By Ronny Wade
The second affirmative article, which you have just read, is a masterpiece in subterfuge and circumlocution. Seldom will you see someone try so hard to evade clear responsibility and duty. In his first article our brother made two basic arguments, i.e. (1) the cup is the fruit of the vine; hence the container is not under consideration when the word cup is used in the Lord’s supper accounts; and (2) the container has no significance; therefore the number used is incidental. I spent the greater part of my first negative showing why both of these assumptions were false. I will leave it to the reader’s determination as to whether or not I “tried” to answer the arguments.
“The Real Issue”
It doesn’t surprise me at all that our brother is disturbed when I demand that he find an example, command, or necessary inference for his practice. Did you ever see a “liberal” that didn’t get upset when such demands were made? It’s all right for him, and those who agree with him, to demand specific authorization for the sponsoring church concept as Cogdill did of Woods (“There isn’t an example of any church in the New Testament raising its money by going out and begging other churches for it. You find that” – Cogdill- Woods Debate, p. 303, emp. mine R. W.) but if I do it, it “reflects a basic mistake” in my reasoning. Looks to me like what’s sauce for the goose ought at least to be applesauce for the gander. He’s already admitted that there is no New Testament example of a plurality of cups being used in the observance of the Lord’s supper. Now he admits that there is neither command nor necessary inference justifying their use. If this be the case, then how does he know the church of the first century used them as he claimed in the January 2, ’86 issue of Guardian of Truth? Did you notice how quiet he was on this? Wonder why?
Oh! but you misunderstand says, our brother, the proposition states may. Cups may be used. But wait a minute, what the proposition says is: “The scriptures teach a plurality of cups may be used.” What we want to know is how do the Scriptures teach a plurality may be used? We know by his own admission, that a plurality of cups is not taught by example, command, or necessary inference. If not in one of these three ways, then in what way do the Scriptures teach a plurality of cups? Well, says the affirmative, they are implied. But I ask, where? Where do the Scriptures imply the use of a plurality of cups in the Lord’s supper? I’ve never read a single account of that event, that implies a plurality of cups were used. What the affirmative really believes is that cups are taught implicitly (i.e. “capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed”). There you have it, my friend. Even though we have no example, no command, no necessary inference, we understand from something else (heaven only knows what it is) that cups may be used, even though it is unexpressed. Shades of logic! Wouldn’t the liberals love to have that kind of freedom in proving church support of non-saints? Such argumentation is unworthy of church of Christ people.
He says I falsely charge him with believing that the container is never under consideration when the cup is used in the Lord’s supper accounts. “I have never denied that a container is necessary to contain liquid.” “The negative is fighting a strawman.” Well, let’s see. Notice the two statements: (1) “The container is never under consideration when the word cup is used in the Lord’s supper accounts.” (2) “Container is necessary to contain liquid” (his belief). Are the statements the same? Of course not and it doesn’t take a Solomon to see the difference. If they are the same, as our brother implies, let him answer the following: in Matthew 26:27, “And he took the cup. . .,” does cup mean a container? I Corinthians 10: 16, “. . the cup of blessing . . . ” is cup a container here? If not in either of these passages, let him tell us in which Lord’s supper passage the word cup means a literal container. Then we’ll see who is fighting a straw man. Come on, brother, this is the issue, face it squarely, and let the readers know where you stand.
Ek – “Out Of”
In his agitated state he then proceeds to accuse me of “taking the liberty of changing the Lord’s statement” with reference to the Greek preposition ek. Well, I did no such thing. I merely gave the definition of ek which is “from” or “out of.” In every place where the Lord commands His disciples to drink of the cup, “of” is translated from ek. Thayer says under pino ek (drink of), “with a genitive of the vessel out of which one drinks, ek tou poterion i.e. drink out of the cup” (p. 510). That is exactly what Jesus commanded the disciples to do. And it is just wishful thinking on the affirmative’s part to claim otherwise. He wants me to try my hand on I Corinthians 9:7, Le. “of” the flock. “Of” is from ek, but Thayer says “with a genitive denoting the drink of which as a supply one drinks” (p. 5 10). There is a difference in drinking from a vessel that one hands another (which is what happened in Mt. 26:27) and drinking from the supply of milk given by a flock. Thayer says the genitives are different, let our brother deny it.
