Wine and Communion

I know. This is a controversial subject, wine that is. But I would like to see if there are any readers who can agree with me that the use of wine in communion is at least permissible. And, I’m not really interest in discussing the propriety of social use of alcohol, at least not in this post.

Let me start by stating some of my assumptions:

  1. I believe that the wine of OT and NT times was just that…wine. I have seen papers and books attempting to make the case that what Jesus drank (Luke 7:33-34 e.g.) and the wine at Cana was actually grape juice. I remain unconvinced by those arguing those positions.
  2. Therefore, I assume that the cup(s) in the last supper contained wine, not grape juice.

By the way, the church where I presently attend uses only grape juice (to my chagrin) and I have been to some SB churches over the last couple of years that offer both a wine and grape juice option.

So here is my question: do you believe that it is permissible to have wine in communion, either alone or along with grape juice? Why or why not?

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9 comments

  1. Les

    Thnks Bob. I’m curious why you think it is unwise to use wine.

    As to communion being purly symbolic, that would make for a great discussion in another post.

  2. Frank Morgan

    I would say permissible from a Biblical interpretation standpoint. However, I also think that I would be a stumbling block to some if it was offered in a SB Church. Under those circumstances I would say no out of concern for a weaker believer. We recently had a beer & wine sale election in our small town a suburb of Dallas. Our SBC church fought it and lost. I was active on Facebook and other places expressing my views. Those views were that alcohol is not sinful in and of itself but drunkenness obviously is. I opposed the sale simply because I didn’t think we needed it in our small town. Those that wanted it had it readily available only a few minutes away in other towns

    Did Jesus drink fermented wine? I’ll let others give a better answer because my only study of Greek is in using Strong’s numbers. But, it is my understanding that the word for wine that Jesus created at Cana is also used in the expression don’t be drunk with wine. If that is the case, the wine had to be fermented or you couldn’t get drunk on it.

  3. Ken Hamrick

    Good answers already by Frank and Bob. Biblically, it is abuse of alcohol and not drinking that is sin. Of course, the wine in the NT was real wine. It’s not like they had refrigeration available. The tendency of many in the Church today to view alcohol almost as an evil substance goes back to earlier, legalistic days. It has the same origin as the confusion of America with Israel and the OT law with NT grace. Have you ever considered what the moral basis could possibly be for prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday—as if drinking it on any other day would be less sinful?

    Anyway, sorry for the diversion. I see no problem with using real wine for communion.

  4. Bob Cleveland

    There are people out there who are genetically disposed to alcoholism (that’s what my doctor friends say .. I’m certainly no expert myself .. but I do know some folks who fit that category) and I think a church can ill afford to run the risk of giving someone with that predisposition .. especially if unknown .. alcohol. And it’s not that I’m all that against wine .. I’ll have a glass of Cabernet with dinner when conditions warrant .. but I just do not see the need in church, in the communion setting. If we want to be slavish to the Biblical accounts, then we’d all need to be reclining at table, getting our feet washed, drinking from a common cup, making sure we had all the details just right,

  5. parsonsmike

    Wine is permissible generally. In my SB church, though, we have agreed to not partake of alcohol, so for us it would be wrong.
    Since the ritual is symbolic, there is no need to use wine. I wouldn’t condemn those that do use wine.

    Les, the bigger question might be: Should Christians be drinking alcohol in public?

  6. Les

    @Frank #3, the weaker brother. Would an option of wine or juice in the cup tray allow for each person’s conscience to be satisfied? More and more I see that as an option.

    @Ken #4, I agree that there is really no reason to think that the liquid of OT and NT times was anything but alcoholic.

    @Bob #5, thanks for your explanation. I’m certainly no medical expert either. But I’m just not convinced from what I’ve read about the genetics of alcoholism. My dad was considered to be an alcoholic. He had a terrible time with alcohol for many years and had to and was able to quit altogether eventually. After much destruction I might add. I have never had any difficulty though.

    @Parsonsmike#6, “Should Christians be drinking alcohol in public?” Well, maybe for another post. But I’ll say that I see no reason to not drink in public. Wine/beer being gifts from God for our enjoyment and all. The teetotler Christian who walks into the same restaurant and sees me having a beer should lovingly and patiently be brought to understand that his conscience should not govern me. Tp sort of paraphrase Jerry Bridges, his perfectly appropriate “fence” he has erected for himself should not be a “fence” of behavior for me.

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