Saturday, May 27, 2017

Are we saved by Wine Alone? (The Apostolic dogma of mixing of Water & Wine in the Chalice.)

Most of us know that during the Sacrifice of the Mass there comes a point when the priest is preparing the chalice when he mixes water with the wine prior to Consecration. I have always seen this as a beautiful 'ritual', but until recently I didn't realize how plainly it was included in Early Church Father writings and that the Church has always insisted it is part of proper celebration of the Eucharist. In this post I want to quote some of the ancient sources I found testifying to this practice, and from there I want to bring up the question of how this squares with Sola Scriptura. (This is another post in my How Liturgy Refutes Protestantism series, see HERE and HERE for two of the main articles.) 

Here are some early Church testimonies I came across: 
  • Justin, AD150 (First Apology, Sec65):
    There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father . . . those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true . . . Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings
  • Irenaeus, AD180 (Against Hereies Bk4:Ch33):
    Moreover, how could the Lord, with any justice, if He belonged to another father, have acknowledged the bread to be His body, while He took it from that creation to which we belong, and affirmed the mixed cup to be His blood? ... (Bk5:Ch2) When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported
    ... (Bk5:36) For the Lord also taught these things, when He promised that He would have the mixed cup new with His disciples in the kingdom
  • Clement of Alexandria, AD200 (The Instructor, Book 2):
    Accordingly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. And the one, the mixture of wine and water, nourishes to faith; while the other, the Spirit, conducts to immortality. And the mixture of both— of the water and of the Word— is called Eucharist.
  • Cyprian, AD250 (Epistle 62):
    In Genesis, therefore, that the benediction, in respect of Abraham by Melchizedek the priest, might be duly celebrated, the figure of Christ's sacrifice precedes, namely, as ordained in bread and wine; which thing the Lord, completing and fulfilling, offered bread and the cup mixed with wine, and so He who is the fullness of truth fulfilled the truth of the image prefigured. ... He declares the wine mingled, that is, he foretells with prophetic voice the cup of the Lord mingled with water and wine, that it may appear that that was done in our Lord's passion which had been before predicted. ... teaching by the example of His own authority, that the cup should be mingled with a union of wine and water ... In which portion we find that the cup which the Lord offered was mixed, and that that was wine which He called His blood. Whence it appears that the blood of Christ is not offered if there be no wine in the cup, nor the Lord's sacrifice celebrated with a legitimate consecration unless our oblation and sacrifice respond to His passion. But how shall we drink the new wine of the fruit of the vine with Christ in the kingdom of His Father, if in the sacrifice of God the Father and of Christ we do not offer wine, nor mix the cup of the Lord by the Lord's own tradition? ... that as often as we drink, we do in remembrance of the Lord the same thing which the Lord also did, we find that what was commanded is not observed by us, unless we also do what the Lord did; and that mixing the Lord's cup in like manner we do not depart from the divine teaching ... But when the water is mingled in the cup with wine, the people is made one with Christ, and the assembly of believers is associated and conjoined with Him on whom it believes; which association and conjunction of water and wine is so mingled in the Lord's cup, that that mixture cannot any more be separated. ... Thus, therefore, in consecrating the cup of the Lord, water alone cannot be offered, even as wine alone cannot be offered. ... Therefore it befits our religion, and our fear, and the place itself, and the office of our priesthood, dearest brother, in mixing and offering the cup of the Lord, to keep the truth of the Lord's tradition 
  • Ambrose, AD375 (On the Sacraments, Book 5):
    We said, therefore, that the cup and the bread are set on the altar. What is poured into the cup? Wine. And what else? Water. But thou sayest to me: “How then did Melchizedek offer bread and wine? What means the mixture of water? Hear the reason. First of all, what does the type which was prefigured in the time of Moses tell us? That when the people of the Jews thirsted and murmured because they could not find water, God bade Moses touch the rock with his rod. He touched the rock and the rock poured forth a flood of water, as the Apostle says, But they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. It was not an immovable Rock which followed the people. Drink thou also, that Christ may follow thee. Behold the mystery. Moses, that is to say, a prophet; the rod, that is the word of God. The priest touches the rock with the word of God, and the water flows and the people of God drink. Therefore the priest touches the cup, the water streams in the cup, springs up into eternal life, and the people of God drink, who have obtained the grace of God. This then thou hast learned. Hear also another reason. At the time of the Lord’s passion, when a great sabbath was nigh, because our Lord Jesus Christ was alive, or the robbers, men were sent to smite him; coming they found the Lord Jesus Christ dead; then one of the soldiers touched his side with his lance, and from his side water flowed and blood.

  • Gregory of Nyssa, AD375 (The Great Catechism, Part 3, Ch37):
    If the subsistence of every body depends on nourishment, and this is eating and drinking, and in the case of our eating there is bread and in the case of our drinking water sweetened with wine
  • Apostolic Constitutions, AD380 (if composed by St Clement, AD90) (Book 8, parXII):
    In like manner also He took the cup, and mixed it of wine and water, and sanctified it, and delivered it to them, saying: Drink all of this; for this is my blood which is shed for many, for the remission of sins: do this in remembrance of me.

