Constitution of the elements

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reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm sure it's been touched on in various ways here before, and I'm aware the Roman Catholic church approved GMO (genetically modified) elements in 2017, and that the Eastern church insists on leavened bread. What I'm wondering is in view of gluten, sulfite, and other issues, along with GMO issues, have churches or denominations felt a need to actually define the elements more specifically as to proper use, or is "bread" and "wine" still found sufficient?
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
Our church hasn't yet found the need to define bread, and doesn't offer a smorgasbord or the like, but we're a PCA church (grape juice) with a recent influx of OPCers (wine). Some might claim this difference was the sticking point in talks of union between the 2 denoms. Our elders haven't been terribly creative or forward thinking on defining elements, but have been accommodating to congregational preference. We offer a choice of wine or grape juice, and use protestant sources of a wine & wafer combo set or unleavened cube and separate unfermented grape juice from nonreligious sources. GMO bread/not-bread hasn't yet hit our radar, and "gluten-free" hasn't yet been an issue our congregation has expressed concern about. There is an itching though, that we might need to get ahead of science and cultural convention on this one.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I've learned gluten free really just means avoiding wheat and similar flours, but you can use flours from other grains. At one church I attended for a while there were several celiac folks so we used corn bread. Of course some recipes for corn flour mix in a little flour but this was just a really simple cornmeal recipe. I'm okay with this, as I think bread just needs to be a common bread of the culture, and here in the South having cornbread with a meal is more common than plain white or wheat bread.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I'm puzzled by your assumption that PCA=grape juice. And all wheat is generically modified so I'm not quite understanding a GMO discussion in relation to the Lord's table.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Based on current dietery fads, our church uses gluten free 'bread'. Tastes like cardboard.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman

I'm puzzled by your assumption that PCA=grape juice. And all wheat is generically modified so I'm not quite understanding a GMO discussion in relation to the Lord's table.
I apologise for your misunderstanding of my post, though I endeavoured to make clear our PCA church uses BOTH non-alcoholic grape juice & alcoholic wine. I make no assumption all PCA churches use grape juice. And OK, you and some others don't see an issue as the Roman church has.

It's understandable if some see no issue in modern twists of bread not being bread, fruit of the vine not being fruit of the vine, or perhaps even other trends of burgers not being beef, chicken not being chicken, coffee not being coffee, or even water not being water, but certainly smarter than water.

I think most, however, would take umbrage over pseudo elements, or certainly something like donuts & wine coolers for our Lord's Supper.
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I don’t see any need to define bread beyond something like “baked dough from grains.”

