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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

08 December 2005

Communion Wine

Q: I have a spiritual and physical concern of serving 18% alcohol as communion wine to young boys and girls! Don’t you feel that is too terribly strong? I feel that the adults can handle that strength but that children and young adults can’t! What is your opinion?

Holy CommunionA: I have no problem with the wine you mention. First of all, people of a similar age drank similarly strong wine through much of the time recorded in the Bible. God commanded the use of wine in the Passover celebration and Israel normally used three full cups during the dinner for all the participants. Then we consider that the amount consumed in communion is very small.

What bothers me more is that the taste of some of the cheaper wines I’ve received at some churches risks chasing the young (and others) away from the altar. This last leads me to the heart of my answer: It’s not the alcohol content, nor our feelings about it, that matter; rather, it’s what Christ says He gives us as we receive the cup.

The wine is not a concern because in Holy Communion, it is the blood of Christ given for Christ’s people (see Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; and 1 Corinthians 11:25. It is only when they neglect it, despise it, or misuse it that they bring trouble on themselves. No responsible pastor is going to give enough to children of twelve or thirteen years to intoxicate them.

Wine CellarIf we are overly worried about the alcohol, then perhaps we are not concerned enough with the real issue; that is, that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. That’s why, on several occasions, various members of congregations which I’ve served who have struggled with alcohol abuse still regularly commune: Their focus is on receiving what Christ offers in the cup, not on the wine which is the means by which they receive. They don’t drink to meet a physical craving but to satisfy a spiritual desire.

If the members of the flock are properly instructed by their pastors, there should be no problem. After all, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)”

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


Blogger HereISit said...

I would guess you will disagree with the solution our church has regarding the communion wine and people who feel they shouldn't have alcohol: We use grape juice in the inner ring of the wine cup holder/dish think.

We used to have white grape juice to differentiate it, but lately, they haven't had any white grape juice available, so it looked just like the wine. One Sunday after church a woman talked to me about this because she can't have alcohol because of a serious health concern. She is the type of person who would never ask the pastor about a concern, but she expressed it to me so I talked to the pastor. She said that she just touched the cup to her lips because she didn't dare have alcohol. Her (recently) late husband also couldn't have alcohol due to very very volitile alcoholism, and he also appreciated the grape juice.

I guess that I feel the Jesus is present in the word and the fruit of the vine and just how that is processed doesn't make a lot of difference. Someone might make wine out of frozen juice and that certainly would be different than it was done 2000 years ago, for example.

Having help serve communion several times, I've been impressed by the number of people who take the grape juice alternative. I just don't see this as watered down grace.

If baptism can be done by sprinkling or dripping water rather than dippiing, as some people insist on, then I see an analogy to grape juice/wine and the fruit of the vine just hasn't had time to process enough yet.

I do wonder at the message we might give in serving the wine openly to young members of the congregation. I have no problem with them having a taste of the wine. But we are, technically, in flagrant violation of the law when we serve alcohol to a minor. Or is this sort of thing exempt in the law?

About 25 years ago, we had a pastor who got a doctorate with an emphasis in ministry to alcoholics. I think that this has made our church especially sensitive to these issues. There are several AA and NA groups that meet in our building and a number of these wonderful servants attend and serve in our church. They are a blessing.

I will be interested in your reply.

ps I saw in the news awhile ago about a woman, Catholic, I think, who couldn't have wheat/gluten (Spru e os a serious disease!) and she was refused an alternative in her church. Do we know for sure that the bread of communion was wheat?

08 December, 2005 08:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a recovering alcoholic (sober almost 10yrs) and a recent convert to confessional Lutheanism and I too struggle b/c I don't drink the communion wine. Would like to hear the responses on this one. I came from a conservative PCA church where grape juice was served. I have to say I feel like I'm missing out during communion.

08 December, 2005 11:08  
Anonymous Dawn said...

Wouldn't the simple issue be that in Scripture it was the wine that was used?

