From teetotalers that helped get alcohol banned in America’s Prohibition era to Benedictine monks who made wine a central part of their religious observances, Christianity has varied views about drinking alcohol. Nonetheless, most Christians approve of the moderate use of wine.
Judaism also uses wine in their rituals and considers it a blessing, but excessive drinking is condemned.
Although many Christian denominations celebrate Communion, they all differ in how they understand the Eucharist. For instance, some denominations believe that what appears to be bread and wine is only a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, Catholicism teaches that the bread and wine truly become Christ’s body and blood through the process of transubstantiation. This means that the appearance of the bread and wine remains, but the substance changes. This is what sets the Church apart from other Christian traditions.
When the Eucharist is celebrated, the elements of bread and wine are presented to a priest who says the words of consecration. During this time, the Holy Spirit works through the instrumentality of the priest to change the appearance of the bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This transformation, known as transubstantiation, takes place at the moment of consecration. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, and it reminds us of Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
The Eucharist is also known as the Lord’s Supper, the Breaking of the Bread, and the Holy Sacrifice. It is the most important sacrament of the Catholic Church. It is also the source of all Christian unity and is referred to as “the source and summit of the life of the Church.”
While many denominations celebrate communion, they all differ in how they understand the eucharist. Some denominations believe that the appearances of bread and wine are only a symbol of a deeper spiritual meaning. Others believe that the bread and wine are only a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. While there is some truth to this, it is not what the Catholic Church teaches. The Church believes that the substance of the bread and wine actually changes through transubstantiation, making it the true Body and Blood of Christ.
This belief is known as the Real Presence and is the central teaching of the Catholic Church. It is also the reason why the Church teaches that the Eucharist is so special and unique. It is why the Church insists that only a validly ordained priest can celebrate the Eucharist.
The Wedding at Cana
The Gospel of John tells the story of Jesus’ first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. The story is unique to the Gospel of John but has tremendous significance for Christians today. It is often described as a symbol of Jesus’ love and power and is one of the most well-known events in the entire Bible.
At the wedding, the supply of wine unexpectedly ran out. Mary knew her son could fix it and went to him. He politely declined and told her to trust him. Mary listened and trusted. It was not yet his time, but he promised to take care of it.
During a wedding, the best wine is served to guests at the beginning of the evening. After the choice wines are consumed, the lesser wines are brought out. This is so that the guests don’t get tired of the better drink and want to go home early. It is customary for the best wine to be saved until last, as it is considered the most desirable. So when the best wine runs out, the steward is naturally concerned.
This is why the steward brings the problem to Jesus. He knows that Jesus can help and is confident that the master of the feast will be pleased with his solution. The master of the feast is not disappointed. He is astounded by the quality of the new wine. It is not only superior to the earlier wines, but it is even better than what was served at the beginning of the celebration.
Why was this wine so good? It may have been a special vintage, or it might have been aged “sur lie,” which is the process of lees-stirring in large, oak barrels. Either way, it was extraordinary and the people at the wedding took note of it.
While it is important to understand that miracles are not magic, they were a powerful way for Jesus to get his message across. These miracles weren’t meant to make everyone believe, but they were meant to draw attention and encourage faith. Whether they saw the miracle or not, the people at the wedding of Cana were encouraged to trust in Jesus.
Wine in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, wine was used as a symbol of prosperity and blessing. It was also a beverage that was frequently enjoyed to enhance one’s mood. For this reason, some people have assumed that the word “wine” in the Bible is actually referring to something other than alcohol. However, a careful reading of the context in which the word is used can reveal whether it refers to alcoholic or unintoxicating wine.
The Bible contains at least 10 different Hebrew and five Greek words for wine, indicating that the wine that was consumed in the biblical times was a potent alcoholic drink. Nevertheless, some Christians believe that the Bible’s references to wine only refer to grape juice or non-alcoholic beverages. In the zeal to promote Prohibition, conservative Protestants often claimed that the wine described in the Bible was mistranslated.
Whether the wine referenced in the Bible was alcoholic or not, it is important to realize that wine has always played a significant role in both Jewish and Christian culture. Even after the fall of ancient civilizations, monks continued to work their vineyards and produce wine in their monasteries.
Wine is mentioned throughout the Old Testament in reference to Noah’s vineyard after the flood, the liberation of Lot, and the wedding at Cana. In the New Testament, wine plays an important symbolic role in the Eucharist as a sign of Jesus’ blood. Furthermore, it is a key ingredient in the spiritual gifts that Jesus gives his followers.
Despite the fact that alcohol is often misused, it should be noted that the Bible does not prohibit its consumption. Scripture does, however, discourage drunkenness and encourages the responsible use of alcohol. Those who choose not to consume alcohol should be mindful of this and should not look down on those who do or see themselves as more spiritual than them. As with all foods and drinks, it is the responsibility of the consumer to exercise moderation. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to drink wine or not. Regardless, the fact is that wine is still a very common ingredient in the world and has served its purpose well over thousands of years.
Wine in the New Testament
In the New Testament, wine factors richly into several stories and parables. In these, wine is usually symbolic of alcohol and other luxuries that humans like and that impair their judgments. Various interpretations have been put forth about these passages, however, and some have led to a Christian view of wine that is different from the current common understanding.
The Greek word for wine is oinos, and it is used 34 times in the New Testament. It is most often translated as new wine or unfermented wine, but it can also be modified by modifiers like sweet (gleukos, only in Acts 2:13), and unmixed (akratos).
Wine in the Bible is usually alcoholic but not always. For example, a fig tree is referred to as being like a vine in the Old Testament, but this can be interpreted as meaning non-alcoholic juice rather than intoxicating wine. The same is true for the story of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Similarly, the Jewish scriptures refer to drinking wine as a sin but do not always mean that the drink was intoxicating.
When wine was drunk in biblical times, it was probably much more intoxicating than most people would drink today. It was the main beverage available for socializing and was used to celebrate special occasions. It was even used to cure illnesses and was considered to be a healthful beverage.
Many scholars believe that the wine in the New Testament represents the same type of alcoholic drink that people drank in biblical times. This is based on the fact that the wine was usually made by fermentation and contained high amounts of alcohol. In addition, the ingredients in wine back then were known to kill harmful microorganisms in raw water.
In addition to its role in a biblical celebration, wine is also seen as a symbol of Jesus’ blood and the New Covenant. For this reason, Christians are encouraged to abstain from alcoholic wine, particularly during communion. Some believe that this is a better way to avoid the temptation of excessive drinking and avoiding the problems associated with it.
January 22, 304 – St. Vincent of Saragossa is martyred. The son of a French deacon, he would be sanctified as a patron saint of wine growers and makers, and is held in especially high regard in the Champagne region of France.
May 22, 337 – Constantine I, first Christian Roman emperor, dies. His conversion would eventually allow for acceptance of Christianity within the Roman Empire, allowing it to spread across Europe and the Mediterranean. Wine was heavily consumed in the Empire.
November 8, 397 – St. Martin of Tours dies. A bishop in France, he did much to spread Christianity throughout Roman Gaul, spreading vineyards as well. He is another patron saint of vintners as a result.
December 31, 1825 – Thomas B. Welch, founder of Welch’s, is born. A Methodist minister from England who settled in America, he disapproved of the use of wine in Communion and sought to find a non-alcoholic solution. In the process he created grape juice, and his company continues into the modern era.