Straining Gnats and Swallowing Camels

"You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" – Matthew 23:24

The irony in the following was too good for me to pass up.  My favorite (I mean that. He’s a nice fellow when not on his soap box.) Bible thumpin’, street preachin’, Jack Chick resemblin’ Fundamentalist, Rand, had an unpleasant exeperience at a church he recently visited.

"We visited a Brethren Gospel Hall on the Lord’s Day and we enjoyed the sermon. There was however, a weird moment, at the Lord’s Table. The problem was with one of the elements. It was the bread. They distributed a loaf of bread; a loaf of leavened bread that you would find at any bakery."

The following day he explained why that was wrong.

…Indeed, leaven, in Scripture is a picture of corruption and sin:

"Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees… Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." (Matthew 16:6&12)

"Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

[…]

First, let’s set a bit of ground work. Without a doubt, the bread the Lord Jesus Christ used at the Last Supper was unleavened. I can say this with 100% certainty because the Last Supper was a Passover meal (see Exodus 12). More precisely, check out:

"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land." (Exodus 12:18-19)

[T]he Passover is all about Christ. The sacrifice of a lamb for the atonement of the Israelites, the unleavened bread, every aspect of the Passover was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He would do on the Cross of Calvary. That is why the bread was unleavened. Leaven being a type of sin, could not be added to bread which symbolized the body of Christ, since His body was uncorrupted by sin. And how so many of you can claim that this held importance in the O.T., but not in the N.T. is beyond me. I mean, maybe that’s what you think, but what part of Scripture do you base this position on?

[…]

At best, one could say that in the N.T., we are not specifically commanded to use unleavened bread, so who knows if we are obliged to regard it or not. But to categorically claim that, for sure, it doesn’t matter??? I think that’s somewhat presumptuous. Actually, I think that’s SERIOUSLY presumptuous!!! Anyone who has spent any time at all in studying the Passover and the Lord’s Table comes to the understanding that the bread is unleavened. Why not stick with it? It is the safest course of action. None of you can, from strict Scripture, prove that the Lord is pleased with leavened bread being used at the Lord’s Table; none of you can, from strict Scripture, prove that the Lord is displeased with using unleavened bread at the Lord’s Table. Why risk it?

So far, my Baptist buddy and I are in agreement.  One addition I’d make though, is that the Lord’s Supper is not only a perfection of the Passover sacrifice, but of all Jewish sacrifices.  Of particular importance is the todah. Ancient rabbis made a significant prediction regarding the todah. ‘In the coming [Messianic] age, all sacrifices will cease except the todah sacrifice.This will never cease in all eternity’. (Pesiqta, I, p. 159)  Todah, like the Greek Eucharist, means "thanks offering".

After passionately arguing for the use of unleavened bread, Rand does a 180.

In his comment, Scott points out that since most evangelical churches have "substituted wine for grape juice" in the Lord’s Table, he suggests that using leavened bread is a non-issue. The problem with Scott’s premise is that I don’t believe for one second that there was ever a substitution. I do not believe that wine was used at the Lord’s Table, I believe it was grape juice.

Say what now? First of all, history records that the unbroken practice, until the Reformation that is, was to use fermented grape juice, i.e., wine.  Why would that be the case if unfermented grape juice had been used? Secondly, the Eucharist is not only prefigured by Jewish temple sacrifices, it is also typified the bread and wine offered by the priest Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18).  Indeed, Christ is "a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:6, Psalm 110:4).  Lastly, it makes good sense for the drink to have been wine.  When Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to Gesthemane to pray, they fall asleep.  They were expecting Jesus to be arrested at any moment; why would they be falling asleep on guard duty? There are several cups of wine consumed at a Passover meal, seven IIRC, and alcohol is a depressant.  It’s easier to cut those apostles some slack for their laziness if they drunk, or at least very sleepy, from the wine.

Now I’m sure some of my readers have been bouncing in their seats thinking, "The hypocrisy of rejecting leavened bread and accepting unfermented grape juice isn’t the biggest irony here!"  They’re right.  Rand is being a little haphazard about what he takes literally from Scripture. He’s swallowed a camel by totally missed the fact that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  His reasons can be found here. Rather than retype arguments that have been already been made a thousand times, I’ll just point you to these quotes from Teaching Truth By Signs and Ceremonies (a book I whole-heartedly recommend).

Sacrifice
The Real Presence

Before you run off to Rand’s blog to comment, you should know that you’re not welcome there.

Well, I’ve made my decision. In this post, I asked you all what I should do about homepage links in the comment box that direct my readers to ungodly webpages (romanist, queer, left-wing wack-o… etc)…

Indeed, I want to post my views on various issues here in an attempt to edify God’s people, and I would love the opportunity to answer the questions of honest Truth seekers. The problem is that we have regular commentors here which are anything but honest Truth seekers, and while answering the occasional nay-sayer is alright, their constant nagging usually ends up aggravating me. Then we have the HOMEPAGE link [in comments] which acts like free advertising for their wicked views, and that ON MY VERY OWN BLOG!

So my decision is clear: no more links to sites that are antagonistic to the views of A Form Of Sound Words. I considered removing the HOMEPAGE link completely, but I do want to offer my brothers and sisters a chance to promote their sites. I also considered Jake’s contention about not always being able to remove HOMEPAGE links when posting a comment, that is why I will assume complete responsibility in editing all comments on my blog.

Also, be advised that my commenting rules will be more vigorously enforced. Debates, apologetics, contentions from commetors that oppose the standard of this blog will be deleted and repeat offenders will be banned. It won’t be a "three strikes, you’re out", it will be "do once, get deleted… do twice, get banned". If these rules seem unreasonable to any of you, so long, and have a great life. This blog’s purpose is to glorify God and to be a blessing to God’s people; not to be a center for useless, profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so-called. (1 Timothy 6:20)

If you attempt to comment or trackback to Rand anyway, don’t say I told you to. I disagree with a lot of what Rand says, but he’s a Christian brother and I do not wish to be a stumbling block for him (explanation 1, explanation 2).

If you’d like to interact with a nice fellow who’s not going to block or ban you, check out Jungle Pop.

Comments 1

  1. Jungle Pop wrote:

    Hey Eric, great post! You say it much better than I did. And yes, you and your readers are more than welcome on my blog. I get increasingly ecumenical with each passing year – and more so with cross-cultural experience. It’s a big world, and a big Church, and plenty of room for everyone!

    Posted 26 Apr 2006 at 2:37 am

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