Time to close shop.
No truly scientific result has ever been reached through group decisions and majority rule. The whole history of modern science in the West evidences the fact that no majorities, no tyrants, no constraint can prevail in the long run against individuals whenever the latter are able to prove in some definite way that their own scientific theories work better than others and that their own view of things solves problems and difficulties better than others, regardless of the number, the authority, or the power of the latter. Indeed, the history of modern science, if considered from this point of view, constitutes the most convincing evidence of the failure of decision groups and group decisions based on some coercive procedure and more generally of the failure of constraint exercised over individuals as a pretended means of promoting scientific progress and of achieving scientific results. The trial of Galileo, at the dawn of our scientific era, is in this sense a symbol of its whole history, for many trials have since actually taken place in various countries up to the present day in which attempts have been made to constrain individual scientists to abandon some thesis. But no scientific thesis has ever been established or disproved in the end as a result of any contraint whatever exercised upon individual scientists by bigoted tyrants and ignorant majorities.
On the contrary, scientific research is the most obvious example of a spontaneous process involving the free collaboration of innumerable individuals, each of whom has a share in it according to his willingness and abilities. The total result of this collaboration has never been anticipated or planned by particular individuals or groups. Nobody could even make a statement about what the outcome of such a collaboration would be without ascertaining it carefully every year, nay, every month and every day throughout the whole history of science.
What would have happened in the countries of the West if scientific progress had been confined to group decisions and majority rule based on such principles as that of the “representation” of the scientists conceived of as members of an electorate, not to speak of a “representation” of the people at large?
FREEDOM AND THE LAW by Bruno Leoni
Another consequence of this revolutionary concept of the law in our times was that the law-making process was no longer regarded as chiefly connected with a theoretical activity on the part of the experts, like judges or lawyers, but rather with the mere will of winning majorities within the legislative bodies. The principle of “representation” appeared to secure in its turn a purported connection between those winning majorities and each individual conceived of as a member of the electorate. Thus, the participation of individuals in the law-making process has ceased to be effective and has become more and more a sort of empty ceremony taking place periodically in the general election of a country.
The spontaneous law-making process before the enactment of the codes and constitutions of the nineteenth century was by no means unique if considered in relation to other spontaneous processes like that of the ordinary language or of day-to-day economic transactions or of changing fashion. A characteristic feature of all these processes is that they are performed through the voluntary collaboration of an enormous number of individuals each of whom has a share in the process itself according to his willingness and his ability to maintain or even to modify the present condition of economic affairs, of language, of fashion, etc. There are no group decisions in this process that constrain anybody to adopt a new word instead of an old one or to wear a new type of suit instead of an old-fashioned one or to prefer a moving picture instead of a play.
FREEDOM AND THE LAW by Bruno Leoni
…one could apply to a conspicuous part of contemporary legislation the definition that the German theorist Clausewitz applied to war, namely, that it is a means of attaining those ends that it is no longer possible to attain by way of customary bargaining. It is this prevailing concept of the law as an instrument for sectional purposes that suggested, a century ago, to Bastiat his famous definition of the state: “L’État, la grande fiction à travers laquelle tout le monde s’efforce de vivre au dépens de tout le monde” (“that great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else”). We must admit that this definition holds good also in our own time.
An aggressive concept of legislation to serve sectional interest has subverted the ideal of political society as a homogeneous entity, nay, as a society at all. Minorities constrained to accept the results of legislation they would never agree to under other conditions feel unjustly treated and accept their situation only in order to avoid worse or consider it as an excuse for obtaining on their behalf other laws that in turn injure still other people.
FREEDOM AND THE LAW by Bruno Leoni
Then this May, the administration imposed even more draconian restrictions. Mr. DeHart wanted to alert students to recent reversals in key evidence for Neo-Darwinism, and sought approval to distribute articles from mainstream scientific journals to correct old, outdated information in the textbooks. Astonishingly, the principal said no. In short, the ACLU’s intimidation tactics have been so successful that Mr. DeHart is being compelled to teach a caricature of the scientific method.
