Juice is not the element!

Discussion in 'Worship' started by Andrew P.C., Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I used this title to hopeful draw more people to this discussion.

    Knowing that wine in the Lords Supper was not disputed in the Christian Church for close to 1800 years, and that every commentary you pick up (that I know of) says “fruit of the vine” is wine, what justification does one have for substituting wine for grape juice, knowing that the Lord Himself instituted the Supper with wine?

    I should also note that I have heard the argument that once you open the cap of juice, it starts the fermentation process. Well, knowing first hand how the fermentation process works, this is not true. Also, there is quite a big difference between “just starting the fermentation process” and already aged wine, which was instituted by Christ.

    I also find the “what about alcoholics in the church” argument misplaced. It suggests there weren’t alcoholics for 1800 years before the pasteurization process, in my opinion.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    My sister is highly allergic to alcohol (very sad story I know lol), so there would be no way that she could partake of the Lord's Super if they didn't offer grape juice along with wine. Also, think about men in prison for their faith. They aren't going to have wine....water if they are lucky. The women in prison for their faith are out of luck since they can't perform the Lord's Super.
  3. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    One possible reason every commentary in the past assumed wine is that there was really no other method of preserving "the fruit of the vine".

    I'm curious what percentage alcohol content determines whether it is acceptable "wine" or not?
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  4. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    The question isn’t about percentage of alcohol. Never has been. Welch’s grape juice was never meant to be fermented so the underlying principle of grape juice is specifically to have unfermented juice.

    Fruit of the vine, especially given in the context of the Lords Supper during Passover, means nothing else but wine. Keith Mathison, for example, covers this well in his book on the Lords Supper.
  5. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    By the way, I'm certainly not opposed to using wine, but here's some more things to think about. The term "wine" is not as easy to define as we might think.

    The cupbearer in Gen 40 is generally assumed to be speaking of wine when in his dream he squeezes the grapes into his hand. No fermentation. It could have been left out for the sake of simplification but Matthew Henry comments "Probably it had been usual with him to press the full-ripe grapes immediately into Pharaoh's cup, the simplicity of that age not being acquainted with the modern arts of making the wine fine." (note he implicitly refers to unfermented grape juice as "wine").

    Trapp likewise comments on this verse "That he might have his wine fresh and new." (once again note that he calls unfermented grape juice "wine").

    Other commentators, such as Clarke and Barnes (sometimes helpful) believed the Jews drank unfermented grape juice. Still others point to passages in the Mishna as evidence that the wine Jews drank was not fermented, but rather boiled. I can't find the original citation but someone I found online quoted Horace (c. 65 BC) praising a non-intoxicating wine.

    So what does "wine" mean? I don't think it's nearly as straightforward as saying "wine then was what we call wine now." Would we advocate boiled grape paste in communion if that's what wine actually was at that time? But that it was made from grapes I think we can all agree on.
  6. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    What specifically is she allergic to? Is it the red wines? If that’s the case, what about using white wine?

    For the color issue, Turretin gives a good response in that the wine used is “common” wine. Color was never an issue.
  7. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    That's interesting, because I would think the color far more relevant to the symbolism ("this is my blood") than whether it was fermented or not.
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  8. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    The issue is that your taking specific portions of scripture that don’t deal with the Passover or the Supper and using them as what can be used for the Lords Supper. Jewish tradition and scripture point to the fact that wine was used in the Passover and is used in the Lords Supper because I’d the Passover.
  9. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    If I recall, that would be a zwinglian approach to the Lords Supper. I’ll have to find the portion in Turretins Institutes. It’s worth the read.
  10. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    No, please re-read what I wrote and think about the point I was trying to make. I spelled it out clearly.
  11. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I did... 4 times.

    Asking what the “word” meant doesn’t deal with the context. Context dictates usage.

