Monday, June 14, 2010

#162 Grape juice in lieu of communion wine

Several strains of Christian culture are quite adverse to wine. Many Christian churches in north America use grape juice instead of wine for communion even though Jesus served wine at the Lord's supper. Within these churches, wine is absolutely not an option. If you even brought it into the church building many members would have a big problem with it and there would be some angry comment cards and that sort of thing. Never mind that Jesus drank wine; they are going to forge a narrower path than he.

If you ask, say, a Baptist about Jesus's drinking of wine they will tell you that the wine back then was a lot less concentrated, that Jesus drank wine because it was a safe way to preserve grape juice, or that it was necessary because the drinking water was unsafe. If you ask them about Jesus turning water into wine they will tell you there is no evidence that he drank any of that wine or that he told anyone to drink it. And that settles that. In fact, for many southern Baptist deacons and church staff, drinking any bit of alcohol is grounds for dismissal. They sign to it.

By the same token, other strains of north American Christian culture have recently been busting out of alcoholic oppression and are feeling rather fancy with their freedom in Christ. They like talking about wine and knowing things about wine and discussing theology over glasses of wine. They feel more enlightened than those fundamentalists tethered to their old notions of Scripture. This type of Christian wants to make sure you know they are savvy and relevant in this manner and will often specify in their blog profile that they like good wine, not two-buck-Chuck.


Deborah K said...

On the 'grape juice for communion' thing:

When Methodism was starting in England, one of the main social issues among the poor was rampant alcoholism and the resulting family decline. Methodism advocated that individuals should (among other traits) use their money wisely and not waste it on alcohol.

Since many recovering alcoholics abstain completely from alcohol, they were then not fully able to take communion. So, other nonalcoholic options were used. Thomas Welch, who first started pasteurizing grape juice and whose son started Welch's, was a Methodist and a supporter of the temperance movement.

I'm a Methodist PK, and have to say that most Methodists I know don't mind having a drink, but that they don't often think about it. And most of them disapprove of drunkenness, especially when it starts approaching alcoholism. But at that point, don't most people?

Anonymous said...

They used wine in the Bible, but the term, "fruit of the vine", is used in places like Matt 26:29. This could be either wine or grape juice (or even watermelon juice). I think either wine or grape juice would be scripturally ok.

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