of the Church when the extended family are being Christians to their widows.

This sets the context for vs. 8 where we left off last week.

8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Here the Apostle, writing the very voice of God takes up the issue of familial responsibility and by doing so demonstrates the centrality of the family in its proper jurisdiction.

Before we begin to unravel vs. 8 let us note first, once again, that when dealing with the Church as a Elder, Paul & Timothy and faithful heralds through the generations have to speak not only on Justification, sanctification, regeneration, Redemption, new creation, Kingdom, and covenant but also on matters such as taking care of widows. Christianity is a faith that has social implications and those social implications should be taught from the pulpit despite what the R2K heretics teach.

Turning Christianity into a faith that is merely a empty profession of faith that by itself can secure the hopes and promises of that faith is and always has been a delusion. Christianity requires a self-denial that blossoms and flourishes both in church and family. Self denial seems to be the problem here as St. Paul puts his finger on head knowledge Christians who were absent of good works towards those the good works should most be expected to be found. There were Christians here in Ephesus attached to the Church who could calmly look on while their relations and friends languished in the deepest poverty.

In vs. 8 St. Paul makes it very clear the issue at hand.

When the Holy Spirit speaks of “provide for his own,” the pronoun is masculine thus pointing us toward the responsibility of the paterfamilias – the Father of the family. This would fit what we spoke about last week in terms of the Trustee family. The Father is especially responsible for those whom today we might call the nuclear family but per the voice of God the Father is responsible even for those of the household.

The Greek verb for “provide” (προνοεῖ (pronoei) here has a meaning to “consider in advance…. or to look out before hand.”

So what is laid upon the head of the Trustee family is that he is to think beforehand of the probable needs of his own family and make arrangements to meet them.

Father’s did you just feel the world laid on your shoulders? Father’s did anyone tell you this when you were growing up? I know I wasn’t.

Here, implicitly the role of the paterfamilias is being taught. The Father is the head of the family. He is responsible to have foresight, to lay up provision, he is to consider the future rainy day. He is the protector and defender of that flock that is his family.

It is a great Christian responsibility to be a Christian man, husband, and father.

How far have we fallen in the West on this score?

Now there are barriers here to Christian men being Christian men. The FEDS and State take in taxes take what amounts to the inheritance that belongs to the first born that was used to meet these responsibilities of providing for his own and his household.
Secondly, there is the barrier of both nuclear and extended family embracing a worldview/faith in defiance of Christianity. It is hard to tell a Christian head of home that he has responsibility for someone who hates Christ and the Christian faith.

In keeping with this line of thought there is the barrier of a child who has gone wayward. How long does a Christian Father keep bailing that kind of child out? The Father of the prodigal in Luke 17 waited for his wayward child but did not bail him out.

There is the barrier of exorbitant costs and manpower that it can require to take care of a relative who is very sick.

So, as obvious as this responsibility is it is not without its conundrums and difficulties and while we may not be able to answer all these perplexities we can at least embrace the principle that we have a unique responsibility for our people… our kin.

Vs. 8 also teaches what we have taught here before and that there exists concentric circles of unique responsibilities. We have a unique responsibility to our kith and kin in terms of providing for them. There is no sending money to Africa or Asia to feed them when our own family members or people are in genuine need. To do so is not Christian behavior.

The Early Church Father Chrysostom had this to say. Chrysostom first quotes the passage and then demonstrates that it is consistent with the OT

And so says Isaiah, the chief of the Prophets, “Thou shalt not overlook thy kinsmen of thy own seed.” (Isa. lviii. 7, Sept.)

For if a man deserts. those who are united by ties of kindred and affinity, how shall he be affectionate towards others? Will it not have the appearance of vainglory, when benefiting others he slights his own relations, and does not provide for them? And what will be said, if instructing others, he neglects his own, though he has greater facilities; and a higher obligation to benefit them? Will it not be said, These Christians are affectionate indeed, who neglect their own relatives?

And Calvin chimes in with,

“It is therefore a proof of the greatest inhumanity, to despise those in whom we are constrained to recognize our own likeness.”

Of course what this teaches is that there is a proper partiality and so that partiality is not sin. We are to be partial to our family.

Another truism that Paul is teaching here is that grace does not erase nature but restores nature. Family relations are natural. The pagan/ heathen even commonly recognizes them. However, for the Christian the natural relations are cleansed and lifted so that, at least, ideally, it is Christian families where you find the greatest harmony of interest, the greatest amount of filial love, the greatest amount of care and provender.

