Calvin versus Child Communion

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Previously, we have traced the history of Holy Communion during the Middle Ages from Ritualist Deformation to Catechetical Reformation.   We saw that, after the demise of Chrysostom and Augustine around 430 A.D., Neo-Paganism increasingly went on invading the Church and then anti-catechetically effected her progressive degeneration into mediaeval magic and sacramentalistic Paedocommunionism.   The latter pagan rite was entrenched after 430 A.D., and especially in the ‘Eastern Orthodox’ Churches (by Paulinus, Pseudo-Dionysius, John Moschus, and Evagrius).

The Mediaeval Western Church rightly rejected ‘Infant Communion.’   Even after most of it romanized – also the 1544f Council of Trent wisely insisted (however inadequately) on some kind of catechizing before admission to manducation at the Eucharist.  

Yet, before the Protestant Reformation, even the Western Church herself fluctuated between post-catechetical ‘Child Communion’ on the one hand and the Biblical practice of post- catechetical  ‘Adolescent Communion’ on the other hand.   Sadly, Rome’s movement toward and final adoption of the blasphemous doctrine of transubstantiation in 1215 – first warped and then finally overshadowed but did not dispense with her correct and prior practice of catechizing people before eucharizing them.

Notwithstanding the above, the Western Church’s Pre-Reformation Proto-Protestants – the Piedmontese Waldensians, Wycliffe’s Lollards, and Huss’s Bohemian Wycliffites – all required prior catechizing before one’s first admission to the Lord’s Supper not before around puberty. So too – especially against the post-infantile paedocommunionistic arguments of Servetus and his Anabaptists – did all the great men of the Early Protestant Reformation: Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Bucer, Hyperius, Bullinger, á Lasco, Beza, and especially Calvin.

In this chapter, we shall here see that Calvin entertained no Communion for uncatechized Pre-Adolescents.   He had strong exegetical objections to Paedocommunion all the way from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation, and he demonstrated that the Ante-Nicene Church catechized its youth before admitting them to Communion.   Indeed, he alleged that her Overseers even laid hands on her catechized youth before first eucharizing them at teenage

To Calvin, Paedocommunion was a Post-Nicene and indeed an Early-Mediaeval ecclesiastical error.   Even in the West, it went hand in hand with the papist perversion of pseudo-confirmation.  That was a species of mediaeval sacramentalism which mauled the manumission (or laying on of hands) of earlier and healthier centuries.

Calvin addressed the Anabaptist Servetus’s pseudopaedocommunionistic speciousness, and crushed the latter’s pseudo-paedocommunionism.   Realizing that the Apostolic Age’s laying on of hands (for one’s first admission to the eucharist) needed restoring in the Church – he let covenant children first catechize, from a minimum age of 10 till a minimum age of 13.

Wherever Communion Services carnalized, Calvin urged they be postponed.   In his Geneva Catechism, he insists on thorough preparation for Communion Catechumens.   He does the same in his Ecclesiastical Ordinances – with their emphasis on ‘Seasonal Communion.’

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Calvin wrote several Anti-Romish tracts in favour of what might be called ‘True Confirmation.’    He opposed the compromised German Interim between Romanists and inconsistent Lutherans, in favour of the Biblical and Early-Patristic practice of ‘Teenage Confirmation.’  

Against even consistent Lutheranism, Calvin claimed that catechizing is necessary precisely in order to see the error of Consubstantiation.   And against all possibilities of Loose Communion, Calvin approved of the French Hugenots’  Communion Tokens

Calvin also wrote to the ten-year-old Basque Prince Henry of Navarre regarding the age of religious understanding (and its antipaedocommunionistic implications).   And finally, he wrote to the Lord Protector of the young King Edward VI of England that the Church simply cannot thrive – nay more, cannot long survive – without catechizing its youth.

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