ARE INDIVIDUAL CUPS AN AID?
June 1, 1986 Issue
by Billy D. Dickinson
Every unscriptural practice that has caused the ship of Zion to be tossed on troubled waters has, at one time or another, been termed an aid or an expediency. In the Oct. 17, 1985 issue of the GUARDIAN OF TRUTH, Mike Willis, who is the editor, asserted that the "use of one container or many for the fruit of the vine and the use of plates to pass the unleavened bread are simply aids." He went on to state that "they aid in distributing the elements which the Lord authorized but do not introduce unauthorized items." Thus, an attempt has been made to justify the use of individual cups in the communion by claiming they are merely an aid in distributing the fruit of the vine. Let's see if his contention will hold up under scrutiny.
These statements were made in the third of a series of articles on "Why I Oppose Instrumental Music In Worship." He was trying to demonstrate the difference between an aid and an addition and why a piano is not "just an aid to our worship." In other words, just because someone says a piano is an aid does not make it so; it is still an addition to what is specified. Likewise, just because someone says individual cups are an aid does not make it so; they are still an addition to what is specified!
How can we differentiate between an aid and an addition? Let's allow Bro. Willis to explain the difference to us: "An addition is a violation of specific authority because it introduces another item of the same class. For example the Lord specified unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to be used on the Lord's table. The use of another kind of food on the Lord's table is an addition." By using the very criteria he uses to distinguish between aids and additions, it should be plain to see that cups are not "just an aid", but rather, they area violation of what is specified in the word of God. Not only does the Bible specify that Jesus took bread and fruit of the vine, but it also specifies that Jesus took the cup (Matt 26:27). It was a "drinking vessel" or "the vessel out of which one drinks", Thayer on pages 533 and 510.
If cheese is a violation of the unleavened bread Jesus took and water is a violation of the fruit of the vine, then individual cups are a violation of the one container Jesus took. When cheese is used in the communion, we have a violation of a specific authority because it introduces another item of the same class--it violates bread. When water is used in the communion, we have a violation of specific authority because it introduces another item of the same class--it violates fruit of the vine. Likewise, when cups are used in the communion, we have a violation of specific authority because their use introduces another item of the same class-- they violate cup.
This is the difference between a plate for the bread and cups. (Of course, in his article he spoke of plates, which implies a plurality of loaves. However, Jesus took only one loaf which represented His one body. The Greek word for bread in Matt 26:26 is ARTOS and is singular in number, denoting a loaf.
Hence, the use of a plurality of loaves would also be a violation of specific authority--they would violate the one loaf.) But the use of a plate does not violate bread, while cups certainly do violate the cup! Bro. Willis has argued that cups, along with plates, are an aid because "they aid in distributing the elements which the Lord authorized but do not introduce unauthorized items." Why do you suppose he added this last part to his statement: "but do not introduce unauthorized items"? The reason is because he knows that in order for something to be legitimately classified as an aid, it must not introduce an unauthorized item. Yet, this is where his argument falls apart, because I've already shown how cups violate specific authority and are an unauthorized item on the Lord's table!
What he has really argued is that cups do not violate the fruit of the vine. Well, who ever thought they did? His argument proves nothing because it misses the point. Isn't it strange how he opposes any kind of addition to the bread or fruit of the vine because this would be using "another kind of food," but if someone wants to violate what is specified by using another kind of method of partaking of the fruit of the vine, that is permissible?
Sometimes the instrumental music man will argue that the Bible says to make melody and the piano is merely an aid to help him do that. However, the Bible doesn't tell us to merely make melody; it says we are to sing and make melody in our hearts (Eph 5:19). Similarly, Bro. Willis and others tell us that the Bible says we are to drink the fruit of the vine and cups are merely an aid to help us do that; but in Matt 26:27, Jesus did not tell His assembled disciples to merely drink the fruit of the vine. Rather, He told them all to drink the fruit of the vine out of the one container He had taken and given unto them. Mark says, "...and they all drank of it" (Mk 14:23). Thayer shows on page 510 of his lexicon that the disciples all drank out of the cup Jesus had: "Pino ek with a genitive of the vessel out of which one drinks." The point is that the Scriptures specify the cup, just as surely as they specify the fruit of the vine!
If the Bible had merely said we are to make music, without any other specification, we would be free to make any kind of music we please; but the Bible has specified the kind of music God wants. Likewise, if the Bible had merely said we are to drink the fruit of the vine, without any other specification, we would be free to use one container or many; but the Bible has specified that we are to drink the fruit of the vine out of one cup.
How can the use of one container merely be an aid, as Bro. Willis asserted, when this is what is specified and exemplified in the Scriptures? Something that is essential to carrying out what is specified ought not to be classified as a mere aid.
Just as one cannot obey what is specified without singing and making melody with the heart, one cannot obey what is specified in regard to the communion without the use of one cup. When one sings with grace in his heart, he is making the kind of music God has specified. Likewise, the use of one cup in the communion is the kind of method of partaking of the fruit of the vine God has specified.
In concluding his article, Bro. Willis made this plea: "Will you join hands with us in calling men and women to go back to the Bible and offer to God the worship which He has revealed that we should offer?" Brethren, the use of one cup, not individual cups, is that which God has revealed in His word!
Other OPA Article Links:
Innovations - Multiple Cups
Billy D. Dickinson 1986 OPA Main Page Home