Tuesday, 15 January 2013

THE LORD'S SUPPER: MEMORIAL OR MAGIC RITUAL.

Whether it's called the Eucharist, communion, or the Lord's supper, the ordinance that Jesus Christ instituted on the evening before his crucifixion remains controversial. Why must this be such a hotly-debated subject? On the other hand, why do some churches serve it only a few times each year? These questions used to bother me but they don't now.

I've written in the past about the house church I attended for fifteen years and their unbiblical beliefs. One of them was that only real wine and unleavened bread could be used. Brother Herald, the house church's self-appointed minister, believed that the elements had to be exactly the same as what Christ used. In his diatribe against grape juice-serving churches, he said he'd throw up if he drank Welch's if it was served to him for communion.

Though Brother Herald, as I've named him in my How I Was Razed memoir, considered the Catholic Church to be the beast on which the antichrist woman would ride on, he readily accepted their belief that the elements of the Eucharist actually became the body and blood of Christ. To spill any of the wine or drop the bread was considered a terrible sin by the church elders.

Brother Herald also twisted Hebrews 6:4-6 which says, "As for those who at one time saw the light, tasting the good things from heaven, and having their part in the Holy Spirit, With knowledge of the good word of God, and of the powers of the coming time, And then let themselves be turned away, it is not possible for their hearts to be made new a second time; because they themselves put the Son of God on the cross again, openly shaming him." Instead of it meaning the pretend Christians who abandoned the faith, he figured it meant defiling the communion.

What the Lord's supper really means is a memorial of Christ's sacrifice. When he said the bread was his body and the wine was his blood, he used metaphors which would be memorable to his followers. The materials used in the ordinance had no miraculous power and neither did the words spoken over them. Christ intended believers to keep his sacrifice for their sins foremost in their minds.

One concern I had for decades was that churches served grape juice and leavened bread during their communion services. I now understand that they didn't want to start former alcoholics back on their destructive paths by tempting them with wine. That makes perfect sense now that I'm free of Brother Heralds legalistic beliefs. Neither did serving leavened bread nullify the effectiveness of the Lord's supper since it was the memorial that mattered.

I wrote extensively about that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.