This department is provided for the free and courteous discussion of biblical and spiritual problems which may be considered edifying to the people of God. Letters concerning such matters are requested.
The Fruit of the Vine
Dear Mr. G.
I am grateful to brother M.B. Mac. for his comments in the August -September issue of “Food for the Flock” on my answer to the question in the May number relating to the Lord’s Supper. The expression of different viewpoints is profitable as it stimulates to further searching of the Scriptures to see “whether those things are so.”
The question at issue is whether or not, in circumstances where wine is completely unobtainable, water or some other substitute might be used in our remembrance of our Lord. The alternative, of course, is not to remember Him at all. Our brother rightly emphasizes the Scripture, “To obey is better than sacrifice,” and the writer wholeheartedly agrees that, in any matter, obedience to the Word of God is of paramount importance. In this case, however, not to remember the Lord is disobedience to His expressed command, reiterated in His Word, whereas the use of a substitute for wine is not contrary to any Scripture, since, as previously pointed out, in no record of the Lord’s Supper is the content of the “cup” specified. Today, the fruit of the vine is readily obtainable in most parts of the world, but in the early days of the Church, with more limited transportation facilities, it might be almost impossible to procure in certain countries. Were believers there never to obey their Lord in remembering Him? Or did the Lord in His wisdom and grace forsee such circumstances and speak simply of the “cup” so that they could use such contents as were locally available? In our day the problem may not often arise and the writer would be the last to suggest the use of a substitute if the fruit of the vine were at all procurable.
Our brother fears that such practice might lead to departure from the Scriptural mode of baptism. “If,” he states, the fruit of the vine could be interpreted as water, then an equally good exegesis would be that the amount of water in baptism is immaterial.” I trust it is clear that the writer does not “interpret” “the fruit of the vine” as “water,” but rather suggests the latter as a possible substitute in very exceptional circumstances. Nor does he see how this would in any way influence the practice of baptism. It could be argued with equal validity that the practice of non-observance of the Lord’s Supper could lead to nonobservance of baptism.
With warm greetings, Yours in our Blessed Lord,