Good news for a local PCA church, Grape Juice to Wine in Lord's Supper

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littlepeople

Puritan Board Freshman
So what did fruit of the vine mean in the context of Scripture? What did it mean to Jesus? What did it mean to Paul? It didn't mean grape juice, it couldn't.

Nor could it have meant tiny little plastic cups, but I'm willing to press for slow steady reform because I think the issue of split-tray is not primary. (not unimportant mind you).

Intinction I'll fight about; the split-tray not so much.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Grant, I think you need to take a break. This thread is exploding. If you're interested in some analysis of the term "fruit of the vine" in Scripture, here are a couple of resources: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/juice-is-not-the-element.94717/page-5#post-1156108

I would add: Christ speaks of this fruit of the vine in the gospels; not merely a or the.
I really am fine. If there are posts that seem uncharitable I will happily delete them. I’m not angry and I do feel that this is some good discussion, because sadly this is something that even modern reformed churches can’t come to an agreement on. I am open to being convinced that split tray is the best method, but please at least try to cite sources from scripture, the confession, or the book of church order that I subscribe to as a member and a deacon in the PCA.

@Logan , @timfost , @littlepeople :
I am not angry at any of you brothers, if this was conveyed in any of my post please let me know. In the very least this has been a fruitful discussion because it has caused me to deal with common modern objections.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I really am fine. If there are posts that seem uncharitable I will happily delete them.
Oh, I didn't mean posts that seemed uncharitable or angry. I did not detect any of that. I just meant: this thread went from 3.5 pages to 5 pages in a quick space. Is that a good use of time? That is your judgment to make for yourself; I was simply observing. It is also difficult to keep up with conversation in a thread that moves so quickly, and generally, better responses can be made when one sits and thinks for a time before posting. Again, you know yourself, so you can judge yourself. I was merely saying what I thought. I am glad you are finding some good use in the thread!
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Some keep using the phrase "fruit of the vine" as the that includes pasteurized grape juice when used in Scripture . So what did fruit of the vine mean in the context of Scripture? What did it mean to Jesus? What did it mean to Paul? It didn't mean grape juice, it couldn't.:detective:

Now I'm not saying this is definitely the case, but could you at least objectively allow for the possibility that the reason the Spirit used this phrase only three times in Scriptures (and all regarding the institution of the Lord's supper, rather than the practice), instead of the more specific and common "oinos" was to be more general than the exact thing that was used, which none of us know how to replicate anyway? Is it possible that the Spirit worded it that way on purpose? I know I can't bring myself to rule out that possibility.

"Greet one another with a holy kiss" had a very definite meaning to those it was addressed to. No Reformed commentator I know understands it the same way the first readers would have read it, but as a general principle. Could it possibly be that the same applies to "fruit of the vine"? That question leaves me unwilling to be dogmatic that fermented wine is the only allowable element.

And no, I appreciate your respect Grant, but I do feel like you are repeatedly missing the points being made. When I say I see a problem with Position A, I am not necessarily arguing for Position B or against Position A. Just objectively identifying some areas it may be good not to be dogmatic about.
 

littlepeople

Puritan Board Freshman
@littlepeople are you guys having an evening service in two Sundays? We may pay a visit.

Yessir! I'll look forward to seeing you. (we don't have evening service on the first Lord's Day of each month. WRT to the post above - I haven't taken you to be angry. I do urge caution with the pinning your interlocutors into positions they never intended. (3 elements, pro-abortion). It doesn't advance the discussion to have to stop to defend your good name against such.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Grant, there were two minutes between my post and your response. Respectfully, I don't think you really processed it and you most certainly missed the point, particularly the first paragraph and I'm not convinced that you could describe my arguments yet (meaning, you still don't understand them). Which I am sorry for as I intended them to be helpful but instead they seem to be misread or misinterpreted, as I believe were timfost's and littlepeople's too. Regardless, I need to spend my time on more productive things right now.

Edit, and please don't think that is meant in a bitter or upset way. I have no hard feelings at all. Perplexity more than anything.
 
