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Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper Paperback – October 18, 2002
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"The best and most comprehensive treatment of the Reformed doctrine of the Lord's Supper I have ever seen . . . a genuine 'must read' book." --R. C. Sproul
"Argues cogently for the liturgical significance of returning to Calvin's richly nuanced view of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament." --David E. Holwerda
"I know of no other book that combines solid research, pastoral concern, polemical edge, and attention to oft-forgotten biblical passages with such skill. Any informed decision on the Supper will need to include a careful reading of this volume." --Michael S. Horton
About the Author
Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is the author of Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?; Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope; The Shape of Sola Scriptura; and Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book fits into a general category I would call "the catholic Reformed" movement. There is a significant and growing number of people who are Reformed but at the same time more broadly catholic. In other words, they are connected to and give consideration to the church prior to the Reformation. Also, the catholic Reformed (and some others) have views closer to the original Reformers than many modern Reformed, although these two groups still share a lot in common. There are a variety of reasons for this, but this book cannot be understood apart from this context.
This book is written primarily for those who are Reformed, so all can recover the richness of Calvin's doctrine. Almost immediately into the book, Dr. Matthison covers the original Reformed Eucharistic beliefs and how a divergence from those beliefs came about. If you are not Reformed, would you care about this? Probably not. If you are arguing about fidelity to the Westminster Confessions, etc., this matters.
Dr. Matthison then goes on to give a biblical defense of his position. He also critiques other views. He gives a wonderful, but short, critique of the Roman Catholic position. He also wonderfully highlights the significance of the Passover meal in a way that supports his position. In the appendix he covers Eucharistic views from the Didache to Aquinas, and that section is most helpful and useful.
Lastly, Dr. Mathison covers controversial practical issues like the use of wine and padeocommunion.
If you are Reformed, this book is a must. If you want to understand the Lord's Supper better, it is also a must. This book will be useful in general. This book is a gift and should be read and bought.
I do have one very serious problem with the book however and that is why I gave it only three stars. In the first chapter Mathison quotes prolifically from Calvin's Institutes, book 4, chapters 14 & 17, to lay down the foundation for his argument. Unfortunately he makes it sound as if Calvin believed that absolutely NOTHING happens to the unbelieving heathen who partakes despite the warnings not to. This is not what Calvin believed at all as is evidenced from the very chapters Mathison quoted so freely from.
I will use two sections here for brevity's sake and advise you to read Calvin's Institutes along with the book.
1)Mathison quotes from 4.14.7 to prove that the Supper is only "effective" to the one who takes it with a believing heart. But Calvin does state in that section that "The wicked incur a heavier condemnation [for partaking]"
2)Two pages later he quotes Calvin's quote of Augustine, "In the elect alone the sacraments effect what they represent." He fails to quote further where Augustine is quoted as saying, "...the Lord's morsel was poison to Judas, not because he received evil, but because and evil man evilly received a good thing."
There are several more omissions that I encourage readers to look up. It is due to these omissions that the common American reader (who probably does not own a copy of the Institutes let alone have read it) might agree with Mathison's conclusion about paedo-communion. His reasoning is disturbing. Toward the end of his argument for paedo-communion he begins to sound as if he believes that our children's baptism is an agent of their salvation and, if pushed, he might actually come down on the side of those who believe in baptismal regeneration. He argues that we cannot bar from the table any who have been baptized. He sets up a straw-man argument when he compares the barring of infants and children from the table to the barring of elderly senile folks. This is ludicrous. Any pastor who knows his constituents will know whether they had previously shown signs of faith. What we are waiting for in our children are those signs of faith.
I do not speak as one who has never wrestled with this. I have three young boys and, as a mother, I must say the idea of paedo-communion is very appealing. I know what communion effects. I know that my children are in need of what it effects. But as a mother who knows her children AND who has a firm belief in the historical Reformed & Presbyterian view of communion, I cannot in good conscience subject my children to possibly more wrath on the off-chance that they are not saved.
Not all Israel is Israel. God loved Jacob but despised Esau. Yet they were both circumcised...the sign & seal for which baptism is now the replacement.
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