What Elements Should Be Used?

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David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
What elements should be used during communion? What I mean by that, what type of bread, what type of drink?

The question arises out of this past Sunday our church ran out of the usual (styrofoam-like) wafers and ended up using saltines. Someone mentioned something about leaven and I am curious as to everyone's position here.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
WCF 29:3 "The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine..."
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
WCF 29:3 "The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine..."
I understand that, but that did not actually address my question. My question is what type of bread? Does it matter? And are we to use fermented juice for wine?
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
There have been many threads about the type of bread, and you could search for some. But my short answer is that Scripture never specifies leavened or unleavened, so neither should we.

Sure, there are those who prefer unleavened bread because it's what Jesus presumably must have used at the institution of the Supper, or because leaven represents sin in some places in the Bible. But the fact is, Scripture does not instruct us to try to recreate the circumstances of the institution, nor to see leaven=sin as part of the Supper's symbolism. It just says to use bread.

And just as surely, there are those who prefer leavened bread because it better represents the New Testament age and the fullness we have now, and the even greater fullness of the Supper of the Lamb which we anticipate in the Lord's Supper. Personally, this makes more sense to me if I had to pick one. But again, Scripture does not tell us to use leavened bread either.

So both are right. What's wrong is to insist that only one or the other is proper. That would be adding our own stipulations and this-feels-more-righteous-to-me requirements to how God has instructed us to worship, which we must not do.

(The fermented vs. non-fermented fruit of the vine discussion is more difficult, with the argument being stronger that non-fermented seems to lie outside of Scripture's bounds and imagery. Again, you could search for threads here and find many long ones. But even in that discussion, I believe we need to take care not only to use what is commanded but also to avoid adding our own requirements that make us feel self-righteous because of how precise we think we're being.)
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
The bread is called "artos" in the Gospels. I think most of us take that to be a generic term for bread. Not necessarily unleavened or leavened. Just flour mixed into some kind of dough and baked.

I have no idea what wafers are made of, but I do think symbolic breaking is important--I don't know if you do that with wafers.

Jesus refers to the contents of the cup as "fruit of the vine" in Matthew and Mark. That means grape juice. And most people who have thought things through conclude that it had to be fermented grape juice because the Supper took place in Spring--long before grape harvest. In other words, last year's grape juice, which would have to be either vinegar or wine, given the way things were preserved in those days.

So, yes, fermented wine.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
This topic has been talked about a lot. I've noticed the mean opinion of everyone I've seen talk about it is: prefer wine, unspecified bread. That's what I would lean to as well. Obviously, that's not everyone's opinion.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Common bread and wine.

Leaven has nothing to do with the Lord’s supper.
 
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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
My question is what type of bread? Does it matter? And are we to use fermented juice for wine?


In our church, they have started to offer as an alternative gluten free bread. I think it was because there was one person in the congregation who was not taking the Lord's Supper because she is convinced that only gluten-free bread is good for her. But my concern, and I wrote to the pastor and elders about this, is that gluten-free bread is not bread at all. It has no wheat in it plus many additives and roots and things that are not bread. Just as a hot dog is not bread, gluten-free 'bread' is not bread.

What do you think about my concern?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
In our church, they have started to offer as an alternative gluten free bread. I think it was because there was one person in the congregation who was not taking the Lord's Supper because she is convinced that only gluten-free bread is good for her. But my concern, and I wrote to the pastor and elders about this, is that gluten-free bread is not bread at all. It has no wheat in it plus many additives and roots and things that are not bread. Just as a hot dog is not bread, gluten-free 'bread' is not bread.

What do you think about my concern?
First off, bread doesn't need to be made of wheat. In fact, as far as I know, barley would likely have been the grain used around the time of Passover.

Growing up German I had pumpernickel and rye. But a quick Google search tells me they have gluten. Barley too.