  • Council of Carthage, AD419 (Canon 37):
    In the sacraments of the body and blood of the Lord nothing else shall be offered than that which the Lord himself ordained, that is to say, bread and wine mixed with water.
  • John Chrysostom, AD400 (Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom):
    [Deacon prepares to pour water into the chalice, saying:] Bless the warm water, Master.

  • Augustine, AD420 (On Christian Doctrine, Book 4):
    But these writings of the apostles, though clear, are yet profound, and are so written that one who is not content with a superficial acquaintance, but desires to know them thoroughly, must not only read and hear them, but must have an expositor. Let us, then, study these various modes of speech as they are exemplified in the writings of men who, by reading the Scriptures, have attained to the knowledge of divine and saving truth, and have ministered it to the Church. Cyprian of blessed memory writes in the subdued style in his treatise on the sacrament of the cup. In this book he resolves the question, whether the cup of the Lord ought to contain water only, or water mingled with wine.

  • Liturgy of St James:
    In like manner, after supper, He took the cup, and having mixed wine and water, lifting up His eyes to heaven, and presenting it to You, His God and Father, He gave thanks

  • Council of Trullo, AD692 (Canon 32):
    Therefore if any bishop or presbyter shall not perform the holy action according to what has been handed down by the Apostles, and shall not offer the sacrifice with wine mixed with water, let him be deposed, as imperfectly showing forth the mystery and innovating on the things which have been handed down.

  • Aquinas [not early Church, but insightful] (ST 3:74):
    I answer that, Water ought to be mingled with the wine which is offered in this sacrament. First of all on account of its institution: for it is believed with probability that our Lord instituted this sacrament in wine tempered with water according to the custom of that country: hence it is written (Proverbs 9:5): "Drink the wine which I have mixed for you." Secondly, because it harmonizes with the representation of our Lord's Passion: hence Pope Alexander I says (Ep. 1 ad omnes orth.): "In the Lord's chalice neither wine only nor water only ought to be offered, but both mixed because we read that both flowed from His side in the Passion." Thirdly, because this is adapted for signifying the effect of this sacrament, since as Pope Julius [AD352] says (Concil. Bracarens iii, Can. 1): "We see that the people are signified by the water, but Christ's blood by the wine. Therefore when water is mixed with the wine in the chalice, the people is made one with Christ." Fourthly, because this is appropriate to the fourth effect of this sacrament, which is the entering into everlasting life: hence Ambrose says (De Sacram. v): "The water flows into the chalice, and springs forth unto everlasting life."
The testimony here is definitive: Mixing water with wine is the proper way of celebrating the Eucharist, as was done by Our Lord and per Apostolic Tradition. The earliest Church Fathers teach this practice, as do at least two Councils, with good representation from East and West. This information is huge for apologetics, but before going onto the next section, I should also note that the famous Jewish Rabbi Maimonides (Source, Ch9) asserts that it's part of the Jewish oral tradition to celebrate the Passover using cups of wine mixed with water, so there's some testimony that Jews hold to this.

So how does this affect Protestantism and Sola Scriptura? Well, insisting that water has to be added to the chalice, this is a pretty blatant difference in the "Sola Wine" view (which is based on the Scriptural texts that seem to suggest only wine was used). In other words, this adding of water must either be seen as tampering with (even nullifying) the Sacrament, or it must be seen as Apostolic and legitimate. There's no middle ground. If it is tampering with the Sacrament, it means these ancient Christian testimonies were already corrupted with heresy, and even apostate by this very fact. But if it is not tampering, and indeed is a legitimate Apostolic Teaching, then Sola Scriptura obviously fails and Protestants have been practicing Communion in yet another flawed way (the biggest flaw being rejecting the Sacrificial Priesthood). 

Among even these Church Father quotes, we see that Augustine and Aquinas could not have been advocates of Sola Scriptura, even though both strongly upheld the authority of Scripture. In the case of Augustine above, he says the Scriptures are clear but they are so deep they also need an expositor, and he calls on Cyprian's Epistle of mixing water and wine as his first example of a deep Biblical truth. Aquinas calls upon the authority of two Popes, with Pope Alexander being clear that this mixture is required. The chief Biblical proofs the Fathers have offered are: The Rock which Moses struck produced water for drinking, and Paul says this Rock is Jesus. At various times Jesus said he was the only Water that truly satisfies. On the Cross, when His side was pierced, water and blood flowed out. And Proverbs 9:5 speaks of "eating bread and a mixed cup". All this is to say, when it comes to Liturgy, Protestantism has no answer, and indeed is in a serious bind, since they are unable to worship God as God Himself wants to be worshiped.


John Church said...

I don't imagine this practice much concerns the Protestants who adhere to the "Sola grape juice." One could say not having alcohol in the grape drink is as much a deviation as is adding water.

John Church said...

Of course, one of the two approaches is authentic Christian tradition and the other is not... I did really enjoy how you laid out all the patristic support. Nicely done!

Nick said...

Thanks John. When I first came across this, I was just reading Justin Martyr's First Apology (the famous Liturgy passage) and I noticed he included this detail. Until then, I never realized how ancient it was, going back to Jesus!

Cornelius Augustine said...

Also, I found out that the Armenian Orthodox Church, a "Monophysite" church, uses only wine and does not mix water. (I've heard that this practice exists so as to affirm the "one nature" of Christ, but I am not an expert.)