I never gave it much thought – after all I had been in church settings where communion was wide open to all who “knew Jesus.” But then I would hear stories of people being left out of communion and encouraged not to participate in what to me was something simple and symbolic. Communion though is vitally important and as a sacrament of the church should we be more careful with how we distribute and consume from the Lord’s table?
Russell Moore has tackled the issue in a recent article that is worth a read. He shares some important thoughts. “Sometimes Christians in other traditions assume that all low-church Protestants take this kind of view, but that’s simply not the case. While disagreeing with the sacerdotal theologies of many of the older traditions, Baptists (before we were to this extent washed up in the riptide of parachurch Evangelicalism) shared with other Christians a common conviction that the Lord’s Table is a place of profound gravity—much more than the kind of “communion” we might have with the Lord and with one another while talking about the Holy Spirit over coffee and doughnuts.
“This is why many low-church Protestants have shared historically with their high-church brothers and sisters the conviction that the Supper must be tied to discipline (1 Cor. 5:11). The table is not just an individual reminder of the gospel; it is the very locus of church fellowship, the place where we experience Christ present in proclamation and in one another. It is here that we experience a foretaste of the wedding supper to come, and where we announce those we hold accountable to struggle with us until then. The church is “recognizing the body” of Christ (1 Cor. 11:29) by defining the boundaries of communion at the table in terms of those who are in union with Christ and who are able, should they deny him, to be disciplined.”
You can read the rest of the article, and come to your own conclusion (however wrong you might be!)