At the 16th General Assembly a study committee report on the topic of Paedocommunion was approved, deciding that the position of the denomination was and should remain to be that only those of the appropriate age to make a profession of faith were to receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and directed and officers who held a different view were to make that know to their Presbyteries and Sessions.
Since that date the vast majority of Presbyteries have either not allowed that difference to be held as a difference or allowed the view as an exception and instructed the candidate/minister to not teach nor practice his views.
This year the Review of Presbytery Records recommend that the Assembly approve as an Exception to their minutes (which means action contrary to the constitution had been taken by the Presbytery in questions) that Pacific Northwest Presbytery erred in approving a candidate who held to paedocommunioin.
The language of the recommendation was as follows:
Presbytery granted an exception which is out of accord “that is, hostile to the system or striking at the vitals of religion” (RAO 16-3.e.5.d) specifically [the following text is from the January 14-15, 2010 minutes of Pacific Northwest]:
WLC 177 – I disagree with the following sentence: “The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s Supper, is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.”
I believe that scripture nowhere prohibits young children from coming to the Lord’s Table. If they have been baptized, I think that the only thing that should prevent an infant from coming to the table is the very obvious issue of those able to take solid food. We are nowhere invited to speculate as to whether others are truly in the covenant of grace, except through church discipline.
My exception is to the phrase “and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.”
Recommendation No. 3: that Presbytery find [name omitted’s] exceptions to be more than semantic, but “not out of accord with any fundamental of our system of doctrine” (BCO 21-4), and that he be given full liberty to preach and teach them. Adopted
An extensive period of debate ensued, clearly divided (for the most part) among those who hold to the view and those who feel it is important to require those who hold to the view not to be allowed to teach and/or practice their view. This is the first time such a clear case had come to the attention of the Assembly.
During the debate it became important to find the exact language of the Assembly report and the Stated Clerk sent for a copy of the minutes. After reading the language (described in the intial paragraph of this story), and some further debate, a vote was taken on the recommendation. By a clear, large majority, the Assembly voted to agree with the Review of Presbytery Records committee and sent the exception on to the Pacfiic Northwest Presbytery for action and response.