For what it is worth, ancient wheat is not at all like modern wheat. It probably was very low in gluten. And Ezekiel 4:9 even has a bread recipe that adds barley, beans, and millet.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
And Ezekiel 4:9 even has a bread recipe that adds barley, beans, and millet.
It would be a travesty to use Ezekiel 4's recipe for communion, since it is a sign of God's judgment upon Jerusalem. The whole point is that supplies will be so few that only this disgusting mixture will be available (cooked over human dung, if you want the authentic flavor). Notwithstanding the commercial availability of a bread that touts itself as Ezekiel 4:9 bread and claims unique health benefits. I've always meant to inquire about the cooking fuel they use...
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
Some there are who may call old reformed grit PB posts bread, and some the authentic favouring other thing; but there are less than half as many as may deserve who might entertain some nightmarish thought of using them in communion (by one meaning at least).
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Some there are who may call old reformed grit PB posts bread, and some the authentic favouring other thing; but there are less than half as many as may deserve who might entertain some nightmarish thought of using them in communion (by one meaning at least).
I confess I'm still trying to sort the syntax, but I like grits. ;)
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Junior
The point of the supper is not: "what precisely are the elements?" nor, "has anything happened if we don't use the precisely the right grain and wine?" The point of the supper is a visible, palpable picture of Christ's body and blood, broken and shed for the remission of sins. He is the Bread of Life: whatever bread people use in a particular place to sustain physical life makes an acceptable picture. Likewise, whatever liquid can be poured out, and therefore contained in a cup, will also do. Having access to both bread and wine, I find they answer best to paint the picture, but if I was in rural Mexico and all there was were corn tortillas and hibiscus tea ("Jamaica", they call it), I wouldn't hesitate to partake. Tortillas are their daily bread; jamaica is ubiquitous--they'd paint a better picture there than those weird wafers commonly in use and the wine that some have never tasted.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Is the position stated actually anti-confessional which state the elements of bread and wine are appointed by Christ? Once we depart from the prescribed elements on the basis they are not important, why could not someone justify coke and Twinkies (say it is a very unhealthy culture) or no physical elements at all? Bread and wine are the elements Christ appointed. Who are we to say, no, these other are good enough, or none at all, use your imagination? Dr. Pipa said in the Spirit and Truth film, that the Christian religion is not complicated and easily portable, whether in a big western church or on a battlefield. All a minister needs "is a Bible, a flask of water, a flask of wine, and a loaf of bread.”
WCF 29.3 III. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.
WLC Q. 168. What is the Lord’s supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament of the New Testament,1077 wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace;1078 have their union and communion with him confirmed;1079 testify and renew their thankfulness,1080 and engagement to God,1081 and their mutual love and fellowship each with the other, as members of the same mystical body.1082
WSC Q. 96. What is the Lord's Supper?
A. The Lord's Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread And wine, according to Christ's appointment, his death is showed forth;197 And the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.198
The point of the supper is not: "what precisely are the elements?" nor, "has anything happened if we don't use the precisely the right grain and wine?" The point of the supper is a visible, palpable picture of Christ's body and blood, broken and shed for the remission of sins. He is the Bread of Life: whatever bread people use in a particular place to sustain physical life makes an acceptable picture. Likewise, whatever liquid can be poured out, and therefore contained in a cup, will also do. Having access to both bread and wine, I find they answer best to paint the picture, but if I was in rural Mexico and all there was were corn tortillas and hibiscus tea ("Jamaica", they call it), I wouldn't hesitate to partake. Tortillas are their daily bread; jamaica is ubiquitous--they'd paint a better picture there than those weird wafers commonly in use and the wine that some have never tasted.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
But in Protestant theology, or perhaps more specifically Reformed theology, is it we who symbolise the elements in our mind's eye? Is this the example of Christ in calling the elements His body & blood? And is there any consideration the Standards might be seen in this same light? As so testified by some missionaries?

That is, are physical bread and wine hard wired, so to speak, in both our theology and Scriptural norm?


*plus, I think Taylor's illustration may have been coke and popcorn, not "Twinkies", if it clarifies. It likely doesn't though.
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
That is, are physical bread and wine hard wired, so to speak, in both our theology and Scriptural norm?
That’s one way to look at it, but I focus on the command, as Chris illustrated.

Bread and wine because “do this....”

We don’t reverence the elements but instead reverence our Lord. If that is the foundation, we would not seek to mock him by turning the Lord’s supper into snack time. Bringing popcorn and cola to the table of the King?
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
But is it the reverence and worthy manner that takes precedence? Again, is the "do this" able to be of some acceptable variety within strict subscriptionism?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
That’s one way to look at it, but I focus on the command, as Chris illustrated.

Bread and wine because “do this....”

We don’t reverence the elements but instead reverence our Lord. If that is the foundation, we would not seek to mock him by turning the Lord’s supper into snack time. Bringing popcorn and cola to the table of the King?

If only He had said, "Do something similar to this..."
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
But is it the reverence and worthy manner that takes precedence? Again, is the "do this" able to be of some acceptable variety within strict subscriptionism?
Good question. I think there are two sides or hedges to keep an eye on.