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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Grant, there were two minutes between my post and your response. Respectfully, I don't think you really processed it and you most certainly missed the point, particularly the first paragraph and I'm not convinced that you could describe my arguments yet (meaning, you still don't understand them). Which I am sorry for as I intended them to be helpful but instead they seem to be misread or misinterpreted. Regardless, I need to spend my time on more productive things right now.
Dear Brother,

I do understand your arguments. I respect you enough to read each and every one of your post, in fact I normally read everyone’s post 2 to 3 (minimum) times before I reply, which is not difficult to do considering the length of your post even if my response time was two minutes. We just disagree on the objectivity to be allowed based on the evidence of scripture. The most clear example that we have of the Lord’s supper with in the context of a local church gathering is from 1 Corinthians 11.

Just because I disagree with your approach, does not mean that I don’t understand what you were trying to say. I am a somewhat educated man (in my mind at least:)) so unless were having a discussion about biomedical engineering , let’s assume that we can both read and understand each other’s post.

As I stated above, in my opinion all of the scriptural evidence is in favor of fruit of the vine being interpreted as fermented grape juice. The word wine was not arbitrarily chosen for the Westminster standards or the book of church order. The above sources, and my own study thereof, have bound my conscience to the opinion that wine should be the only element used unless there is some extreme medical condition and even then there should be much caution and sessional unity.

If my quick response time is going to be viewed as not giving a charitable reading and as not understanding what one is saying, then I have no issue in remaining silent. Forgive me brother, but No, I am not interested in being objective just for the sake of objectivity in light of the fact that I am already convinced that the bible, the confession, and the BCO all rule in favor of wine. I am willing to be convinced that we should be using both, but So far I remain unconvinced by the sources provided thus far.:detective:

P.S. I am convinced by the authoritative documents that I have mentioned and here I stand. Wine and Bread are the 2 elements commanded. Under normal circumstances we should use none else.
 
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Logan

Puritan Board Senior
No, it's not at all that I think you're unintelligent. In fact, I commented to Tim that I normally appreciate how fair-minded and open you are to various views and I find this conversation a bit surreal.

Only if you think it is worthwhile, try this experiment. I'll attempt to state your position, and you attempt to state a convincing critique from my position.

Grant:"The Scriptures use the phrase 'fruit of the vine' to describe the cup at its institution but the early believers would only have known this to mean fermented wine, as would have been almost universally the understanding of Christians to the 19th century. The confessions knew of no other drink. Therefore, wine is what was instituted."

Is that a fair summary of your position?

Logan's or Tim's critique: (you fill in)
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
No, it's not at all that I think you're unintelligent. In fact, I commented to Tim that I normally appreciate how fair-minded and open you are to various views and I find this conversation a bit surreal.

Only if you think it is worthwhile, try this experiment. I'll attempt to state your position, and you attempt to state a convincing critique from my position.

Grant:"The Scriptures use the phrase 'fruit of the vine' to describe the cup at its institution but the early believers would only have known this to mean fermented wine, as would have been almost universally the understanding of Christians to the 19th century. The confessions knew of no other drink. Therefore, wine is what was instituted."

Is that a fair summary of your position?

Logan's or Tim's critique: (you fill in)
Give me until this afternoon, once I reach my destination I will take the time to reply from my laptop.
 
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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Only if you think it is worthwhile, try this experiment.

We shall see.

Grant:"The Scriptures use the phrase 'fruit of the vine' to describe the cup at its institution but the early believers would only have known this to mean fermented wine, as would have been almost universally the understanding of Christians to the 19th century. The confessions knew of no other drink. Therefore, wine is what was instituted."

