|Vol. 12 No. 10 October 2010||
The Mentally Incapacitated
and the Judgment
Louis Rushmore, Editor
A person who is lost becomes mentally incapacitated by disease or accident and is unable to respond to the gospel. How will this person be judged? Overall, the answer to this question may ultimately be out of our hands, yet I do wish to hear if there are any principles you can share from your study of the scriptures.
Generally, the mentally incapacitated are no more candidates for conversion with the Gospel of Christ than are small children who are unable to hear (Matthew 13:9), believe (John 8:24) or obey the Gospel (Romans 10:16). Children are unable to hear with understanding the Gospel, lack the mental maturity to believe and have no capacity to obey the Gospel. In addition, Scripture portrays young children as innocent (Matthew 18:1-2), that is, not sinners. As such they are not saved but safe – until they arrive at a time in their lives when they have sufficient mental resources to be accountable for their actions, that is, both sins (1 John 3:4) and obedience (Hebrews 5:9).
However, there is a difference of circumstances regarding persons who have grown out of childhood to sufficient maturity to be accountable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then afterward, perhaps through disease, injury or dementia, revert to a mental state in which they are no longer accountable for their actions. The difference is that such an individual did have an opportunity to obey the Gospel of Christ (as far as mental capacity is concerned) and consequently was disobedient to the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Essentially, this scenario does not differ from the spiritual situation of any accountable soul who does not obey the Gospel of Christ before dying or who has not obeyed the Gospel of Christ and who is alive when our Lord returns.
Yet, we need to remember our place as humans, especially that (1) we do not possess omniscience and (2) it is not the responsibility of humans to assign anyone to his or her eternal disposition of heaven or hell (James 4:11-12). We are limited to what is revealed in Scripture (Deuteronomy 29:29), and on that basis, we teach the Scriptures faithfully respecting salvation, among other things, but the assignments of eternal habitations in heaven or hell are not ours to make. We may be correct from the Scriptures respecting someone’s eternal destination, but it is not our job as humans to put him or her there.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone poses a question respecting the scriptural recipe for making communion bread. As Bonnie and I travel around the country among the churches of Christ, as well as around the world among assemblies of the Lord’s church, we see a wide variety of differing forms of communion bread. Yet, I suspect that they all have commonality in ingredients, or really, the lack of a certain ingredient. We have seen dried, circular wafers; cracker-like material; irregularly baked dough; dough that has not been baked, which is doughy; professionally produced communion bread; and chapatti (the ordinary bread used in households in India). I never suspected that any of those various forms were something apart from appropriate bread for observing the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is a New Testament memorial feast, instituted by Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:26-29) and observed under apostolic supervision in early New Testament worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:20-29). The New Testament does not specifically cite a recipe for making communion bread. However, one discerns that because the Lord’s Supper was instituted following the Passover feast (Matthew 26:19), and because preparation for the Passover prohibited the presence of leaven in the home (Exodus 12:15), all that Jesus Christ had available for bread at the institution of the Lord’s Supper was unleavened bread. Scriptural communion bread, then, is unleavened bread.
Leaven, comparable to our yeast, caused bread to rise. Therefore, a desire to practice the example of using unleavened bread for the Lord’s Supper leads Christians to refrain from using leaven or yeast in making communion bread. Therefore, it is no wonder that the form of that bread varies as widely as it does. Without a specific recipe in the New Testament for making unleavened bread, by definition, unleavened bread lacks a leavening agent (such as yeast, today), but is not defined rather by what is in it, aside from flour, of course (i.e., water, oil, milk, salt, etc.). The term “unleavened bread” defines itself sufficiently.
A Jewish recipe for making “Matzah, the Unleavened Bread,” appears in The Good Book Cookbook: Recipes from Biblical Times.
Unleavened bread is…the only bread permitted to Jews during the week of Passover.* It is easy to make… 2 cups whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup barley flour, ¾ cup water
Combine flour and water thoroughly with wooden spoon. Dust the top of this mixture with a small amount of flour. Flour hands and knead the dough lightly for 3 minutes. Divide into 6 to 8 balls, rounding them with floured hands. Oil a cookie sheet or us a heavy one that does not require oiling. Place balls on cookie sheet. Press down each ball with hands to make a flat cracker about 5 inches in diameter. Prick with a fork, to prevent swelling. Bake for 10 minutes in a hot preheated oven (500oF). Remove matzahs and serve soon if they are to be eaten soft. Otherwise, turn off the oven and leave the matzahs in until the oven is cool. They will now have the consistency of crisp bread and can be stored in airtight canisters for long periods. … *To qualify for Passover use today, no more than 17 minutes may elapse from the time the flour is moistened, the matzah mixed, kneaded, and placed in the oven. (127)
Another resource suggests a slightly different recipe based on the biblical citation in passages such as Leviticus 2:4-7, 13 for a “grain offering,” which also was unleavened. “Recipe for 200 one-inch squares of bread: 1 3/4 cups of bread flour, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/3 cup of water. Roll out into two 10 inch by 10 inch squares on baking sheets. Score with a seamstress tracing wheel. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned” (Choate 53).
However, none of the references to unleavened bread under Judaism in the Old Testament relative to the Passover mentions the inclusion of oil in addition to the exclusion of leaven. Just because oil was included in the makeup of the grain offerings sacrificed to God (though “what is left” of the offering belonged to the priests) does not necessitate the inclusion of oil in unleavened bread that typically was eaten by the Jews, including for the Passover meal. For instance, McClintock-Strong views the two as distinctly different; furthermore, according to the same source, unleavened bread could be an unbaked paste, or we would say today, doughy.
There is every reason to believe that unleavened bread is as simple and as easy to make as described in the Jewish cookbook cited above about biblical foods. Flour and water alone are sufficient to make unleavened bread, and those ingredients are all that is needed to be scriptural respecting the unleavened bread we use for the Lord’s Supper.
Choate, Betty Burton. “Our Lord’s Communion.” The Voice of Truth International, Vol. 58: 50-53.
“Unleavened Bread.” McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.
Naomi Goodman, Robert Marcus and Susan Woolhandler. The Good Book Cookbook: Recipes from Biblical Times. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1996.