Certainly there are exceptions such as those who cannot drink alchohol for medical reasons. However, to my knowledge, that's the exception, not the norm. To state there should be varied options based on mere personal preference is vastly differnt. Along this line one may gain the impression it would be alright to also offer grape soda or grape-flavored water.

The message being sent by the young people who are confirmed and come to the Lord's Table is they are professing the they too believe within the True Presence of the body and blood of our Lord and Savior with the bread and the wine, just as any other member within the church does so when they approach the Lord's Table. After all, whoever's alter one communes they, by their actions, are stating they agree with what is taught by the church. How would this be encouraging any type of abuse?

Those who disagree with the Biblical stance of the Lord's Supper shouldn't be communing. And it's a Pastoral duty to deny communion to thosee He knows should not be recieving it.

As the Apostle Paul quoted from Jesus' own words:

"...That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
(1 Cor 11:23-26)

Within both Baptism and Communion, God chose the Invisible Element to be His Word. He also chose the Visible element to be water for Baptism and Wine for Communion. God was the one who commanded Baptism and Communion. That's what makes them Sacraments.

As was said within the actual blog, why should it be quibbled over which wine or why when the focus of one's faith is the more important?

Why argue over wine or grapejuice when in the Scriptures it states wine? Those Christians medically able to take wine, do so. Those who are not medically capable, take grapejuice. What should cause the more concern is when someone abstains from the Lord's Table or fellowships in this manner with others of differing docterines altogether...where there is no Doctroninal unity to be found.

08 December, 2005 19:09  
Anonymous Liturgical Miss said...

My congregation has only three individual cups of grape juice available each Sunday, and often only one of those cups get used.

Most people who are concerned about wine intake, either because of alcoholism or medical reasons (including pregnant and nursing mothers) perform intinction-they do not eat the host immediately, but wait until Pastor comes by with the chalice and then will dip the bread in the wine and then eat it.

It's also how people who use the chalice commune when they have a cold sore or virus-they can still partake from the common cup, but they don't risk passing on any germs.

08 December, 2005 20:09  
Blogger HereISit said...

If we want to quibble over words, we could say that Jesus said "drink" which would leave out intinction, maybe even sipping. The quote said Jesus took the Cup. Wine is assumed in this passage.

But as you said, it is the faith that is important....yet it isn't faith that saves us, it is Jesus' death and resurrection. "My grace is sufficient for you."

I have more trouble with the statement "And it's a Pastoral duty to deny communion to those He knows should not be recieving it." I certainly do know why this is stated, and yet....the word "know" is such a concrete and certain word. How does the pastor "know?" Didn't the person coming forward just go through the liturgy of confession and forgiveness? Did that person open his/her heart to the Lord's message that day? It is the Lord who invites us to commune, and it is the Lord who judges. Just as the communion is still true communion if the pastor has a non-confessed sin on his heart as he presides at the Table.

09 December, 2005 10:09  
Blogger Kelly Klages said...

Hereisit-- "flagrant violation of the law through serving alcohol to a minor"?? You're kidding, right?

As for the alcoholism question, I know that in the rare case of alcoholic who couldn't handle taking a tiny sip of wine from the cup, the pastor of my old church would serve them from a cup of mostly water, with just a drop of wine. A woman in very serious condition in the hospital who couldn't keep anything down could still take a crumb of communion bread and moisten her lips with a touch of the wine.

They knew that the important thing is to receive what they truly believe to be Jesus' own body and blood, not to change communion into a kind of 19th-century Methodist paranoia about the evils of alcohol, leading to overt grape juice useage. Alcoholism is a real problem, but changing Jesus' institution of the Supper is a problem too, and it can be conducted properly for anyone without fear of wine. One could argue that water was different back in those days; does that mean we should be able to baptize our kids with rose petals instead? Some churches go there.

Besides your mention of the priest, I have never heard of a pastor *denying* someone with a serious wheat allergy an alternate bread option. We cannot paint all these circumstances with the same brush.

10 December, 2005 01:14  
Anonymous Dawn said...

HereISit, you asked how can a Pastor can know when a person should not recieve communion.

Maybe the Christian is unable to discern the Lord's Presence: such as babies and children, unconfirmed adults, or those who have a form of Dementia or Alziemers.

Communion should be withheld from non-Christians.

Those who have already stated they do not believe nor accept the "Real Presence". When an individual is within an open, willful and unrepentant sin. They do not desire forgiveness. In both these cases, the individuals have stated by their own words and/or actions they do not desire to be in union with the rest of those who are communing.

In communion we recieve God's grace and forgiveness. It is also an outword testimoney of the union of those who communion at the Lord's Table. Thus, Communion is not merely between us and God...but also between fellow believers.

Thus, it can't be said there's no way for the Pastor not to know in these particular instances. The pastor can't read a person's heart and mind. But they can hear one's words and see their actions.

However, this is getting off-topic. The Explanation to Luther's Small Catachism offers a section regarding the Sacraments which may be helpful. It can be found online at:


10 December, 2005 01:42  
Blogger HereISit said...

I know the traditional and Lutheran answers to all these points/questions but I am kind of trying to figure out where we get our view points from other than just "tradition." For example, a quick look at the concordance and verses in my Bible showed that Jesus referred to "the cup" the "the fruit of the vine." "The cup" also was used as a metaphore for his suffering.

My friend belongs to a denomination which uses regular bread, but the loaf must not be "broken" before it is used in the communion because of the Biblical statement about "broken for you." And does the bread need to be unleavened?

I know that our church and the pastors we've had don't deny communion to members in the nursing home and many of those have conditions which render them unable to know what is going on around them. They are still saved by God's grace and need Jesus' presence.

My son was the first child to commune at our church, when he was 5, 16 years ago. He understood communion and asked why he couldn't take it. I didn't know, but a friend suggested that he talk to the pastor and the pastor agreed that he did indeed understand. But that somehow seems very close to the ideas that Lutherans usually reject: that we have to do something to receive Christ. And I think about the WELS pastor that I know who wrote a catechism book for people with low intellectual ability. As Jesus said, "let the little children come unto me..."

I can see where a pastor might refuse communion on a one to one basis with a person who blatently exhibits no faith or no repentence. Yet it is doubtful that such a person would ask for communion. But if such a person showed up in church and took part in the liturgy of confession and forgiveness, would the pastor have a basis to refuse communion at the altar rail? Should the pastor believe the town rumors about this person or the evidence of that person's participation in the service? We know that ALL have sinned, so all the people coming forward are in need of Christ's real presense in the communion.

I guess I have been in a mood to wonder where we get all our ideas of literalism since the Bible can be read literally and come up with different interpretations. I learned all the Lutheran interpretations way back and I hold to them, but I also have problems with the idea that when we think that our interpretations are somehow better than other interpretations, that can lead to judgmentalism. I know what it is like to feel judged by people in other denominations who feel that their interpretatins are "more" correct than Lutheran ways of reading certain passages.

10 December, 2005 16:11  
Blogger Kelly Klages said...

If you're going to venture down the path that one denominations' interpretations are just as valid as another's and that having convictions is "judgmental," then it's no wonder you're having lots of problems with the idea of denying communion to those who shouldn't commune. But you raise some valid questions worth addressing.

Why has the church "traditionally" held to the idea that communion must be refused in some cases? Because of what the Bible says: A person must examine himself before communing in order to participate worthily. Communing can be dangerous (1 Cor. 11). This does not mean that a person is "earning" anything by being more mentally alert than another. Communion is not the same sacrament as baptism, and baptism has no condition of examining one's self. If you give communion to someone who cannot recognize the body, you are putting them in danger of judgment, plain and simple. You cannot overlook this just for the sake of a very modern notion of "let's include everyone in communion to make them feel happy."

