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Wednesday, April 18, 2007 

The Efficacy Of The Eucharist

Back on Thursday, April 5 (Maundy Thursday) Issues Etc., hosted by Rev. Todd Wilken, had überblogger Reverend Paul McCain on to talk about the Lord’s Supper. During the interview, a caller named Jeff asked Rev. McCain “If Christians who don’t have our Lutheran understanding of the real presence, when they take the communion and do all the other stuff and say the words,is the Body and Blood of the Lord present as we understand it even if they don’t understand it that way?” Rev. McCain responded with the following:

"Where there is a denial of what those words ['This is my Body' ... 'This is My Blood'] mean, we can have no confidence whatsoever that the Lord is present there, in their Lord's Supper... Because if they are denying what their Lord is telling them, and trying to re-enact this Lord's Supper, it's not a Lord's Supper that they have. It's simply a memorial meal."

Todd Wilken then followed up with a question asking “does the congregation’s affirmation or the individual’s faith somehow make’s the Lord’s Supper what it is?”

Rev McCain answered “no but when you deny what it is, when you deny our Lord’s words, you are saying no to Jesus at that point. And He is not going to force himself onto you or force himself into you with this thing you have which you for determining the Lord’s Supper. So unfortunately these churches do not have the Lord’s Supper. I believe that, others may disagree with me, but again I only go on what the words say.”

The next day fellow blogger Herr Bettler over at Hoc Est Verum chimed in with a post that disagreed with Rev McCain by quoting the following from the Solid Declaration’s answer to the Sacramentarian controversy:

"Secondly, they hold that the institution of this Sacrament made by Christ is efficacious in Christendom [the Church], and that it does not depend upon the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister who offers the Sacrament, or of the one who receives it. Therefore, as St. Paul says, that even the unworthy partake of the Sacrament, they hold that also to the unworthy the body and blood of Christ are truly offered, and the unworthy truly receive them, if [where] the institution and command of the Lord Christ are observed. But such persons receive them to condemnation, as St. Paul says; for they misuse the holy Sacrament, because they receive it without true repentance and without faith. For it was instituted for this purpose, that it might testify that to those who truly repent and comfort themselves by faith in Christ the grace and benefits of Christ are here applied, and that they are incorporated into Christ and are washed by His blood." - Paragraph 16

As well as

"Hence it is easy to reply to all manner of questions about which at the present time men are disturbed, as, for instance, whether a wicked priest can administer and distribute the Sacrament, and such like other points. For here conclude and reply: Even though a knave take or distribute the Sacrament, he receives the true Sacrament, that is, the true body and blood of Christ, just as truly as he who receives or administers it in the most worthy manner. For it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God. And as no saint upon earth, yea, no angel in heaven, can change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, so also can no one change or alter it, even though it be abused. For the Word, by which it became a sacrament and was instituted, does not become false because of the person or his unbelief. For He does not say: If you believe or are worthy, you will receive My body and blood, but: "Take, eat and drink; this is My body and blood"; likewise: "Do this" (namely, what I now do, institute, give, and bid you take). That is as much as to say, No matter whether you be worthy or unworthy, you have here His body and blood, by virtue of these words which are added to the bread and wine. This mark and observe well; for upon these words rest all our foundation, protection, and defense against all error and temptation that have ever come or may yet come." -Paragraphs 24-26,


Herr Bettler had a few more quotes from the confessions and ended his post with the following;

So this seems to say that the guest had it backwards. It's not that the Calvinist Lord's Supper becomes a memorial meal, but that their memorial meal was and continues to be the Lord's Supper, regardless of how they believe.

I waited a few day to see if any one else was going to comment and when nobody did I left the following comment;

"I reread the applicable sections of the Augustana, its Apology, and of the Large Catechism last night and I still believe your statement is correct. However, the guest is correct when he says we can have no confidence whatsoever that the Lord is present there because the Marks of the Church are not visible. Clearly the Lord works where ever He wills. But since the Marks are the only way to be sure He is there, when we deviate from what is called for and commanded, how are we to know he is there? I still agree with your premise that their memorial meal was and continues to be the Lord's Supper, regardless of how they believe. To say otherwise using the same logic would mean that every child or adult baptized in reformed churches (and some of our own) would have to be rebaptized because we aren’t sure if the Lord was truly present since baptism is a mere ordinance. We accept one baptism for the remission of sins because we know that our Lord is riding a three legged horse, it’s not pretty but He still accomplishes the feat in spite of the dumb animal He is on. The guest can say the Marks are not visible. What he should not be saying is what God can’t be doing because of what he has to work with."