For example, the textbook the school requires Mr. DeHart to use presents Stanley Miller’s 1953 life-in-a-test-tube experiment as evidence that the building blocks of life arose spontaneously in a “primeval soup” on the early earth. But today most biologists dismiss that experiment as outdated, since it relied on assumptions about the early atmosphere now known to be false. An article in Scientific American tells the story, yet the school forbids Mr. DeHart to tell students how science has corrected itself.
Again, the most famous example of natural selection involves the speckled peppered moth. Supposedly, when industrial pollution darkened tree trunks, birds could see the lighter moths against the blackened trunks, while darker moths blended in and increased in numbers. Yet a recent article in The Scientist reveals that these moths don’t even rest on tree trunks-and that photos shown in textbooks were staged: Dead moths were glued onto tree trunks. Yet the school forbids Mr. DeHart to correct this false impression for his students.
“it is very amazing, it is utterly shocking because it flies in the face of everything we understand about how cells and tissues degrade” –Mary H. Schweitzer
Broken Bone Leads to Discovery of Soft Tissues
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 25, 2005; Page A01
Paleontologists have recovered what appear to be soft tissues from the thighbone of a 70 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex, potentially enabling dinosaur research to make a leap into studying the animals’ physiology and perhaps even their cell biology, the research team said yesterday.
Working with the remains of a T. rex unearthed in northeastern Montana’s celebrated Hell Creek formation, the paleontologists spied the soft tissue when they were forced to break the thighbone into pieces to fit it aboard a helicopter.
Once in the lab, the team systematically removed mineralized deposits from the bone, exposing blood vessels, bone cells and possibly intact blood cells with their nuclei. “The tissues are still soft, transparent and flexible, and we can manipulate the vessels with our probe,” said team leader Mary H. Schweitzer of North Carolina State University.
The bottom line here, is that the Bible presents no barrier between initiation in the covenant and participation in the covenant meal. Rev. Bacon needs a text which gives us an age limit or developmental standard for participation in the sacramental food and drink. He has not given us one. His strong assertions of the “specialness” of the Lord’s Supper all beg the question. No one is denying that it is special in that it is a sacrament. We are simply denying that it is too special for children. He has given us no reason to think otherwise.
The Bible says that one cannot participate in Passover unless one is circumcised. Also, one cannot participate in Passover if one is ceremonially unclean. Rev. Bacon asserts, that there is an additional rule involving a level of discernment. But he has not given us any Scriptural support for such an assertion, and it is hardly Reformed to simply make one up.
At one point in the confrontation between the Lord and Pharaoh, the Egyptian king seemed to give in. He was ready the let them go worship the Lord as long as they left their children behind. Moses had a different idea, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord” (Exo 10.9). The flocks and herds were for sacrifices (10.25-26). But why were the children needed at a feast to the Lord? Rev. Bacon may insist that they were present for catechizing if he wishes, but I’m looking for a Biblical answer (Deu 16.11, 14).
According to Hebrews 9.10, the various ceremonial cleansings in the Mosaic economy were “baptisms” (literal Greek translation). When one became ceremonially unclean one was barred from the Sanctuary and, therefore, cut off from the Sacraments. The whole point of being baptized was to regain access to the Feast. Our children have been baptized. Our children are not “unclean, but . . . holy” (1 Cor 7.14). They should not be barred from the feast. To invent reasons for barring the little children from the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus, not only nullifies any professed allegiance to the Regulative Principle of Worship, but it brings down upon us the indignation of Christ (Mar 10.14).
To all of this, the warning in 1 Corinthians 10.27-32 is extremely pertinent. The Corinthians were guilty of permitting some to hog the Table and force others to go hungry and thirsty (10.21, 33). Let us demonstrate that we can discern the Lord’s Body by including our children in it.