As stewards of the mysteries of God, pastors have the responsibility of taking care of people's souls, not just making them feel nice. An infant or a mentally disabled person is still saved on behalf of the gift of baptism they received through faith in Christ, even if they are not in the position to receive communion. They still have Jesus' presence.

The pastor cannot look into people's souls to see if they will receive communion worthily, so he must go on their confession of faith and the fact that they have been catechized in the true faith, and are therefore able to examine themselves properly and are in true doctrinal unity with the rest of the body. Having grown up in a church that had open communion (with grape juice), it took me a little while to understand the implications of all this, and why Lutherans didn't just give in and try to look like all the other churches around them. When I realized that open communion and lax communion policy was a truly modern invention by people who was just trying to get people in the doors and be popular, it was a lot easier for me to understand the historical position of the Christian church, and the fact that communion is as much of a doctrinal issue as any other.

10 December, 2005 18:18  
Blogger HereISit said...

I understand Kelly's position fully. It is what I have been taught, and, for the most part, believe. I don't accept all denomination's doctines as equally valid, and yet....I don't think that others who believe in Jesus as God's Son are in some way less Christian or less saved or something else than people who look at God through the Lutheran Window.

When I've been in interdenominational Bible Studies, I've learned about verses that I've never been taught in a Lutheran church. I think that the Biblical Pharasees knew the scripture pretty well, they read it literally, and yet they missed the Christ because they were locked in their narrow interpretation. That gives me pause and causes me to be more humble in my "sureness" of the way I read the Bible.

I do think that a person must examine him/herself before communion, as the verse says. But this isn't the pastor examining the person. Yes, a pastor can be of great help to people in this process, but ultimately, it is between the communicant and God. In church, we have the liturgy which includes the confession of sins and the absolution. We have the creed. On one Sunday, I may sincerely mean every word I recite; on another my mind may be elsewhere. Likewise, someone may be there who has openly sinned (my sins are more private) and sincerely repent and confess. How is the pastor to know? Do pastors actually refuse people at the altar?

I think that part of my discomfort at all of this stems from two things in my background. Many many years ago, my grandfather and his brothers were kicked out of their Lutheran church because they played in a dance band. Two of them never again went to church. They couldn't even have the pastor from the family church at their funeral about 70 years later. I think that, as you say, there is the risk of a feel-good church. But there is a greater risk of turning people off in such a way that they feel shut out.

The other was when my husband and I were in a Lutheran wedding some years ago. The maid of honor was a vibrant joyous Christian, not Lutheran. The rest of us were Lutheran, of the so-so variety, including my husband who, at that time considered himself a non-believer. The pastor felt it was necessary to "examine" the non-Lutheran about her faith before he let her commune at the wedding. But even though he didn't know the rest of us, we could commune because we called ourselves Lutheran. I suppose that the assumption is that we all knew about the examining verse.

Ultimately, it is the Lord who invites us to commune and God who judges. But none of us come to church with no sins on our hearts.

10 December, 2005 21:15  
Blogger Orycteropus Afer said...

Where to begin?

I guess that I feel the Jesus is present in the word and the fruit of the vine and just how that is processed doesn't make a lot of difference.

How we feel is inconsequential compared to what God gives us (and gives us to do). Some of the later comments about dillution are part of my practice with those allergic. With those afraid of addiction, I focus more on what we drink in extended catechesis and Scripture study.

Having help serve communion several times, I've been impressed by the number of people who take the grape juice alternative. I just don't see this as watered down grace.

Two points here: One, why would a woman serve communion? This is part of the Office of the Holy Ministry; even deputizing the tasks of this office to non-pastor men should be done gently and with careful thought. Second, if it can create any doubt as to efficacy, it not only waters grace down, it threatens to chase it from the building. Removing one of the elements from Christ's institution certainly creates large doubt in my mind.

I do think that a person must examine him/herself before communion, as the verse says. But this isn't the pastor examining the person. Yes, a pastor can be of great help to people in this process, but ultimately, it is between the communicant and God.

