1728 John Glas was removed from the ministry of the Church of Scotland. He believed that church and state should not be linked, each congregation should be independent, following no particular creed, being governed by Holy Scriptures alone. He taught, among other things:
1. Weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper
2. Plurality of elders
3. Scriptural names for congregations, primarily, “Church of Christ.”
” . . . the Glasite movement . . . searched the New Testament for the minutest detail in the life of the church . . . [they] were completely preoccupied with the duty of restoring the practices of the primitive church. They had no interest in unity, and not enough evangelistic zeal to keep them alive.” (The Disciples of Christ, A History (St Louis: Bethany, 1948)
1. Concerning weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper
Concerning the Lord’s Supper, the Glasites decided that a weekly communion service was in order. It has been observed at the first meeting of Mr. Glas and his adherents they agreed to observe the Lord’s Supper more frequently than was the practice of the Church of Scotland, viz., once every month; but soon found that they had as little warrant from the Scriptures for this practice as the Church of Scotland had for theirs, as the first Disciples came together on the first day of the week for the breaking of bread; and they agreed that in this, as in everything else, they ought to be followers of the first churches, being guided and directed by the scriptures alone.
Glas also concluded that communion should be closed, a practice uncommon to Disciples, but prevalent among Scotch (and other) Baptists. Glas said, “it is our duty to forebear communion with them that have no appearance of being disciples of Christ.” Pretty much in keeping with the Scottish Presbyterianism from which Glas sprang, he focused on the commemorative nature of the Lord’s Supper.
His doctrine of the Lord’s Supper emphasized the commemorative and declaratory aspects of the sacraments, While it is a real communion of the Body and Blood of Christ the sign must not be confused with that which is signified, viz., the sacrificial death of Christ, That sacrifice has been made once for all and cannot be repeated in the Sacrament which represents it and assures its benefits,”
In the mid second century, Justin Martyr wrote:
1. “The president of the brethren…sends up praise and glory to the Father of the universe through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and offers thanksgiving at some length that we have been deemed worthy to receive these things from him.
2. “On the day called Sunday there is a meeting…and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits, the president in a discourse urges and invites imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers.”
3. Before the prayers were offered and the Lord’s Supper celebrated, those who were not yet baptized were dismissed. (“for you must not let anyone eat and drink of your Eucharist except those baptized in the Lord’s name.”)
Other examples of what some deem to be patterns (approved examples). (From C. Philip Slate)
1. Thursday: Some people have insisted that one must take the supper on Thursday as well as the first day of the week since Jesus instituted it on that day.
2. Evening (Mt. 26:20): Some have argued that the Lord’s supper is properly observed only at night because of Jesus’ example and the practice at Troas (Acts 20:7).
3. Upper Room (Mk. 14:15): Some church buildings in Great Britain were constructed so the assembly hall is an upper room because worshipers held that to be the only correct place to assemble for the supper, citing both Jesus’ institution of the supper and the Troas Christians (Acts 20:7).
4. Annually: In 1960-61 Mrs. Nina Pierce, Church of God preacher in Nashville, Tenn. argued that since Jesus is our Passover lamb (I Cor. 5:7) and the Passover was an annual event, the Lord’s supper should be observed annually, not quarterly or weekly.
5. Around a table (Mt. 26:20): Some of the “Exclusive Brethren” (a division of the “Plymouth Brethren” in Britain) will observe the Lord’s supper in groups no larger than can get around one table.
6. Only men present (Mt. 26:20)
7. Four cups present: Jewish materials indicate that four cups were present at the supper. (The Mishnah, peshahim x. 1-7). One of them was “the cup of blessing” I Cor. 10:16.
8. Use of one cup: One small segment of our brotherhood sees it as so binding that they have separated themselves over it.
9. Fruit of the vine: No Lord’s supper text uses the word “wine” (?vo?) in reference to the cup. People have insisted on both “wine” and “non-wine.”
10. Meat was present (Mk. 14:12): Roasted lamb was an inherent feature of the Passover meal. While Jesus gave it no Christian explanation, it was present.
11. Closed with a hymn (Mt. 26:30)
More on the Glasite movement in the next post, Part 2b.