Our baptized children ought not be barred from the Lord’s Supper.
Don’t have time to fisk this summary of Leonard Coppes’ book, Daddy, May I Take Communion, but I did admire Coppes’ tacit admission that Calvin’s entire OT case against paedocommunion was exegetically baseless, and that a new argument had to be made (up?) to preserve the traditionalist conclusion.
However, Coppes many errors were exposed back in 1992 and, if you are going to repeat Coppes, it might be good to know that Paedocommunionists are familiar with it.
Peter Leithart’s reply, Daddy, Why Was I Excommunicated can be purchased here.
But I have also copied and pasted a summary found here.
Rite Reasons, Studies in Worship, No. 20, April 1992
Copyright (c) 1992 by Biblical Horizons
(Editor’s Note: This essay is an abridged version of Rev. Leithart’s extended and comprehensive critique of Leonard J. Coppes’s book, Daddy, May I Take Communion? The full 56-page critique can be obtained for $7.00 from Biblical Horizons , Box 1096, Niceville, FL 32588.)
Since the early 1980s, several of the conservative Reformed Churches have debated and wrestled with the issue of paedocommunion (infant communion). The PCA and the OPC assigned study committees to examine the question, both of which produced useful reports both in support of and against the position. Though the debate seems to have subsided in recent years, there are signs that it continues to percolate in the Reformed Churches. Rev. Steve Wilkins, pastor of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Monroe, Louisiana, for example, has recently produced a widely-distributed tape series giving a strong defense of paedocommunion, and in 1988, Dr. Leonard Coppes published his book Daddy, May I Take Communion?, endorsed by Rev. Joseph C. Morecraft as “the first serious response to the `paedocommunion challenge.’” (Rev. Wilkins’s four-tape series can be obtained from Covenant Productions, c/o Erik Stoer, 26 Kathy Lane, Freeport, FL 32439 for $10.00.)
Though one hesitates to raise what has been a divisive issue, it is not an issue that can be ignored. Belief in paedocommunion is not, to be sure, in any sense a test of orthodoxy. But its significance for the system of Reformed doctrine is vast. It is plausible to argue that many of the tensions that have arisen in Reformed theology are crystallized by, if they do not actually arise from, the traditional antipaedocommunion position. I do not believe that paedocommunion implies any discarding of the foundational doctrines of the Reformed faith, but it does certainly imply a recasting and refinement, a further reformation of Reformed theology.
The paedocommunion debate raises questions not only concerning the character of the sacraments and the relationship of the two sacraments, but also touches on such major areas of theology as the doctrine of the Church, the meaning of the covenant, the relationship of the covenant to eternal election, the doctrines of perseverance and assurance, the relationship of faith and the sacraments, the relationship of faith and understanding, the relationship of faith and works, and other questions of great theological significance. Hermeneutical questions, including the meta-issue of relating the OT and NT, are also implicated. For these reasons, in the PCA, where many have a less than Scriptural view of baptism, paedocommunion is rightly seen as a profound challenge to the prevailing thought and practice. If true, paedocommunion requires the contemporary Reformed churches to undergo a far-reaching theological repentance.
Practically, the stakes are, if anything, even greater. Advocates of paedocommunion claim that their opponents are dishonoring Christ’s invitation to let the little children come to Him to dine at His table. Opponents of paedocommunion claim that the table of the Lord is defiled by the admission of “undiscerning” children and infants. Whoever is right, Christ is displeased with a portion of His Church.
In the following, I hope to advance the debate by considering the main arguments of Coppes’s book. For readers interested in a more thorough examination of Coppes’s positions and arguments, I have written a longer, chapter-by-chapter review of Coppes’s book, which is also available from Biblical Horizons .