    So again, knowing how the Passover was done, where is the justification for grape juice in the Lords Supper, exegetically.
  12. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    So...what does "wine" mean when both Henry and Trapp apply the term to unfermented grape juice? How do you know what the content of the "wine" in the Lord's Supper was? There's nothing in the context that says, you have to infer somewhere and I'm trying to ask what the right inference is, or if it even matters.

    As an additional thought: we even have to infer that it was wine used at the Lord's Supper, because the context doesn't say that specifically. That seems fairly straight-forward and there's little argument, but once again, I don't think it's nearly as easy as saying "the wine used in the Bible is what I mean when I say 'wine'".
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  13. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Sure, except, as you point out, the word isn’t “wine”. The phrase used is “fruit of the vine”.

    The issue is that this in the context of the Passover: “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer“ (Luke 22). Fermented “wine” was used in the Passover.

    It should also be pointed out that hebraists such as John Lightfoot comment that the tradition was wine.
  14. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I have already posted far more in this thread than I should have.

    When the Bible says to sing hymns, does that mean "Come Thou Fount" and "Amazing Grace"? No. How would the first readers have understood the term?

    When the Bible says "wine" does it mean the same thing you mean? Possibly, but you have to at least allow that it does not. Then you have to ask what it does mean: how would the first readers have understood the term? How do you know that wine was used in the Passover? How do you know it was fermented? How do you know that what Hebrews referred to as "wine" was fermented? How do you know that Lightfoot was right? How do you know that Lightfoot means fermented wine when both Trapp and Henry call unfermented grape juice "wine"? The list goes on.

    Aren't you making a rather large assumption? Can you give a definition for "wine" and prove that this definition has been used consistently and universally throughout all history, keeping the above counter-examples in mind? Can you describe the exact process of making the "wine" used at the Passover celebrated with the disciples? There is just too much we don't know.

    So therefore, the question is no longer "wine vs not-wine" but what is wine? What would be considered "fruit of the vine"? And do various forms of it make a difference? That would be a much more interesting and helpful discussion.
  15. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think Logan might have you on this one, brother :cheers:
  16. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    There was no biblical reason for 19th and early 20th century American churches to substitute grape juice for wine. But, as can be seen from this thread, now that the substitution has been made, it is no so easy to find a biblical way to change grape juice back into wine.

    In my experience, alcohol issue continues to be one of the most controversial issues in the modern American churches.
  17. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    As long as I have been partaking in the Lord's Supper grape juice has been the symbol of His Blood. I am comfortable that this is within the RPW and will continue to be the normative practice.
  18. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I'll toss in a grape grower's observation. Whatever wine was or is, one thing I'm sure about is that there were not any fresh grapes in the Spring. Fruit of the Vine consumed during Passover had to come from the previous Fall.

    So, it was either fermented alcoholic wine, or it was vinegar. I'm pretty sure they weren't using refrigeration or pasteurized canning back then.
  19. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Summary of what is written below:

    When dealing with this topic it is always easy to go to hypotheticals and those situations that are possible exceptions to the rule. We need to train ourselves to handle the principles of Scripture first and then dealing with hypotheticals and scenarios.

    Sad to hear this but that is an exception to the rule/principle. I’m sure there are many allergic to grape juice? Then what? That’s up to local elders to decide how to handle on case by case basis.

    Great question but again a distraction from the main issue of grape juice vs wine. God doesn’t tell us the exact amount of alcohol if one holds to wine. So the rest of Scriptures’ principles would guide this for a Session to decide.

    If any want to PM me I have done some work looking at the symbolism of Scripture from OT to NT with understanding the cup of the Lord’s supper. I am more than willing to send you my findings.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  20. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    As to what wine is: it is absolutely impossible for a grape to be broken and it not to begin fermenting immediately. Pasteurization was not invented until 1861 or ‘62. Pasteurization of grapes was not invented until 1869. Thus, before that date all wine had some amount of alcohol in it. This is clearly evidenced in 1 Cor. 11 where men were becoming drunk on the cup (not waiting for all to join),
  21. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    That's a good point Victor. I can't vouch for the validity of this, but I stumbled across a website that had this claim about methods of preservation in biblical times:

  22. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    But, God does tell us that alcohol is present in such quantity that...