The ministers of Christ are also "stewards of the mysteries." It's poor stewardship when we do not both examine and absolve communicants at the altars to which the Lord calls us.

Many many years ago, my grandfather and his brothers were kicked out of their Lutheran church because they played in a dance band....

I think this was shameful and sinful. However, laxity in doctrine and practice in a latter day doesn't make up for Pharasaical legalsim of earlier times.

As for only examining the non-Lutheran (and then allowing her to commune), that certainly wouldn't happen here. Those who associate with other confessions are not in communion with those who confess the evangelical doctrine. It wasn't for nothing that the Lutherans named the Big Book of Doctrine Concordia, for all were truly of "one heart."

Closed communion is a confession of singleness of heart. It goes back into Scripture (e.g., much of 1 Cor 10). In the early days of the Church, pastors bishops would give signed letters vouching for the confession of their traveling communicants.

What we're seeing here is the result of reading with different presuppositions. If Christ is at the center, then when He says, "Do," we do; when He says, "This is," then it is. When others say different, we say, "Let's talk things over and agree before we kneel together in the Church's highest expression of unity both between God and man and among Christians."

After Christ is firmly centered, then we start looking at what God says before ever dreaming of saying, "I think" or "I feel."

10 December, 2005 22:15  
Blogger Kelly Klages said...

No one here has said anything like (A) non-Lutherans are less Christian or less saved than Christians, or (B) people come with no sin to the altar. The "Lutheran Window" implies that you think that there many windows to the truth, and Lutherans are one of many. The communion issue is the root of a deeper issue.

Good old inter-denominational Bible studies. They can make us feel so terribly broad-minded; I know, I was the leader of my college's Christian fellowship group before I became a Lutheran. Just because a group has a different interpretation of Bible verses does not mean that they accept parts of the Bible that Lutherans reject. I'm sure many Lutherans had never heard the Jabez prayer verse from Chronicles before inter-denominational Bible studies jumped all over that bandwagon, and I wish they hadn't!

Yes, pastors do actually refuse people at the altar. Hard to imagine in our 21st-century mindset of tolerance, but they take the issue of judgment and responsibility seriously. Historically, as afer says, they have always been extremely careful in this regard. If a Mormon came to your church and came to the altar expecting to commune-- but he didn't announce himself and his faith is unknown to the pastor-- should he not be turned away, lest the pastor inadvertently allow heresy to be shown unified with orthodox Christianity? Precisely *because* a pastor cannot know a person's heart, he must go by whether or not they accept the teachings and doctrine of orthodox Christianity; that is, he must examine their confession of faith. Whether or not they "feel" sincere is also beside the point. And communion is not merely between a person and God; it is also between members of a confessing community. That's why it's called "communion."

The issue of closed communion was hard for me to emotionally accept at first, being raised Baptist. But that's all it was-- my emotions. Rationally, logically, theologically, and historically it made perfect sense, but it took awhile for my feelings to catch up, and for some of my pop-culture American evangelicalism mentality to die down.

10 December, 2005 22:59  
Anonymous Dawn said...

In this day and age there are many inside and outside of the church who base their foundations on their own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions: almost as if everyone should be able to account their own conclusions as equally valid as everyone else's.

This is not so when it comes to the Scriptures. Holy men wrote the Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit. They're the writers, yet God's the sole Author. What anyone thinks or feels about what they state ultimately does not change what they state. It's impossibe for the Bible to hold differing and contrasting opinions on a subject. God is not the Author of confusion.

Tradition has nothing to do with this. Saying the Lutheran Confessions which are backed by the Scriptures take the Bible too "literally" is also a mischaracterizion. Actually, the Lutheran Confessions hold to read them literarily: meaning to allow the rest of the passage to procliam what is being said. While there are many areas in the Bible that are literal and historical, there are others which indicate themselves to be otherwise poetic or prophetic in nature.

One should also consider both Testaments when reading. The New Testament fulfills the Old and the Old Testament explains the New.

