The Lord's Supper is a variation of the name and the service of The Last Supper or Eucharist. This name tends to be used by the churches of minimalist traditions, such as those strongly influenced by Zwingli. Nevertheless, churches holding other views, such as Lutherans and Reformed churches, also use the terminology.
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The supporters of this viewpoint usually hold that the Lord's supper is a church ordinance, and shy away from the term sacrament¹. Proponents view the ordinance as a remembrance of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, instituted by Jesus as a perpetual memorial until His return. Transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and "means of grace" views are rejected. The institution of Lord's supper from the four gospels is emphasized, aa well as the Apostle Paul's account in I Corinthians:
- For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
HistoryThis viewpoint is most often historically associated with the Anabaptists of the Radical Reformation (i.e., Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, Pilgram Marpeck), Huldrych (or Ulrich) Zwingli, and the English Baptists. Nevertheless, supporters of the doctrine of the Lord's supper as a memorial believe their position to be historically connected to the institution of Jesus and His apostles, and the practice of the apostolic church.
The elements of the Lord's supper are most commonly unleavened bread and wine². In traditions in which temperance movements have had strong influence, grape juice is substituted for the wine. In a few Holiness bodies, water is substituted for the wine.
There is wide variation of practice on who may partake of the bread and wine. The traditional Baptist position favors restricted communion, in which the participants are limited to believers who are immersed church members. A variation on this is closed communion, in which only members of the church observing the ordinance participate in the Lord's supper³ General Baptists and non-denominational groups favor open communion, in which all professed believers are invited to participate.
The frequency with which the Lord's supper is observed is often a matter of tradition rather than doctrine for most groups. It may be observed annually, bi-annually, quarterly, monthly, or weekly. The Churches of Christ (non-instrumental) hold the position that the Lord's supper must be observed on the first day of each week.