Is intinction the correct way to do communion?Question: "Is intinction the correct way to do communion?"
Answer: Intinction is the practice of taking the Lord’s Supper by somehow combining the two elements, bread and juice/wine. In many Eastern Orthodox traditions, this is done by mixing the bread and wine and then delivering both on a spoon to each congregant. In Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions, intinction is usually accomplished by dipping the bread into the wine and immediately taking it. The practice is sometimes found in Baptist, Congregational, non-denominational, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, and some other Protestant churches. However, the vast majority of Protestant churches prefer presenting the bread and juice/wine separately.
The issue of intinction raises some controversy. Some are concerned that intinction simply does not fulfill the command to “eat this bread and drink this cup” (1 Corinthians 11:26), as it combines the two elements into one. Where Scripture mentions two actions (eat and drink), intinction has just one. Some point to John 13:26 as an example of intinction in the Bible: “Dipping the piece of bread, [Jesus] gave it to Judas.” However, this verse can hardly be used as the foundation for a church sacrament; the same verse specifies that Jesus was dipping the bread into a dish (probably of charoset), not a cup. And Judas the betrayer is the only one to receive it.
Proponents of intinction often suggest that the imagery of the wine-soaked bread is valuable in remembering the graphic violence inflicted upon Jesus. Intinction is also more practical, they say, as it dispenses with the need to share a chalice or to clean or dispose of hundreds of individual cups. Historically, intinction has been associated with giving communion to the sick.
It is clear that, at the Last Supper, Jesus gave the apostles the bread and wine separately, with individual instructions concerning each element. Churches wanting to stay as close as possible to Jesus’ model reject intinction and keep communion as two definite actions. While we should always be careful about modifying any biblical instruction, Scripture neither prohibits nor endorses intinction. The issue of precisely how to serve the Lord’s Supper is not one that should occupy much of our time. What is more important is that we apply the correct meaning and value to the Supper itself, not the particular manner of its presentation.
Recommended Resource: Understanding Four Views on the Lord's Supper edited by John H. Armstrong
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Questions about the Church
Is intinction the correct way to do communion?