“This is my body” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Hoc est corpus. Defining the verb, “to be” in this context has been one of the most divisive tasks the church has undertaken. On one side of the spectrum you have the transubstantiation of the Roman Catholic church. On the other side you have the memorialism of Zwingli’s descendents. “Do this … in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25).
In The Lord’s Supper, Schreiner and Crawford have collected essays from Southern Baptists which reflect on the “biblical, historical, theological, and pastoral issues” required to properly understand the meal (391). The survey of Biblical material is particularly helpful. Köstenburger leads the volume with an essay exploring the Passover roots of the meal before Pennington and Hamilton Jr. survey Gospel and Pauline literature, respectively.
The historical essays begin with the church fathers, pause on each of the reformers, and close with a look at recent Baptist history. Here the polemic of the volume comes to the forefront. Each of these essays examine the way a particular group understood the Lord’s Supper before pointing out how these views are in part faulty. This volume is “a book written by Baptists for Baptists, a fact that [the editors] make no apology for” (391).
There are challenges even within the Baptist camp. In Gregory A. Wills’ essay, “Sounds from Baptist History,” he traces the movement of the Southern Baptist church from close to open communion. (Close communion is restricted to church members whose regeneration and subsequent baptism has been demonstrated.) You can almost hear the pain in his voice when he writes, “The widespread adoption of open Communion among conservative Southern Baptists indicated that they did not cross the twentieth century unscathed by the progressive currents against which they struggled.” (311). “Close Communion was not the only victim. … The traditional church practices and structures lost their basis in a ‘thus saith the Lord'” (312).
Craig L. Blomberg offered this blurb for the back cover: “While Schreiner and Crawford stress that this volume was written by Southern Baptists for Southern Baptists, it would be a pity if this emphasis prevented their book from receiving the very wide readership that it deserves.” Blomberg is right. The Lord’s Supper provides the reader with a thorough education on the various elements of our Christian meal. If you’re not a Southern Baptist, be prepared to interact critically and thoughtfully with the material.
—Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, Eds, The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes (Nashville, NT: B&H Academic, 2010).