It was by no mistake Jesus' death and ressurection took place over the Passover celebration for example. Compare and contrast the Old Testament account of the first Passover and compare it with with the Gospel accounts of the Institution of the Lord's Supper, the crucifixion, and the ressurection of Christ.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is not immune from the danger relativism poses. Considering it cries the idea that there are various routes that can be taken when considering God's word is nothing new. It's been present ever since the serpent asked Eve "Did God really say?" while in Eden.

11 December, 2005 00:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mt 7:1 & 7:16
Lk 6:37
1 Co 4:5
Jas 4:12
Mt 15: 8-9
Gal 3: 26-28
Heb 8:10
Yes, we are all one in Christ and by their fruits you will recognize them. If one isn't looking for fruit, one won't see fruit.

11 December, 2005 17:06  
Blogger Bob Waters said...

One shouldn't have to guess where the whole point is certainty. Nor does Scripture anywhere suggest that "the fruit of the vine" is the key here. What Jesus used was wine. Grape juice was unknown in biblical times, and Jesus said, "Do this," not "Do something more or less like it."

On the other hand, in biblical times wine at meals was heavily cut with water. This has always seemed to me an obvious and absolutely faithful solution to whatever legitimate concerns the presence of alcohol in the beverage Christ Himself used might pose.

I reminder, BTW: what we "feel" is neither here nor there!

11 December, 2005 20:59  
Blogger Bob Waters said...

Where did Jesus review to the Cup as
"the fruit of the vine?" Please cite chapter and verse.

11 December, 2005 21:01  
Blogger HereISit said...

When Jesus instituted the Last Supper, he said, "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." Later he refers to the "Cup." All KJ version, Luke 22: 18. but my other Bibles have almost identical wording.

Lutherans, of course, have always taken the word "is" to be literal, ie, this IS my body....This cup is the new covenant. Etc. This is my belief.

But there is so much symbolism here as well. The word cup is used in a number of places to refer to suffering or cup of suffering. And certainly the disciples suffered for their Lord.

Although my concordances aren't exhaustive, I haven't found the word wine to be used in the passages about the communion. That we accept that this was wine is based on historical reference as well as tradition, on what we know about the Passover. Was this new wine or old wine? Scripture doesn't answer that quesion. Nor does it answer what kind of cup was used.

The words bread and body are also used symbolically many times, in many ways. Again, knowledge of the Passover traditions and rules fills out our knowledge of the bread at the Last Supper.

When we read about the Lord's supper in 1 Cor, we also see the reasons why other Christian traditions focus on the LS as a symbolic meal, "in remembrance of me" even though the word "is" is used as well.

Fortunately we are saved by Grace through Jesus' death, not on the amount one sips or gulps or dips, nor on the type of cup, nor on whether the bread is leavened or unleavened nor on the frequency one communes, nor on whether it is broken ahead of time or whether is is wafers, nor on the "amount of faith" of the pastor presiding over the Lord's Supper.

If the "Communion" points us to the Lord, it enhances the Body of Christ. Jesus IS present when we commune; we take Him in. This is one way He comes to us, poor sinners. He also comes to us by His Word. And sometimes He just comes to us, as is His will.

12 December, 2005 08:54  
Blogger Kelly Klages said...

Just for clarity's sake, "new wine" is still wine; that is, it can still intoxicate. (i.e. Acts 2:13, Hosea 4:11, ESV.) Any insistence today that the cup of the Last Supper may not have been wine or need not be wine today simply stemmed from an abstainers' desire to make it so. The cup could not have been anything else. I too noticed, as I went through Lutheran adult instruction, that the word "wine" was not there, but "fruit of the vine" and "cup." This detail, used in defense of using something other than what Jesus instituted, I finally realized, was nothing more than my lingering fundamentalist approach to Bible translation, which was inherently flawed. (We can also fairly well state that whatever the cup was, it was one cup that all were to drink from as an expression of unity, not a bunch of little tumblers. Our church also makes use of individual cups as well as a common cup, but they always seemed pretty pointless to me.)