1. We run into difficulty if we focus too much on what is in the bread. For instance: should we only use the exact kind of bread that our Lord used in the last supper? Are we to source the particular variety of grain, make sure it is baked in a clay oven (or whatever was used)? We don't even know for sure if it was leavened or not.

And same for the wine. Should we only use wine fermented in skins? We at least know that if the timing was in Spring, the wine had to have been preserved in some way--i.e. it was not fresh grape juice.

I think we all agree that is not the approach. Our Lord's command was simple. Bread and wine of common use seems be the solution.

2. On the other hand, just because the command is simple does not give leave to be creative and push the boundaries of what is common bread and wine.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
I would love to hear some third world feedback on this. It might be that there are some locations where getting bread and wine are impossible. So, in those locations should they just never do the Lord's supper? I doubt that is an acceptable answer.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
My concern is the cultural factors relevant argument applied to one scriptural prescription could be used for another such as moving the Lord's Day to Friday in some countries where that would alleviate some difficulties. So is alleviating difficulties to be sought in not obeying the prescription?
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
My concern is the cultural factors relevant argument applied to one scriptural prescription could be used for another such as moving the Lord's Day to Friday in some countries where that would alleviate some difficulties. So is alleviating difficulties to be sought in not obeying the prescription?
It seems to me the more important focus for the Lord's supper is on what is taking place versus the elements themselves. We are spiritually feeding on Christ. If you can get bread and wine, that would be best, but I feel we don't want to take it too far and assign some superstitious beliefs to them either (not accusing anyone of doing this). There are going to be countries where getting bread and wine (wine specifically maybe), will be difficult. I believe the more clear command is to observe the Lord's supper in a reverent and self reflecting manner.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Given the specificity shown in the Old Testament for bread in worship we don't have a free-ranging choice in the elements. It's a matter both of RPW and a question of remaining united with the church across all ages. Unless you have someone who will certainly be harmed by a square-centimeter of bread, health choices can't be the deciding factor either.

I did a great deal of research on this when beginning to provide the bread for our congregation and could write a lot more detail at a later date if anyone wants it. (What I offer here is from memory.)

Flour, usually fine flour, was the assigned grain. Barley was used no further than the outer courtyard for those who could not afford more. Grains, per the law, were not mixed. (Dr. Duguid could certainly correct me on this -- wasn't the grain/legume mixture and the human dung in Ezekiel both serving a purpose of showing people how far they had departed from God's rule over them?) The point is, we are to use the best we can afford. Bread may be common across the ages, but worship demanded the best one could bring.

The Passover bread, showbread, various offerings etc., all foreshadowed The Bread of Life who was to come. That Jesus instituted the Lord's supper at one of these meals underscores the connection between the old and new covenant.

When people assert a specific "ancient grain" they overlook the regional varieties. People had what was available to them and what their weather could grow. I could be wrong on this, but the protein may be a function of the growing temperatures -- cold providing "hard" higher-protein wheat and "soft" (think White Lily) providing lower protein flours. All flours were genetically modified via selection (and wild wheats mixing in) to increase the productivity so as to support increased urbanization.

