Administering the Lord’s Supper with Juice

By Gerhard Wilde

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Gerhard Wilde’s “Abendmahl mit Saft,” in Theologische Handreichung und Information (Theological Tutoring and Information), 1984, no. 1, p. 11. THI is published by the faculty of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Leipzig, the seminary for the ELFK, one of the sister synods of the WELS.

President Gaylin Schmeling of Bethany Lutheran Seminary in Mankato, MN, wrote about Gerhard Wilde in 2011:

Pastor Gerhard Wilde faithfully served as president of the ELFK from 1978 to 2002 when he retired from the presidency. Throughout his presidency he stood firm on the doctrine of inerrant Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Most of the present pastors of the ELFK had President Wilde as their vicarage supervisor and were ordained by him.

Discussions about “the fruit of the vine” in the Lord’s Supper seem to be materializing more in WELS circles. The translator presents the following brief by Pastor Wilde in order to bring yet another perspective into the discussion. In the original, the article is followed by a quote from Luther’s Table Talk (Weimarer Ausgabe2 10, 222f), in which Luther says that it is better to go without the Sacrament than to receive but half of it.

May our gracious Lord preserve us in the sacramental doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, whole, pure, and sound.

Administering the Lord’s Supper with Juice

Administering the Lord’s Supper with juice has come into vogue wherever minors are already being admitted to the Sacrament, such as in Methodist congregations. But how are children supposed to be able to examine in the right manner and distinguish the body of the Lord from other foods (1Co 11:28f) before they are even duty-bound to go to school?

But now, even in congregations of the Lutheran State Church of Saxony, the Sacrament is being offered with juice for members who are recovering alcoholics. That’s what Thomas Küttler reports in an article in Der Sonntag1 (1984, no. 2). As an even better solution, he suggests “the omission of the second form in the Lord’s Supper.” Although he concedes that the Reformers’ demand that the cup be offered to all is indispensable for an evangelical church, he advises against making any special provision for recovering alcoholics, but that they should instead be passed by with the cup and then specifically encouraged with the words: “Christ’s blood was also shed for you.” With this advice he would like to provide some food for thought before a practice (using juice) gets established which can be harmonized with the biblical findings only with difficulty, if at all, and a piece of the unity on this point lets itself be called into question. This article was published without commentary.

When congregations had no wine for celebrating the Lord’s Supper after the War,2 they took it as a judgment of God, because they had often taken the Sacrament for granted. Should not a person also summon up the courage to testify to the judgment of God with sickness that has been contracted through the misuse of God’s gift in the wine3? If the second form of the Lord’s Supper is omitted, can people still be sure that they are really celebrating the Lord’s Supper there? Would the administration of the Sacrament still be taking place according to its institution?


1 Der Sonntag (“The Sunday”) is the weekly paper for the Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Saxony still today.

2 For Germans, World War II can simply be referred to as der Krieg, “the War.”

3 Namely alcohol, which in itself is yet another of God’s good gifts to mankind (1 Timothy 4:3-5).