What does PCC use for the bread and the wine in the Lord’s Supper? Why?
Before I answer this question, I must begin by saying that I do not think that it should be an issue of contention at all. I believe it is really a matter of indifference as long as the elements used are not at variance with the scriptural designations of them.
It is a matter of interest that in A.D. 1054, the early Church divided into two for the first time with the Latin-speaking Western segment and the Greek Eastern segment excommunicating each other. Although there were many issues of disagreement, the straw that broke the camel’s back was whether the bread in the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper) should be leavened or unleavened. The Eastern church argued that it should be leavened while the Western church argued that it should be unleavened.
Those who argue for unleavened bread point to the fact that the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper with the bread of the Passover, which was clearly unleavened, since it was unlawful to have leaven during the feast (Ex 12:19). Turretin, while acknowledging that it is a matter of indifference, prefers leavened bread because
it is more in accordance with the design of Christ (which was to use common and ordinary bread, which is everywhere to be found); and because it is more appropriate to sustain the sacramental analogy (which consists in signifying our communion with Christ by the similitude of bodily nourishment); and because the necessity of unleavened bread belongs to the Jewish ceremonies (which are abrogated and cannot be retained without a certain affectation of Judaism); and because in the whole ancient church no traces appear of the common use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist before the ninth and tenth centuries. [Moreover,] it is evident that the Eucharistic symbols were formerly taken from the offerings of bread and wine made by believers, which were undoubtedly of ordinary and fermented bread (Inst. of Elenctic Theology, 3.430).
However, the fact that Turretin acknowledges that it is a matter of indifference shows that he would agree that these arguments are subjective and not infallible. There is, for example, as much to be said about the continuity between the Lord’s Supper and the Passover, as the discontinuity between them. Also, if spiritual nourishment is best symbolised by ordinary food of bodily nourishment, then the Chinese may use rice instead of bread. Perhaps, then, the best thing for us to do is to emulate what the Lord used, which was unleavened bread. This, we will do with a simple home baking recipe handed down by the wife of a beloved elder.
What about the wine? Again, I believe it is a matter of indifference so long as it is made from “fruit of the vine” (Mt 26:29; Mk 14:25). This means that Ribena (which is blackcurrant) or coffee (which a friend from a Brethren assembly told me was used in his church) is certainly inappropriate. Turretin argues that since it is simply called “fruit of the vine” that it must be undiluted wine. However it is generally accepted that the wine used in the Passover in those days were diluted as the use of pure wine in N.T. days was rare. There are some who argue on a basis that alcohol is evil or tends to evil that we ought to use unfermented grape juice. We do not question the legitimacy of using grape juice, seeing that the word “wine” was not used in the Lord’s institution of the Lord’s Supper. But to base our practice according to this argument would be to border on legalism: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink” (Rom 14:17). Moreover, grape harvest in Palestine was from July to October, whereas the Passover was celebrated in April. There would have been no way to preserve fresh grape juice without fermenting them. There is also no evidence that the wine for the Passover was boiled to remove the alcoholic content. Well, what do we use? Without being dogmatic, we will use a table wine diluted with water or grape juice to lower the alcoholic percentage to about 3 to 5%, which would probably be about what it was when the Lord’s Supper was first celebrated.