IS IT PROPER TO ALLOW UNBAPTIZED CHILDREN OF CHURCH MEMBERS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE COMMUNION SERVICE: THE ORDINANCE OF THE HUMILITY, AND THE SERVICE OF THE LORD’S TABLE?
It has not been our practice to invite unbaptized children of our church members to participate in the Communion service, either in the foot-washing or in the partaking of bread and wine.
A poll of several ministerial brethren reveals that they all believe that participation in the Communion service should not begin for children until they are baptized and become members of the church. One of the purposes of the Communion service is to make evident the fellowship of the family of believers. While in a sense it is true that young, unbaptized children may believe, the full meaning of belief calls for baptism and entry into the church (see Mark 16:16).
Unless we hold that there is a great and real significance to church membership, we undermine the whole idea of the need to join the church. If we allow unbaptized children to take part in Communion, we are preparing the way for them to continue to participate through the years even though they have never been baptized as members of the church. Thus we destroy some of the prime symbolic value of Communion and make it a common thing in which any may participate without an open avowal of Christ and a dedication of life to Him.
It is true that the Adventist Church practices what is known as open Communion, and those who participate are not required to be members of our particular religious body. But we do ask that those who visit us from other congregations examine their own hearts, and if they have accepted Christ and are walking in fellowship with Him in their church, they may feel free to partake with us. However, this principle of open Communion does not apply to the question under consideration.
SHOULD WE KNEEL IN PRAYER?
Although statements in the Spirit of Prophecy strongly advocate kneeling in prayer, a number of our religious assemblies have a tendency to ask the congregation to stand for prayer, even when there is ample room to kneel. Which is correct?
In many instances there are valid reasons for asking a congregation to remain standing during prayer. But in any discussion of the subject of bodily posture in prayer, we may well consider the following statement from Ellen G. White: “Christ’s followers today should guard against the tendency to lose the spirit of reverence and godly fear. The Scriptures teach men how they should approach their Maker—with humility and awe, through faith in a divine Mediator. The psalmist has declared: ‘The Lord is a great God, And a great King above all gods. . . . O come, let us worship and bow down: Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.’ Both in public and in private worship, it is our privilege to bow on our knees before God when we offer our petitions to Him.
“Jesus, our example, ‘kneeled down, and prayed.’ Of His disciples it is recorded that they, too, ‘kneeled down, and prayed.’ Paul declared, ‘I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ In confessing before God the sins of Israel, Ezra knelt. Daniel ‘kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God.”a
There is a certain relationship between pose of body and mood of spirit. It seems to me that a mood of contrite confession and genuine adoration can find best expression in the soul when one is on bended knee.
However, it would be sad indeed if in any of our churches we permitted the question of kneeling versus standing to become the occasion for controversy. In that event, our prayers would likely avail little, no matter what our bodily pose.
a Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, 48.
If you have a question about church policy or procedure, let us know! Every quarter, we address these issues in our “Question and Answer”column, and we would love to hear from you. E-mail us at [email protected].