Protestant Transubstantiation (History of)

Question
When (in history) did the church begin to use grape juice instead of wine for communion? And why?
Answer
The use of grape juice began during the American Temperance Movement, which began in the early 1800s and culminated in Prohibition in the early 1900s. The motivations for switching to grape juice were those of the Temperance philosophy. Basically, they thought that alcolhol was unhealthful, and that it contributed to crime and the degeneration of society. In the tradition of Temperance, many modern believers still believe drinking alcohol to be a sin. When Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch successfully pasteurized Concord grape juice in 1869, he widened the availability of unfermented grape juice to churches that were distant from vineyards, and made it possible for churches to have unfermented wine even when grapes were not in season. Prior to pasteurization and refrigeration, there was really no good way to prevent the fermentation of grape juice into wine. Some have suggested that ancient societies boiled grape juice to reduce it to a thick syrup that would not ferment, and then added it to water to create wine, but the New Testament evidence does not bear out that this was the typical wine of Jesus' time (e.g. wineskins do not burst except under the pressure of fermentation [Matt. 9:17], etc.).

For further information, see Keith Mathison's series on this subject in IIIM Magazine Online in the theology section.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Creative Delivery Systems at Third Millennium Ministries.