At the outset, a few of stylistic comments are in order. Coppes’s book is extremely difficult to read. It is highly repetitive, uses vague and sometimes obscure language, and includes more than its share of incoherent or fallacious arguments and outright false claims. Coppes’s argument includes many twists and turns. Debatable assertions are sometimes qualified dozens of pages later, and the qualifications undermine the original assertions. Coppes has done some good work in the past, particularly in his contributions to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. This book is far from his best effort.
Let us examine a few of the recurring problems in Coppes’s book. First, Coppes tends to employ a rigid, nominalistic hermeneutical and theological method in which things and concepts are sharply distinguished from one another. Thus, for example, he claims that each of the meals and sacrifices of the OT depicted a particular “aspect” of redemption. If this is taken to mean that each particular meal highlighted one aspect or another of the work of Christ, it is unobjectionable. But for Coppes it evidently means something different. It means, quite literally, that each OT sacrifice and meal signified and sealed one and only one part of redemption.
Thus, for example, Coppes argues (pp. 81ff.) that the Passover was “propitiatory,” but did not depict a vicarious substitutionary sacrifice. God was turned from His wrath by the slaughter of the Passover lamb and the presentation of its blood, but “there is nothing in the explanation of the rite to say that the lamb was the vicarious substitutionary sacrifice or atonement for the sins of the people” (p. 82). Again, he suggests that the Passover signified propitiation (the satisfaction of God’s wrath) but not expiation (the removal of sin, p. 113). He hedges his statements by admitting that the Passover was “generally expiatory,” but not “immediately expiatory.” Yet, he concludes that, because it lacked the element of laying on of hands, the Passover “was not, in itself, a vicarious substitutionary sacrifice” (p. 81). (For an extended discussion of the Passover, see J. H. Kurtz, Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament, trans. by James Martin [Minneapolis, MN: Klock & Klock, (1863) 1980], pp. 355-76.)
This line of argument implies that God’s wrath can be propitiated without the removal of sin. It suggests the possibility that God’s wrath can be satisfied by something less than the death of a substitutionary victim. That, in turn, suggests that God can justify without being Just. Coppes’s response to this criticism would perhaps be that the Passover is but one OT rite among many. Redemption, he urges, was depicted in the whole of the sacrificial system, not in any single rite or sacrifice. Though the Passover did not expiate sin (at least not “immediately”), other OT sacrifices and rites did. But this answer does not meet the objection. If Coppes is correct, the Israelites who participated in the original Passover were delivered from God’s wrath without being delivered from sin.
The sacrificial system of the OT was designed to restore communion between God and man. Sin alienates man from God. God is angry with sinners so long as their sin is not removed. That sin, and therefore God’s anger, are removed by sacrifice. Coppes’s discussion leaves the impression that redemption can be achieved in part, and that communion with God can be restored in part. If Coppes is correct, we are left wondering about the status of a sinner for whom God’s wrath is propitiated, but whose sin is not covered. Does the Passover lamb suffice to restore communion with God, or does it not? If the blood of the Passover lamb did not restore communion with God, why did the people share a communion meal?
Surely, Coppes is on to something important. The important truth in his discussion is that no single OT sacrifice or meal exhaustively typified the fulfillment of that redemption in Christ. The question is how we relate the multiplicity of the OT types to the One Christ and His work of redemption. It seems to me that a more satisfying way to describe the relationship among the various meals and sacrifices is in terms of “perspectives,” as that notion has been developed by John Frame and Vern Poythress. (See Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God [Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987], and Poythress, Symphonic Theology [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988].) A perspective is a limited view of a whole. Seeing each element of the sacrificial system as a “perspective” on the coming Redeemer would mean that each sacrifice and meal and rite emphasized one particular dimension of the sacrifice of Christ, without excluding the other dimensions. Indeed, properly understood, each sacrifice and meal would imply all the others. Each depicted the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ from a particular angle. (See Poythress, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses [Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991], p. 49.) Employing a “perspectival” approach, we can avoid distinguishing the different sacrifices too sharply and implying that the sacrifices dealt with one and only one “aspect” of sin and redemption.