In my first article I gave the following parallel: (1) “And he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it. For this is my blood of the New Testament. . . . ” (2) He picked up the cup (container) and drank it (contents) and sighed gustily saying, “this is good coffee.” Notice (A) cup is literal in both sentences. (B) This and it both refer back to cup (literal) but the pronouns (this, it) refer by metonymy to the contents of the cup. (C) Cup is still literal and does not become the contents. (D) The fruit of the vine was not the cup. The coffee was not the cup.
Did our brother deny A or B and try to disprove either? No! He merely with one swipe of the hand said that because a metaphor is involved in the expression “this is my blood” there is no parallel. That fact however does not negate the parallel, and it won’t go away, even though he wishes it would. Why didn’t he notice the three points I made regarding these statements? No one denies that the fruit of the vine was the blood or that the coffee was good coffee. The question is: was the cup the coffee?, was the cup the fruit of the vine? That’s the question, let him face it.
Now let’s look at what he had to say about my argument on the significance of the cup. First of all, he charges that I “ignore the fact that Jesus used highly metaphorical language” then opines that a man of my background should never make a mistake like that. Well, I regret to have to correct him again, but his accusation just isn’t true. Please notice my point #3, “Each embraces a metaphor which is a figure of comparison. . . . ” You’d think that at least he would read what I said before making statements that have no foundation and serve only to demonstrate his inability to deal with the issue at hand. Secondly, he says the argument might be impressive from a grammatical standpoint, but proves nothing about the significance of the vessel. Did he take up the argument point by point and show where it was false? No! He didn’t even attempt that. He knew better. He says I literalize everything, thus the argument is all wrong. Now that’s really answering an argument isn’t it? Let me encourage everyone to re-read that entire section. Note each point carefully, compare it with the Bible and see if it isn’t true. He does no better in his effort to explain the two statements (1) “This is my blood of the N.T.” and (2) “This cup is the N.T. in my blood,” claiming they are identical, only that the terms are reversed. This, however, cannot be for at least four reasons:
1. The first statement teaches that the fruit of the vine represents the blood, that ratified or sealed the New Covenant.
2. The second statement teaches that the cup is emblematic of the N.T. that the blood ratified.
3. The blood that sealed the N.T. was not the testament, they were two different things.
4. Since the blood and the New Testament were two different things, Jesus used two different things to represent them (fruit of vine represents the blood; cup represents the New Testament). Let him disprove it.
On And On He Goes
His next failure involves the so-called argument on Bible authority. 1 showed exactly why it wouldn’t work, his assertion to the contrary not withstanding. Every passage that teaches the obligation to drink the fruit of the vine teaches that we are to drink of (“out of”) the cup. When cups are used, the commands of both Paul and Jesus are disobeyed. He has no argument here at all.
In a feeble effort to find at least two cups the affirmative cites 1 Corinthians 10:16, but totally misapplies the passage. “We” refers to the congregation where Paul was – Ephesus. “We the assembled” (Alford, Greek New Testament). “We the many (believers assembled; so the Greek)” (Jamieson, Faucett, Brown). He finds no relief here.
What Does He Really Believe?
So far the affirmative has told us that the cup is the fruit of the vine, that the cup is the blood, that cup is a container, and to cap it all off he says, “in whatever sense that the ‘cup’ is the New Testament, it is not the ‘container,’ but the ‘contents.”‘ I wonder, the contents of what? Tell us brother, the cup is the contents of what? What does the man believe?
Our brother is laboring under a terrible burden. He is trying to prove a man-made practice scriptural – a practice introduced into churches of Christ around 1913 by such men as C. E. Holt and G. C. Brewer. In his book Forty Years On The Firing Line, Brewer said, “I think I was the first preacher to advocate the use of individual communion cups and the first church in the state of Tennessee that adopted it was the church for which I was preaching, the Central church of Christ at Chattanboga, Tn.” So there you have it. There is his authority. No wonder the man has problems.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 5, pp. 147-148
March 5, 1987