Cracker and grape juice vs. unleaven (leaven) bread and ordinary Wine.


In ancient Christianity, ordinary wine and unleaven bread (and leaven bread in the Eastern Christianity) is always used in Holy Communion. This based on Scripture itself, and Tradition. Since Jews used wine during there Passover, and unleaven bread.

However, in Protestantism (most mainline Protestants, I do believe some Protestants use ordinary wine and leaven bread or unleaven in their communion service) they used cracker and grape juice (non-alcoholic). When did this man-made tradition was first put into use?


From the Welch’s website:

1869 Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician and dentist by profession, successfully pasteurizes Concord grape juice to produce an “unfermented sacramental wine” for fellow parishioners at his church in Vineland, N.J., where he is communion steward. His achievement marks the beginning of the processed fruit juice industry.


Ancient Christians could have made grape juice. But they didn’t use it. Come to think of it, I have never heard of people drinking grape juice at supper ever. Has anyone else?


Actually the ancient Christians could not have made grape juice. Prior to the use of pasteurization, it would have naturally started to ferment and turn into wine because of yeast particles getting into it. It was only after Welch’s discovery of how to stop fermentation from occuring that grape juice existed.


I can go in my back yard, grab some grapes (not ripe albeit) and crush them and then drink the juice. Maybe they could not have bottled it but certainly they could have made juice. Do you work for Welch’s? I smell conspiracy.


No, I do not work for Welch’s. I also do not defend the use of grape juice for communion. I have taken biochemistry. We studied fermentation. If you search these fora, you will see posts by persons who make their own wine and can give an even better explanation of why grape juice did not exist prior to the 19th century.

See this thread for a further explanation.


Are we off topic yet?

Are you telling me grape juice did not EXIST prior to 1869? Or was it that they had no means to keep it fresh and non-boozed?

I promise when my grapes ripen, I will make juice, and then see how long it takes me to get loopy. Should I wait a bit or does this happen instantly? (juice to wine that is)


From Jesus time, they did use wine. In fact, in the miracle in Cana he turn water into wine. During the Descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, one of the witness said, “they are drunk with new wine.”

There is no indication that Jesus use grape juice during the Last Supper. He used wine and unleaven bread.


I believe it’s mostly an American phenomenon, or at least began here. Temperance societies in the 1800s probably had the most to do with this, especially when they moved into active prohibition on the basis that alcohol was considered evil. Most Protestant denominations today which use grape juice instead of wine are basically abstentionist – that is, while they don’t believe alcohol is evil or its consumption sinful, they do not think it’s necessarily prudent and thus they avoid it.

Source: I was a Southern Baptist before my conversion.


fermentation often begins on the vine. ‘Loopy’ birds are often seen around harvest time and a great testimony to this, Obviously, the fresher, the lower the alchohol content. The only way to completely prevent fermentation however, is through pasteurization and asceptic packaging, things not available before the 19th century. In ancient times wine was sealed in clay pots and cooled to slow the process, but lacking knowledge of micro-organisms and asceptic handling, eliminating the yeast was impossible.

Fresh juice of the grape (must) was of course sometimes used, this would have less alcohol than aged wine. But fresh grapes were not available year round. Sometimes partially dried grapes were pressed for juice after harvest time, but fermentation can begin before pressing, it only takes a microscopic break in the grapes skin for fermentation to begin.

So again, the only way to have alcohol free juice year round, is to process the grapes to kill the yeast and then bottle or freeze it.

I have seen claims that people in ancient times had methods of preservation we do not know about. I find this a stretch, but even if that is true, there would have been a period of centuries when the knowledge of preservation was unavailable. I think the problem is what ‘fresh’ meant 2000 years ago. It is interpreted as un-fermented, when most likely it was used to mean the wine was sweet and had not soured.



I have heard of monkeys in wild that become alcoholics. They see of the fermenting fruit. They develop a taste for the alcohol and prefer it to fresher fruit.


Crackers and grape juice taste a hell of a lot better, though.:slight_smile:


I disagree… :smiley:


Most of the Protestant churches I’ve seen do not use “crackers” in the ordinary sense of the word, but instead use an unleavened bread product that does, in some ways, resemble crackers. It is broken into small pieces about the size of two thumbnails and, in a Baptist church, the communicant takes one from a dish that is passed from person to person. In Methodist churches the minister passes the dish to each communicant who is kneeling at the altar rail.


At our Lutheran church, we use regular wafers, and wine – with an alternative of grape juice, usually for those in AA.

We used to use bread for awhile, but went back to the wafers, and only once did we use the chalice to drink out of (another time, we dipped the bread in it just once – experimenting, obviously).

We use a tray with little plastic cups for the wine/grape juice almost like this, but without the communion wafers in the center.


I am Catholic…

I like the idea of the little cups instead of everyone drinking from one cup. I am concerned about catching the viruses from every member of the congregation who share the one cup. Now that we know how deceases are spread. Why doesn’t the CC do this?

For people who are immune compromised this is a very scary thing.


The Byzantine CC, my husband’s church, uses a loaf of bread. Everyone breaks of a peace. The parish has about 200 members so it is very intimate. I like this.

It’s really cute watching the enthusiasm of the children when the loaf is passed around.


What part of alcohol killing germs is hard to understand? Certainly if a person is contagious, they should not be at mass or at the very least, not partaking of the precious blood.


Of course people who have the flu should not be drinking from the communion cup. Some people do before they realize that they are contangious and some people just don’t care about others.

I am far from the only person worried about this. Studies are actually being done to see what the risk is. I have a brother who will die if he catches the flue… he has a rare from of
anemia that causes him to have too few red blood cells to survive a virus infection. Since studies have shown that some viruses survive the wine and almost all bacteria does it is not fool-proof.

"When the results were compared with those from earlier studies involving sipping, the greatest risk was sipping from a common cup, followed by dipping the wafer by the minister and then dipping by the parishioner, Ms. Loving said. "

Flu spurs changes to Communion


A communicant’s mouth touches part of the cup that the alcohol doesn’t wash over. I’ve seen ministers use a cloth napkin under the cup’s lip to handle spills and drools, and they may be deliberately using the alcohol-dampened cloth to wipe the cup and sterilize it after each communicant’s sip.

Anyone have solid info as to the effectiveness of communion wine’s antiseptic abilities? I wonder if it is fairly weak in comparison to isopropyl and if many germs would only laugh at it.

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