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I recently read somewhere that in the LDS observance of communion, water and leavened bread is used. The practice of communion comes from the Jewish Passover ceremony where wine and unleavened bread was used. Wine is the fruit of the vine and leaven, or yeast, represents sin, so the bread, which represents Christ's body today, was without leaven, or sinless.

Most Christian denominations still follow this pattern today, even though many use grape juice as a non-alcoholic substitute for "the fruit of the vine". So, I was quite surprised to learn that Mormons do not follow this pattern.

Is it true that LDS Churches use water instead of wine or grape juice and leavened bread instead of unleavened bread? If so, where does this practice come from and what is the theological basis for it?

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Just wanted to say that Jews do not have communion, and being Christian and being a Jew are two different things, although they are related and Christianity is derived from Judaism (through the old Testament). Some Christian Denominations do indeed use wine, but not all... some just use grape juice as it is believed by some that when the Bible says wine, they are really referring to juice.. –  TheX Feb 8 '13 at 21:34
@TheX Communion actually comes from the Jewish Passover ceremony. So I was referring to the Jewish celebration of Passover where they do use bread and wine. Also, there are many people who are both Jewish and Christian. In fact, all of the first Christians or Jews. They accepted Jesus as their Jewish Messiah, so they didn't stop being Jewish. In fact accepting the Jewish Messiah is the most Jewish thing that a person could do. –  Narnian Feb 8 '13 at 22:05

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The LDS church proscribes wine (or any alcoholic beverage, really), so water is used instead, although it doesn't matter what is used for the symbols of the sacrament, according to Doctrine and Covenants in the LDS canon:

D&C 27:2

2 For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins.

It just so happens that regular bread and water are more available and make for a simpler ceremony, especially considering that it's usually the young men in the church who prepare and administer that ordinance.

There are accounts of Latter-day Saints using alternative emblems for the sacrament. The citation I linked to, about halfway down, mentions French saints making use of potato peelings when that was all they had available.

Note: The Word of Wisdom, which is the revelation forbidding the consumption of alcoholic beverages, was not received until later. It could be that this revelation about the emblems was a precursor, in part, to that more general revelation. (Read D&C 27 in context for more information.)

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+1, though it's also worth noting that this revelation predates the Word of Wisdom, which is where the proscription against alcohol and other harmful substances comes from. –  Mason Wheeler Feb 5 '13 at 20:00
♩♫ Hey, I beat Mason Wheeler! ♬♪ ... anyway, valid point, I'll edit that in. @Narnian I don't really know; there's nothing wrong with grape juice, but I suppose some members would potentially have medical needs that just makes water a simpler choice. In some LDS wards, a piece of bread has to be substituted by a corn tortilla for the gluten-intolerant. –  Matt Feb 5 '13 at 20:05
@Narnian: Why? Isn't being free from having to be commanded in every little detail a major theme of the New Testament, particularly Paul's writings? –  Mason Wheeler Feb 5 '13 at 20:09
Certainly, particularly the wording of various ordinances. Paul strove to impress that the Law of Moses was done away in Christ just as equally as he strove to enforce unity and uniformity among the congregations, condemning those who made unauthorized alterations to the services. –  Matt Feb 5 '13 at 20:14
The LDS might reply by suggesting that the clearness of the water equally represents the purity and sinlessness of Christ, and that the bread and water together represent the bread of life and the living water. Irregardless, with that revelation in Doctrine and Covenants, it "mattereth not" to their theology what is used. –  Matt Feb 5 '13 at 20:29

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