October 19, 2017

“The Second Serving”

By Al Diestelkamp

It is not my custom to reply to every article with which I disagree, but when an esteemed brother in Christ suggests that I have embraced "false doctrine," I feel compelled to defend my beliefs. For this reason I feel the need to respond to some arguments made by Jimmy Tuten in his series of articles on "Sunday Evening Communion" appearing in Truth Magazine (Vol. XXI, Nos. 5, 6 and 7).

Brother Tuten noted the disquieting effect this issue has had in many congregations, and expressed "deep concern" for the unity of the church. I share his concern for unity and firmly believe that brethren with opposing viewpoints on this subject must determine to maintain unity in spite of their differences. In order to do this we must be willing to study the matter. It will do no good to sweep it under the rug for future generations to deal with. We must exchange ideas openly, always considering the consciences of each other. If brethren who agree with me on this issue insist that other brethren buckle under to their convictions they will be guilty of dividing the Lord's church. On the other hand, if those who share Brother Tuten's convictions insist upon the participation of us who cannot do so in all good conscience, then they will be guilty of causing division.

Brother Tuten has divided the subject into three parts corresponding to three objections given to the Sunday evening observance of the Lord's supper. They are: (1) The Time Argument; (2) The One Assembly Argument; and (3) The Stumbling Block Argument. My response is limited to what he has termed "The One Assembly Argument," although I prefer to refer to it as "The Second Serving" argument. The time that a church chooses to observe the supper, as long as it is on the first day of the week, makes no difference.

I believe our basic difference lies in determination of whether the Lord's supper is properly observed as an individual act of worship, or as a collective act. I believe the logical consequences of Brother Tuten's position will lead one to believe that a congregation could discontinue meeting as one body on the first day of the week, as long as Christians partook of the Lord's supper in their homes or in small groups other than the general assembly of the church.

Brother Tuten has "always felt" that in times of disaster or persecution it was the "privilege of Christians to gather from house to house in small assemblies to engage in divine worship." How he got this "feeling" he did not say. His implication is that if it is permissible in times of disaster, it is permissible anytime. Does he mean that a local congregation, under one eldership, could have several meeting places throughout a community holding worship services simultaneously? This sounds extremely close to the "metropolitan bishop" concept.

Tuten's Solution

Brother Tuten proposed a "solution " to the problem: "form two congregations! Let those who work in the morning form a separate congregation. The regular time for worship for this congregation would be Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. Those who do not work in the morning would be a separate congregation which would observe the communion at 11:00 a.m. These two congregations could use the same building, employ the same preacher, and work together in every way .... We certainly would be justified in establishing a congregation for the convenience of time as to establish one for the convenience of place, as is often the case."

I have some questions about these "two" congregations: (1) Do they have separate elderships? (2) Do they have separate treasuries? If not, you have the classic case of denominational superstructure. If the answer to the questions is "yes" then there is a situation different from what is commonly practiced. Furthermore, I challenge Brother Tuten to show scriptural authority , for esta is ins a con r ation "for the convenience of time." I can find Bible nut ority or congrega ions sing formed on the basis of geographical reasons. Can he back his statement up with scripture? Brother Tuten, you are "certain" about this. Back it up!

Acts 20:7

The inspired writer said the disciples "came together" to break bread. Brother Tuten affirms that the word "together" modifies the verb "came" and answers the question "where?" The very same Greek word which is here translated "came together" is used in Acts 15:6 where the "apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter." Boy, was I mistaken about this verse! I had always pictured the apostles and elders meeting in one place at one time, but now we learn that such is not the case. (No, I do not believe that either.) Brother Tuten, you can not "come together" without being in the same place at the same time.

Brother Tuten noted that he is sometimes asked for a passage which shows that one disciple ate the Lord's supper alone'. Brother Tuten avoided this question by saying, "A disciple never eats alone when he partakes of the communion scripturally, for in eating and drinking he eats and drinks with Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-21)." We know that Christ communes with us in the Lord's supper, but that does not answer our question. Let me ask it so he can not misunderstand: Can you show scriptural authority for one Christian to partake of the Lord's supper at a time and place where other Christians are not partaking with him?1 Corinthians 11

Brother Tuten properly points out that the problem which Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 11 is not the same practice as we are dealing with. However, even Brother Tuten will agree that there is more than one way in which we could possibly misuse the Lord's supper, and that the concepts of 1 Corinthians 11, as well as the specific abuses, must be considered. While rebuking them for their abuses Paul stated some principles which involve proper observance. One can hardly escape the fact that Paul expected them to come together in one place at one time to partake of the Lord's supper.

Finally Brother Tuten attempted to deal with Paul's admonition in verse 33, "tarry ye one for another." He pointed out what he believes to be inconsistencies on the part of those who believe as I do, but he does not tell us what is meant by Paul here. Did Paul waste his ink, or does it have some meaning? I believe Paul stated a principle that is consistent with all other Bible teaching on this subject. I ask, what could possibly have been meant by this statement other than his desire that we eat the Lord's supper "together?"

Conclusion

The very arguments Brother Tuten makes to defend this practice which was established by tradition could be used as well by brethren who want to tote the Lord's supper along with them on fishing trips, or those who similarly "brown-bag" the Lord's supper on their trips to the "Holy Lands." Come to think of it, they do use those arguments.

The second serving of the Lord's supper stands out as the only act of worship in which some cannot possibly participate. Our worship ought to be of such a nature that we can fully participate, but when some are partaking of the supper in the evening after most have already done so, it becomes an awkward situation, not knowing what to do but be spectators. It seems it would be more consistent with the atmosphere of worship for those who had already partook, to do so again. And, quite honestly, I find just as much authority for one person partaking of the supper twice as for a congregation to serve it twice.

Truth Magazine XXI: 20, pp. 312-313
May 19, 1977

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