In the same way as church membership is not optional but mandatory for the Christian, neither is taking communion optional. It too is mandatory. It is not the right of an individual church member to refuse the supper.

Some Christians mistakenly think that it is in their individual power to discipline themselves, or to point out the faults in others within the membership, by unilaterally choosing not to partake in the communion supper, using such abstinence as an attempt to either ‘punish’ themselves, or to instigate a controversy within the membership.

This is wrong, for there are only four legitimate reasons why a person should not partake in the communion supper. These are:

1. If they are not born again.

2. If they are not baptised by immersion.

3. If they are not a member of the local church in which the communion supper is being held.

4. If they are under discipline enforced by that local church. (Indeed, in this latter case, they should not only not partake, they should not be present in the assembly at all.)

But sometimes, perfectly eligible church members choose not to partake in the communion supper for additional reasons. This is wrong, because no such additional reasons exist in scripture, and members taking it into their own hands to abstain reverses the logic and leverage by which a church can be properly managed and matured through the mechanism of closed communion. For this reason, as with error arising from an open communion table, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (1 Corinthians 11:30), for it results in the church membership being populated by self-willed and contentious grieving members, drawing attention to themselves and working only what seems right in their own eyes, without regard to their subordinate position as interdependent members in the local body of Christ as he has placed them. Thus, to the detriment of their church body as a whole, these blunderers commonly abstain for one of two main reasons, both of which are wrong. We consider these reasons in the following articles.


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