We run across a similar quagmire when Coppes begins to talk about the application of redemption. Again, the various “aspects” of salvation are neatly separated. He claims that each meal and rite of the OT brought the worshiper closer to God only in respect to the particular aspect of redemptive reality signified and sealed by that particular rite. Coppes is operating along the traditional Reformed lines of the ordo salutis, which has been subjected directly and indirectly to a searching critique by a long line of Reformed scholars from Geerhardus Vos and John Murray to Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., and Herman Ridderbos.
Gaffin’s work especially has laid the foundations for a thorough-going Biblical refinement of the Reformed doctrine of the application of redemption (a refinement that at the same time is a recovery of some of Calvin’s best insights). By emphasizing the centrality of union with Christ and the eschatological character of redemption, Gaffin and others have avoided sterile separations between various stages in redemption. If we are justified, it is because we are united by faith to the One who was justified by His resurrection (Rom. 4:25); if we are sons by adoption, it is because we are united to the Firstborn among many brethren; and so on. Gaffin concludes from a careful study that Paul views justification, sanctification, adoption, etc. “not as distinct acts but as distinct aspects of a single act.” (Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology [Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, (1978) 1987], p. 138.) Against Coppes’s tendency to separate neatly between stages of redemption, Gaffin would raise Paul’s rhetorical question to the Corinthians, “Is Christ divided?”
Coppes also misconstrues the nature of the institutional transition from Old to New Covenant in some important respects. The NT institutions (sacraments, priesthood, etc.) do not necessarily match one-to-one with the institutions of the OT. It is far too simplistic a view of the NT to suggest, for example, that the Aaronic priesthood is analogous to the New Covenant eldership, and the duties of the Levites exactly correspond to the duties of deacons. The entire OT is fulfilled in Christ, and transformed by His death and resurrection. In theory, Coppes agrees with this. In practice, however, his entire book constitutes a search for a single OT rite that exactly corresponds to the Lord’s Supper.
Finally, Coppes is consistently offering arguments that prove more than he wishes to prove. He argues from Ezekiel 44:5-9, for example, that only people who are circumcised in the heart (that is, who have made a profession of faith) are to be admitted to the Table. But that passage is about restricting access to the sanctuary, not the table per se; the NT sanctuary is the Church. Taken in Coppes’s terms, Ezekiel 44 really proves that only those who have made a profession of faith should be admitted to the Church. Thus, his arguments against paedocommunion continually tend to undermine his own paedobaptist convictions.
The basic assumption of Coppes’s book is that the nature of the Lord’s Supper (what it means) determines the design (who should be admitted). He argues that we can make no simple identification of the Lord’s Supper with the Passover; the nature of the two meals is different. This assertion assumes the notion of “aspects” discussed above. The Passover depicted only one aspect of redemption, while the Supper signifies and seals the whole.
Thus, the fact that children were admitted to the Passover does not prove that they should be admitted to the Supper; we cannot determine the design of the Supper from the design of the Passover. Coppes’s argument also implies that no other single OT meal was the consummate antecedent of the Supper. He is also at pains to point out that there were many different meals in the OT, with varying terms of admission.
If no single OT meal determines the design of the Supper, how do we decide whether or not children should be admitted to the Supper? Several lines of thought suggest themselves. First, one could argue that, since no OT feast corresponds exactly with the Supper, we need to decide the question of admission on the basis of more general theological principles, such as the nature of the covenant, the nature of the Church, the nature of baptism, etc. Alternatively, one could look for a general pattern in the OT feasts that could be applied to the Supper. If we discover that all the OT feasts admitted children, then we could conclude that the NT feast should admit children as well. Neither of these lines of argument assumes a simplistic identification of the Supper with Passover or with any other single OT meal.