I don't know what kind of bread your church is using, and bread not made of grain really doesn't seem to me like bread at all. Honestly, I'm not sure what to think, except that if this woman can't have a wee bit of bread every so often, then she really is very, very sick. At least they've left the gluten-free thing optional and not forced it on the whole congregation or anything like that.

And how come I never heard about gluten until ten years ago? Serious question. Any question about a gluten-free Lord's Supper could only ever arise in the 21st century.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
First off, bread doesn't need to be made of wheat. In fact, as far as I know, barley would likely have been the grain used around the time of Passover.

Growing up German I had pumpernickel and rye. But a quick Google search tells me they have gluten. Barley too.

When I said 'wheat' I actually meant to include all grains so I agree completely with what you said.

Here's a list of some ingredients in gluten-free "bread" from the first website google suggested. Yuck!

To create a flour mix, it uses rice flour, tapioca starch, maize starch, potato starch, rice bran, hulled millet and wholegrain maize flour. For added fibre and texture, it uses sugar beet fibre, psyllium husk powder, methyl cellulose, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, xanthan gum and chia seeds. These are generally plant-derived, though hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is an odourless and tasteless powder that is a synthetic modification of cellulose. Psyllium husk powder, which comes from a type of plantain, is sold in health food shops and can be taken to help ease constipation. It is the main active ingredient in Metamucil. Some can find these ingredients upset their tummies.​
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
When I said 'wheat' I actually meant to include all grains so I agree completely with what you said.

Here's a list of some ingredients in gluten-free "bread" from the first website google suggested. Yuck!

To create a flour mix, it uses rice flour, tapioca starch, maize starch, potato starch, rice bran, hulled millet and wholegrain maize flour. For added fibre and texture, it uses sugar beet fibre, psyllium husk powder, methyl cellulose, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, xanthan gum and chia seeds. These are generally plant-derived, though hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is an odourless and tasteless powder that is a synthetic modification of cellulose. Psyllium husk powder, which comes from a type of plantain, is sold in health food shops and can be taken to help ease constipation. It is the main active ingredient in Metamucil. Some can find these ingredients upset their tummies.​
:D Most of those words I do not know.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
Ok, so wine, what do we do about those who are underage? And where I live it is actually a dry county (yes, they still exist).
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Ok, so wine, what do we do about those who are underage? And where I live it is actually a dry county (yes, they still exist).
What is "underage"? Generally, I thought, age restrictions apply in public settings (such as restaurants) or they have to do with purchasing alcohol. In a dry county does the law forbid the private consumption of alcohol?
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
What is "underage"? Generally, I thought, age restrictions apply in public settings (such as restaurants) or they have to do with purchasing alcohol. In a dry county does the law forbid the private consumption of alcohol?
Underage drinking does not only apply in public settings. Private house parties can be broken up and people arrested as well.

I don't know about consumption in the dry county, but I do know you cannot purchase it in the county.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
What is "underage"? Generally, I thought, age restrictions apply in public settings (such as restaurants) or they have to do with purchasing alcohol. In a dry county does the law forbid the private consumption of alcohol?

I know you answered David but I wanted to add my 2¢

The thimble-sized cups usually used are surely not going to hurt anyone at an age they are allowed to partake of the supper.
I am sure the private use of alcohol is permitted. Besides, aren't some Indian tribes allowed to use peyote?
Jack Daniel's Distillery is located in Lynchburg, Tennessee. In a DRY county. :)
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Underage drinking does not only apply in public settings. Private house parties can be broken up and people arrested as well.
A bit strange. It depends on the country and region, I suppose. In England, serving alcoholic drinks to five-year-old children is within the law.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
In our church, they have started to offer as an alternative gluten free bread. I think it was because there was one person in the congregation who was not taking the Lord's Supper because she is convinced that only gluten-free bread is good for her. But my concern, and I wrote to the pastor and elders about this, is that gluten-free bread is not bread at all. It has no wheat in it plus many additives and roots and things that are not bread. Just as a hot dog is not bread, gluten-free 'bread' is not bread.

What do you think about my concern?