How a person approaches these issues of translation depends not merely on their opinions of interpretation, but on their first principles. If your Christology says that Jesus must physically remain in heaven and cannot be among us "fully" but merely in a "spiritual" way (Reformed), then it will be impossible for you to accept the Real Presence. If your faith is highly afraid of "Catholic" influence (i.e. Baptist, Wesleyan), anything miraculous happening in Communion is frowned upon. If Communion is not really an expression of the unity of the body, people are much more comfortable with the individual cups, because it reflects their individualistic approach to the Supper. I know this is not you, but a person's theology is of (or should be of) one piece. Various projected opinions and interpretations stem from much deeper questions and issues.

Communion does point us to Jesus and therefore does enhance the body-- when it is taken properly. Otherwise it can be deadly. Does God not deal with us exclusively through his Word and Sacraments?

12 December, 2005 22:19  
Blogger HereISit said...

"Does God not deal with us exclusively through his Word and Sacraments?"

I would not presume to limit God. Whenever someone says God can only do this or only did that...that is trying to put a handle on God or human limits on God. The Hebrews named things as a way of trying to get a handle on things. God said, "I am who I am" because God didn't accept this type of limit. Maybe God only comes to us through Word and Sacrament, but then again, God can work as God chooses. This is especially well shown when it says in John that the Word became Flesh.

13 December, 2005 07:44  
Blogger Kelly Klages said...

Ironically, the Scripture you quoted really does say it all. If the Word became flesh, God is dealing with us through the Word. Since the Word took on flesh and became incarnate, a blessing we could touch and taste in connection with the promise of God's grace to us (sending his Messiah), then we're looking at something sacramental. All this talk about how we "can't put God in a box" is more Metho-Pentecostal-non-denomism creeping into the picture. How can any human know anything about what God is like apart from his Word; apart from the promises God has spoken to us; apart from the incarnate Christ?

Methodist, non-denom, and Charismatic theological systems have God speaking to people through some inner vision or feeling apart from the Word. Is it any wonder that people's individual opinions and feelings dominate in these cases? It seems to me as though these ideologies are bound up with the communion issue. I would suggest doing a thorough background check into Methodism and its first principles, and it may become a bit more evident why little pieces of Methodism cannot be cut and pasted into Lutheran theology. Once you make concessions here and there, more will be made; it will turn into a different theology altogether (and an internally inconsistent one).

13 December, 2005 22:21  
Blogger HereISit said...

Luther said something like (I don't have the exact English translation) that the Bible is the manger on which we lay the baby Jesus. The Bible (Word of God) isn't to be elevated above Jesus (the Word made flesh.)

The scripture for this coming Sunday says it all.

We can know the Word (Bible) without believing in the Word (the Christ, Son of the Living God.) We can also be a Christian, ie saved by Grace alone, without knowing the Word (Bible) though many people would attest that knowing the scriptures is very helpful.

15 December, 2005 16:04  
Blogger disgruntled world citizen said...

rev'rin? can i just partake of the sacrament? i'll let you all work out the details, i just need the sacrament of grace. thanks.

20 December, 2005 18:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would Jesus have asked Peter to leave the table and get out of the house had Peter refused the wine on the grounds of alcoholism?

01 April, 2007 22:10  
Blogger Claudio said...

Jesus, being a Jew, strictely followed the Jewish way of worship. Everytime He communed with God he would say: "BLESSED ART THOU O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO CREATED THE FRUIT OF THE VINE'. And then He would drink the WINE. After that He would bless the bread, in the same fashion only replacing some words to refer to the bread, and then EAT it. He showed us how to commune with GOD, each of us, individually. There is no interpretation. What it is, it is, it is...

19 July, 2008 10:46  
Blogger Claudio said...

The New Testament is but a continuation and complements the Old Testament. Everything Jesus said or did was based on the Old Testament.