My own position, based on my convictions of the scriptures and my denominations confession and BCO:

There are 2 elements that were commanded in the Lord's Supper in scripture:

1) Bread

2) The fruit of the vine

*During the Lord’s Supper, all communicates should partake of the same bread and the same fruit of the vine*

As I read the passages dealing with the Lord’s Supper, fermented alcoholic grape juice is likely the Bibles own definition of fruit of the vine. The Westminster Standards use the word wine as does the PCA/OPC BCO, this indicates that the Westminster Assembly and the authors of the mentioned BCOs likely feel the best way for us to understand “fruit of the vine” is as “wine”. Bottom line, wine is what is commanded. Do I believe modern grape juice can be rightly considered what the bible (and other mentioned sources) state to be “fruit of the vine”? No (I have stated why in this thread already). Do I think those who use grape juice are still partaking in the Lord’s Supper? Yes, and I sure hope any hint of error does not invalidate our worship. Those using grape juice need sanctification in this area (assuming wine is available) as we all do on some level. All of our services likely have error, but we cannot and should not allow this to diminish our joy in Christ and the intercession of the Holy Spirit nor should that Joy be used as an excuse to be disobedient.

In rare circumstances (given by user @OPC'n ) I will yield that a session has some authority to try and apply wisdom to the circumstance. This should be so rare that it could even look like @Scott Bushey 's situation except in reverse (maybe minus the holy box).

Logan's or Tim's critique: (you fill in)

To be clear, I still think you first need to summarize your own position. I think you would agree with my personal opinion summary with at least 1 exception. You do not seem to see any error if there is a full substitution or a splitting addition in adding grape juice. In your opinion it would seem "fruit of the vine" could also potentially permit what is known today as grape juice. Tim mentioned the concept of “practice” and “precept”. I CAN understand that; however, I believe wine was both practice and precept and I suspect you would disagree with me here. Admittedly, Logan, you have stated that you are not necessarily defending a certain position, this makes it difficult to critique your actual position.

I am not as thrilled about your dogmatic approach to such a strict understanding of the element.

Tim, I do not believe I am being any stricter, in my opinion, than the Westminster Standards or the BCO. I will gladly stand corrected.

At the end of the day this is the question we disagree on:

When one uses “grape juice” in the Lord’s Supper, is that specific detail erroneous in itself? I think my answer is “Yes”, and I think (unless corrected) that Logan, Tim, and Brandon would say “No”. You men believe (I think) that modern grape juice fits the definition of the commanded element of “fruit of the vine” in the Lord’s Supper.

If you have any assumptions about potential conclusions of my reasoning, then I ask you to give me specific clear questions (or scenarios).:detective:
 
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Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for being willing to take some time.

No, I wasn't asking for a critique of my position (I actually don't think I've stated one yet). I attempted to state a fair summary of yours that you would agree with (and would be interested to see how you would re-word it) and was asking if you would then critique that summary as if from my perspective.

In other words, we reverse roles to make sure we understand each other.

Sorry I didn't get this posted before you wrote up your last post.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
I hope we can all agree that it is unfair to say that “the people that abstain because there is zero wine are being more strict (and in error)” than the people who abstain from the Lord’s supper because there is zero grape juice.
 

littlepeople

Puritan Board Freshman
When one uses “grape juice” in the Lord’s Supper, is that specific detail erroneous in itself? I think my answer is “Yes”, and I think (unless corrected) that Logan, Tim, and Brandon would say “No”. You men believe (I think) that modern grape juice fits the definition of the commanded element of “fruit of the vine” in the Lord’s Supper.

I hesitate to add too much that might lead to back and forth, but since you asked...

I think juice is problematic as I mentioned before. There's no doubt that grape juice is not the BEST or clearest manner of expressing the command. In my mind it is a parallel of baptism by immersion. Allowable, but not A-OK.

So: is it an error? Yes. Is the degree of error serious enough to insist 100% conformity from the sheep?: no
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Here is a good angle for being objective and still trying to think on this:

If we believe the Lord’s Supper is best served by sharing a cup such as 1 cup or a few being passed out to “share”, then doesn’t it show forth the intelligence of God that he would have wine as the element since it has qualities which can kill harmful contagious bacteria? From a Food safety standpoint unfermented grape juice has a much higher likelihood of sickening people and does not contain the quality of killing bacteria in the way alcohol does. :detective:
 
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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for being willing to take some time.

