Bullinger On Communion In Two Kinds

THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SUPPER WITH BOTH BREAD AND WINE. We think that rite, manner, or form of the Supper to be the most simple and excellent which comes nearest to the first institution of the Lord and to the apostles’ doctrine. It consists in proclaiming the Word of God, in godly prayers, in the action of the Lord himself, and its repetition, in the eating of the Lord’s body and drinking of this blood; in a fitting remembrance of the Lord’s death, and a faithful thanksgiving; and in a holy fellowship in the union of the body of the Church.

We therefore disapprove of those who have taken from the faithful one species of the sacrament, namely, the Lord’s cup. For these seriously offend against the institution of the Lord who says: “Drink ye all of this”; which he did not so expressly say of the bread.

Heinrich Bullinger, Second Helvetic Confession ch. 21


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10 comments

  1. Dr. Clark,
    As a historian & minister of the gospel, I hope you can shed some light on this subject a little more for me. At what point in history did the Protestant Church start dividing the Lord’s cup into shot glass sized individual cups of juice rather than wine? Or filling some with juice and the rest filled with wine, leaving it up to the communicant member to decide “which cup” to drink from? Where is this practice found in Scripture? And, why are so many in the PCA getting upset about the introduction of other practices convening the Lord’s Supper when so few if any administer communion the way in which Christ actually instituted it (that is with the one common cup of wine)?

  2. Sometimes, we miss the real meaning by focusing too much on the specifics. Is the benefit of the Lord’s Supper found in the literal elements or the preaching with equivalent elements?

    In addition, my father struggled with alcoholism. To insist on serving wine would have put my father in a dilemma after he found control over his alcoholism. I struggle understanding those who seem to never be aware of problems like my father had.

    • I an sure that there were those in Corinth that struggled with alcoholism considering they were getting drink at the Lord’s Supper … Was God inconsiderate for using wine? (Some were going hungry and some were getting drunk in Corinthians 11 and it want from drinking juice.) My husband was an alcoholic and (forgive me if I’m wrong) I vaguely remember R. Scott Clark saying that he was at one point, neither would insist that having a sip of wine at the Lord’s Supper puts them into a dilemma. So, I do not find your comment helpful. I am sincerely curious what Biblical warrant there is for changing what and how we administer the sacraments. When did this begin in Protestant Churches? (I am not interested in the ways we justify unbiblical innovation & traditions)

    • Curt,

      I’ve been watching your comments with some interest. To your point here, most confessional Reformed/Presbyterian churches would make some accommodation for someone with scruples or with a history of abuse. Most I’ve seen have some non-alcoholic cups.

      There’s a lot of history behind Bullinger’s language here. The medieval church removed the cup from the laity. This was a grievous offense. One of the first things the Reformers did was to restore the cup but it cost us a great deal.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “literal.” If God’s Word clearly teaches something, if our Lord intentionally instituted a practice, the church ought to observe it. Even Rome admits that Jesus instituted communion in two kinds but asserts the authority to change his institution. Thus, the issue is really about the unique, sole authority of Scripture (sola scripture).

      As I’ve been reading your comments I’ve been wondering how long you’ve been in a confessional Reformed church? Give it some time. Do some reading. Take a look at Recovering the Reformed Confession.

      I’m not saying that we have everything right but I am saying that we confess what we do because God’s Word says what it says.

  3. My sincerest apologies Dr. Clark.
    Please forgive my horrible memory (and all the typos as well).

  4. Dr. Clark,
    I appreciate your note. The next question I have regarding communion concerns implementation. That is how well is the fact that one can take grape juice rather than wine communicated in each church. Certainly, that cannot be answered here, that is a church by church question.

    However, what I mean by literal is placing so much emphasis on the exact foods Jesus used that those elements become magical. For a long time I have believed that it is the combination of preaching the gospel with the taking of the elements that makes communion a sacrament. Without preaching the Gospel, the elements are simply food. But preaching by itself is not communion.

    As for myself, I am a former WTS student (’77 to ’79) and I have been a member of the OPC for around 20 years. I have two main concerns with the OPC as I have with every conservative American Church. I will mention those concerns even though they are outside the scope of our discussion here.

    The first concern stems from the criticism of the Church from my fellow political leftists. Many of them feel that the church is just another institution of indoctrination for maintaining the status quo. As I listen to the sermons in my church and talk with my fellow church members as well as read New Horizons, I feel their analysis are too true for comfort. The second concern has to do with how saving faith is preached in America. We certainly don’t want to say that we are save by faith and works. At the same time, I feel that too many conservative Churches in America today are describing saving faith as an afterlife insurance policy that we click to place in our online shopping carts. If you could address these concerns in future posts, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

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