Fruit of the Vine

Professor Schuetze - the guy with the hot take on David and Bathsheba - has yet another hot take on communion. Professor Schuetze holds that non-alcoholic grape wine or grape juice are allowable "in exceptional circumstances" citing John Schaller, the Wauwatosa Theologian - let the reader understand.

This is a silly argument that should not come from a seminary professor. It is clear that wine was used in the Lords Supper. The timing of Passover relative to harvest ensured there would be only wine, not grape juice to drink. Our patriarch of the great era of WELS orthodoxy, Adolf Hoenecke, asserted the use of wine (Vol. 4 pg. 121 of his dogmatics).  

This view contradicts the clear words of the Lutheran Confessions in the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VII:48: "There can be no doubt that he [Christ] was speaking of true, natural bread and natural wine." Quia?

Of course, the Magpies already dealt with this in a response to then-seminary professor Brug:

But serious Lutheran scholars should examine the text. Although it is but a jot and a tittle, our Lord, in speaking of the cup said that “this (tou'to) is the blood of the New Testament” and that he would not drink from “this (touvtou) fruit of the vine” until he drank it anew with his disciples in his Father’s kingdom. What? “This.” Not “any” or “a,” as the above theologian writes, but “this” fruit of the vine. Indeed, one hesitates to introduce the blasphemous list ending with “zucchini” of all that is “a” fruit of the vine. Grape jelly (Schmuckers [sic], of course) on a Ritz “qualifies” under this kind of Biblicism.

However, this “this” is the demonstrative adjective which qualifies this “fruit of the vine.” “This” fruit of the vine was wine, grape wine. The disingenuous defense that “if the Lord wanted us to use the fruit of the vine, grape wine, then why didn’t he say ‘wine’” borders on silliness. Why did Jesus refer to Herod as a “fox” and not a sneaky chap? Yes, he did mean grape wine for that is what he used and that is what he referred to for he said, “this fruit of the vine” and that is what he invites us to drink for “this” is his blood shed FOR YOU (Luther’s use of the majusche).

This argument that since our Lord did not use the word “wine” but “fruit of the vine,” and so one can use “any fruit of the vine,” let alone without the restrictive qualifier “this,” is an example of what I call “theology by concordance” which, in more scholarly circles, is known as “illegitimate totality transfer.” James Barr, quoted by Fr. Robert Schaibley, explains that this illegitimate totality transfer “obsurs[es] the value of a word in a context by imposing on it the totality of its uses” (Logia Vol. II, 4 p.  51). 

It's wine, or it's not the Lords' Supper.

Yet another example of the WELS' abuse of the so-called "Law of Love": the view that, in order to accommodate the felt needs of an individual, we can bend the clear words of Scripture that even a first-year Greek student can parse.