Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Kim Riddlebarger on the Lord’s Supper

Kim Riddlebarger, ‘The Reformation of the Supper’, in R. Scott Clark and Joel E. Kim (eds.), Always Reformed: Essays in Honor of W. Robert Godfrey (Westminster Seminary California, 2012), 192-207.

The above essay is available here as a pdf.

Essentially, Riddlebarger seeks ‘to offer a rationale for the frequent (weekly) celebration of the Lord’s Supper’ (192).

His argument unfolds in three sections:

(1) The biblical evidence for the frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper – looking especially at Acts 2:42, 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 11:17-22.

(2) The historical evidence for frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper – taking in the Didache, Justin’s First Apology, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Calvin, Zacharias Ursinus, John Owen, and Thomas Goodwin.

(3) Some pastoral and theological implications of frequent celebration – interestingly suggesting that a less frequent celebration tends to lead to introspection and self-examination while those who ‘come to the table with confidence of knowing that we are justified sinners’ (205) will tend toward a more frequent celebration.

Because the observance of the Lord’s Supper is the logical (and liturgical) culmination of the preaching of the word, the frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper provides the fitting, natural and, dare I say, “biblical” culmination of the worship service. The gospel promises are proclaimed from the word, and then ratified in the Supper... The Supper not only strengthens our faith, but it reminds us that all believers are members of Christ’s one body. Not only this, in the Supper we are continually pointed ahead to the great messianic feast when Christ’s kingdom is finally and gloriously consummated (cf. Rev 19:7–9). In light of this, it is proper to conclude that the preached word naturally leads to (and culminates in) the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, as seen in the apostolic pattern’ (206).

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