We know this is taught here because the Holy Spirit can say to fail in this regard of looking after the family makes one worse than even the infidel who at least do this much in terms of family care.

Turning to Chrysostom

(2) “He is worse than an infidel.”

Wherefore? Because the latter, if he benefits not aliens, does not neglect his near kindred. What is meant is this: The law of God and of nature is violated by him who provides not for his own family. But if he who provides not for them has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel, where shall he be ranked who has injured his relatives? With whom shall he be placed? But how has he denied the faith? Even as it is said, “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.” (Tit. i. 16.) What has God, in whom they believe, commanded? “Hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” (Isa. lviii. 7.) How does he then believe who thus denies God? Let those consider this, who to spare their wealth neglect their kindred. It was the design of God, in uniting us by the ties of kindred, to afford us many opportunities of doing good to one another. When therefore thou neglectest a duty which infidels perform, hast thou not denied the faith?”

Homilies on 1st Timothy XIV

So all this means our churches, ideally speaking, should provide the grandest display of family love. Further, as we consider that the Church is called the family of God, a large measure of this attitude must fall over into caring for one another. We know this because elsewhere Paul can say, “Do good to all men, but especially unto the household of faith.”

Now all this is monumentally important in our age where we are being told by nearly everyone in Evangelicaldom thinks like the need to

And I quote from a pop-star on the Evangelical scene

“That we Christians hate all forms of partiality.”

But that is exactly what St. Paul is calling for here. A Biblical partiality for our family. We can’t provide for everyone but we can have biblical partiality and provide for our own family.

[Rushdoony] “We have an obligation of decency, and of honesty, integrity towards all men. But we are not obligated to take care of all men. Now of course you talk with anyone, but in a crisis your obligation is to help whom? Yourself, your husband, your family. This is the basic obligation we share. We cannot be bleeding hearts towards all men.”

Now, briefly we consider the obstacles that we face in terms of this view of family;

III.) Recent & Current Opposition

Ideologically and philosophically the most threatening worldview to Christianity knows if it can destroy the family it will destroy Christianity.

“Only when we have led every woman from the home into the workplace will complete equality be achieved, by the destruction of the institution of the family, which is the basis of capitalist society.”

Friedrich Engels,
Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State

“Feminism offered corporations an excuse (what the political philosopher Nancy Fraser called a “legitimation”) for breaking the implicit contract to pay any full-time worker a wage he could raise a family on. It was feminism that provided, under pressure of the recessions of the 1970s, a pretext for re-purposing household and national budgets. Instead of being used for reproduction (understood as both family-forming and investment), those budgets would now be consumed. The increment in the family wage that had been meant for the raising of children was withdrawn. Families were no longer entitled to it—mothers would have to enter the workplace to claim it. But they wound up getting only a small part of it, and their competition drove down their husbands’ wages into the bargain.”
Christopher Caldwell
The Age of Entitlement

“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Black Lives Matter — Website
What we Believe

Francis Nigel Lee understood the importance for Marxism to destroy the Christian family;

The earthly family, then, roots in the Holy Family in heaven, and although Marx inverted the primordiality of the Holy Family to the earthly family, he well realized their relationship. This is why Marx stated in his famous Theses on Feuerbach that “once the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself be destroyed in theory and in practice.”~
However, precisely because the relationship is the very reverse of what Marx believed (the Holy Family being the secret of the earthly family. in actual fact), and precisely because the Holy Family is eternally indestructible, all Marxist attempts to destroy the earthly family (which is the image of the indestructible Holy Family)87 must fail….”

So, philosophically, the modern state which is the incarnation of the Marxist worldview is the enemy of the Christian family and so the enemy of Christianity. That modern state is programming the children of the West to hate Christian families. Public school teachers who are not epistemologically self-conscious regarding their professed Christian faith, no matter their good intentions are the enemy of the Christian faith.

What can be done?

Now the question arises… “Our families are not like this what can we do.”
This is the question of the Psalmist asks;

if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (11:3)

There are no easy answers here.

1.) Collect the flotsam and jetsam in your families and extended family who share your general Christian worldview and have conversations down this line.

2.) Parents teach these principles to your children from very young and teach them to look for a spouse that share these convictions.

3.) In the years to come once I’m off the scene look for churches and ministers who share these convictions. A church that embraces this will go along way towards helping stabilize you and your family on these matters.

4.) Realize the necessity to build, if you can, generational wealth that can be used as the glue that can help in these matters.

