Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Times When a Christian MUST Drink Alcohol (3)

[In this series, I am exploring the idea that there are times when a Christian MUST drink alcohol, not just merely as a choice, but as a positive moral necessity. (It is NOT my argument that these are the ONLY times in which a Christian MAY drink alcohol.) In my last post from this series, I explored the idea that there are times in which medical wisdom may make alcohol use a necessity; the idea of that post came from Paul's command to Timothy to stop drinking only water and to "use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (1 Tim 5:23 ESV). Since the apostle actually commanded the use of wine for a medicinal purpose, it seems a valid application of the text that people today may find themselves in medical situations in which the use of alcohol is necessary: total abstinence from alcohol in such situations would be foolish and therefore would be a bad witness to the world.]

The second situation in which a Christian MUST drink alcohol is when wine is used in communion.

Many evangelical congregations substitute grape juice for wine. I believe that this is an acceptable practice, due to the identification of "wine" with the "fruit of the vine" (Mark 14:25), and grapes themselves are near enough to wine to be included in proscribed foods/beverages for Nazarites (Numbers 6:3b-4). But notice that I did write "substitute grape juice for wine." It is clear that actual wine was used in the original Lord's Supper, and so a church cannot be faulted if they use actual wine in the ordinance today. (I would argue that, as the alcohol content of wine today seems to be higher than in Jesus' day, churches using actual wine in communion should consider diluting their wine with water.)

When fellowshiping with a congregation that uses wine in communion, a Christian has no right to abstain from the wine of the ordinance. We are under the command of the Lord to "do this in remembrance of Me" and therefore we cannot, in good conscience, excommunicate ourselves from the body of Christ. If a Christian has made a previous commitment to abstain from all alcohol, he or she should still partake of the Lord's Supper in obedience to Christ's command and be willing to explain this decision to anyone who asks. [For example, someone in a position of authority at a seminary or mission board may need to be informed if a Christian has signed a commitment to total abstinence from alcohol with such an agency.]

In the course of life, a Christian may find him- or herself in the position of participating in a church service in which it is unclear whether the congregation even believes the gospel: while in such a church service, the Christian may be invited to participate in a communion service. In such a situation, a Christian teetotaler must do his or her best to determine whether the congregation is even a "church" (according to the biblical definition) at all. If not, the Christian is under no obligation to drink wine.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Andrew-

Do you know if the abstinence agreement with Southern Seminary makes an exception for alcoholic wine in communion? For similarly, in the state of Georgia, the age limit for consumption (21 years old) allows for religious consumption, so that minors can partake of alcoholic communion.

Anyway, the church we are currently attending uses alcoholic wine in communion. I'm not such a stickler for the Regulative Principle that I think the practice of grape juice is a sin, but from my own perspective, I believe that the bitterness of real wine communicates something in the symbolism that the super-sweet grape juice does not. So after many years of grape juice, participating with real wine (which I first did this year) is now preferable to me.

7:33 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

re: "bitterness"
- It would be interesting to know if the kosher grape juice I've seen sold for the use of Passover is as sweet as Welch's,

Also, I don't know the official rule at Southern, but I'm under the distinct impression that there is at least a de facto exception for communion wine. On the other hand, I've heard rumors that taking wine in communion has been an issue for some IMB candidates being barred from service, which, if true, is ridiculous.

5:47 AM  

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