Baptists at the Table

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Michael J Walker (1992) Baptists at the table: the theology of the Lord’s Supper amongst English Baptists in the nineteenth century. Baptist Historical Society, Didcot.

Eighteenth century communion hymns show the influence of the Puritan Calvinist tradition on the Baptist approach to the Lord’s Supper. In the nineteenth century, controversies, especially that over the open or closed table, weakened Baptist eucharistic theology, and reaction to the Catholic revival made them more Zwinglian. There was growing indifference over who presided and, with less regular attendance, the table became less effective as the instrument of church discipline. The temperance movement also had its effect on practice and theology. The Calvinist and the radical traditions found their most effective spokesmen in Charles Haddon Spurgeon and John Clifford; Clifford’s influence was most felt as Baptists moved into the twentieth century.