Friday, December 26, 2008

Bad Exegesis Illustrated

I stumbled across an example of truly terrible exegesis today (link). It's not exegesis of Scripture, but exegesis of another written document, the PCA's Book of Church Order. The author of the post argues that this restriction, "58-2. The ignorant and scandalous are not to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper," should bar all from the Lord's table, because all men are ignorant or scandalous on some level. This is a bizarre reading of the text.

What the PCA BCO is saying is that those unable to "discern the Lord's body" (1 Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.) and those who are living in open, unrepentant sin (Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.) should not be admitted to the Lord's table.

Now, this bad exegesis is not because the author cannot read, but because he disagrees with what is written. He generally understands that these two restrictions are meant and not that "Nobody's Welcome" as he proclaims.

I am guessing that the author is not opposed to the latter restriction, but only to the former. In fact, I don't have to guess, his railing continues:
Realistically, this is simply meant to ban two groups of people that Jesus hates from the Table: retarded people and babies. Yeah, those [expletive omitted] babies and retarded people! God surely doesn’t care about them, right? Right.

The author's objection is misplaced. 1 Corinthians 11:29 doesn't teach that Jesus hates children and the simple-minded, but rather that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a serious matter, not to be undertaken without proper self-examination. Barring children and the simple-minded from the communion table is not out of hatred for them, but love for them - and concern that they do not eat unworthily.



Paul Manata said...

In the OT God barred menstrating women and those who touched dead flesh from partaking of the passover (I actualy think only males over 12 partook, but that's beyond the purpose of this comment).

Therefore, given Martini's logic (which I see hasn't improved since his days on the Puritan Board), God must have hated menstrating women and Jews that touched dead people!

orthodox said...

What is not discerning the Lord's body in your world? How would one be guilty of that?

Turretinfan said...


John Gill provided a good explanation, and so I'll quote him:

not discerning the Lord's body. This is an instance of their eating and drinking unworthily, and a reason why they eat and drink condemnation to themselves, or contract guilt, or expose themselves either to chastisement or punishment; because they distinguish not the Lord's supper from an ordinary and common meal, but confound them together, as did many of the Corinthians, who also did not distinguish the body of Christ in it from the body of the paschal lamb; or discern not the body of Christ, and distinguish it from the bread, the sign or symbol of it; or discern not the dignity, excellency, and usefulness of Christ's body, as broken and offered for us, in which he bore our sins on the tree, and made satisfaction for them; a commemoration of which is made in this ordinance.