The Ward - Brooks Debate
Brooks' Third Affirmative
"The Scriptures teach that the Lord's Supper may be observed by some members of a local church in one assembly and others in a later assembly (or assemblies) of that same congregation on the same first day of the week.."
Brooks' Third Affirmative
To Mark Ward and the Religious Debates Community:
The proposition: "The Scriptures teach that the Lord's Supper may be observed by some members of a local church in one assembly and others in a later assembly (or assemblies) of that same congregation on the same first day of the week.."
This has been good, and Mark's attitude and character have made this discussion enjoyable. We stand in disagreement, and I believe that as brothers in Christ, the two of us can enjoy good fellowship and share in the living water His Spirit gives us to drink without building walls over this issue. Thank you, Mark, for a peaceful and thought-provoking discussion.
As we draw near the end of this debate and I give my final affirmative, I wanted to provide a recap of this half of the debate. These paragraphs will show where I believe the debate now stands, and I hope the readers and Mark will benefit from this summary of thoughts.
My point in this affirmative showed that Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into a commemoration of His own sacrifice. In doing so, He never mentioned the frequency. It is my contention that in the midst of the details of the meaning and purpose of communion that such a frequency would have been mentioned. Mark's argument says that Jesus did not teach everything we needed to know. He believes more truth is revealed after the gospels on this subject. He believes that based on two passages of scripture alone, the frequency is established and the restriction on how many assemblies may observe it in one day is determined.
There is still a difference of hermeneutics, and at this point in the debate I am not going to shift directions, but I will honestly admit there is one error I need to own up to. My defense of my "hermeneutic" in this half of the debate has not really been a hermeneutic defense. It's been a defense of my systematic theology. I won't bog the reader down with details. It's enough to say that my hermeneutic is primarily inductive reasoning, and that I have provided my systematic theology in this debate, not my hermeneutic as such.
My systematic theology is based on inductive reasoning, so my points still apply to the debate. But the reader and Mark may make a note of the fact that I went a step further than the actual hermeneutic in presenting my case. I think it still made an interesting debate.
Mark's continual obsession with two passages of scripture has prevented any serious advances in this debate, but it has been friendly and we have covered much territory. He still believes that his trump cards of Acts 20 and I Corinthians 11 must be answered no matter what, and in this half of the debate he is wrong on that point. He still does not understand that my theology must be met and satisfied on its own terms. Based on that, I have essentially won the debate. My perspective has still not been adequately answered. Although Mark does make an attempt in his second negative to address my hermeneutic, he fails for the following reasons.
I asked Mark to deal with my methods of interpreting scripture, but in fact he mentions very few. He does spend considerable time talking about my methods, but rather than addressing the details, he simply points out (from his perspective) that my methods are in error because they LEAVE OUT his own methods. Sorry, Mark, but that is not an evaluation of my methods. You are not addressing the real issue. Your point in your second negative is that I fall short because I don't include your own methods. If you dealt with the real issue, you would understand that your methods of interpretation are not merely left out. Your methods make no sense, have no authority and accomplish nothing for the student of scripture in light of my own methods. Simply adding your methods to mine would not work at all. They are contrary to my methods. In addition, you still have not adequately examined where I come from. I believe this debate would have been much more productive if you had given time to understanding your opponent from HIS OWN point of view. Instead, you chose to examine my position from YOUR point of view. That's your privilege, but I believe as a result that your rebuttal has failed to address necessary and relevant comments.
The conclusion of the matter is that my point stands confirmed and the reader may take complete confidence in taking communion at any frequency. The reader who misses a meeting designed for taking communion may take it in a separate service on the same day without guilt or fear. I have proven my point in the first two affirmatives, and I stand free of Mark's rebuttal.
For the remainder of this affirmative, I will respond to various comments that Mark made. I consider the debate to be over, in the sense that there is no further dialogue, and that I have not been adequately addressed. Nevertheless, Mark makes several comments that I want to answer. Let the reader and Mark be blessed in examining my last affirmative.
