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When Lutherans Go Goofy

April 28th, 2006
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Somebody forwarded to me today comments made by a Lutheran pastor concerning the presence of Christ in the Supper. This pastor apparently is very concerned that nothing be said that would in any way prop up the Roman doctrine of “concomitance” — that is the view that it is perfectly acceptable to give the lay people only one kind in the Supper since the whole Christ is present in both the bread and the wine, so one kind is fine. That is typical Roman sophistry, ex post facto, to explain why they deny the cup to laity, or used to. To fend off this error, a Lutheran pastor continues to insist that Jesus is not present under the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper  only His body and his blood. Goofy? You bet. Ridiculous? Of course.

In other words, according to this pastor, we must speak of Christ in such a way that His body and blood are separated from His person in the Supper. This is rank Christological heresy that one would hope this pastor’s friends, or if necessary, his doctrinal supervisor, would draw to his attention and lead him to repent of. Here is this pastor’s comments:

Where in the Bible is there any indication that Jesus Himself is present in the bread and wine? There is not a shred of biblical evidence that He is present in the bread and wine. Only His body is united with the bread. “Christ is present in the Holy Supper, working not only consolation and life in the believing, but also condemnation in the unbelieving” (F.C. Sol.Dec, VII).; This can only rightly be understood as “Christ is present (in that spiritual mode) in the (use and action of the) Holy Supper, …” which all of us agree with. It certainly does not say Christ is present in the bread and wine or in the body and blood. The Bible says the unworthy sin against the body and blood of
Christ, not Christ Himself.

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Categories: Lutheranism
  1. Kelly
    April 27th, 2006 at 18:26 | #1

    Weird. Is that like, “I’m not present in this room, only my body is”? Sounds kind of Nestorian. Or like a theology that advocates a “spiritual presence only” in the Lord’s Supper. Not Lutheran, by any means!

  2. April 27th, 2006 at 22:02 | #2

    To call this position goofy is charitable. If this suggests that the divine nature is not received in the body/bread and blood/wine, it is beyond ludicrous. The only reason we are able to receive Christ’s body on ten thousand altars at a time is precisely because it is interpenetrated by the divine nature of the Son of God.

  3. Rev. Al Bergstrazer
    April 28th, 2006 at 08:22 | #3

    “There is not one shred of Biblical evidence,”
    I guess the word of the apostle Paul doesn’t count.
    “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread we break a participation in the body of Christ?” 1Corinthians 10:16
    How does one participate in something (or someone) who is not present?
    Whatever this person’s church affiliation is, he’s closer to Zwingli than Luther.

  4. Greg Chudy
    April 28th, 2006 at 10:12 | #4

    “Where in the Bible is there any indication that Jesus Himself is present in the bread and wine?”
    How about 1 Cor. 10:16:
    “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
    This pastor is in dangerous water and desperately needs to spend time with the Smalcald Articles and the Formula.
    Is there any realistic danger of returning to the abuse of “concommitance”? Even Rome has reformed on this issue and I have never heard of any Lutherans advocating it. We face a far greater danger from Crypto-spiritualizers who are despising the sacrament of Christ flesh and blood.

  5. Rev. Al Bergstrazer
    April 28th, 2006 at 17:22 | #5

    Greg, much better translation than I used :) but the thought remains the same, how do we commune with someone who is not present.

  6. Daniel Grams
    April 29th, 2006 at 08:59 | #6

    I also read a Lutheran pastor who posts quite regularly over the internet state that it is heresy to say that we receive the resurrected body and blood of Jesus in the Sacrament. We only receive the crucified body and blood of Jesus in the Sacrament. I have always speculated that Communion practice in some LCMS congregations actually reflects more of a Calvinist or Reformed view of the Supper than a Lutheran view. I guess I’m right.
    McCain: Actually, this type of thing is a good example of an error wrapped up in zeal for defending truth, and then stubbornly, and blindly, persisting in it. Sort of like Flacius stubbornly defending the sin is of the essence of man, thinking he was fending off false views of man’s free will.

