Now, I think the taste of wine is vile. But I did a little research on the origins of grape juice.
The company web site of Welch’s, maker of grape juice, confirms that Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch first promoted the idea of “unfermented sacramental wine” in communion. Dr. Welch was a Methodist and part of the newly arising Temperance Movement:
The story of Welch’s began in 1869 in Vineland, New Jersey–when physician and dentist Thomas Bramwell Welch and his son Charles processed the first bottles of ‘unfermented wine’ to use during their church’s communion service.
(I got this quote from here, though for some reason I don’t see an exact quote on this page now.)
Back in 1869, dentist Thomas Welch was elected Communion steward at the First United Methodist Church, Vineland, N.J. He objected to the use of wine for the sacrament and refused to touch it.
Meanwhile he heard of Louis Pasteur’s new method of killing bacteria in milk (‘pasteurization’). He decided to try applying the same principle to preserving the juice of grapes unfermented. –Marian Van Til, Welch’s Innovation
Check out the history of alcohol in Christianity–and note that even Puritans drank it, despising only drunkenness.
Note the section on Winemaking in biblical times. It describes how quickly grape juice ferments, and the true meaning of “new wine”–not grape juice, as some temperance groups will tell you, but already-fermenting wine. Even year-old wine was “new.”
Apparently, the idea that alcohol is “evil” in and of itself, and must be eradicated from the Communion, is a feature of much of American Protestantism in the newer denominations, but not of the older churches which have long traditions.
Written probably in 2007
Index to my theology/church opinion pages:
–End Times and Christian Zionism
–God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
–Cat and Dog Theology
–Raising One’s Hands in Worship
–On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
–On church buildings
–The Message Bible
–The Purpose-Driven Life
–The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
–The idea that God has someone in mind for you
–Literalism in Biblical interpretation
–Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology, Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
–More about Pat Robertson
–Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
–Women in Marriage/the Church
–Why do bad things happen?
–Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts? Or, how should we evangelize, then?
–Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
–Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
–Hell and the Nature of God
–Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
–Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
–How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
–What about predestination?
–Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
–An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God
–Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
–Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
–Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
–What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
–Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
–What is Worship?
–Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
–Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
–Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
–Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week