It should be evident from his [Ray's] answers, however, comparing them to my answers and the scriptures I have put forth, that Ray lacks scripture that upholds his position.
I get this comment a lot in these debates. It still amazes me with all the scripture that I pour into these discussions that I get this. I guess what Mark really means is that the scripture I use doesn't make a sufficient argument. I suppose from Mark's point of view, if the scriptures used don't make an effective argument, then he feels justified in claiming scripture wasn't used. That's fine. I'll do what I need to do. Mark's negatives are his responsibility.
RAY's SECOND AFFIRMATIVE POINTS REFUTED
Ray advanced the following in his second affirmative, which we will take up at this time:
1. Ray urges me to not bring up Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 11 anymore
2. Ray answered my questions 16-20 (which we will show wherein he errs)
3. Ray pleads with me to show wherein his hermeneutic is wrong
4. Ray asserts that being under the new covenant, we are not regulated regarding worship activities, especially concerning eating the Lord's Supper together.
and Mark's responses:
1. ACTS 20:7 & I CORINTHIANS 11
Ray's position is erroneous, much due to God's teaching in Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 11. If I were Ray, I would be bothered by my bringing those passages up, as well! God teaches that separate, fragmented observances of the Supper are wrong; Ray continues to support that practice. Ray notwithstanding, I WILL CONTINUE TO BRING UP THESE PASSAGES THAT GOD INTENDED FOR US TO DEAL WITH ON THIS GOOD BIBLE TOPIC. TO LEAVE THEM OFF, WOULD BE TO OVERLOOK APPLICABLE, BIBLICAL INSTRUCTION FROM GOD TO MAN AS TO HOW WE ARE TO PROPERLY OBSERVE THE LORD'S SUPPER! Ray leaves them off and supports a practice that God's Word does not uphold.
- The approved example in Acts 20:7 in which the scriptural eating was together in the same, single assembly (not fragmented)
- The disapproved example in I Corinthians 11:17-34 complete with remedies and instruction for scriptural observance (the Corinthians were not eating together and were taught to do so)
- Every time disciples ate separately in the New Testament they were wrong; scriptural observances were together (same, single assembly).
I, to make the following point, emphasized the capitalized portion. Mark's job in this rebuttal is to refute my position, not to reassert his own. To leave these verses off would be to get away from his position and actually deal with mine as I present it. Hopefully he will bear this in mind in future debates with others.
MY RESPONSES TO SECTION 2, DEALING WITH MARK'S QUESTIONS, ARE SELECTIVE BASED ON POINTS I WANT TO ADDRESS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO THE PROPOSITION.
2. Ray's Answers to My Questions 16-20
My Question #16. Do you agree that IF God specified a frequency for the Lord's Supper (whether once weekly, once a month, once quarterly, or once a year) that REGARDLESS of the frequency specified man could honor Christ and show the Lord's death til He come by observing the Supper in harmony with THAT PARTICULAR frequency?
Ray's response: Yes.
Mark, in part, says:
Ray's answer is correct and such a FACT proves that purpose is NOT directly tied to frequency in the sense that Ray has contended earlier.
Mark does a remarkable job in this section. He proves that his own position has inherent self-contradictions. He fails to see his own presumptions about purpose. Finally, he has made, here, a point devastating to his own position. I will now show that Mark has lost the debate.
The subject of our debate is the frequency God authorizes for communion and the place of separate communion services in that frequency. Mark says that my "yes" response to the question proves that purpose is not directly tied to frequency. What he fails to deal with is the fact IF God specified a frequency, then the frequency would become part of the purpose on the grounds that God specified it. Mark has made much of EVERY WORD in scripture being for our benefit. Here, he claims that God has specified a frequency with no relationship to purpose. If EVERY WORD in scripture has a benefit, then logically every word does have a purpose that God Himself set forth. Mark is arguing that God has no purpose in the frequency! Mark, that essentially makes you a Deist on this point. You believe God has commanded something with no purpose to it. That God Himself is uninvolved with man and has simply made a meaningless command. This directly contradicts your position that every word in scripture is beneficial. So, we have a self-contradiction between your stated beliefs and your application. We also have your presumption that purpose and frequency are unrelated. Finally, we have your point, that frequency does not have to be understood in order for intent to be right. That statement officially makes your position irrelevant to the Christian life by your own standards of the value and benefit of the Word of God. Thank you. You've done more damage to your position than I ever could have done.
