The Donahue - Carroll Debate
Donahue's Second Affirmative
"The Bible teaches that all Christians should eat the
Lord's Supper every first day of the week."
My first affirmative article gave conclusive evidence that the phrase "break bread" in Acts 20:7 refers to the Lord's supper. My opponent, John Carroll, conceded this point thereby conceding that the disciples ate the Lord's supper on the first day of the week. The only point in contention then is whether or not the disciples ate the Lord's supper "every first day."
Are Examples Themselves Binding?
We agree with John that we should follow the example of Jesus; we just don't agree on when feet should and need to be washed. When it comes to the example of the apostles though, John claims that we only have to follow their example when the same information is also given in a command or statement. Notice his comment on Philippians 4:9: "Not just what you seen, but what you heard. ... The things he wanted them to do was things he taught as well as did. Where did they hear Paul teach every first day of the week?" The consequences of this incorrect interpretation of Philippians 4:9 would be that we only have to obey Paul in what he taught if he also provided an example of such. This would mean we wouldn't have to obey Paul's instructions to the husband in Ephesians 5 (since Paul wasn't married), nor any instructions peculiar to women, since Paul couldn't be an example in that regard either. The correct interpretation of Philippians 4:9 is that we must do what Paul taught by instruction and we must do what Paul taught by example. He only had to teach it one way or the other for it to be right and be binding. The Bible provides authority through command, example, or necessary inference. It only takes one of the three to provide binding instruction, not necessarily all three. Accordingly, John's interpretation completely ignored, and will not fit the other verses I gave to prove that we must follow examples, and that don't also mention about hearing the same thing taught:
I Corinthians 4:16 - Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
Philippians 3:17 - Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
II Thessalonians 3:9 - Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
I Corinthians 11:1 - Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Hebrews 6:12 - That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
I Thessalonians 1:6 - And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord ...
Let the reader note that the above six verses cannot be interpreted the way John did. Philippians 4:9, since they dont mention about hearing what Paul taught, but only about doing what he did. Perhaps that is why John conveniently ignored these verses in his response.
The Lord's Supper Wasn't Instituted On The First Day?
John's next argument is that "the only example we have of Jesus taking the L.S. is on a day other than the first day of the week. That is in the institution." First of all this interpretation would mean that we could eat the Lord's supper on a day other than Sunday. Are the readers willing to accept that conclusion?
It is true that the Lord's supper was not instituted on the first day of the week, but the institution of a religious activity is not always the same as the regular observance of that activity. Consider, for example, the Passover:
Did the Israelites strike the blood "on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses" (Exodus 12:7) every year?
Did God, every year, "smite all the firstborn" of those who did not do this (Exodus 12:12-13)?
These two events happened in conjunction with the institution of the Passover, but they did not occur as part of the regular observance of the Passover.
More importantly, differences also exist between the institution of the Lord's Supper and the regular observance of the Lord's supper. Consider the following list of differences:
Institution of the L.S.
Regular Observance of the L.S.
old covenant still in effect
new covenant in effect
eaten in conjunction with the O.T. Passover - that is why it was done on Thursday night
not eaten in conjunction with the Passover; as a matter of fact, the Passover is not even observed anymore
Jesus not dead yet
must remember the Lord's death till he come I Cor 11:25-26
institution not in the church assembly; as a matter of fact, the church was not even in existence at that time
must be done in the church's assembly - I Cor 11:18, 20, 33
FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
John has to admit that the institution of the Lord's supper does not bind the day for the regular observance of the Lord's Supper, since John himself eats it on the first day. Am I right John? Acts 20:7 therefore is the only passage that tells when the regular observance should take place, and it teaches (by example) that we must do it every first day of the week.
Oneness Pentecostals Learn By Example
John points out that "example is not the only way" he learns about the "baptismal formula," "initial evidence of speaking in tongues," and that baptism is immersion, but admits in the process that example does teach him about these doctrines. Too bad he won't be consistent and admit the same about Acts 20:7 and the first day of the week Lord's supper.
EVERY First Day Of The Week
John says he knows that the Israelites were to keep every Sabbath because Exodus 31:16 says they were to keep it "throughout their generations." But this is a reach. "Throughout their generations" would not give any indication of how often the Israelites were to keep the Sabbath; it just tells how long they were to keep it. For example, suppose that the Israelites had been told to keep the first Wednesday of the month "throughout their generations." Would "throughout their generations" mean they were to keep every Wednesday? No, "throughout their generations" would just tell how long they were to keep it. They would keep it once a month because the first Wednesday of the month would occur once a month. So John's point is invalid. John won't admit it, but the reader knows that Exodus 20:8 teaches the Israelites were supposed to keep the Sabbath once a week, because every week has a Sabbath in it.
In the same way, Acts 20:7 teaches that we are to eat the Lord's supper once a week (on the first day) because every week has a first day in it.
John says (in an adjunct question/answer) the reason the "new moon" was to be celebrated every month, was because the Bible says, "new moons (plural) continually." "Continually," like "throughout their generations" above, would not indicate frequency, but duration. And the plural argument wont work for two reasons. One: just because something is plural doesnt mean that it is done every month; plural only implies two or more. Once a year or at random would satisfy the plural requirement. Two: Sabbath is not plural in Exodus 20:8, yet John understands it to be required every week. Conclusion: the only way we know the "new moon" was to be celebrated once a month is because that's how often a new moon rolls around: (about) once a month. Again, by the same reasoning, Acts 20:7 teaches eating the Lord's supper once a week (every first day), because that's how often a first day of the week rolls around: once a week.
John says that the Israelites knew they were to keep the Passover once a year because the day was part of the institution. But this contradicts his reasoning on the "new moon" (answered in the previous paragraph) since he concluded the "new moon" was to celebrated every month, regardless of its institution. In addition, the reader will note that neither in the institution of the Passover (Exodus 12:14ff) nor in further related instruction (Leviticus 23:5) were the Israelites told to celebrate the Passover every fourteenth day of the month, and "every" is the point at issue between John and me on the Lords supper. John won't admit it, but the reader can see that Leviticus 23:5 teaches the Israelites were supposed to keep the Passover once a year, because every year has a fourteenth day of the first month in it. Likewise, Acts 20:7 teaches we are to eat the Lord's supper once a week (on the first day) because every week has a first day in it.
In each of my above three illustrations (Sabbath, new moon, Passover), John gives different reasons for how he knows their frequency of celebration. Each of his reasons are inconclusive and really give no indication as to frequency. In all three cases, the real way we know the frequency is because of how often the specified time element occurs in the calendar. The Israelites understood that they were to observe the celebration EVERY time the specified time element came up on the calendar, even though not one time did God use the word "every" in his instructions about the observance of the celebration.
Johns brethren need to apply the same reasoning to the issue John and I are discussing. Realizing that approved examples are binding (proven earlier), then Acts 20:7 requires us to eat the Lords supper EVERY first day of the week, since once a week is how often a first day of the week occurs.
--Patrick T. Donahue
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