Ill. – Texas family (Chronicles Magazine)

5.) If possible keep family local. The kind of family dynamics that are presupposed in Scripture are served a great deal if the family is more or less local to one another. The geographic fracturing of family has led to the weakening of the strength of the family.

6.) Attend the same church. Of course this can’t be done if you don’t share a common confession/worldview but if you are local to one another and share a common faith the church you attend should be filled with people who share your last name. This is implied in the text. These widows and the families who were to provide for them were obviously in the same Church.

Christianity & the Family I

I Timothy 5:4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is [a]good and acceptable before God. Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But she who lives in [b]pleasure is dead while she lives. And these things command, that they may be blameless. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

I.) Form

As we begin with our consideration of this text let us first speak briefly about the form of the passage.

The form of this passage takes the form of what is called a Hebrew Chiasm. We have talked about this in the past but it has been quite some time since we have raised the issue. The Hebrew mind was constructed by God so that it thought in what we might call connected parallelisms.

A Chiasm is when a series of statements are made elongated to different lengths whereupon a counter series of statements are made that correspond in a mirror like fashion to the first series of statements that were made.

Paul does that here in this passage but before we look at that let’s consider a couple Chiasms elsewhere in Scripture so you can get an idea of what I am talking about.

Isaiah 6:10

A. Make the heart of this people fat,
B. and make their ears heavy,
C. and shut their eyes;
C1. lest they see with their eyes,
B1. and hear with their ears,
A1. and understand with their heart, and return, and be healed.”.

Another common form of parallelism is the use of negatives, where two opposing ideas are stated as we see in Proverbs 11:19-20.

A1. Righteousness brings one to life

B1. Pursuit of evil brings one to his death
B2. a twisted heart is an abomination of YHWH

A2. a mature path is his pleasure

You find this all over Hebrew poetry – Psalms, Proverbs, Job, portions of the Prophets but you also find it in didactic parts of Scripture and we find that here. Paul employs a Chiasm starting in verse 4 of I Timothy 5

A1 – Words to the Relative vs. 4
B1 – Words to the Widows vs. 5
B2 – Judgment on disobedient widows vs. 6
A2 – Judgment on disobedience Relatives vs. 8

Chiasms are all over the Scripture because, as I said, this is the way the Hebrew mind whirred. I’ve seen scholars take whole books of the Bible and demonstrate how those books were one long Hebrew Chiasm.

Think of this methodology as starting and ending with matching bookends so that the ending corresponds to the beginning. Meanwhile the bookends continue on through the passage so that with each initial statement there is some kind of corresponding echoing statement – perhaps in a parallel fashion and perhaps in an antithetical fashion – that will be made.

Well, I’ve introduced you to this Hebraic technique. If you want to know more you can find all kinds of examples on line. If you can’t find them just ask me. But the reason I bring this up here is so that you can read the Scripture in a more informed manner and so you can listen to sermons in a more informed manner. For example, it is a mistake for a minister to make two different points when Scripture is using a parallel Chiasm. It would be error to take the passage “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” and try, in a sermon, to make two points out of that since it is communicating the same idea in a parallel fashion.

Practice finding a Chiasm in Psalm 1 –

Well, that gives us the form of the text and also offers a little lesson on hermeneutics. It is good thing to keep in your back pocket.

Now let us turn to the meaning of the text;

II.) Meaning

A.) Words to the Relatives

In vs. 4 the Holy Spirit is direct in the responsibility of family to take care of their aged. St. Paul clearly says that there is an obligation on the part of children to care for their parents who can’t take care of themselves even saying that in caring for them that those children are repaying them.

Now, this obviously implies that the parents had been responsible and had taken care of their adult children when they were children. This is something that we can’t automatically assume as occurring in our culture of broken homes. But the assumption here on the part of the Apostle is that children owe a debt of honor to their parents.

The problem here that the Holy Spirit is addressing is apparently there were deadbeat children who were fobbing their responsibility in this regard off on the Church.

5:16 If any believing [e]man or woman has widows, let them [f]relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.

Here the Apostle is communicating what should be a “Captain Obvious” statement that each Christian family bears the primary responsibility of caring for their own.

And in doing so, the Holy Spirit limns out the truth that distinctions are to be made as to what the family realm is uniquely responsible for and what the Church realm is responsible for, while at the same time teaching that where there is no family to care for a widow there the Church must be the family of God to those family-less widows.