No, I wasn't asking for a critique of my position (I actually don't think I've stated one yet). I attempted to state a fair summary of yours that you would agree with (and would be interested to see how you would re-word it) and was asking if you would then critique that summary as if from my perspective.

In other words, we reverse roles to make sure we understand each other.

Sorry I didn't get this posted before you wrote up your last post.
So the 2nd half of your request:

I think your critique of me is that though I read wine in the Westminster and BCO (and I see it implied in scripture, Jesus said “do this”), I should be more open to saying that grape juice counts as a proper element because scripture (from your point of view) does not dogmatically command wine.

This however is what I cannot do with my current understanding.
 
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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
There are some resources at the PCA historical center related to the discussion BTW:

http://www.pcahistory.org/bco/dfw/58/wine.html
This was such a conflicting read. It began by specifically stating that, BIBLICALLY, the only proper elements in the Lords supper are bread and specifically “ fermented grape juice“. Then by the end of the article it said but sessions can use unfermented if “THEY” choose. It also pointed to the the supposed “danger” of alcohol. The problem is Paul pointed out the “danger” as well, which was found with the people and not the wine, however he demanded self-discipline from the people. The wine was not the thing needing to change, it is their (and our) hearts and minds.

At least this does support a “why” answer to practice in the PCA. Thanks for sharing.
 
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earl40

Puritan Board Professor
This was such a conflicting read. It began by specifically stating that, BIBLICALLY, the only proper elements in the Lords supper are bread and specifically “ fermented grape juice“. Then by the end of the article it said but sessions can use unfermented if “THEY” choose. It also pointed to the the supposed “danger” of alcohol. The problem is Paul pointed out the “danger” as well, which was found with the people and not the wine, however he demanded self-discipline from the people. The wine was not the thing needing to change, it is their (and our) hearts and minds.

At least this does support a “why” answer to practice in the PCA. Thanks for sharing.

We in the PCA should revisit this issue, in that if I am not mistaken we do not include the section on The Lord's Supper in our book of order. What a great opportunity to correct the error of the past.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
We in the PCA should revisit this issue, in that if I am not mistaken we do not include the section on The Lord's Supper in our book of order. What a great opportunity to correct the error of the past.
Actually, it is one of the few chapters that is constitutional. "BCO 56, 57 and 58 have been given full constitutional authority by the Eleventh General Assembly after being submitted to the Presbyteries and receiving the necessary two-thirds (2/3) approval of the Presbyteries."
 

littlepeople

Puritan Board Freshman
If we believe the Lord’s Supper is best served by sharing a cup such as 1 cup or a few being passed out to “share”, then doesn’t it show forth the intelligence of God that he would have wine as the element since it has qualities which can kill harmful contagious bacteria?

Yes, Bingo.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I don't have the link. But some years ago I stumbled on a Lutheran discussion of this and a dentist said flat out, that the claims germs are not spread in wine are not true. I'll add, if you don't carve up the bread (which we do; Gillespie condemns that practice in his EPC) or have those Chiclets things, the germ spread is huge in comparison to a common cup, in handling and tearing the bread. Wash your hands folks.

Here is a good angle for being objective and still trying to think on this:

If we believe the Lord’s Supper is best served by sharing a cup such as 1 cup or a few being passed out to “share”, then doesn’t it show forth the intelligence of God that he would have wine as the element since it has qualities which can kill harmful contagious bacteria? From a Food safety standpoint unfermented grape juice has a much higher likelihood of sickening people and does not contain the quality of killing bacteria in the way alcohol does. :detective:
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
that the claims germs are not spread in wine are not true.
Well to be fair I did not say that wine eliminates all germs, or the spreading there of. However I think James was on to something when he mentioned having a little wine to help the stomach.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
To me the argument is a non starter; much like if silver is used for the cup it is germy free. I think all that can be said is that wine is safer in some respects than juice because juice is more perishable. Back when our church did all juice (now it is mostly wine with a few specifically served juice) and someone figured they'd save time in the morning by pouring all the thimbles the night before (my old church used 3 ounce shot glasses), the juice had grown mold by the next morning. They served the supper with just the bread. This was before I was there or I'm pretty sure I would still not be "over" that solution.
Well to be fair I did not say that wine eliminates all germs, or the spreading there of. However I think James was on to something when he mentioned having a little wine to help the stomach.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Come on Chris don’t you see the Christian unity in us all passing salmonella on to one another and not only sharing the same bread and wine, but also sharing the same toilet facilities.:D
I'm not convinced of a common cup as commanded circumstance, but I freely admit my germaphobia here. If my church went common cup, I would be like, okay, but I'm first in line.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
“When somebody inquired whether, when a sick person wished to have the sacrament but could not tolerate wine on account of nausea, something else should be given in place of the wine, the doctor [Martin Luther] replied, ‘This question has often been put to me and I have always given this answer: One shouldn’t use anything else than wine. If a person can’t tolerate wine, omit it [the sacrament] altogether in order that no innovation may be made or introduced.'” — Martin Luther, “Table Talk” (Luther’s Works 54:438)
Scott,