Coppes, unfortunately, rejects both of these alternatives. Instead, having dismissed the “simplistic” paedocommunion appeal to the Passover, he simplistically identifies the Supper with a different OT rite. Though he never states it in precisely this way, Coppes’s full argument is as follows:
1. The Great Atonement is the heart of the OT sacrificial system;
2. The Lord’s Supper fulfills the entire OT sacrificial system;
3. Since the Atonement is the heart of the sacrificial system, the Supper particularly fulfills the Great Atonement;
4. The rites that “attach” the sacrifices to the Great Atonement are the laying on of hands and approaching the altar;
5. Participation in the Supper thus particularly fulfills the approach to the altar and the laying on of hands;
6. Therefore, the Lord’s Supper should admit only those participants who could approach the altar in the OT (the design of the Supper is determined by its nature);
7. Since only potential federal heads who had made a profession of faith could approach the altar, only federal heads should receive the Supper;
8. Though in the OT, women were not allowed to approach the altar, in the NT women can receive the Supper.
Several criticisms of this argument are in order. First, it seems odd at first that Coppes would choose a fast day (the Day of Atonement) to determine the admissions requirements to the NT feast, or why he would use the rite of “laying on of hands” to determine admission requirements to a meal. The reason becomes clearer on consideration. In the OT, there were two basic kinds of meals: 1) meals in which leaders or priests alone participated and 2) meals in which the whole people of Israel participated. The first type of meal was bound up with the temporary OT holiness boundaries, which have been removed in Christ. To prove from the OT that children should be barred from the Lord’s Table, Coppes has to offer an example of an OT meal that meets two requirements: 1) all the lay Israelites were invited, but 2) their children were excluded.
Coppes never provides any example of such a meal, because the OT knows nothing of such a meal. When lay adults were invited to feasts, their children were invited to eat and drink with them. This was true of the Passover (Ex. 12:3-4), the peace offering (Lev. 7:15-21), the other annual feasts of Israel (Dt. 14:22-29; 16:9-14), and the wilderness meals (1 Cor. 10:1-4). Coppes knows he cannot provide a single example of a common meal that excluded children, so he continually shifts attention from the OT meals to other OT rites. He assumes that the Supper excludes children. To show how this is consistent with the OT types, he must find an OT rite that included lay adults, but excluded children. The rite of “laying on of hands” meets those requirements.
Second, Coppes shifts ground several times in the book. His stated assumption is that the Supper fulfills the entire OT sacrificial system, and therefore no OT rite had precisely the same nature as the Supper. Yet, Coppes also suggests a single OT rite–the laying on of hands–was the main OT antecedent of the Supper. If it is simplistic to identify the Supper solely with the Passover, it is equally simplistic to identify the Supper solely with the “laying on of hands.” Similarly, he often says that the Sinai meal of Exodus 24 was the most direct antecedent of the Supper. But there is no reason to say that the Supper fulfills the Sinai meal more directly than it fulfills any other meal.
Third, Coppes confuses the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ with the continual celebration and application of that sacrifice in the Supper. The NT nowhere compares the Supper to the Great Atonement. Instead, the NT compares Christ’s death to the Great Atonement (Heb. 8-10). The Great Atonement is over and done; we now celebrate the release achieved by the Cross. The Supper is the NT Feast of Booths, the feast that followed the Great Atonement.
Fourth, Coppes’s argument is based on the premise that admission to the OT sacrificial rites became more restrictive the nearer one got to the altar. The meals of the wilderness, Coppes claims, were virtually unrestricted; the feasts of Tabernacles and Pentecost were somewhat more restrictive; the Passover, which required circumcision, was more restrictive still; and the rite of “laying on of hands” is the most restrictive rite of the OT system, since it involves a near approach to the altar.