My Question #17. Do you really contend that we are NOT ABLE to follow the approved, applicable WRITTEN examples in the New Testament (Since you "argue" you are to only follow the ones you see, while alive today, in the lives of your fellow brethren)?
Ray answered: Yes.
I must be faithful to my proposition. My job is to affirm my own position. Written examples play no part in my hermeneutic. Nor is Mark's defending them a rebuttal to my viewpoint.
My Question #18. Do you agree that the Bible teaches that part of the problem at Corinth was that the church was not eating together, but was eating in a fragmented, divided fashion?
Ray answered: No.
They were having a drunken feast, not communion. Paul rebukes the drunken feast. Communion frequency is the topic of the debate. Case closed on this point.
My Question #19. Would you agree that the term "communion" means joint participation, fellowship, a sharing together in some activity?
Ray answered: Yes.
Mark replies: But Ray's proposition is that "the Scriptures teach" that saints can eat separately: not together, not in joint participation, not having communion, not sharing in the activity. God wants it together; Ray says separately is ok and has no scripture to support his incorrect view and proposition.
Mark, did it ever occur to you in all your years as a Christian that communion can also be man with God? One on one communion with your Father? What a revolutionary idea! After reading the details of the New Testament provisions very carefully, I came to understand that this kind of fellowship was the whole point of salvation. I think Mark misses that, and misses it so badly that he has developed a position on communion that makes much of methods but ignores what "communion" is actually about. Yep, I sure do believe that a single saint can commune without ANYONE else. The believer and God is sufficient. Got a problem with that? Take it up with God. I'm not a Deist.
Mark addresses his final question:
My Question #20. In Numbers 9, God gave instruction for those who missed the first opportunity to observe the Passover. Some could take and some could not, given God's instruction on the matter. Please compare this to your view of those who miss the Lord's Supper on a Sunday and want to partake at a later service. What "scripture(s)" do you refer to as to who is allowed to partake and who should not?
Ray's response was lengthy and we encourage the reader to refer back to his second affirmative and re-read his reply. Ray basically states that God told them the rules for the Passover and they had to follow it for such was "training" and involved a "process". Ray asserts, without proof, that since we are now under the new law, that we are not regulated in worship, but are to simply praise God for the work of the Messiah!
The truth of the matter is that the new testament contains rules and they are to be followed today! Worship is not without regulatory guidance/instruction from God in the new testament (John 4:24; Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-34; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16,17; I Cor. 16:1,2; 2 Cor. 9:7; I Tim. 3:15; I Cor. 14)!
Numbers 9 is a great passage to study on this issue. Notice that without revelation from God they could not act. In the new testament, we only find authority to eat together and separate eating is rebuked! That should teach us all that God wants saints to eat together in the same assembly (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:33). Its just not that hard to understand.
First, Mark, as for your comment "Its just not that hard to understand", I find it interesting that you, who make much of the TOTALITY of God's revelation, build your ENTIRE CASE on two scriptures. So much for totality. You consistently fail your own tests for proper interpretation. Also, since I consider this to be the most relevant issue to our discussion in all of your efforts, I will again spend some quality time on it.
Here I will address each verse to which Mark refers (he believes these verses regulate worship), and follow it with a short comment:
John 4:24 Addresses the nature of worship, not methods. Acts 2:42 These are elements, not methods. Acts 20:7 Historical description, not a method teaching. I Cor 11:17 34 Reminder of Jesus own words as to purpose of communion. Eph 5:19 Provides elements, not methods. Col 3:16,17 Provides elements, not methods. I Cor 16: 1,2 Provides a method, but the method is not limiting. 2 Cor 9:7 Explicitly addresses motive and purpose, not method.