In reading back over the thread, I wanted to speak to this. I was encouraged by this quote from Luther. Why? Well in my own experience of reading many of the reformers and various liturgies, the thing I find most unique to Luther is how much it seemed his heart was always concerned with the conscience of his fellow brothers/sisters. It is often encouraging and challenging to hear Luther hold conscience to such a high standard within church practice. Further it is encouraging to know that he took the above stand on wine, knowing his HIGH regard for the conscience of fellow saints.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
@Afterthought’s link above looks profitable. I’ve been thinking about Christ’s use of the phrase fruit of the vine and all the many allusions to the vine and the fruit of it in the OT- always the vine is a grape vine, and many times with the link between the wine and the cheering of the heart. That association is all through Scripture. It can only be fermented to cheer the heart. Several prophetic allusions in the OT re: the vine and Christ; Genesis 49:11-12 is particularly striking. He had alluded to himself as the Vine in John 15:1. He was about to be crushed; the fruit of the Vine poured out. Perhaps the reason he used the unusual phrase found only here wasn’t to provide the alternative of unfermented grape drink to our minds, but to recall to mind all the OT allusions to the vine including the crushing and the cheering. As bread calls to mind the sustaining of life.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
That's entirely possible Jeri, thanks for sharing. I didn't mean to imply that it was to bring unfermented grape juice to our minds, but rather that it may be a more general term that encompasses more.

Regardless. Some random thoughts:
I say this as someone who would probably prefer wine in communion but without trying to be facetious or overly analytical, I really wonder what it is qualifies wine as acceptable. I've heard in this thread that blue wine that tastes like a Sonic drink may fit the qualifications if it is fermented. But why is fermentation so important? What about non-alcoholic wine (fermented but filtered to remove the alcohol)?

Can we really say that all the innovations and new processes, new strains of grapes, etc. to make wine in our day are completely acceptable (things never even possible in the apostle's day) but then turn around and say this one process that prevents fermentation disqualifies it as the fruit of the vine? I am really having a hard time understanding.

Might it even be possible that the grape juice of our day is closer to some of the wine of Jerusalem than our wine is? I don't argue for grape juice but I do wonder at how some argue against it.

I can't get past the fact that none of us really knows what the wine was like in Jesus' day. Some say it was made from boiled grape paste, some that it had far less alcohol, some that Jewish was different from Corinthian, and I'm extremely reticent to put restrictions upon the qualifications when we aren't given any in Scripture. Wine is safe, but is only wine a command? I just hesitate to dogmatically affirm given our imperfect knowledge and judgment and don't share the certainty some have that they know the answer.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
I've heard in this thread that blue wine that tastes like a Sonic drink may fit the qualifications if it is fermented.
Where? I nor Brandon ever stated that it should be used. The example was used at first as a joke and then to try and understand why one would disqualify it.

Sidebar: Thank you for replying and at least letting us see more of where you are coming from. There’s nothing wrong with your conscience not being able to be as dogmatic that we should just be using wine only. But likewise we must be accepting that other brothers and sisters do you have a dogmatic opinion that we should be using wine only in the Lord supper.
 
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