We have a number of people in our church with fairly severe gluten intolerance, including a number from my own family. Eating even a communion-sized portion is out of the question. For this reason, we use gluten-free "bread." We also use wine, but we have one member who was an alcoholic after Vietnam and through AA sobered up. He is not morally opposed to wine, but he himself does not touch it. (He even considered going to another church on communion Sunday so that he could partake of the cup.) We gladly offer him grape juice. I fear forcing the issue of wine with him would be an occasion of stumbling for him. Where he is right now, it would likely be a "sign and seal" of alcoholism, not Christ's blood.

I offer this as a description of our practice and some reasons for it. I am not willing to debate our practice here.

Lastly, as a point of interest, the RCC does make an issue out of what kind of grain is used (wheat). in my opinion, the precision of ingredients is likely tied to the superstition assigned to the element itself. After all, the bread becomes Christ's body-- wouldn't you want to get that right?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
When I said 'wheat' I actually meant to include all grains so I agree completely with what you said.

Sorghum is a grain. It makes wonderful flat bread. No unpronounceable additives needed. And no gluten either.

Side issue: I'm fairly confident that gluten is a real problem, and the reason it wasn't much of a problem in the past was because in the past gluten wasn't extracted and then added to all sorts of things to increase measured protein.

And where I live it is actually a dry county (yes, they still exist).

I've not heard of a dry county that didn't exempt religious ceremonial use of wine.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
gluten-free bread is not bread at all.

My suggestion is that you re-think this. There are plenty of gluten-free grains that have been made into breads in various parts of the world. And even a crumb of gluten is a health problem for some people.

The Scripture is intentionally broad when it specifies "bread." Every culture has its bread, which can vary from place to place and season to season. But Christ is for all cultures and all seasons, and even for people with severe gluten intolerance.

Scripture nowhere hints that we are to try to reconstruct the occasion of the Supper's institution and recreate the exact kind of bread we suspect Jesus might have used, copying its preparation, shape, grains used, etc. None of these details about the element itself are pointed out in the texts. And for good reason: when we insist on trying to mimic the exact bread Jesus might have used, we end up revering the elements themselves when we ought to be revering the Savior they point to.
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ok, so wine, what do we do about those who are underage? And where I live it is actually a dry county (yes, they still exist).

If I recall correctly it is legal in almost all 50 states of the United States to give alcoholic communion wine to persons under the age of 21. I think there are only one or two exceptions.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
If I recall correctly it is legal in almost all 50 states of the United States to give alcoholic communion wine to persons under the age of 21. I think there are only one or two exceptions.

Indeed. And even if the exception isn't expressly written in the statute, a common-sense understanding of the intent of the statute, along with accepted enforcement policies, come into play. This is often the case with laws, which are not as cut-and-dried as people might think. So there is not likely to be any problem at all with serving a tiny cup of communion wine to young worshippers in an American church service, if that's what a church wishes to serve.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Korean bibles still say Jesus broke the "rice cake" (떡). Bread, I assume, was relatively uncommon when the Scriptures were first translated into Korean in the late 19th century. Rice cake is associated with festival days and other celebrations. It's made by packing rice flour into a sort of dough and then streaming it.

To this day, wheat is not cultivated much at all on the Korean peninsula. Barley is grown, although it is not used to make bread.

Bread is widely available now, but for whatever reason the translation hasn't changed.

Also, Jacob was cooking red bean porridge, according to the Korean translation.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Indeed. And even if the exception isn't expressly written in the statute, a common-sense understanding of the intent of the statute, along with accepted enforcement policies, come into play. This is often the case with laws, which are not as cut-and-dried as people might think. So there is not likely to be any problem at all with serving a tiny cup of communion wine to young worshippers in an American church service, if that's what a church wishes to serve.
Plus do they really want to waste money on a church who's gonna scream "freedom of religion", court costs even for the county. But Jesus did say "do this in remembrance of me" not "do it exactly like this, every jot and tittle, to correctly remember me".
 
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