I Tim 3:15 In context, this has to do with relationships and living examples among the members of a local congregation. Methods of worship are not addressed. The context here has NOTHING TO DO with the assembly, either. I Cor 14 This verse applies to order, not methods, and is worthless unless spiritual gifts are practiced in the church.
MARKS REBUTTAL CONTINUES WITH MY HERMENEUTIC:
3. Ray's "hermeneutic"
Mark has A LOT to say to this point, and I am deeply grateful for his responses. I will spend the remainer of my final affirmative addressing his points here. For the record, Mark, you made some really good points here. Unfortunately, the debate is almost over and there is simply no time to address in detailed dialogue a lot of what you said here, though I'd love to. I will have to speak directly to issues and leave much open-ended due to the close of the debate with your final negative coming up. Nevertheless, here is my shot. Thank you, again, so much for these comments. We made some serious progress here.
I will quote comments by Mark, followed by my answers to him:
Generally speaking, Ray's hermeneutic is wrong because it does not properly consider all the ways in which authority can be transmitted or received.
I use an inductive approach. In inductive study, one does not consider all the ways a thing may be done. One examines the text to see how it actually happens in the text. Considering all the possibilities is the job of philosophers. Letting authority emerge naturally (or supernaturally by the Spirit) as we study the text is the appropriate method for scripture study.
The proper hermeneutic takes the TOTALITY of God's instruction on a topic, harmonizes it, and then proceeds to make proper application.
I agree with this statement. Our point of disagreement is, as you said, that I do not agree with you on a few points concerning the nature of biblical authority.
Ray's hermeneutic is an "explicit only" approach and we showed that wrong in the third affirmative (See Ward's Third Affirmative - subheading: "The Error of an 'Explicit Only' Hermenutic" [sic - mjw])
Mark's rebuttal to "explicit only", which I read again, is a legalistic view of this term. To him "explicit only" means the letter of the law. I use a relationship approach. Explicit only means in the context of the purpose as well as the letter of the law. Taking scriptures in both ways refutes Mark's objection. Adding to the elements violates the spirit, or purpose, of communion. The purpose is included in the explicit teaching on communion. He did not show I was in error on explicit only, he simply fails to understand it correctly. He refuted a strawman. My explicit approach stands.
Mark says: Ray's hermeneutic says we CANNOT (i.e. are not ABLE) to follow written approved examples today; like the first day of the week Acts 20:7 observance (See his answer to my question 17). But we CAN and MUST follow these examples when they are applicable approved examples of specific authority in matters we are to engage in today (like the Lord's Supper).
This is not a rebuttal, it is simply a denial of my position. My point stands.
Ray's hermeneutic does NOT recognize plain Bible teaching that let's us know that one of the problems at Corinth was that they were not eating "together", but were fragmented (See his answer to my question 18).
This addresses my doctrine, not my hermeneutic. Clever plan, Mark. Sneak your affirmative in under the pretense of addressing my hermeneutic. I'm not biting.
Ray's hermeneutic does NOT recognize the limiting nature of specific authority (See all his articles from his first negative on in this good discussion).
No, I don't. Where is your rebuttal to this point?
Ray's hermeneutic teaches, "Faith by itself DOES please God, and often results in God doing things in our lives that our mere personal obedience would actually prevent Him from doing." Whereas, GOD teaches that "...faith without works is DEAD also" (James 2:24,26)! Ray is just wrong about the matter. God desires an obedient faith; Ray contends for "faith by itself".
James addresses a different aspect of Faith than Paul does. No time or point in a lengthy discussion on this. Suffice it to say, God does desire an obedient faith, but the faith itself still gets the credit before it is applied to the life.
