David Rogers at “Love Each Stone” has written a thought-provoking post called “The Illustration of the Hypothetical ‘Common Loaf Denomination’“. David briefly explains the standard baptistic understanding of baptism. Baptists, as one example, often separate from other believers who understand baptism differntly. David then explains that someone could use the same reason and logic to come to a conclusion that using one loaf of bread is the only proper method of partaking of the Lord’s Supper. He then asks (hypothetically) if we should form a separate denomination for those who choose to be biblical and use one loaf. This leads to his powerful conclusion:
What is the solution to this dilemma? Should those of us who are convinced of the biblical truth concerning “common loaf” celebration of the Lordâ€™s Supper separate from those who still insist on celebrating the Lordâ€™s Supper with individual wafers or their equivalent? Should we form our own denomination that ensures that the missionaries we send out will only teach the churches they plant to practice “common loaf” communion? Or, should we take it to the extreme of refusing to even cooperate on the mission field with those in other groups who are mistaken in their interpretation of this “clear biblical truth”?
I hope, by now, the absurdity of what I am suggesting is obvious. Even though I am totally convinced of the accuracy of my biblical interpretation regarding “common loaf communion,” it would be “nit-picking” for me to separate with other authentic disciples of the Lord Jesus, who are sincerely doing their best to submit to his commands in their own life, over something as secondary as this. Much more important than our differences on this point is our essential unity as joint members of the Body of Christ, who have been given a joint task to fulfill, and should work hand in hand, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to obey together the commands of Christ, to the degree each one of us is able to understand them.
For the most part, we pick and choose which “doctrines” to use as litmus tests in order to fellowship with or separate from other believers. But, do we get this idea from Scripture? Does Scripture tell us to separate from other brothers and sisters who do not practice baptism the same way we do? Does Scripture tell us to separate from other brother and sisters who understand gifts of the Spirit differently than we do?
So, according to Scripture, when are we allowed to separate from other brothers and sisters? Does it bother you that Scripture speaks negatively about division?
(By the way, it looks like Ben Witherington has published (is publishing?) a little book about the Lord’s Supper that may be interesting.)