The Ward - Brooks Debate
Ward's Third Negative
"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.."
Ward's Third Negative
Greetings to Ray Brooks and the readers of this good Bible study!
I would like to thank the moderators of the www.religiousdebates.com site for the opportunity to engage in this Bible discussion and to Ray Brooks for his willingness to put forth what he believes to be the truth in this debate. Also, I would like to thank all the readers of this discussion. I pray that only good will come from these studies. Truth has nothing to fear from open investigation in honorable debate.
The reader will note that Ray has yet to prove "the Scriptures teach" his proposition! He has had 3 affirmatives and we are STILL waiting for Ray to prove "the Scriptures teach" that fragmented, separate eatings are authorized! Note the lack of Scripture in his last speech. There were a few references to scriptures I had used and a passing comment on John 4 (refer back to his earlier comment) and Hebrews 5, but no attempt to put forth a sound, scriptural argument that the Lord's Supper may be taken in a fragmented, multiple assembly arrangement in a local church on the same day!
I have chased Ray's assertions all over the proverbial countryside.
1. First he asserted, without proof and in spite of my rebuttal, that "as often as" means "as oft as ye like".
2. This did Ray no good and then he changed to asserting that John 4:24's "in truth" does NOT mean according to the will of God prescribed in His Word, even tho' I showed that John 8:31,32 and John 17:17 teach us that God's Word IS truth and that we must adhere to it as taught in these passages, including our worship unto God Almighty!
3. Ray also pleaded with me to leave Acts 20:7 and I Corinthians 11 out of the second half of this discussion, even tho' we learn God's Will for us concerning the Lord's Supper and find remedies to unscriptural practices in the passages! These passages prove that eating together is required and separated, fragmented eatings are wrong!
4. Then, Ray asked me to show wherein his hermeneutical approach was wrong, and when I did, he tried to "shift" and state that he really didn't mean his "hermeneutic", but rather his "systematic theology"! Well, since hermeneutics is the science of interpretation and it is "Ray's hermeneutic" that leads to "his systematic theology": when I show his hermeneutic faulty, I also prove his systematic theology wrong!
5. Finally, Ray concludes that I should ask God to supernaturally teach me what He wants regarding proper worship via the Holy Spirit (as tho' I can't find such in the written Word of God)! Ray signed a proposition that says the written Word teaches it and now Ray says I should get the info elsewhere! Can you believe it?
With that, I have adequately:
(A) shown that Ray did not prove "the Scriptures teach" his proposition and,
(B) shown from scriptures that separate eatings of the "Supper" in the same church on the same day are wrong (whether in the same or in multiple assemblies of that church). This effectively negates his proposition as being false.
Let us look at a few of Ray's contentions about my second negative and close this discussion for the benefit of all.
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.
I PROVED from John 16:12,13 that our Lord Jesus SAID that more truth was coming to the apostles after His death! Will Ray deny what Jesus plainly said about this? We had all better believe that such truth was "after the gospels"! If Acts 20:7 and I Corinthians 11:17-34 are not God's further instruction and information on the subject of the Lord's Supper, I don't know what would be. I NEVER based my belief on this topic on the 2 passages cited ALONE! I have always contended for taking the TOTALITY of God's Word on all subjects, including this one. Ray errs greatly in this false representation of how I came to my conclusion. A fair reading of my articles will bear this out.
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.
Ray believes because I do not ADOPT his hermeneutic and debate the second half of the discussion using his systematic theology to prove him wrong I lose the debate! IF I took his hemeneutical approach, he and I would agree! The point is that I have already shown numerous errors in his hermeneutic, including Ray's desire to keep the Acts 20:7 and I Corinthians 11 teachings OUT of his conclusion! Ray says they are not relevant because Jesus didn't say them!
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.
Whenever we read in "the Scriptures" that folks ate separately they were WRONG, yet Ray wants to assure the reader that its ok to eat separately! No scripture is given, we are just to believe Ray! Yet he signed a proposition that said he was going to prove "the Scriptures teach". This he did not do.
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.
