Thursday, July 19, 2001

Regarding wine, and specifically wine in the Lord's Supper...

I just successfully, by the grace of God, came through all of my ordination trials and examinations for ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Tuesday was my floor exam before the presbytery.

Our confessional standards in the PCA are the Westminster Standards. One of the things that candidates are required to do is to inform the presbytery of any exceptions that they have to the Standards. Though I didn't (and wouldn't) state an exception to the Westminster Standards referring to elements of the Lord's Supper as bread and wine, I wondered why candidates don't routinely state this as an exception. As far as I'm aware, non-alcoholic grape juice, and not wine, is used in the Lord's Supper almost without exception, throughout the PCA. Since most pastors won't be serving the Lord's Supper with wine, but with grape juice, why aren't more guys just honest enough to say, "I'm going to depart from the Confession at this point, and serve only grape juice instead of wine"? My guess is that they either a) don't even see a distinction between the two and therefore they read wine as grape juice, or b) they think that it's so unimportant that they can't imagine it would make much difference what beverage is served at the Lord's Supper as long as it's in the "grape family."

This is an area where we've become blind to what the scriptures, and even our confessional documents, state plainly. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism #96 says, "The Lord's Supper is a sacrament, wherein by giving and receiving bread and wine..."

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