The next day I then followed up with this comment:

"I was talking last night with someone about this. I’ve shifted my position to be more in line with the guest. Since the only visible signs of a church are the Marks, that is to say the Word preached purely and the Sacrament administered rightly, we can’t say with any confidence that any church is there where Christ’s gifts are denied by that body’s confession. We can’t say God isn’t there either, but we have no visible sign He is. I guess it’s like two kids play(ing) church waiting for their parents to pick them up from VBS. They are at a church; they are saying the words, and even distributing some kind of element. But is anything efficacious going on? I think we could all agree that nothing good is happening here. So how can we say with any certainty that a group of people who by their confession say the Eucharist is merely brunch, are benefiting at since they by that same confession deny what Christ does for them in the Holy Supper? I’m not saying it’s the belief or unbelief of the communicant that affects the elements, as your post clearly point that out. But it is the unbelief of the communicant that condemns him to receive nothing efficacious at all. If they wish to confess that Christ can’t be where Christ says he is, then they have chosen their own path that does not follow Christ and their damnation is their own fault."

Kerner followed my comment agreeing with Der Bettler’s Anti-Sacramentarian line of thinking and concluded his argument with following: "Maybe this is a very oversimplified analogy, but if I eat an orange, it doesn't matter whether I believe I am receiving vitamin C."

Well, that’s the setup. It needs to clearly noted that I emailed a request to move the discussion to this blog with links to the former because I believe that this has much larger implications than just what happens at the alter rail during the Eucharist. Herr Bettler responded back quickly and graciously allowed my request. I believe he knows where I’m going with this as he made the comment the debate may get “heated”.

And now, our feature presentation…

I’ve had to rewrite this post twice now for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I don’t type. Because of this I have a tendency think three sentences ahead while typing. What usually comes out is a jumbled mess that is indecipherable to even those who are the linguists. The second reason is that I’m not the planet’s best communicator. I have a tendency to speak (and write) in my own version of shorthand. Not good at all on it’s own, but when coupled with the first reason, well you get the point.

I don’t disagree with any of what der Bettler wrote. But I also think Reverend McCain is on to something when he says “Where there is a denial of what those words ['This is my Body' ... 'This is My Blood'] mean, we can have no confidence whatsoever that the Lord is present there.” Lutherans have always said the visible Church can only seen where the Word is preached purely and the Sacraments administered rightly. Where Rev. McCain I think goes a little off base is when he says the Lord might not be present. What Rev. McCain should have said is that we have no way of knowing what is going on in buildings when their very confession denies that God can be in, with and under the Sacrament(s). There are only two possibilities, one they are either eating the body and blood of Christ worthily, or they are eating and drinking to their damnation. It can’t be both.

Our Lord instituted the Eucharist to feed His Church till the last day. He said “this is my body and this is my blood” and that is exactly what it is. That body and blood is the same corpus that hung on the cross on Good Friday. Nothing we do or think can change how and when Christ works. But when a body of people confesses that Christ can’t be where He says He is, how do we know what is going on? We don’t. Is Christ there? No doubt he is. But are the people abusing the sacrament getting anything efficacious out of it? NO!

Let’s take the Mormons as an example. (I know this is an extreme example, but humor me) They say words of institution, don’t they? Yep. They baptize people don’t they? They sure do. They say they believe in Jesus don’t they? Yes is the answer to that question as well if you ask them. But to the Mormons, Jesus is just a reincarnated Adam, a creature that they follow as an example to be better people so they (Mormons) can become gods themselves. Will anyone seriously say that we accept that they might be getting something good out of their “memorial meal.” I think not! Is their sacrament even valid? Certainly not.

Here’s where things get dicey. So how I ask, do we say with any certainty that those in the reformed (and Lutheran as well, heck, even churches in our own beloved synod) churches receive anything good and efficacious? Could the Lord be doing something efficacious in their memorial meal? Uh, sure, I guess. If Christ can raise himself from the dead and create everything that is, He can clearly do something with that three legged horse making a mockery of His sacrament(s). But how do we know? We don’t. I’m sort of siding with Rev. McCain on this one, if they say it’s a memorial meal, I believe them. But they eat and drink the Body and Blood to their own damnation and judgment, as did the Corinthians in 1 Cor 11:27-29. As our confessions say; “we teach and confess also that there is only one kind of unworthy guest: those who do not believe. About these guests it is written in John 3:18 “Whoever does not believe is condemned already” Formula, Epitome, VII, 18.

