Intinction, Wine, and Communion
I have experienced intinction twice. The first time I was in attendance at a large gathering of PCA folks overseas. As a minister I was asked to help with the distribution of the elements. We received instructions that, as the crowd was large, we should dip the wafers into the cup and give the moistened wafer to the communicants who came forward to receive. I was not comfortable, but I was not administering the Supper, so I complied. On the second occasion, I was with family in a church of another denomination. I chose to commune rather than not to commune when the wafer was dipped into the wine and offered to me. Lately there has been some discussion of the matter within the PCA. To my mind there is no doubt that, when our Lord and the Apostle Paul spoke of taking the bread and cup, they were speaking of two distinct communion actions, giving and receiving the bread and the cup. I believe that is what we should do. However, I also think we should keep in mind that we are talking about a method and the timing of receiving the contents of the cup. With intinction it is delivered by the medium of the bread simultaneously with the giving of the bread. However, here's another question: Does anyone think that either our Lord or the Apostle had in mind anything like receiving the wine, or more likely in our circiles the juice, via one of those little individual plastic cups?
I doubt that all those who are exercised about the practice of intinction are equally exercised about the use of grape juice in the celebration of the sacrament. It seems that more PCA congregations are celebrating the Supper with wine, while the majority continue to use Welch’s. The way I reason with myself about celebrating the Sacrament with purple juice as administrator or recipient is that with sufficient time and proper environment the juice could become wine. But, is there any real doubt that our Lord and the Apostles used and intended we should use wine? It is not the same matter as whether or not leaven is added to the lump of dough. That is a matter for discussion – the unleavened bread probably used by the Lord and his Apostles or the common bread of the time and place where we live. We could discuss whether the wine should be unadulterated or mixed with water. But grape juice is not wine. Our Lord and his Apostles knew all about the dangers associated with wine, and the Apostle Paul had stern words for the abuse of wine at
in connection with the Supper.
However, our Lord used wine at the institution of the Holy Meal, and the
Apostles used wine as they followed his command. Which is “worse” – the reception
of wine via bread or the reception of juice drink via a plastic cup? Corinth
Perhaps we need not get ourselves too worked about something most of us do so infrequently.