I Timothy 5:Honor widows who are really widows.
And the idea of “honoring widows” there per the instruction of the Holy Spirit, is to financially provide for them. By calling the Church to “honor widows who are really widows” St. Paul is teaching that the Church must care for those who are really widows.

Verse 3. – Honor (τίμα). The use of the verb τιμάω in the comment on the fourth commandment in Matthew 15:4-6, where the withholding of the honor due consists in saying, “It is corban, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me,” and so withholding the honor due, shows clearly that in the notion of honoring is included that material support which their condition as widows required. So again in ver. 17 of this chapter, the “double honor” due to elders who labor in the Word and doctrine is clearly shown by ver. 18 to include payment for their maintenance.

So, if there is no family to materially support the aged then the Church must step in to do so. However, normatively it is the family that is responsible for the care of its own aged.

As an aside let us note here that the call for the Church to be concerned with taking care of the widow would have been a stark contrast to what would have found among the pagans who viewed women as second class citizens – especially aged women who had no kin to care for them. In taking up this care for “the least of these” the Church was demonstrating that the social-order that a Christian community would create would be far different than what was found among the pagans.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 5:16

Now, let’s note briefly here that one implication of this is that the NT does not define “Church” primarily where the members are to be passive recipients listening to two sermons on each Sunday. The Church envisioned in the NT is to be active in the very way that Holy Spirit speaks here. It is to be active in caring for the aged among their membership if they have no people to take care of them.

Some may tend to think that the Church doesn’t need to do this today because that is what welfare and social security are for but I can tell you as someone who spent his first six years ministering among many poor senior citizens that the Government only gives the aged enough to make sure that they remain poor and dependent on the FEDS. They receive just enough to remain at the poverty level.

But this ought not to be so among the Christian aged. If they do not have kin to provide for them then they ought to be able to look to the Church.

However, ideally, St. Paul teaches here it is the family whom God has designed to care for its own and this care is to be taken up inter-generationally. Note, St. Paul says it is Christian children and grandchildren who are responsible to care for the aged. Today, given the longer lifespans we may well include great-granchildren.

This inter-generational responsibility and privilege works to tie the generations together along lines of both blood and faith.

And here let us note that this inter-generational care should work in both directions per the instructions of the Holy Spirit in Proverbs.

13:22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,

So, the goal of Christian parents should be to leave an inheritance for their posterity and the goal of Christian children should be to provide for their aged if needs be.

And of course the once Christian West no longer embraces this Christian social-order mindset. Instead you will see on the one end of the generation continuum bumper stickers on these huge houses on wheels that say, “I’m spending by children’s inheritance,” and on the other hand you’ll see, as I did as a boy who was often in a nursing home since my Father worked there, old people abandoned and lonely.

Now, combine this destructive generational self-centeredness with the fact that the FEDS are systematically attacking this vision of inter-generational family faithfulness with its program of the inheritance tax, no default divorce, government schools and other programs designed to weaken the family. More later on opposition to the Christian view of trans-generational family life.

So… the generations in their families are biblically designed to take care of one another and we must pause here and ask ourselves if we are doing so?

There is a great deal that is beautiful about the Scripture, but on this matter there is little that is more beautiful of our Lord Jesus Christ, while dying on the Cross, taking up the mindset of God and there, in spite of unspeakable torture spends His strength to make sure his mother is taken care of after His death.

What is implied in the instructions here in I Timothy 5 is the idea of the Trustee family. Carle Zimmerman in his book Family and Civilization teases out the difference between the Atomistic family, the Domestic family and the Trustee family – all different models of family life. The Scripture presupposes and teaches in the main the Trustee family model;

1.) Trustee

When the state is weak, the extended family or clan is the primary social power, and the state itself is seen as a union of families rather than individuals.  Rights and property belong primarily to the family itself, and its current living members see themselves as mere trustees, charged with passing along what they have received.

Illustration – Members of a band.

Carle Zimmerman noted that;

“The family brings the past into the present.”

This is especially true of the Trustee family. We find it exemplified in these lyrcis from Dan Fogleberg;

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band
I am the living legacy to the leader of the band

Dan Fogleberg

In the Trustee family the music does not die with the members of the band from one generation but continues on in the subsequent generations.

Pretend you were a member of a band. The band retains its name despite band members coming and going. The band excelled so much it became transgenerational. Despite key members changing over the years, everyone associated this band with a particular sound and quality. There may be variations but the band is the band regardless of the individual members who comprise the band.




Whether you had an album from when the band first started or an album from its centennial anniversary you could pick out its familiar sounds and riffs.




