What We Believe

Gateway's Beliefs About Communion

Gateway's statement of faith is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.  It is an outstanding document that reflects the Gospel and other core doctrines in the life of the church.  Thus, Gateway gladly affirms it with one clarification.  We hold to a different understanding of who can receive communion (the Lord's supper).  Our position is more open than that of the Baptist Faith and Message.
In 2015, the members of Gateway adopted the following clarifying position on our beliefs about communion.

As set forth in our Constitution amended on November 15, 2015, Gateway Baptist Church affirms the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (BFM2000) as our agreed upon statement of faith with one caveat related to Article VII of the BFM2000, which states:

VII. Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.

The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.

Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12

Our difference is with the last line of the first paragraph. We do not believe that, in all cases, baptism by immersion signifying church membership is a prerequisite to sharing in the Lord's Supper. While we agree that baptism by immersion is a prerequisite for church membership at Gateway and should ideally precede the taking of the Lord's Supper in most cases involving church members and families, we also recognize that the practice of partaking of the Lord's Supper, or Communion, involves memorializing Jesus and proclaiming His death until His return (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Because there are many different views about baptism from church history that do not involve immersion by confessing believers, and because we believe that a person is saved by Christ alone and that their salvation is not dependent upon their baptism, we would not keep a believer from partaking of the Lord's Supper and remembering their Lord if they were worshiping/visiting with Gateway and had a different view of baptism. We would bar them from official church membership unless they agreed that baptism was by immersion and was for confessing believers only, but we would not keep them from the Lord's Table if they were a true believer in Christ, had a different view of baptism, and were visiting with us in worship that day. It is Jesus' Table, not ours, and we welcome all those who have placed their faith in Christ alone as their Savior, even if they have mistaken views on baptism.

This welcoming of all actual believers in Christ to the Lord's Table irrespective of their baptism is called the Open Modified Communion position and is held by a large number of Baptist churches at this point in history. In historic Baptist confessions of faith such as the Second London Confession of Faith (1689) and the Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742), Baptism is not mentioned as a prerequisite to partaking of the Lord's Supper, although the Lord's Supper is only offered to true believers in Christ. Baptism would have been understood to be included. In the New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833), baptism is listed as a prerequisite to partaking of the Lord's Supper. By this time, ideas around church membership and differences between denominations had hardened and lines were drawn more clearly.

Dr. Nathan Finn, Professor of Church History at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in his paper, "Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Southern Baptists" demonstrates that, even though they were not in the majority, there have always been Baptists who practiced "modified open communion" because of their understanding of the local church and also of the church universal. Finn says,

This position (modified open communion) was not dominant among the earliest Baptists. In England, though some advocated a closed membership with an open communion off and on from the mid-1600s until the mid-1800s, it was not until the time of Charles Spurgeon that this view became dominant, in part because many of the leading advocates of closed communion at the time were also hyper- Calvinist. But there was enough of an open communion minority that the Second London Confession of 1677/1689 takes a neutral stance on the terms of communion. The Particular Baptists of the era did not want to exclude open communion churches, even though a majority of the congregations practiced closed communion.

While we wholeheartedly affirm Biblical Baptism as only being believer's baptism by immersion as our Lord commanded (Matthew 28:18-20), we also recognize that the remembrance of Christ at His Table is for all of those who belong to Jesus. We also remember Jesus' prayer in John 17 that we would be one just as He and the Father are One. One way to express oneness with those from other denominations and understandings of baptism that exist from different epochs of church history, is to partake of the Lord's Table with other believers in Christ who declare that Jesus is Lord, but who have differing views of baptism. In doing this, we continue to maintain that church membership is only for those who have been Biblically baptized and have the proper understanding of what baptism is and its meaning.