Prohibition & Temperance: Grape Juice in Communion Since the 1800s

I happen to disagree with Keith Mathison on one point in the quotation below. The Grand Failed Experiment called Prohibition does not have only one lasting “success,” it has two. The first is described below. The second is that Pennsylvania still has antiquated and ridiculous laws related to state-run stores, liquor licenses, and a monopoly held by distributors and their unions. Besides this minor disagreement, I think Mathison lays out irrefutable arguments for using wine in the Lord’s Supper in his book Given for You.

“The history of the temperance movement and Prohibition is fascinating, but it is beyond the scope of this work to trace it in any detail. Suffice it to say that the temperance movement was a moral, political, and cultural failure. The movement failed culturally because it shared one of the flawed presuppositions of Christian liberalism. It placed the responsibility for sin in an external object rather than in the human heart. Getting rid of alcohol did not and could not get rid of sin and evil in the heart of man. The movement failed morally because it allowed itself to be deceived into setting up a higher standard of righteousness than the word of God. By prohibiting what God allowed, the movement fell into self-righteous legalism. The movement’s only lasting ‘success’ is found in those churches that used its logic as the basis for replacing wine with grape juice in the Lord’s Supper.”

 -Keith Mathison in Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (P&R, 2002), p. 305

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One thought on “Prohibition & Temperance: Grape Juice in Communion Since the 1800s

  1. Commenting on what is really important (the picture of course), there's not a face in that picture that I would WANT to kiss! I'm rethinking my abstinence policy…

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