  7. Holger Sonntag
    April 29th, 2006 at 09:33 | #7

    Ok, you bold anti-Nestorians, how do you distinguish your position from that of the ELCA who, following John Calvin, says that Christ is personally present in the Lord’s Supper, while leaving open the exact manner of presence?
    I’m not saying Christ isn’t present personally in the Lord’s Supper (even according to both natures). But we then also have to say what is the difference between, say, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In the former, as well as in the word, Christ is also present “personally” (according to both natures).
    McCain: Holger, but this is precisely what the pastor is saying. He is saying that we must, when it comes to the Supper, separate the body and blood of Christ from the Person of Christ. This is, of course, absolutely heresy. I think his remarks actually facilitate the “presence” talk, rather than discourage it.
    Certainly, the Roman teaching of trassubstantiation is under fire in that church body as well. Ecumencially, the great via media is “personal presence” — everybody seems to be able to agree on that.
    McCain: But it is important to note that “presence” talk is never suggesting that Christ is actually located under the bread and wine, but in some vague way associated with the action of the Supper, and so, ironically, it is precisely this pastor’s claims that lend themselves to the “presence” talk so well.
    Doesn’t Pieper still put it best, when he says (3:356): “The whole Christ is present, of course, as in the universe, so in particular in the Church and in all rites of the Church, hence also in the Lord’s Supper. But in His Sacrament Christ gives something to be eaten and drunk with the mouth, and that is not the whole Christ, but Christ’s body and blood, as the words of institution read …”
    McCain: He who gives His body and blood is Christ, eternally and forever the God-man, never “separated” … never God her and man there. In this pastor’s view of things we are receiving the dead flesh and blood in the Sacrament, not the living body and blood of the Resurrected Lord. Pieper is saying that we are given to eat the body and blood of Christ. Fine, as far as that goes. I’m fine with that talk, but the pastor in question errs when he demands we can not speak of Jesus being present under the bread and wine of the Supper. That is silly, at its heart and a reflection of this pastor’s impoverished understanding, a good example of a little knowledge being dangerous. Pieper is by no means saying that the “whole Christ” is somehow separate from His body and blood in the Supper, which is precisely what this pastor is doing. This is a nuance lost on this particular pastor who blindly tries to use Pieper to push his absurd conclusions. To suggest any separation is nonsense. And Pieper would never support what this pastor is trying to say. In fact, to maintain his heretical notion, this pastor has taken it upon himself to explain away Bible passages, the Lutheran Confesions, Martin Luther, etc. etc.etc. I am a great admirer, and user of Francis Pieper, but Pieper does rely too much on Johannes Quenstedt. Quenstedt was not the “peak” of Lutheran Orthodox dogmatics. His work always reads like stereo instructions to me.
    Let’s beware of drawing conclusions that seem logical (if A, then B — if body, then (whole) Christ). Let’s abide by the clear words of Scripture.

  8. Greg Chudy
    April 29th, 2006 at 13:28 | #8

    Luther would not take kindly to this effort to divide Christ’s person in the sacrament. Here is a good quote that should guide us on this issue:
    “wherever you place God for me, you must also place the humanity for me. They simply will not let themselves be separated and divided from eachother. He has become one person and does not separate the humanity from himself”
    -Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper (1528)
    One doesn’t need logic to understand this, just the Apostle’s creed and God’s word. Let us indeed “abide by the clear words of Scripture.” If not, we run the risk of losing our precious Sacrament, the only light in this world of sin.

  9. April 29th, 2006 at 14:16 | #9

    Goofiness seems to result when the initial motivation behind an assertion is to be as “unRoman” as possible. This guy started out saying “Rome believes ‘A,” the Lutheran position is similar to ‘A’, therefore it is necessary to establish a new Lutheran position ‘B’ that explicitly contradicts ‘A.’”

  10. Rev. Al Bergstrazer
    April 29th, 2006 at 17:17 | #10

    This discussion led me to pick up my copy of “This is my Body” by Herman Sasse, his recounting of the Marburg Colloquy is revealing, in that as Luther debated with Zwingli and Oecolampadius his steadfast course was that they had to prove that the body of Christ was not there, when Christ himself says “This is my body.” (pg. 186-187) That’s a good polemic to follow here as well.
    Sasse’s introduction has a quotable quote; “Every disease of the church becomes manifest at the Lord’s table.” (pg 2)

  11. Jon C. Bischof
    May 2nd, 2006 at 11:04 | #11

    Whatever happened to the reliable, Scriptural Christology we were all supposed to have learned in Seminary?
    “No LOGOS outside the flesh of Jesus. No flesh of Jesus outside the LOGOS.”
    This simple saying from ancient Christology could have avoided this pastor’s mistake of thinking that Christ’s body and blood can somehow be present in the Supper without Christ Jesus Himself being present with it. What nuttiness!

  12. Jon C. Bischof
    May 2nd, 2006 at 13:22 | #12

    “No LOGOS outside the flesh and no flesh outside the LOGOS.”
    This simple saying of ancient Christology could have prevented this whacky notion that Christ’s body and blood are present in the Supper apart from Christ Jesus Himself. What nuttiness!

  13. May 4th, 2006 at 23:56 | #13

    Hasn’t this man broken his ordination vows? Just wondering…

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