Do you think it is ok to take communion if you have not been baptized? If someone says they have been saved–for example that they  ‘placed their faith in Christ, repented of their sins, believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins, accepted Christ as their Lord and savior’ etc….should they be able to take communion if they have not yet been baptized?


This is an age-old debate.  Sincere believers have differed on this question and history tells us that the answer reached is determined as much by the historical times as from clear biblical directive.

Since there is no biblical mandate on this, I will give you my opinion and you can take it for what it is worth.  The Bible does not tell us who can take communion.   I take a liberal view.  Those who take communion are remembering the death of Jesus.  How can this be a harmful thing for someone who is not yet a Christian?  I have a really hard time finding a reason it is a bad thing for those who are not yet baptized to, along with the church, remember the death of Jesus in this way, and to commemorate that event.

Besides, to refuse communion to such a person would be to judge that person in a way that is not likely to be helpful.  Are we going to perform an inspection every time someone comes into our worship?  What about someone who is in fact saved but is not part of our group who comes as a guest on a particular Sunday?  Are we going to grill this person on the way in the door?  To have a closed communion would require that we have a separate meeting of the church at which guests are not even invited. I feel a bit uncomfortable using practical reasoning for a biblical question, but practical concerns would also make excluding those who are not yet saved difficult or impossible.

But there are many, and some of them very important Christian leaders, who have disagreed with this advice historically.  For example, the primitive church only offered the communion to faithful disciples/members of the church.  Their communion was exclusive to the saved.  The question is why?  I believe it was at least as much because of the potential for persecution as anything else.  In Viet Nam and in China our churches only offer the Lord’s Supper to the saved, but this is primarily for reasons of security.

Is this the reason the primitive church had an exclusive communion?  It is hard to know.  Historically, many denominations have reserved the Lord’s Supper to those baptized in their own religious group, but this is probably more a reflection of sinful sectarianism than of obedience to biblical command.  It was a way to control both members and outsiders.  Most famous was the Puritans in England and New England who had a very exclusive policy about the communion.  The one wanting to partake had to meet before a committee who would grill them before giving access to the Communion.

So, my advice is liberality on this issue. I simply cannot see a strong reason biblically to exclude those who are interested in Christ but have not yet followed him.  Taking the Communion may very well help such a person come to Christ, so I would not refuse this.  If this is our policy, then we can let every person decide based on their own conscience whether or not they will take the Lord’s Supper with us.

That is my thinking, for what it is worth.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.