Ray's hermeneutic teaches, "Jesus never mentioned the frequency. If it was important, He would have said something." This is yet another example of Ray's hermeneutic not taking the TOTALITY of Bible info on a subject before coming to a conviction or conclusion. Our Lord said Himself that He had "many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into ALL truth:" (John 16:12,13). Jesus explicitly tells His apostles that He DID NOT give them ALL the instruction they needed, but it would come! Ray states that if Jesus didn't mention something, it was not important. See the error here?
This is a classic example of faulty generalization on Mark's part, and Mark himself quotes me, thus refuting his own argument. Read the following two sentences:
"Jesus never mentioned the frequency. If it was important, He would have said something."
Now read Mark's comment:
"Ray states that if Jesus didn't mention something, it was not important. See the error here?"
Yes, I do see the error here. You generalized my comment. My statement had a context. Jesus elaborates and explains in great detail what communion is for when we take it. Had frequency been part of its purpose, Jesus would have said something. They took communion from Pentecost forward. Had it been essential for the church to observe such a frequency, we would have been told before Jesus ascended. We were not told, and He never meant it to be an issue. Keep my statements in their context, please.
Ray's hermeneutic contends that we are under grace and such excludes obeying God's laws in the new testament. But, once again, GOD'S WORD teaches us that Christ is the author of salvation unto all them that OBEY HIM (Heb. 5:9) and we WILL be judged by the "perfect law of liberty" (See James 1:25; 2:12).
Another case of context problems. Salvation has three uses in the New Testament. The Hebrews 5 use does not apply to justification but to sanctification. Also, I never said, and I never teach, that being under grace excludes obeying God's laws. Mark misquotes me. My claim is that being under grace means salvation (justification) includes no obedience. We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Please quote me correctly, Mark. It will save you from creating strawmen and other irrelevant arguments.
Ray's hermeneutic (not Ray's belief, mind you) is that we have no rules in worship, but God regulates worship activities (See I Corinthians 14, for example)! What about those rules, Ray?
An excellent point, here. Something we can work with for now. First, Mark, the rules in I Corinthians 14 deal with order, not method. These are instructions for the proper use of spiritual gifts in the context of the worship assembly. Paul instructs them on who is to speak, what is to be done with the revelation given, and the number of people to be involved in that ministry. There is nothing here about prescribed methods. There is nothing here condemning to hell those who are out of order. There is nothing here denouncing the gifts. It is simply providing for order in the assembly while spiritual revelation is given.
I don't know Mark's position on spiritual gifts, but I suspect he is a Cessationist (one who believes that the gifts have ended). If such is the case, then I Corinthians 14 can be torn out of his bible. They have NO APPLICATION today. The order described is ONLY for spiritual gifts, which Mark may not believe are available. I won't run down the bunny trail, but it is worth noting that Mark has actually quoted a passage which he personally may not be able to use at all.
Mark ends his hermeneutic response by addressing John 4, and makes the following comments that I want to address:
In reality, Jesus went on to talk about worship in spirit and in truth (in both verses 23,24) which IS regulated worship!
That's your opinion. As I stated before, defining "truth" is conjecture on both our parts in this verse. You did not prove that "truth" means regulated worship.
Will worship (doing it man's way) is wrong; worshipping as God has authorized or prescribed (in truth, as well as in spirit) is demanded in these verses!
This is both presumptuous and introduces a new concept which we have no time to explore. All I can really say to this is that you make two assertions, Mark, which you make no attempt to prove. Ok, you believe that "WILL WORSHIP" is wrong, and that truth means following authorized methods. I understand. There is no rebuttal here, but thanks for the comments.
How are we to know what God wants without reading His Will in His Word?
Mark's comment refers to knowing what God wants in worship. Well, Mark, we read God's Word to find out what elements may be used in worship, taking both Old and New Testaments into account. Then, to learn how we are to apply those elements and what methods to use, could we do the following .?
Ask God to reveal by His Spirit, supernaturally, to you, how we wants you to do it. What???? Have a dialogue with God? What a revolutionary concept! Try it Mark, He might surprise you. He enjoys making Himself real to people. He could show you how He wants you to worship.
