I have engaged in a discussion on the use of wine at the Lord’s Supper on a Christian Fellowship Forum thread, “Rebirth and resurrection”.
Richard, one of the moderators on the Forum, responded to me at #116 of this thread. He stated:
Consider for a moment the obverse of that. Where is it ever allowed to use anything other than real grape wine? Who has the authority to say you can use coconut juice? Who gave you the authority to use coconut juice? How was that authority given to you? I’ll maintain that nobody on earth has the authority to say you can use other than grape wine. And you don’t have the authority to use other either.
Why not coffee and donuts instead of bread and wine? It’s actually a serious question.
Chris is echoing Tradition when he says what he says. I suspect he has no particular chapter and verse. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with.
I’m not saying there is any line of Scripture that commands bread and wine, but I’ll bet the apostles would give you the strangest look before correcting you if you proposed anything other than real wheat bread and real grape wine.
Again, no line from Scripture, but for a Catholic Mass there has to be real grape wine or at least the partially fermented must of grape juice. It’s just da rulz and that’s that, at least for a Catholic.
I responded (see #125) as follows: Your position demonstrates the difference in the nature of theological authority between your understanding as a Roman Catholic and mine as an evangelical Protestant. You accept the authority of Tradition and of the Church, but for me as a Protestant, there is only one authority that is theopneustos (“Breathed out by God”) and that is Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16 ESV). Only Scripture and all Scripture is theopneustos. The Scripture does not affirm the “breathed out by God” position of tradition, councils, creeds or the church.
Tradition and creeds are interpretations of Scripture by fallible human beings. The Scripture (in the original writings) is the only infallible rule for faith and practice – biblically speaking.
<<Where is it ever allowed to use anything other than real grape wine?>>
It is practised in many places around the world. In my almost 50 years as a Christian, I have never attended or been a member of an evangelical Protestant Church that had other than grape juice and bread/wafer at the Lord’s Supper. They have been churches in Australia, England, Canada and the USA of Baptist, Australian Churches of Christ, and Pentecostal persuasion. We occasionally attend a local Presbyterian Church (my wife is their evening pianist for the service) and grape juice is used there for every Lord’s Supper celebration. OTHER THAN REAL GRAPE WINE is used in many Protestant churches around the world.
<<Who has the authority to say you can use coconut juice? Who gave you the authority to use coconut juice? How was that authority given to you? I’ll maintain that nobody on earth has the authority to say you can use other than grape wine. And you don’t have the authority to use other either.>>
That is your Tradition speaking, Richard. It is not from the Scripture which is breathed out by God. There is not a word in Scripture that says any church MUST use “real grape wine”. The only document with the authority of God is the Scripture.
<<Why not coffee and donuts instead of bread and wine? It’s actually a serious question. >>
It’s not a question, the answer to which relies on biblical authority. There is not one word in Scripture with the authority of God that states that “real grape wine” must be used in the memorial service (“do this in remembrance of me”, 1 Cor. 11:24 ESV) of the Lord’s Supper.
<<Chris is echoing Tradition when he says what he says. I suspect he has no particular chapter and verse.>>
I don’t expect that he will come back with the authoritative Scripture which states that one MUST use alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine for the Lord’s Supper, otherwise one is a sinner before God.
<<Again, no line from Scripture, but for a Catholic Mass there has to be real grape wine or at least the partially fermented must of grape juice. It’s just da rulz and that’s that, at least for a Catholic.>>
That is your Roman Catholic tradition speaking. There is no command of Scripture to assert Chris’s line that <<except in holy communion, where drinking a bit of wine is commanded of us>> (#78 of this thread). In #84 he wrote: <<God does command all to take bread and wine in communion with Christ and in Christ>>. There is ZERO command in Scripture to use wine in Communion at the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, Chris’s statement comes without biblical authority:
<<Is the use of coconut juice in communion wrong even sinful? YES, it is being disobedient. It may be EXCUSABLE sin, but it is sinful in terms of what it does. They should import some wine>> (#114 of this thread).
When there is no biblical command to drink wine at the Lord’s Supper, there can be no sin against God by using grape juice, coconut juice or any other drink.
From a Roman Catholic understanding of theological authority, see “Francis A. Sullivan’s argument with Archbishop Bertone”. Sullivan, a Jesuit priest, states:
The history of Catholic doctrine suggests the need of great caution in claiming that something has been taught infallibly by the ordinary universal magisterium, if there is reason to judge that a position on which there was a consensus in the past no longer enjoys such a consensus. In such a case, it would be wise to put off any peremptory declaration until it becomes clear whether a question has been raised that obliges the Church to look at an old problem in a new light and perhaps come up with a better answer to it.
In his defense of the authority of Scripture, Protestant theologian, Wayne Grudem, is correct in his summary: “All the words in Scripture are God’s words. Consequently to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God himself” (1994:81).
Reformed teacher, James White, defines sola scriptura: “Sola scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church. The doctrine does not say that there are not other, fallible, rules of faith, or even traditions, that we can refer to and even embrace. It does say, however, that the only infallible rule of faith is Scripture. This means that all other rules, whether we call them traditions, confessions of faith, creeds, or anything else, are by nature inferior to and subject to correction by, the Scriptures. The Bible is an ultimate authority, allowing no equal, nor superior, in tradition or church. It is so because it is theopneustos, God-breathed, and hence embodies the very speaking of God, and must, of necessity therefore be of the highest authority”.
Reformed systematic theologian, Wayne Grudem, has stated that “the sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly” (1994:127).
Heinrich Heppe, in his classic work on Reformed dogmatics, states that, “The only source and norm of all Christian knowledge is the Holy Scripture” (cited in R C Sproul, “Sola Scriptura: Crucial to Evangelicalism”).
Thus, these Reformed authorities, confirm that the doctrine of sola scriptura means that the only infallible source for all Christian knowledge is Scripture – not traditions, councils, creeds or the magisterium.
See my article, “The Bible’s support for the inerrancy of the originals“, for a Protestant defense of the authority of Scripture alone.
Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.
Copyright (c) 2010 Spencer D. Gear. This document is free content. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the OpenContent License (OPL) version 1.0, or (at your option) any later version. This document last updated at Date: 19 December 2013.