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Thoughts on one-cup congregations

A response to a recent article regarding congregations that say there is 'no such thing as individual communion.'

In the July issue of The Christian Chronicle, a brother in Christ affirmed that he and some 500 congregations among us cannot have full fellowship with churches who use multiple cups to serve the fruit of the vine in the Lord’s Supper (Dialogue, Page 15).

Related Article:  ‘No such thing as individual communion.’


This separation is regrettable because there is no theological or doctrinal emphasis in the Scriptures given to the container or to the number of containers used to serve the Lord’s Supper. During the Passover meal with its four cups of wine, Jesus took one of those cups and pronounced the words of institution (Luke 22:17, 22; 1 Corinthians 11:25).

“The cup” that is drunk in his memory is the contents, not the container, because we cannot drink the container (Matthew 26:27-29). We “drink the cup” which is the fruit of the vine inside the container (1 Corinthians 11:25). When Jesus took “a cup of wine” he said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” He gives the wine theological significance; he gives no significance to its metal or stoneware container. “The cup of blessing” is not the container but the contents that represent “participation in the blood of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:18, 21).

Jesus said about the contents of one of the containers at the table, “Divide it among yourselves” (Luke 22:17). Individual cups are a way of dividing the contents and doing what Jesus said. Whether the contents are divided by everyone sipping from one large container or everyone sipping from small, individual cups, the contents and their meaning are still the same. When God does not specify a way to do what he commands, we are free to use whatever method fulfils the command — unless it opposes some other Scripture.

Let us all work and worship together for the unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17:20-22.

CALVIN WARPULA is minister for the Pittsfield Church of Christ in Illinois.

I do not believe that the vast majority (of Christian Chronicle readers) knew why the one-cup brethren hold to their particular (though admittedly ancient) understanding concerning communion. I appreciate their theological concern — especially the idea that “individual communion” is self-contradictory. This interview is very informative in that way.

Nick Gill | Frankfort, Ky.

While I don’t agree with the conclusion that our one-cup brothers and sisters have arrived at, I respect their right to believe it.

Surely this is not a salvation issue, and hopefully those that would separate us on this matter will mature and grow in love and understanding. I have wonderful relationships with some of the one-cup group and have never had them tell me that they view me as lost.

Dale Isom | Wilkesboro, N.C.

Filed under: Dialogue Opinion

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