Much of the confusion comes from European assumptions (similar to the wooden manger) or from modern marketing innovations. Fine flours were already being produced by the time the Israelites left Egypt and have been largely preferred ever since. (They were also a luxury both because of the food value that was taken out and because of the greater time needed in production.) The dense, grainy bread people assume is the older came about because of what could be produced in Europe and (I suspect) a preference in some regions. The invention of the Matzoh machine in the late 1800s pushed that ghastly cracker stuff some churches select for a connection to Passover. The post-Finney world provided prohibition and a market for Welch's.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
It seems to me the more important focus for the Lord's supper is on what is taking place versus the elements themselves. We are spiritually feeding on Christ. If you can get bread and wine, that would be best, but I feel we don't want to take it too far and assign some superstitious beliefs to them either (not accusing anyone of doing this). There are going to be countries where getting bread and wine (wine specifically maybe), will be difficult. I believe the more clear command is to observe the Lord's supper in a reverent and self reflecting manner.
The prescription of bread and wine is clearer actually than the argument for the change, and thus the prescription, of the Lord's Day for the first day of the week. I've seen the argument made that the day can be changed, so I'm not making up this concern. Because they point beyond themselves does not give leave to use something else. I don't know how we get there from our understanding of worship and Who does the appointing. We get to women preachers, baptising and giving the Lord's Supper out of necessity otherwise.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
The prescription of bread and wine is clearer actually than the argument for the change, and thus the prescription, of the Lord's Day for the first day of the week. I've seen the argument made that the day can be changed, so I'm not making up this concern. Because they point beyond themselves does not give leave to use something else. I don't know how we get there from our understanding of worship and Who does the appointing. We get to women preachers, baptising and giving the Lord's Supper out of necessity otherwise.
I understand the concern with going "off script" when it comes to commands and prescriptions. However, this still doesn't resolve the issue for the third world country where the elements may not be obtainable. Not observing the Lord's supper would also be a sin for a Christian church. So, what is the answer for those brothers and sisters?
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Common Bread: https://reformedbooksonline.com/top...ords-supper/common-bread-in-the-lords-supper/

Summary: Jesus and Paul used the word "Bread" not "Unleavened bread" or "Leavened Bread" though both were available for him to use. Therefore, it is the bread that is common to the society/culture you find yourself in, in which it should show forth the symbol of feasting and sustenance. The bigger issue is that it be ONE bread. GF, or not doesn't matter. Is it bread?

Common Cup: https://reformedbooksonline.com/top...of-the-lords-supper/wine-in-the-lords-supper/ and https://reformedbooksonline.com/topics/topics-by-subject/the-lords-supper/the-common-cup/

Summary: The contents of the cup should be wine (i.e. alcoholic wine), and it should be drank from a common cup. The rationale for this is Jesus used wine, and the great many symbols in Scripture of wine and the Lord's supper of which something like grape juice does not symbolize but wine does that must be shown in the Lord's supper.

Common Table (as opposed to individual seats amongst non-communicants): https://reformedbooksonline.com/topics/topics-by-subject/the-lords-supper/sitting-at-the-table/

Summary: Communicants should sit around a table together as shown throughout Scripture and distinct from non-communicants showing the distance from God's people vs not God's people.
 
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MountainPilgrim

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems that nearly every argument I have heard against using the elements the Lord prescribed could likewise be applied against the Regulative Principle of Worship. I do not understand how in one breath we can say that the manner in which we worship is of extreme importance and must be based upon Scriptural command, then with the next breath argue that the elements of the Lord's Table are indifferent, and our Lord's clear commands are actually ambiguous and relative to our own experiences.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
Common Bread: https://reformedbooksonline.com/top...ords-supper/common-bread-in-the-lords-supper/

Summary: Jesus and Paul used the word "Bread" not "Unleavened bread" or "Leavened Bread" though both were available for him to use. Therefore, it is the bread that is common to the society/culture you find yourself in, in which it should show forth the symbol of feasting and sustenance. The bigger issue is that it be ONE bread.

Common Cup: https://reformedbooksonline.com/top...of-the-lords-supper/wine-in-the-lords-supper/ and https://reformedbooksonline.com/topics/topics-by-subject/the-lords-supper/the-common-cup/

Summary: The contents of the cup should be wine (i.e. alcoholic wine), and it should be drank from a common cup.

Common Table (as opposed to individual seats amongst non-communicants): https://reformedbooksonline.com/topics/topics-by-subject/the-lords-supper/sitting-at-the-table/

Summary: Communicants should sit around a table together as shown throughout Scripture and distinct from non-communicants showing the distance from God's people vs not God's people.
Well, this certainly brings up more questions. I would be for all the things in this post, but I can tell you that my church does not do the 2nd or 3rd points as prescribed (all drinking from one cup and sitting around a table). I would be surprised if any OPC did this (but it certainly could happen).
 
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