    1) It improves with age. "The old is better." Luke 5:39

    2) It has medicinal properties. "bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine..." Luke 10:34

    3) It increases merriment. "Wine maketh merry." Ecc 10:19

    4) In excess it impairs health (Hos 4:11), judgment (Isa 28:7), and self-control (Isa 5:11).

    Sounds a lot like the modern wine of today.

    I am not sure why there must always be a discussion of alcohol content except to distract from the main question.
  23. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I appreciate your comments, but if grape juice is a form of wine, as Trapp, Henry, Clarke, Gill, and Barnes think (some call fresh juice "new wine"), then it isn't a distraction. Like I said, I don't have an issue either way but I don't think we are nearly as well-informed on what constitutes biblical wine as we think.

    I would be fascinated to read about what was used at the Passover, but I'm not sure we can actually know. The 1 Cor 11 passage you bring up may be the strongest evidence in favor of fermented wine...or that could just be the fruit of the vine they had on hand. I don't know.

    I'm adding this because I find it very interesting: out of the eight terms used to refer to wine in the New Testament, the term "fruit of the vine" is the most ambiguous and yet it is the only indication of what was used at the Lord's Supper. Interesting! Are we to infer what was used from extra-biblical sources, or take the words at face-value? I have no idea but how fascinating! Similarly, if it was wine, and yet wine was apparently drunk at every stage of the fermentation process (including new wine, immediately) then at what point of the process was Passover celebrated at or would it matter? Any theses out there on this I can read? :)
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  24. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    And this is the point. Grape juice, heated, bottled, and refrigerated is specifically done so it won’t ferment.

    According to John Lightfoot, the practice among the Jewish Talmudists and Jewish people before and during Christ’s time was the use of fermented drink in the Passover.

  25. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    It’s interesting that you use one passage to come to a “juice” conclusion for an element of worship.

    What about John 2 and Luke 7 where wine literally means fermented drink? Or 1 Cor. 11 where Paul says “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you”, concerning the Lords Supper. Clearly they were using fermented drink. It seems not only consistent, but necessary to conclude that fermented drink was instituted at the Lords Supper, or Paul lied when he said he got it from the Lord Himself.
  26. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I don't think you're understanding what I'm saying. At all.
  27. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    One thing I do know. If a member of a proposed reformed congregation wishes to have wine (as is proposed in our standards) and not grape juice it is against our standards to violate that persons conscience by at least not serving both.
  28. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    A tangent, but are there not issues with the Talmudic writings? Are they not all later than 1st century or reconstructed (I'm forgetting who I heard say something along those lines). And I think it was Schlissel who tried to use Christ's use of the cups in the passover to refute the regulative principle of worship. There is no prescription for four cups or sayings to go with them.
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  29. KGP

    KGP Puritan Board Freshman

    I think it is the bitterness of the cup that bears the most relevance, more so than the color, though I believe that to be relevant also.

    I grow weary of sweet grape juice. It was a bitter cup Christ drank, it was a bitter fate he suffered, and he did it for me, praise his name. I drink Welch's happily when that is what's prepared, though I feel that wine would just be more fitting. 99% of my life it's been Juice.

    Above my personal wishes are the other people whom Christ drank that cup for. He did it so that we can come together with him now, and so that ultimately we will all be together with him where he is. Let's look to Christ and look to the family we have been adopted into with love and not be divisive. I say that as a reminder to myself.
  30. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Well then either you aren’t understanding my response or you need to explain to this idiot.

    You’re asking for uses of wine in scripture. I literally just quoted you. It’s there. I gave you New Testament examples including what was passed down to Paul. Yet your only response is calling me stupid. Nice.
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