At Free Grace Church after several years of offering only grape juice for communion we recently switched back to offering both wine and grape juice. From the very beginning of our church plant we have offered both out of conviction that having fermented wine is actually a Biblical practice. We switched a while ago because some women from the Hacienda ministry were visiting with us on Sundays. This move was made to accommodate these women who were in the middle of a court mandated program that forbade any and all alcohol in the strictest terms. But recently this door was permanently closed to us. So a decision was made to return to the practice of offering wine.
The response from our church has been overwhelmingly positive, and some were even urging a return to wine prior to the decision. Several of you reached out to thank me for this change, and I appreciate your encouragement. However there were a few people that were confused and surprised this last Sunday. While we did announce this for several weeks, several of you were not present or had missed the announcement, then on Sunday during the celebration of the Lord’s supper we made a mistake and forgot to announce this. It was an unintentional oversight. I want to ask for your forgiveness for not taking time to make this clear to everyone.
In the last 100 years or so in America, many in the evangelical church have arrived at the conviction that consuming any wine is sinful. I believe this is is an unfortunate position that doesn’t recognize the many places in scripture that alcohol (wine) is used and even praised as a blessing from God. I also believe it is a historically inaccurate. The wine that was used in the Old and New Testaments was definitely fermented. The temperance view of abstinence is also a historical anomaly. Through most of history, and in most places other than America, the church has thankfully celebrated the Lord’s supper with wine, and allowed the use of alcohol in moderation. And thankfully this is the practice of most in our church. And our intent is not to urge anyone to violate their conscience, but we do want to be faithful to scripture.
I do believe that some who have this conviction do so out of a sincere desire to avoid the problems of drunkenness, or based on past struggles with sin. This desire is 100% commendable. However, I do not believe it reflects the way the Bible itself deals with sins of excess and praises moderation and the glad reception of God’s gifts (I Tim 4:1-5, Colossians 2:20-23).
Here is a helpful article that summarizes some of the big ideas connected to the acceptability of wine in the context of the current debate. Here is another article posted at Kirk Cameron’s (a noted evangelical figure) website.
Again, I offer my apologies to anyone that is confused. Honestly, please forgive me as your pastor for not providing better leadership.
We want to hold our liberty in a way that is gracious, informed, and honors the weaker brother. This means that if you have a problem with drinking alcohol, you can use grape juice during the Supper. We don’t look down on you! We even have one member that is seriously allergic to corn syrup (which is found in grape juice and most commercial wines) so we have several cups of water available. If you have any concerns, especially if they are big enough to cause division or abiding questions, I urge you to contact me soon that we can talk. Our motive is the desire to honor the Lord and serve his people according to scripture.