Mark's final recap:
4. IS WORSHIP "BY FAITH" REGULATED OR NOT REGULATED ACTIVITY?
Ray's view on John 4:24 is wrong.
Ray responds: Nice assertion, what is your evidence?
Worship is to be "in spirit" (from the heart) and "in truth" (according to God's direction).
We disagree on the meaning of "in truth". Mark says it refers to God's directions for worship. I say it refers to the truth of God's character and nature, and has nothing to do with "instructions for worship". Actually, Mark, in fairness to both of us, the passage does not define either term. Both of our positions are conjecture. However, I believe mine is more in line with the gospel than yours. And I think you make a good case for your position. I just don't believe your position harmonizes with the nature of New Testament worship or the nature of New Testament Covenantal relationship.
John 17:17 and John 8:32 speak of the truth of God's Word. Jesus said, "IF ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). Isn't our "worship involving the Lord's Supper" then, to be according to the "word" (i.e. the truth) as Jesus said?
This question is conjecture. Mark, you are going outside of John 4 to define the meaning of the terms and interpret the passage. Yes, we use scripture to interpret scripture. But what you are doing is prooftexting, not exegesis. You are using other scriptures to defend a point you have made up out of thin air. Your position is not faithful to textual integrity and proper exegesis. Your point is speculation at best.
Certainly it is. Go back and see Ray's attempt to interpret John 4:24 "in spirit" and "in truth" in his second affirmative!
Your conclusion is based on speculation. Yes, reader, go back and see my attempt to interpret John 4. I hope my argument was sufficient to show you the difference between how Mark and I handle this scripture. Whoever is right, may the reader be enlightened by the Holy Spirit in reviewing this matter in the Word.
Mark finishes up:
In this discussion so far, the best Ray has been able to do is assert two things without proof:
(1) that "as often as" means we can eat the Lord's Supper any day of the week we choose and yearly, quarterly, monthly, or any frequency man would choose is ok (which doesn't even address separate eating vs. eating together in the sense that even if frequency were open to any day of the week and any number of times in a day, God still requires saints of a church to come together to eat, tarry one for another and eat together) and,
Ray here: Mark again forgets that this is my affirmative. I gave my evidence for my position. He is not satisfied because he thinks I owe his position an answer still. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
(2) that new testament worship is unregulated (albeit Ray has ~some~ regulations like "intent/purpose/sincerity" as being a requirement).
Yes, Mark, intent/purpose/sincerity are all addressed by regulations in scripture. These things are motivations, not methods of worship.
The burden of proof in this proposition is on Ray.
Mark, of course the burden of proof is on me, but my burden is to prove my position, not continually refute yours. You don't deal well with that point.
I have countered his assertions in both the first and second negatives.
Mark, I disagree. You countered almost NOTHING in your first negative. Your second negative was a drastic improvement, and I thank you for your efforts to address my position this time. May that happen in your third rebuttal as well.
Ray chose not to deal with my rebuttal material.
Mark, you did not give me a rebuttal, you tried to reaffirm your own position.
Ray may or may not address my counter remarks in this speech.
I have addressed all counter remarks that I considered relevant to the debate topic, and that were counter to MY POSITION.
That's his choice.
Yes, just as rehashing irrelevant scriptures is your choice.
The affirmative speaker should prove his proposition and then show why the counter rebuttals are incorrect.
Ray reminds: The affirmative speaker should respond to rebuttals that address the actual facts in the affirming proposition.
Mark concludes: This Ray has not done.
I have done it continually where I was actually rebutted.
Mark sums up:
The negative can show wherein the affirmative fails and then put forth counter material to show the error of the proposition being discussed. This I have done.
Yes, Mark, you did in this second rebuttal. Thank you for the lengthy response to my hermeneutic. I appreciate it. Some real progress was made this time.
I await Mark's final negative and the conclusion of this debate on communion frequency.
- Ray Brooks
[-end of third affirmative by Brooks]
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