19 July, 2008 10:50  
Anonymous Angie said...

Anyone who has throughly read the bible knows that not all wine used in the bible was alcoholic. I do not believe that christians should involve themselves with any alcoholic wine. Even though the bible says to not be drunk and to be sober, it does not say how much it takes to be drunk. People often had wine back in the day because there was no medication available like we have today. Now that we do have medication there is no reason to have wine. Yes, I know that some medications have alcohol but I believe those should be used only when ABSOLUTELY necessary.

24 August, 2008 15:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a crazy question. If WE are to deny people communion, not leaving it with them to judge themselves before God, why? Did Jesus not confirm time and again that He knew Judas was to betray Him or that Peter would deny Him? Don't you think that He knew, or could know all the sins of the men around Him, and yet chose to share this symbol of His covenant. A covenant about restoration and His redemption of all mankind. I'm not saying the unsaved or those living in sin willingly should take it. I am saying people should have communion as well as His covenant explained from a jewish standpoint and be able to make an informed decision for themselves. The bottom line as I see it is my pastor no matter how much I love him is not responsible for my spiritual health- I am. My Jesus bids me come and dine, let us reason together. Open the door when I knock so we can sup together. Sounds a LOT like He wants to speak with me, about Himself and I. Like He with His Spirit want to lead me into all truth. That He would like to commune in my heart and convict me of my sin according to His word and spirit. I love and respect my pastor and am accountable to him to a point. When that point contradicts my accountability to Jesus Christ, I choose Christ. Not out of a rebellious spirit, but out of duty to my Lord.

28 November, 2008 09:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless 1st century vintners had refined sugar, I doubt the content of the wine was 18%. Most scholars concur that the "wine" or "oinos" (Koine Greek) could not have been more than 4-5% simply due to the lack of sugars even in the best grapes of the day. I have no problem with the 18% alcohol but if we're intellectually honest, we will serve what Jesus served at the last supper, (wine at about 4-5% alcohol. It was likely also still slightly sweet wine as well, ("Neon oinos" or new wine). Love to all.

18 February, 2009 10:19  
Blogger David said...

Ok lets think logically. A bottle of wine is 750ml. Thats 4 standard glasses (187ml). Given 18% wine ( which must be fortified with alcohol since yeast dies at around 12%) that means there is about 34ml of pure alcohol in each glass. Assuming say 20 sips a glass, which seems conservative, that means each person gets around 1.7ml of alcohol. Thats about two drops of vodka.

You could give that much to a newborn baby with no effect. Even an alcoholic should have no problem assuming they have at least some control over their body. Aka they are not a mindless drone.

As for methodists using grape juice... That didnt even exist until a few hundred years ago, sincejuice must be pasteurized to keep it from fermenting. Besides, how can you claim alcohol is evil if Jesus consumed it?

This really seems a nonissue. Unless each person chugs a glass at communion, they will not be affected by the wine at all.

If your child is a sip if wine away from becoming a bad person, chances are you are to blame, not the wine. Calm down and focus on something that actually matters.

Besides, its just a representative act of faith. Catholics will be dismayed to learn that you cant get Jesus's DNA from your stomach after communion, because the wine doesnt actually turn to 2000 year old blood. Plus, Jesus only had 1 body worth of blood, which must have run out by 200-300ad.

12 July, 2009 04:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a recovering alcaholic, and this issue came up in a recent treatment session I was in. We alcaholics cannot risk being triggered by even one taste of wine. One taste turns into an all day drinking session for alcaholics and thats why we can't even take a chance on one sip. I am not Catholic, but many of my friends are, and I am willing to converse and try to help them find a safe alternative! Thanks!

06 January, 2012 15:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it does not matter what you drink at the Lords table. christ works in us.

29 July, 2012 23:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the fact that it is illegal to serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21? How about the possibility of having alcoholics in the congregation during communion? How about people that happen to be totally allergic to alcohol?

19 October, 2013 19:51  

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