This provides an illustration for the Trustee family. The Trustee family, like the band, has key members come and go, and yet it remains the self-same Band. The family (hopefully) has the same quality from generation to generation. It has the same sound (same mannerisms, temperaments, dispositions) over the years so one can readily identify the family. The members of the family may change but new family members are not completely inconsistent with the family members who are no longer living members of the family.


The family is not a one-and-done generational phenomenon. It stretches from the past into the present while all the time remaining one unit. Sure, it has different members but it remains “The Band.”


Because of this I am as attached to my Great Grandfather as he is to my Great Grandson. Different members…. same band.

Because of this, it is not improper to say as I often heard when I lived in South Carolina; “My family has been knowing that family for 100 years.”

In Zimmerman’s analysis the family is the primary instrument of justice:  the family itself is held accountable for the misdeeds of its members, and each member has a duty to avenge wrongs against his kinsman. Historically Trustee society have often been naturally polytheistic, with each clan having its private gods. Greece, Rome, and the Germanic barbarians all began with the trustee family system. However, Israel in many respects though not in totality also practiced the Trustee family model.

2)      The domestic family.

As the state gains power, it takes over the role of enforcing justice and tries to stamp out the private justice of the trustee family. That the domestic family also has biblical roots to a degree is seen in the fact that the families of Israel were not allowed to implement the judicial death penalty apart from the concurrence of the community, and apart from witnesses. The family was not judge, jury, and executioner such as was found in the American lore of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys.

In Domestic family arrangements and social orders there are more duties that are extended to non-kinsmen. There is thus more co-operation between families. Judges, Magistrates, Sheriffs, public personnel as from many different families work together to make the social order work.

With the spread of trade, it becomes useful for a family to be able to sell the property which it had been holding in trust.  Out of these pressures arises the domestic family, the type which Zimmerman believes constitutes the best balance of family and society.  The domestic family consists of the living members of the nuclear family unit:  father, mother, and children (Nuclear Family). Family property belongs to the paterfamilias; the living no longer hold it in trust.  Rearing children is the family’s primary function.  Religion provides strong social sanctions against divorce, childlessness, and sexual immorality.

3)      The atomistic family.

As individualism and impiety spread, the ideological foundations of the domestic family are undermined, leading to the atomistic family.  In an atomistic society, marriage is seen as a temporary and socially unimportant contract between independent individuals.  As atomism spreads, divorce becomes common, adultery loses its stigma, sexual perversions of all sorts come to be accepted and even celebrated, children rebel against their parents, childbearing comes to be seen as a burden, and the population implodes.  A society cannot survive without the will to produce a next generation, and so the decedent society is eventually replaced by a new civilization embracing a more virile (trustee) family type, and the cycle begins again.  Greece after the Peloponnesian War, Rome during the late empire, and the contemporary West have the atomistic family as their dominant type.

It is in the interest of the State to undermine the family since an Atomistic family is no threat to the State’s increasing power. Where the family is weak there the State can assume the former’s authority and power of the family to itself.

Zimmerman sees Western civilization headed for destruction if it cannot revive the domestic family.  One of the heroes of his story is the Emperor Augustus, whose anti-adultery and anti-celibacy laws can be seen as a rational attempt to protect the Roman family and hold Rome’s destructively atomistic tendencies at bay.  This history’s most important hero, however, is the Church, which was forced to fight a war for the domestic family on two fronts, against both Roman atomism and barbarian pagan trustee-ism.  By the High Middle Ages, the Church had established her own sacramental version of the domestic family as the primary type in Christendom.  This work was undone by the anti-Christ partisans of divorce and immorality of the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

What we see in I Timothy and elsewhere in Scripture is a hybrid form of the Trustee/Domestic family.

That especially comes through in vs. 8 where we read;

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The “own” there refers to what we would call today a “man’s Nuclear family.” “The especially for their own household” refers to what we would call today “his extended family.”

And with that observation we will pause and take this up again next week, continuing to draw out the meaning in the text and then also considering recent and current opposition to this family model that we are currently fighting against.