It is true that there were various meals, with varying terms of admission. Yet, Coppes seriously misrepresents the Biblical data. The most glaring error is his treatment of the status of “sojourners” in ancient Israel. He argues that in general sojourners were not circumcised and not admitted to the altar (pp. 96-97). At the same time, he admits that circumcised strangers could bring votive, freewill, and burnt offerings (citing Lev. 22:18). Uncircumcised sojourners could offer sacrifice only through the priesthood, but could not approach the altar. Coppes summarizes the condition of the uncircumcised stranger as follows:
- [The stranger] was permitted to present votive and freewill offerings (Lev. 22:18), and even burnt offerings and sacrifices. It should be noted that the uncircumcised sojourner (ger) was not allowed to approach the altar himself since he was not in a state of levitical purity. The first prerequisite of that state was circumcision (p. 98).
In fact, however, circumcision was not a prerequisite for approaching the altar. The uncircumcised sojourner was to follow the same procedures as the Israelite in making his offering (cf. Nu. 15:14-15). (Jacob Milgrom, Numbers [Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1990], pp. 398-402. Milgrom writes, “the ger [stranger] may participate in the voluntary sacrificial cult if he follows its prescriptions [Num. 15:15-16; Lev. 22:17ff.]” [p. 399].) Thus, the uncircumcised sojourner was able to get as close to the altar as any Israelite! The sojourner was able to lay his hands on the head of the sacrificial animal, in accord with the instructions of Leviticus 1-5. The sojourner was allowed to slaughter sacrificial animals. In other words, an uncircumcised sojourner could participate in those ritual acts that Coppes claims are the most restrictive acts of the OT sacrificial system, the acts that are most directly associated with the Great Atonement.
This error in Coppes’s argument undermines his entire thesis. He claims, rightly, that there were degrees of holiness in the OT system. Some meals and rites were restricted to priests, some to circumcised Israelites, some open to sojourners. But Coppes turns the OT hierarchy of holiness on its head. He claims that approaching the altar and laying hands on the head of the animal required a higher level of holiness than did participation in the Passover meal. Yet, any uncircumcised sojourner could approach the altar, but only the circumcised could eat the Passover meal. A chart will help summarize the contrast between Coppes’s position and that of the Bible:
- Coppes Bible Passover lower holiness higher holiness (circumcision required) Laying of Hands higher holiness lower holiness (circumcision not required)
The bottom line here is very significant. Coppes admits that children were admitted to the Passover in the OT. Yet, contrary to his conclusions, Passover required a higher degree of holiness than approaching the altar to offer sacrifice. If Coppes’s scheme were accurate, children should have been excluded from Passover (since it required circumcision), and admitted to the altar (since it did not require circumcision). But Coppes’s scheme is at this point precisely the opposite of the Biblical scheme. Coppes’s argument is based on his premise that approaching the altar required a high degree of ritual holiness. But that premise is simply wrong.
Coppes’s book has certain things in its favor. He challenges any simplistic effort to base paedocommunion solely on the example of Passover, and his emphasis on the reality of Christ’s presence in the Supper is welcome. His most central arguments against paedocommunion, however, are frequently fallacious and based on false assumptions. Though I can hardly claim to have offered a definitive defense of paedocommunion here, I hope that I have shown clearly some of the problems with Coppes’s rather idiosyncratic defense of the traditional position, and shown the plausibility of the paedocommunion position.
More important than socializing industry was nationalizing the people for the war effort. “Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way, ” Wilson threatened in June 1917. Harking back to his belief that “leaders of men” must manipulate the passions of the masses, he approved and supervised one of the first truly Orwellian propaganda efforts in Western history (109).
One of [George Creel, the head of the Committee on Public Information]‘s greatest ideas [...] was the creation of an army of nearly a hundred thousand “Four Minute Men.” Each was equipped and trained by the CPI to deliver a four-minute speech at town meetings, in restaurants, in theaters — anyplace they could get an audience — to spread the word that the “very future of democracy” was at stake (110).
