The Lord's Supper and those who abstained from wine

Discussion in 'Worship' started by Logan, Apr 11, 2019.

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  1. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I've had some thoughts "fermenting" in my brain for a while and wanted to see if there was any additional thoughts or wisdom to be gleaned from the community and it has to do with those in Scripture who abstained from wine and how they may have dealt with the Lord's Supper, even though Scripture doesn't say much on the point. Note that this discussion is related to the debate regarding whether wine only is to be allowed in the Lord's Supper.

    In Romans 14:21 it says regarding the weaker brother "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."

    Now, laying aside the issue that wine is certainly lawful, I have to wonder about the brother who abstained from wine. Was it all wine except that used in the Lord's Supper? How practically would this have worked out with respect to the Supper?

    Somewhat related is the Nazarite vow, which some likely would still have taken during the apostolic period (Acts 21:22--24) and perhaps Paul himself took (Acts 18:18). Given that one of the principles was to abstain from wine (Numbers 6:3), how would Christians taking this vow have dealt with the supper?

    I realize any discussion on this might be complete speculation but would be interested to know if there are any insightful thoughts on it or discussions in the early church fathers.
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  2. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I have often wondered about this question. I look forward to the replies. :popcorn:
  3. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    I have encountered Fundamentalist Baptists who ordinarily abstain from beverage alcohol; but use fermented wine when they celebrate the Lord's Supper. Not only do they believe fermented wine is required in the Lord's Supper. The only time they drink fermented wine is when the Supper of the Lord is celebrated.

    T. P. Simmon's, A Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine, is a systematic theology these brethren use, that is not at odds with their position.
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  4. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I had to re-read your post to understand the flow of what you’ve written. I get what you’re asking, but it seems your Romans 14 quote breaks the chain of thought. Could you elaborate on why you quoted this particular passage?
  5. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    My apologies if the style is confusing. In Romans 14:21 it indicates some brothers were offended/stumbling due to the eating of certain foods (unclean) or the drinking of certain drinks, particularly wine (perhaps being concerned the wine had been offered to idols, I don't know the exact reasons).

    Practically, did those weaker brothers abstain from all wine? If so, what about the Supper?

    Similarly, if the strong brothers abstained for the sake of the weaker, what about the Supper?

    I was curious if there was any early historical literature on it or insight.

    Is the context of the passage such that I'm misreading it?
  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I would believe that this would fall under if a brother actually came to someone and told them that by partaking of the wine in the supper, it was 'offensive' to them. In that, Paul is not intending for me to deny myself the wine absolutely, but doing it in the open, disregarding the person who is offended; as well, I am sure that there comes a level of education in all of it. Most likely this had to do with if a reformed alcoholic were in your home and u were partaking of the drink.

    The other thing, which I have come to acknowledge is the fact that the LS has a holy, spiritual dimension to it and would it be correct in assigning a capacity for the element to be the stumbling stone or offense, to be guilty of causing someone to sin?

    Surely in biblical times, there were 'wine bibbers'. We do not see a single instance in scripture where this was an issue nor do we see, prior to the temperance movement, any instances where the church took instance with the above ideas.
  7. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Freshman

    I abstain from drinking alcohol with the exception of celebrating the Lord's Supper. To me that is a unique circumstance which has Scriptural requirements.
  8. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Me too.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
  9. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I don’t think so, per se. However, I would say, in regards to the Lords Supper, Christ instituted wine as the sacrament (and our confession clearly states). Our confession also clearly states that Christ is the Lord of the conscience.

    What Christ has instituted shall not be taken away by one’s own conscience. It would be at odds with His command, and not properly instructed in the way of the Lord.

    I’ve looked into issues dealing with wine and the Lords supper before. Most commentators that take up this issue, I have found, speak of nothing else but wine being used. I could be wrong here, but I want to say that this issue is strictly unique to us due to our being in a post-abstinence movement era.
  10. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    On a side, John Murray deals with the “weak brother” in particular from his Romans commentary. It’s an appendix called “The Weak Brother”.
  11. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Certainly, yet I feel compelled to once again point out that these were framed within a historical context different from ours and I'm cautious about drawing too many implied conclusions from it, regardless of what my personal stance is.

    I'm not for about taking away Christ's command for the sake of conscience at all, but it seems to me some people are too confident about what the command actually is, and I'm open to more nuance.

    But this is straying from the original topic. I was just curious if there was any historical evidence or thoughts about how situations like this may have arisen and been handled.
  12. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    If I remember rightly, Murray cautions that, while weak-brother concerns need to be addressed, the weak must not be allowed to dominate over the stronger brethren in their opinions.
  13. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I have always wondered why we are very specific about using wine and no other substitutes, but we are not at all specific on the type of bread. It’s my understanding that they used unleavened bread at the Supper not the type of bread we use. Why aren’t we particular about the bread type if we are convinced about the wine being the only thing we can use at the Lord’s Supper?
  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    See posts in this recent thread,
  15. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Benedict Pictet, the nephew of Francis Turretin, makes an interesting point concerning what is meant by the weaker brother in Romans 14:

    But by “the weak” we by no means understand persons who are obstinate in error, or who design, as the apostle says, “to spy out our liberty,” (Gal. ii. 4, 11, 12), but those brethren who are not yet sufficiently instructed in Christian liberty …

    Benedict Pictet, Christian Theology, trans. Frederick Reyroux (1696; London, 1834), 8.4, p. 377.
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