Let us close with a quote from Thomas Fleming in support of returning to the Trustee family;

“For most of the past hundred years, defenders of ‘family values’ have limited their attention to the so-called bourgeois or nuclear family, and some have even pretended that these isolated households of parents-cum-children are a human norm. To anyone who knows anything about chimpanzees or primitive societies and, indeed, to anyone who has read the Old Testament or Beowulf or the Iliad, such a notion will appear preposterous. In rough times, isolated households are incapable of defending themselves from predatory enemies, and in the conditions imposed by modern state, nuclear families cannot stand up against the legions of public-school teachers, child-saving social workers, and children’s rights advocates. Stripped of the protection of offered by broader networks of kith and kin, the nuclear family cannot even protect its children from mass culture, much less from the vast network of social agencies arrayed against it.”

Thomas Fleming – 3213

Paedocommunion #2

I Corinthians 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and [f]blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks [g]in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the [h]Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many [i]sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

Last time we gathered for the Eucharist we considered the subject of whether or not children should be taking of the Lord’s Table. We dealt then specifically with the issue of whether of whether or not wee children can come to the table and “do this in remembrance of me.”

We saw then that this requirement to “do this in remembrance of me,” was not a barrier for children because remembrance there is not primarily about our subjective remembrance but rather it is primarily a requirement “To do this in observance of me,” or if you prefer, “Do this unto my remembrance.”

We spent 30 minutes examining that theme and if you do not recall the work accomplished there I would encourage you to go to sermon audio and consider anew all that was said there.

This week we continue to look at the issue of children coming to the table. We begin by noting again that this is a volatile issue that can easily get various shorts into sundry knickers as being worn by people on both sides of the debate. As we noted last week the majority report historically among the Reformed and Presbyterian has been that children are banned from the table.

This is for several reasons. As we noted already one reason for that is because children are not able to take the table in remembrance of Christ.

This morning we look at a second reason why Presbyterian children are not typically allowed to come to the table. And that second reason is found in the passage this morning. That second reason given why the children cannot come to the table is because children are not able to do what the text requires here. Children cannot, so the argument goes, examine themselves.

Simply put, the argument goes like this;

1. There’s a command for partakers to self-examine (1 Corinthians 11:28). Infants can’t self-examine, therefore infants can’t partake. A version of this same word δοκιμαζέτω – δοκιμάζετε – appears in 2 Corinthians 13:5, in which we’re told to examine ourselves to see if we’re in the faith. This self-examination is beyond an infant. It is also beyond a toddler and beyond a young child also.

This is clear enough. We must ask ourselves if this is a defeater for the position of paedo-communion? Does this argument shut down allowing children to come to the Lord’s table?

Before we get to the details of this passage though, let us consider the theological implication of what is happening if we are going to make this passage mean that only those who can preform some form of introspective act are allowed to come to the table.

So, first we turn to the Theological implications of requiring the ability of introspection before coming to the table;

From a Theological point, if we follow the logic of the classical Presbyterian view, one would wind up with a works salvation. This is because in the traditional Reformed view
a communicant coming to the table must demonstrate an intellectual understanding of the Gospel in order to earn the right to come to the Table; they have to examine/prove themselves worthy to take Communion.

This morphs the sacrament from being about God doing the doing in giving grace in the sacrament to being about our effectuating the work by our introspective examination. Just as with baptism, the Eucharist is not about our promises to God, but His promises to us. The Eucharist is a token of God’s Covenant faithfulness, just like the rainbow with Noah and the blood on the doorposts at the first Passover; in both cases God said, “When I see… I will remember my Covenant”.

At the Last Supper Jesus said, literally, “Do this in My remembrance”. The English translations obfuscate the Covenantal language that Christ uses but the literal puts the emphasis on His remembrance, just like with the rainbow and the blood on the doorpost. Neither sacraments are about our efforts, they are tokens of God’s faithfulness to us in remembering His Covenant. To require a litmus test on a Covenant child is to turn the whole grace-based intent of the Eucharist on its ear.

In the OT, a circumcised child of Israel was considered a member of Israel until such a time when they turned away from the promises of the Covenant. In the common Presbyterian view, a child of believers first has to start as one who is excommunicated and then must prove their worth before they are accepted. The beginning presupposition here is that baptized children are outside the covenant and so can’t come to the table until they achieve a certain level of intellectual and cognitive ability. To the contrary our presupposition is that because of God’s faithfulness and promises in Baptism we presuppose that our children that God has given us are Christian until such a time, God forbid, they abandon the covenant and the God of the covenant.

I cannot see how the beginning presupposition that our children are strangers to the covenant is consistent with God’s promises and certainly not consistent with Covenant Theology. Covenant Theology begins with God’s declaration of “who we are and then follows with the imperative of who therefore we should be.” In other words it is the idea that “You are a child of the Covenant, therefore live like one,” This follows the model of the preamble of the Ten Commandments establishes the relationship between God and His people first and then comes the commands. In the classical view that blocks children from coming to the table, this order is turned the other way around.