I already put forth that "purpose" is essential in the proper observance of the Lord's Supper (See Ward's First Negative under the subtitle "PURPOSE & THE LORD'S SUPPER"). Ray acts as tho' I don't believe "purpose" is tied to proper observance. That is a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation (not necessarily intentional, mind you) on the part of Ray. Dear Reader (and Ray), don't think for a moment that I don't believe that purpose is not important. But, God didn't reveal "His purpose" in choosing the frequency that He did. That doesn't make it unimportant, just that knowing such is non-essential to proper observances. That is a point Ray misses. We are not told God's "purpose" in why He chose many things as He did (i.e. immersion in water, giving as we have been prospered versus a certain percentage, etc etc) but it does not follow (logically) that just because I don't "know" His purpose, that such is unimportant. On the contrary. I can do things "by faith" because God said so, not even knowing all the reasons behind His instruction for something. See the point?
Ray previously asserted that we must understand "frequency" by FIRST understanding the purpose of the Lord's Supper (i.e. to show forth and honor the Lord's death). In showing how Ray errs on this, I asked the question believing that Ray would answer as he did: that IF God were to have chosen a LIMITED frequency (from a choice of several available) that the "purpose" (i.e. showing forth the death of Christ til He come again) would not be changed. Ray then "shifts" to a DIFFERENT PURPOSE with regards to the Supper (i.e. why God chose the frequency He did) and asserts that I don't believe that God's purpose in that regard is important! Ray mixes up his "purposes" in this regard.
Thus, Ray errs when he alleges that when I refute his position that you MUST understand the frequency in light of the purpose in the sense THAT RAY USED "purpose" (NOT what I stated in my First Negative) that I somehow take away from God's purpose behind the frequency He chose. Not for a minute!
I had written:
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 (in his second affirmative): Yes.
Ray then wrote (in his third affirmative):
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.
And such is a MAJOR ERROR in Ray's position! I proved we CAN follow applicable, approved apostolic examples today (like 1st day of the week observance of the Lord's Supper) and Ray (consistent to his error) says we CANNOT (not that we merely ARE NOT TO) but that we CANNOT do so! Such is part of his incorrect view on this important Bible subject. No wonder we are not in agreement in faith and practice on this. If we won't adhere to God's Word on a topic, there will NOT be agreement, unity, consistency in practice.
Even more important, God has commanded that we follow applicable, approved examples from Scripture! I cited many verses to uphold this point and Ray thought these taught we were to obey "seen in person examples ONLY", but he never proved we could not and are not to follow the written examples in God's word that apply to us! Another major problem in Ray's "hermeneutic/systematic theology"!
I had asked:
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 (in his second affirmative): No.
Ray elaborates (in his third affirmative):
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.
The BIBLE does not allow Ray's "case closed on this point" to be true! I quoted from the passage that plainly stated they were taking before other (at different times) the Supper and it was NOT the "Lord's Supper" due, in part, to this error. Ray blindly wants to stay on the part about ~some were hungry and others were drunken~ (which WAS part of the problem) and ignores the fragmentation in the church, the division, the lack of communion in observance in that local church! Dear reader, do not be blind to that being part of the unscriptural observance. The remedies (plural, indicative of multiple things being wrong in their observance which Ray ignores) were: to come together to eat, tarry one for another, and eat the Supper of the Lord together (in verse 33, which is the remedy for eating separately) AND to eat at home to satisfy hunger (I Cor. 11:17-34). God's Word determines if a case is closed on a point and not Ray or myself!
My Question #19. Would you agree that the term "communion" means joint participation, fellowship, a sharing together in some activity?
Ray answered (in his second affirmative): Yes.
Mark replies (in his second negative): 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.
Ray suggests (in his third affirmative):
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.
There is to be scriptural "horizontal fellowship" (Acts, 2:42) among brethren and "vertical fellowship" (I John 1:5,6) between man and God. Ray runs from agreeing that communion means joint participation, fellowship, sharing in the same act between brethren when I press him on his advocacy of fragamented, mass-like observances of the Supper and wants to talk about fellowship between an individual and God! You tried to change the "issue" Ray, without dealing with showing wherein God desires/upholds NON joint participation, NON sharing, in separate eatings.
