The August edition of the Ordinary Means Podcast discussed the four papers delivered at the General Assembly this year. They analyzed the contribution of each particular speaker on the topic of sacramental efficacy. However, their pre-disposition to oppose anything associated with the Federal Vision clouds their assessment of Jeff Meyers’ excellent paper entitled: “Efficacy and Ritual Performance: How the Administration of the Sacraments Affects What They Actually Accomplish,” which should cause many PCA ministers to re-consider their practice of the Lord’s Supper.
One of the criticisms they offered of Meyers’ presentation is that he is overly interested in performing the rite of holy communion properly so that God would bless His people. In their perception, the idea of doing something right in the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper is to revert to the Old Covenant idea of “do this and live.” Of course, their WTSCAL training has taught them that the Deuteronomic mandate of “do this and live” is no longer relevant because Christ has done it all on our behalf. The reality, however, is that this is simplistic. No one denies the full and satisfactory work of Christ on behalf of His covenant people. Christ is the end of the law, and as such, the law never has and never will convert a dead man. That Christ has fulfilled the law does not mean that He has abolished the ethical implications thereof for His people (this is the old theonomic debate all over again). In this case, Meyers’ warning that the Lord’s Supper be done correctly, so that God would bless us richly, is simply an echo of Jesus’ own words: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Paul himself speaks of the orderliness and decency of Church life. So what hinders that principle from being applied to what is at the heart of the liturgical experience: the Supper of the Lord? If God demands that His word be preached faithfully and correctly, does He not demand that the rite of the Holy Communion He initiated with His own disciples be performed correctly?
Another critique offered is that Meyers contradicts himself by affirming that the Lord’s Supper is to be celebratory, then saying that it needs to be done rightly. One of the guests of the Ordinary Means podcast cannot understand how order and celebration can be reconciled. He argues that if we are to be concerned with the details of the supper, then that will distract us from celebrating Christ’s work for us. But creation is a perfect example of this beautiful harmony. God spoke creation into existence in an orderly manner and God calls us to rejoice over His own creation, the fruit of the vine as a means to this enjoyment.
Overall, the discussion and analysis of the other speakers were helpful and informative.