Secondly, we now turn to the textual considerations here in I Corinthians 11

“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

George Knight III consistent with many other commentaries claims: that “the only guidance that we can ascertain is the meaning of the verb ‘examine,’ and Knight’s interpretation of this verb is that “Every person individually is to look into his own being to determine if he or she is taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.”

This is the common understanding among the Reformed. It is the understanding of the Westminster Larger Catechism. It is the understanding of John Calvin

“A self-examination, therefore ought to come first, and it is vain to expect this of infants… Why should we offer poison instead of life giving food to our tender children? (Inst. 4.16.30)

But is this kind of examining the kind of examining that the inspired Apostle is calling for here? We think not. Let us consider why this is a misunderstanding.

The Greek verb in this text (dokimazeto) means to “prove, approve, or test.” We find this translation in the English Revised Version;

“But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.”

Elsewhere in St. Paul’s usage of this verb it does not mean to the work of introspection that requires a kind of a self-reflecting glance (see I Cor. 3:13, II Cor. 13:5). Instead the Greek word “prove” carries the meaning of “proving,” or “approving,” such as is found in;

1 Cor. 3:13: ‘The work of each one will become manifest, for the day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test (“dokimasei”) each one’s work, [to prove] what kind it is.

Here Paul uses the verb as the culmination of a series of expressions denoting public and objective revelation. And if one is to consider the verb as used in the wider Greek usage in the wider Greek world one would find that it was always used with this kind of objective aspect.

What we are suggesting here is that the Greek word for “examine/prove” is not based in subjective reflection but in based in objective evaluation.

So, if “prove” here has an objective quality and is not a subjective inward look what is the objective quality that St. Paul is looking for from the Corinthians before they come to the table?

Well, in the immediate context of this section of Scripture (I Cor 10-12) the way that someone is to prove themselves is related to their behavior at the table of the Lord with respect to the unity of the body of Christ. A man proves himself by an eating that does not divide the body of Christ, and not by a subjective analysis completed by a introspective cognitive look.

As we see in the context of chapter 10-12 the Corinthians are having a problem. The problem was their table manners during the Lord’s Supper. This behavior contradicted the unity of one another in Christ.

20 Therefore when you come together it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for when you eat, each one takes his own supper first; and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.

This kind of behavior is why Paul can write earlier;

17 Now in giving this next instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together [m]as a church, I hear that [n]divisions exist among you …

So, when the Holy Spirit calls them to “prove themselves,” in vs. 28 he is calling them to prove that they are not behaving like this in connection with the Lord’s Table. It is an call to an objective assessment.

Luther agrees w/ us here;

“When in 1 Corinthians (11:28) Paul said that a man should examine himself, he spoke only of adults because he was speaking about those who were quarreling among themselves. However, he doesn’t here forbid that the sacrament of the altar should be given even to children.

Works, vol. 54, p. 58

The test in view in 1 Cor. 11 is whether one is living in love and unity with one’s fellow believers. This would be, again, objectively knowable and so could be examined/proved and would seem to involve no introspection — in short, a requirement that babies do not even have the ability to break yet.

And if children cannot be guilty of this kind of behavior of dividing the boy that some in Corinth were guilty of they therefore cannot have the requirement put to them to prove themselves and therefore the requirement to “prove oneself’ does not forbid children coming from the table.

So, to recap here

In Corinth the congregation were demonstrating a behavior at the table which belied the unity of the church. At the one place where there was to be unity there was instead division. They therefore were eating unworthily. When Paul calls them to “prove themselves” he was calling for them to partake of the Lord’s Table properly. “Let a man prove himself” refers to his manner of participation at the Table, or more broadly, to his relationship with the local body of Christ.

It is not subjective contemplation that is required here, but an objective demonstration of one’s behavior with respect to the body is demanded. This is not to say that there is no need of self-reflection when coming to the table, it is to say that what is required in this text is not self-reflection.

And so since this text is not calling for introspection and is calling for covenantal unity when coming to the table therefore this text is not prohibiting the least of these from coming to the table.

So, I Cor. 11 has nothing to do with Children taking or not taking communion anymore than the requirement to repent and believe has anything to do with covenant children before they are baptized. In point of fact I Cor. 11 ironically enough supports paedocommunion since what happens when we forbid the children to come to the table is to divide the body and create factions between the adults in the covenant and the children in the covenant — the very thing that the Corinthians were doing and the very thing I Cor. 11 warns against.