I have never doubted that when a person is "walking in the light" (I John 1:6-9) and adhering to God's prescribed courses of action in faith and practice (including worship activities, by the way <G>) that such a person is having communion or fellowship with God! No problem there. But guess what God said through Paul's inspired pen about the folks who ate separately concerning their spiritual condition before God? I Corinthians 11: 30 says, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." This was talking about their incorrect spiritual condition before God! Folks in error are not in communion with God OR faithful brethren in whatever they are in error on.
Ray argues above that you CAN eat separately and please God, having fellowship with Him (indicating His approval)! God says in the BIBLE, if you eat separately you are sick, weak, and asleep spiritually (indicating the seriousness of the matter and proving Ray wrong in his contention). Whom will we believe?
Ray thought I made a mistake concerning his position. Read his words:
Ray answers (from his third affirmative):
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?"
Ray says (in his third affirmative):
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.
I believe I DID keep the statement "in context". I don't believe that Ray believes EVERYTHING that Jesus did not comment on was not important when I wrote the statement above. I was referring directly to Ray's assertings about "purpose" (in the sense Ray used the term) and its relationship to frequency of the Lord's Supper. Here is the point: We are NOT TOLD in Scripture WHY God chose the frequency that He did. We ARE TOLD the purpose for which the Lord's Supper is to be observed (i.e. show forth the Lord's death til He come). We ARE TOLD that the assembly on the first day of the week "to break bread" (for the ~purpose~ of breaking bread) is the authorized assembly in which we are to tarry until the appointed time and eat together the Supper! Just because we DO NOT know the reason/purpose God had when He selected the frequency does not make it unimportant; but it does mean that we can have the proper intent/purpose in observance when we do so in the assembly for the proper purpose and with the proper frequency! I hope Ray is not guilty of equivocation in the way he shifts gears on the word "purpose" in this part of our study.
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.
I certainly affirm that spiritual gifts (miraculous) have ceased per I Cor. 13:8-13, but I Cor. 14:34,35 apply today, as well as several other passages in this good text. Ray runs a rabbit when he dodges the force of my using passages that PROVE that worship is regulated. His semantics on "methods" versus "order" do nothing to negate my point that God regulates worship in scripture!
I had asked in my Second Negative:
How are we to know what God wants without reading His Will in His Word?
Ray says (in his third affirmative):
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.
No Scriptures even alluded to by Ray affirmed his proposition. Ray never got over the fact that everytime separate eating occured in scripture, it was wrong! Scriptural eating is together, in the same, single assembly (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11). Ray, in his words above, urges me to seek information by asking the Holy Spirit to supernaturally reveal to me God's will in worship activities. He signed a proposition that indicated we can get the information from "the Scriptures", can't give me any to uphold his position in the discussion and resorts to asking me to appeal to the Holy Spirit to reveal info to me AWAY FROM THE WRITTEN WORD! Paul said, "when ye read" we could understand what we need to know (Eph. 3:3,4). James said we can look into the "perfect law of liberty" in order to find out how to please God (James 1:25; 2:12). Paul wrote Timothy and stated that all scripture can completely furnish us to all good works (2 Tim. 3:16,17)! God's Word should contain the information, don't you think?
I can't thank Ray enough for his disposition throughout the debate and his willingness to discuss in this format. I wanted Ray to press me as much as he could in a loving way and I wanted to do the same (as we both believe the other to be wrong about a spiritual matter). I appreciate Ray Brooks for doing what so many of my own brethren are unwilling to do: defend what they teach and practice on this topic in this fomat. May God richly bless us as a result of this study. May Ray and I continue to keep open minds and re-examine the positions that we hold from time to time, using God's Word as the Standard for our faith and practice. If I can be of further assistance to anyone in this or any other Bible matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- - Mark J. Ward
[-end of third negative by Ward and the discussion ends]
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