Children and Communion

Question from a Site Viewer
Thank you so much for your article on whether or not children and communion should mix. I found it most helpful and must say I agree with your position. Do you know of any commentaries or denominations that may hold similar positions?

That would be most helpful to my discussions at church. Most people seem to think I am the only believer in history to hold such a view and therefore I must be bordering on being dodgy . . .

Tim’s Answer
The practice of the early church was to include children in the communion service. (I know that some will argue that the church in the first two centuries did not include children, but they argue from silence, not from actual evidence for their position. The far more compelling argument for me is the direct words of the early church fathers.) Cyprian, in the mid-third century, writes about children receiving communion as if it was the accepted practice of the church (On the Lapsed, Treatise 3, para. 25). This common practice in the church continues to be the common practice in Orthodox Churches today. The Roman Catholic Church, however, changed over time and by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 A.D., adopted the position that children should not take part in communion. This position has generally influenced many Protestant denominations as well. There is a good article on this subject at the website for Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics, if you want to read more about the practice in the ancient church. The article also includes information on the Hussites in the fifteenth century who sought to restore the practice of including children in communion in the Western church.

Some of the mainline denominations have moved to allow children to partake of communion, but most conservative groups remain opposed to the practice. Generally, reformed groups remain strongly apposed to the practice.

I would exercise charity towards those who believe that children should not be permitted to take communion until they can understand the seriousness of the matter. Nevertheless, I note, as I stated in the article, that such exclusion does not, in my view, accord best with the Biblical data on communion.

May the Lord Jesus and His Spirit guide you.


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