Thursday, August 23, 2012

Words of Dis-tinction?

Learned a new word the other day: “intinction.” I came across it while doing research on the website of a denomination I’m familiar with. At first I didn’t bother to check its meaning, but finally curiosity got to me.

Actually, it’s a theological term. If you’re unfamiliar with the word, it’s not surprising. Two pastor friends of mine had never heard of it before either, and both are seminary graduates.

Intinction, I learned, means dipping the bread (cracker or wafer, as the case may be) into the wine (or grape juice, depending on your congregation’s preference) during the observance of communion. The reason the word even appeared on the website is because the denomination was debating whether to declare intinction “an inappropriate method,” meaning the bread/cracker and wine/grape juice should instead be consumed in separate actions.

The apostle Paul said his
focus was Christ and the Cross.
My honest reaction, after suppressing a chuckle, was to ask, “Really? Seriously?” Of all the issues facing the modern church today, leaders are worrying about whether it’s “appropriate” to dip bread into wine while taking communion or if they must insist that congregants eat the bread and drink the wine separately? Apparently it’s a matter inquiring church minds must resolve.

Think of what the 21st century church is confronting today – declining attendance; young people leaving and not returning once they finish high school; divorce rates within the church nearly equaling that of nonbelievers; men regularly attending church addicted to pornography; responding to people living “alternative lifestyles”; or individuals simply wondering how to relate what they hear on Sunday mornings to real-life issues on Monday mornings or Thursday afternoons.

While all this is going on, church leaders are devoting time and energy to whether it’s right to dip the bread into the wine/juice during holy communion?

This seems symptomatic of what ails today’s church, dangerously close to becoming irrelevant in society. Focus is given to issues like “intinction” rather than ascertaining how to effectively convey to men, women and young people in the pews what it really means to live for Christ on a 24/7 basis, to truly experience “victory in Jesus” and not just sing about it. And how to serve as His witnesses in our Judeas, Samarias, and the uttermost parts of the world.

That’s why I appreciate the determination of the apostle Paul, who said,
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Well-intended church leaders would be wise to do the same. Otherwise, as they debate intinction, their churches march toward extinction.

No comments: