Book Reviewed: A Sober Discourse of Right to Church Communion
Author: William Kiffin, Rerprinted by The Baptist Standard Bearer ~ Copyright 2006
ISBN: 1579782396 pp 102.
Reviewed By: Pastor Tim Crockett
The book was reprinted by the Baptist Standard Bearer a website dedicated to the propagation of Baptist Doctrine, History and Practice. I thought I would include a link for those who may be interested – https://www.standardbearer.org
One thing I’ve learned in reading Baptist History is that Baptists are not cut from the same mold. There are many diversities within the movement, but nonetheless, there are some common threads that bind them together.
This little booklet of only a hundred pages covers a reasonable defense on why not just anyone should be invited to participate in the Table of the Lord. And while this is written from a Particular Baptist perspective, most denominations have some type of restriction or criteria before allowing someone to participate.
The author is William Kiffin, a Particular Baptist who lived between. 1616 – 1701. Mr. Kiffin’s ministry was very influential, including his involvement with the General Assembly of Particular Baptists located in London. He was the only man to sign The First London Confession of Faith of 1644 & the Second London Confession of Faith of 1689.
The book in review deals with the question of who has a right to Church Communion or the Table of the Lord. This should be a concern to folks, but we have fallen so far away in our understanding and practice of Baptist distinctives and church polity it’s a wonder if we’ll ever recover.
Here at Bible Way, we practice Close Communion, meaning participation is limited to those who are of like mind in conviction and practice.
The book itself reads well and is typical of this period in church history. Hitting upon the critical doctrine (s) of the age the author highlights their biblical significance and our response to them.
The ordinances of Baptism and the Table of Lord were treated in high regard by denominations across the board. Any deviation for example from the state church’s practice could result in death, torture or exile. For example, to deny the Mass, as practiced by the “Holy” Mother church, could get you martyred. Baptism was no different. For example, to practice Believer’s Baptism meant you denied infant baptism/sprinkling and, like in the early MASS Bay Colony, would get you well-whipped. See the testimony of Obadiah Holmes and what he endured for his position on baptism.
There are only five chapters and a short biography in the back highlighting aspects of Mr. Kiffin’s life and ministry.
The chapter breakdown is as follows:
Chapter One – The Question Stated – “Whether persons unbaptized may regularly be admitted to the Communion of the Lord’s Supper.” Pg. 28
Chapter Two – deals with the issue of un-baptized persons and why they should not be allowed to participate in the Lord’s Supper
Chapter Three – Covers from a scriptural perspective on why admitting the un-baptized “is not evangelical
Chapter Four – takes us on a historical timeline of the practice showing that throughout history it was common practice to refuse the un-baptized access to the Communion Table
Chapter Five – This chapter answers the objections that are typically raised against this practice. There were eleven objections answer overall.
More often than not how you approached these ordinances in belief and practice identified you with a particular denomination, but this has changed so radically in these latter days that the sacredness of the ordinances has been diminished. For example, In this area many years ago a Baptist Church celebrated the Table of the Lord with a Roman Catholic Church. That would have been unheard of in centuries past for neither the Roman Catholic nor Baptists would have allowed someone from the opposite side of the aisle to participate in so sacred an ordinance.
How did we come to this place? How is it that these ordinances which were once at the forefront of belief and practice of Baptist churches have now seemingly lost their significance.
History plays an important role or understanding of how and why these ordinances were viewed in the way that they were throughout church history. This book and those like it are good reminders to our generation and those to follow on why it’s important to read church history.
Regardless of your background I believe all should strive to acquaint ourselves with the True Old Paths and seek understanding of the times and practices of the early Baptists.
Well in my attempts at keeping these short I’ll end it here. Soli Deo Gloria