[Clarence Darrow said], “Any man who refuses to back the President in this crisis is worse than a traitor.” Darrow’s expert legal opinion, it may surprise modern liberals to know, was that once Congress had decided on war, the right to question that decision evaporated entirely [...]. Once the bullets fly, citizens lose the right to even discuss the issue, publicly or privately; “acquiescence on the part of the citizen becomes a duty” (111).
But nothing that happened under the mad reign of Joe McCarthy remotely compares with what Wilson and his fellow progressives foisted on America. Under the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the Sedition Act of May 1918, any criticism of the government, even in your own home, could earn you a prison sentence [...]. In Wisconsin a state official got two and a half years for criticizing a Red Cross fund-raising drive. A Hollywood producer received a ten year stint in jail for making a film that depicted British troops committing atrocities during the American Revolution. One man was brought to trial for explaining in his own home why he didn’t want to buy Liberty Bonds (114).
Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but it has been estimated that some 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. All were punished, many went to jail (117).
In 1919, at a Victory Loan pageant, a man refused to stand for the national anthem. When “The Star-Spangled Banner” ended, a furious sailor shot the “disloyal” man three times in the back. When the man fell, the Washington Post reported, “the crowd burst into cheering and handclapping.” Another man who refused to rise for the national anthem at a baseball game was beaten by the fans in the bleachers. In February 1919 a jury in Hammond, Indiana, took two minutes to acquit a man who had murdered an immigrant for yelling, “To Hell with the United States” (116).
The rationing and price-fixing of the “economic dictatorship” required Americans to make great sacrifices, including the various “meatless” and “wheatless” days common to all of the industrialized war economies in the first half of the twentieth century. [...] Americans were deluged with patriotic volunteers knocking on their doors to sign this pledge or that oath not only to be patriotic but to abstain from this or that “luxury.” [...] “Supper, ” [Herbert Hoover] complained, “is one of the worst pieces of extravagance that we have in this country.”
Like I said, we were demon possessed and have forgotten about it.
In my opinion, Goldberg sometimes forgets what he has remembered, but that is a post for another day. Totally awesome book.
Clearly to Paul and the Corinthians, the Lord’s Supper was just a sacrificial feast. As such – as the Christians’ sacrificial feast – it is put in comparison here with the sacrificial feasts of the Jews and the heathen. The whole pith of the argument is that it is a sacrificial feast. And if we wish to know what the Lord’s Supper is, here is our proper starting point. It is the sacrificial feast of Christians, and bears the same relation to the sacrifice of Christ that the heathen sacrificial feasts did to their sacrifices and that the Jewish sacrificial feasts did to their sacrifices. It is a sacrificial feast, offering the victim, in symbols of bread and wine, to our participation, and signifying that all those who partake of the victim in these symbols, are sharers in the altar, are of those for whom the sacrifice was offered and to whose benefit it inures.
–Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield
But children got to eat of the OT sacrifices at the altar. See what I wrote here:
Quite right. So where do Presbyterians get off treating their children as unholy?
There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters.
Exactly right. Household membership in the Church.
Hodge writes: “When under the Old Testament, a parent joined the congregation of the Lord, he brought his minor children with him.” Exactly right. Here is proof:
If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it (Exodus 12.48).
How does this circumcised proselyte “keep” the Passover? By sharing it with his family just like Elkanah did.
Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
And also here:
And when they are established in Israel, God makes it clear that children are invited to all the feasts of the LORD. As we read in Deuteronomy 16:
“You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
“You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.
This is the same household principle that goes back to Abraham and circumcision. As we read in Deuteronomy 12,
But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.
And again, Deuteronomy 15:
All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and flock you shall dedicate to the Lord your God. You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. You shall eat it, you and your household, before the LORD your God year by year at the place that the LORD will choose.
Again, Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, establishes that these were sacramental meals that correspond to our own Lord’s Supper:
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?
So this household participation cannot be nullifed when we come to God’s feast.
The truth is Warfield wasn’t stubborn about resisting paedocommunion. He just assumed the anti-paedocommunion position was right. No one gets that excuse anymore.