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Children at the Lord's Table? Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion (Venema)

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A growing trend among Reformed churches is the practice of admitting young children to the Lord’s Supper. In Children at the Lord’s Table?, Cornelis P. Venema provides an insightful analysis of the theoretical arguments used by advocates of this recent trend. After clarifying terms and explaining arguments often made in favor of paedocommunion, he considers the history of the church’s confessions, teaching, and practice regarding the proper recipients of the Lord’s Supper.

Presenting a historical, exegetical, and systematic treatment of the subject, Venema demonstrates the validity and value of having covenant children partake of first communion subsequent to their personal profession of faith. This is an invaluable resource for every pastor within the Reformed tradition. 

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Table of Contents:

  1. Introducing the Question
  2. Paedocommunion in Church History
  3. Paedocommunion and the Reformed Confessions
  4. The Old Testament Evidence Regarding the Participation of Children in Covenant Observances
  5. The New Testament Evidence Regarding Paedocommunion
  6. A Key Passage: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
  7. Concluding Observations and Evaluation 

Appendix: Covenant Theology and Baptism 



Cornelis P. Venema is the president and professor of doctrinal studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, Indiana. He serves as an associate pastor of the Redeemer United Reformed Church, a coeditor of the Mid-America Journal of Theology, and contributing editor of The Outlook. He is also the author of The Lord’s Supper and the “Popish Mass”: A Study of Question and Answer 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism.



"Dr. Venema has done a great service for the Reformed churches in presenting a clear, compelling, biblical case for our historic practice regarding admission to the Lord’s Table. For about thirty-five years now, proponents of paedocommunion have been producing papers, articles, and monographs stating their historical and exegetical case(s) for paedocommunion. They have argued that to be consistent with our covenant theology we need to practice infant or young child communion. In this carefully and charitably articulated book, Venema shows why their arguments are not persuasive, and counters with historical, confessional, and exegetical support for what has been the official public theology and practice of the Protestant churches from their inception." -J. Ligon Duncan III Senior Minister of First Presbyterian, Jackson, Mississippi

Children at the Lord’s Table?, one of the best treatments of this question, shows that Scripture clearly articulates that those invited to the table are called to come by believing in Christ, and not merely because they have been baptized as infants. I highly recommend this book.” – George W. Knight II, Adjunct Professor of New Testament, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“Dr. Venema has written an important, useful, and timely book defending Reformed sacramental theology and practice against a novel and dangerous hyper-covenantal theology. Through a careful look at church history, the Reformed confessions, and the Bible, Dr. Venema presents and defends the historic Reformed teaching on who may come to the Lord’s Table in a way that is readable, thorough, helpful, and orthodox. I recommend it highly.” – W. Robert Godfrey, President and Professor of Church History, Westminster Seminary California