Now add to what we have said in point I on the theological considerations and point II on the text itself lets us add a little thirdly, some historical consideration.

During the Reformation there were some who called for paedo-communion. For example a little known second generation Reformer with a great name “Wolfgang Musculus” wrote in a theological work;

(1) Those who possess the thing signified also have a right to the sign

(2) Children who can receive the grace of regeneration (as is evident from Baptism) can also be nurtured in their spiritual lives without their knowledge.

(3) Christ is the Savior of the whole church, including the children, and feeds and refreshes all of its members.

(4) The demand for self-examination (I Cor. 11:26-29) is not intended by the apostle as a universal requirement.

W. Musculus — Loci Communes

Second Generation Reformer

Luther considered communing children to be not necessary but also not sin. He offered here;

“[They] pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought not to receive [the sacrament]. I answer: That reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason, they are all the more fit and proper recipients of [the sacrament]. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but – more frequently than not – struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

Martin Luther

Going behind the Reformation we find the Apostolic Constitution written not by the Apostles circa 380 AD. In this early church liturgy document we read that the children are included in the faithful that remain and take communion after the readings. Others who are not initiated (baptized) are excluded and excused from the communion. A door-wathcher keeps non-initiated out.

“As to the children that stand [the infant children do not stand, but are among the initiated who are prepared for communion], let their fathers and mothers take them to themselves …. After this, let all rise up with one consent, and, looking towards the east, after the catechumens and the penitents are gone out, pray to God eastward, …. Then let the sacrifice follow, all the people standing, and praying silently; and, when the oblation hath been made, let every rank by itself partake of the Lord’s body and precious blood, in order, and approach with reverence and holy fear, as to the body of their King. Let the women approach with their heads covered, as is becoming the order of women. Moreover, let the door be watched, lest there come in any unbeliever, or one not yet initiated. P 65

Let no one eat of them that is not initiated; but those only who have been baptized into the death of the Lord [all that are baptized, to include infants and children] p.145

[nowhere are baptized children excluded from any part of the Lord’s Day communion.]

Rushdoony pipes in here;

“The children of the covenant, i.e., circumcised male children and daughters of the covenant, partook of it [the Passover]…In the early church, children partook of the sacrament [the Lord’s Supper], according to all the records. The evidence of St. Paul indicates that entire families attended and participated: it was the evening meal (I Cor. 11). Joseph Bingham’s Antiquities of the Christian Church cites the evidence of a long-standing practice of participation by children and infants. This practice was clearly a carry-over from the passover of Israel, and there is no Scriptural evidence for a departure from it…Arguments against this inclusion of children are more rationalistic and Pelagian than Biblical.”~~R.J. Rushdoony, IBL, p. 46

There is one more thing I want to add here in conclusion.

If we dare not bring our children to the table for fear of the danger that the table is to them since they can’t understand it then why would we bring them to the Word preached? I mean is the table more dangerous than the Word preached? We talk about Word and sacrament being means of grace. If we dare not bring our children to one of the means of grace (the Table) why should we run them the danger of bringing them to a different means of grace that similarly they cannot understand?

As a friend as put it;

“Reformed people, in my opinion, have a ludicrously cautionary view of communion and act as though they’re handling plutonium and are about to drink hemlock if they don’t get in the right frame of mind. ”

I agree with this. The implication of this is that the Reformed believe the table is more sacred … more holy than the preaching of God’s Word. If communion is so dangerous to children we shouldn’t allow them to come to the table for fear of dishonoring God and endangering them, then we shouldn’t let those same children to come under the preaching of the Word. There is a reason why we conjoin “Word and Sacrament.”

We bring our children to Baptism as a means of grace.
We bring our children to the Word Preached as a means of grace

But them we say that the 3rd means of grace, the table, is a means of grace they cannot have because they have to bring their ability to introspect before they can have the table.

But I didn’t attend one of them elite Reformed Seminaries so I’m sure I am missing something.

Anyway, I want us to continue to esteem the table and to come to it with reverence and awe but lets be consistent.

The two sacraments are linked at the hip: the sign that brands the covenant people, and the victory meal of the covenant people. If children should be allowed to either (and they should), they should be allowed to both. The Reformed church today admits children to the church, then starves them for several years until they can adequately verbalize a profession of faith.

This ought not to be.