Friday, October 29, 2010

Baptist and Methodist Communions

A reader asked the following:

What is the difference between the way the Baptist gives the communion and the way the Methodist give Communion?

My reply:
Your thoughts?

Hi Douglas.

The exact mechanics of Communion very slightly congregation by congregation as well as denomination by denomination. For instance some do it every Sunday, some on the first Sunday of the Month, some once a year; some use matza (unleavened bread), some crackers, some leavened bread, some wine, some grape juice... but despite these sorts of differences there are few substantial differences between Methodist and Baptist Communions.

The main differences would be that Methodists practice "open communion" which means that anyone who comes forward for communion is allowed to partake (whether "saved" of not and regardless of denominational affiliation if any -- no one has the right to refuse communion to another and taking it is a blessing for anyone who does partake). Baptists only allow those who are "saved" according to their beliefs/understandings to partake. This plays out in two basic ways:

1. In most Baptist churches one is asked if one has "been saved" before being served, often details will be requested of strangers (where were you saved? when? how?) to confirm that one is really saved. However this is usually handled in the talk leading up to communion with words like, "So if you have received Christ...." Most Methodists emphasize that "whosoever will" may take. Both views can be supported scripturally.

2. Only baptized Believers are allowed to partake among Baptists. This causes another observable difference in that while Methodists perform "infant baptisms" Baptists only do so after a person is old enough to make an intentional request for salvation. Hence little kids partake in Methodist churches while its rare to see someone under 8-12 years old partaking in a Baptist rite. 12 is a common age to "receive Jesus" and begin taking Communion even though children of devout Baptists (like Methodists) grow up under the teachings, Bible stories etc. There is no "First Communion" service (in Catholic terms) among Baptists or Methodists.

Hope this helps,
~ John of AllFaith

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