People have accused me of being a parrot who keeps repeating “Word and Sacrament” again and again. I even had someone post a question asking me if I didn’t think it was dangerous to keep repeating this over and over. Uh, no, I don’t think Word and Sacrament are dangerous at all. I cling to these two Marks because it’s the only way to “see” a visible church.

The only place where I would take issue with Der Bettler is in the last sentence of his original post which reads “but that their memorial meal was and continues to be the Lord's Supper, regardless of how they believe.” While Der Bettler is 100% right, he leaves out the condemnatory statement that Rev McCain should have at least implied. Yes, what they have is the Eucharist, but they eat and drink to their own damnation.

Kerner’s analogy above I don’t think applies here because those who deny the words of Jesus aren’t eating oranges, they are eating apples and calling them oranges. And all the reason, logic, and best intentions about what makes an apple an apple and when an orange is an orange, it doesn’t change the fact they are still eating apples while pretending to eat oranges. I’ll even go one step further, they might even be eating and drinking Drano, we don’t know.

Where I was wrong was saying that the Lord wasn’t there if the Marks were not there. I tried to right my argument by saying it was the efficacy that proved the Lord was there. In the end, I ended up in the same heterodoxical position as the Sacramentarians with my putting limits on what God can and can’t do. Clearly this is not what Scripture and our confessions teach. Herr Bettler and Kerner were just right on the money with both of their arguments. I do think I would have caught on a little quicker if they had attached a strong condemnatory statement to the end of their learned discourses.

When I first looked at this issue I thought that those who denied the words of Christ basically kicked Him out because of unbelief. But our Lord who took on human form is used to people rejecting him and works in spite of those sinful creatures, even to the point of His own death on a cross. But after studying the issue further, I’m saddened even more as I think of all the people eating and drinking to their judgment and condemnation. How sad it is that my first line of thinking would the “better” option?

I’m certainly not going to say where the Lord is or isn’t. But as I stated above, if you say that Christ can’t really be in your meal, I’m going to take your word that you believe for it and steer clear.

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I had someone last night tell me the section of the Epitome I quoted was directed at those who were visiting confessional churches whose confession differed. They said my origial thought was correct... hmm

OK, first, the mormons are a not just an extreme example, they are a outside Christianity. According to Wikipedia, they use water instead of wine, and they don't say the words of institution, but say their own prayer from their own books (and they have to do this exactly according to those books or start over).

The issue is whether the Reformed have the sacrament of communion, which I think they do, despite the fact that they don't believe it.

My analysis begins with the clear Lutheran doctrine that the reformed have the sacrament of baptism, and all its effects, even though they don't believe in that either. At this point I will give the disclaimer that should go with a personal example. Before my parents became Lutheran, I was baptized in a Roman Catholic church as an infant. My two younger brothers and my younger sister were all baptized later by a Congregational minister. My brothers were 10 and 5 years old at the time. When my parents became Lutheran (WELS, then), two different pastors told my parents that my brothers were truly baptized, even though none of the participants, including them, thought that anything other than a symbolic ceremony was going on. Both my brothers have since passed away, and that was the only baptism they ever had. They had better not have been misled.

The basis for the advice that my family got was the straightforward Lutheran doctrine on the sacraments. The sacraments are what they are and do what they do REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE PARTICIPANTS UNDERSTAND OR BELIEVE ABOUT THEM. If I eat an apple but call it an orange, it doesn't stop being an apple. I still get all the substance that an apple consists of, no matter what I call it or think it is. Likewise, the Lutheran confessions are very clear that, as long as the elements consist of bread and fruit of the vine, and as long as the words of institution are spoken, the communicant takes into himself the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in with and under the physical elements.

The next question is, then what? Do the reformed, not knowing what they are doing, get the forgiveness of sins the same as those who understand the nature of the sacrament. The answer may vary a little depending on the extent of their heresy, but generally I think they do. And here's why.

The first reason is again by analogy to Baptism. If the Holy Spirit worked salvation in my brothers and me, even though I as an infant, and they as children old enough to understand these things, did not know it or even denied it, then Christ's Body and Blood can be presumed to work forgiveness in the reformed when they don't understand, or even deny the sacramental nature of Communion. What I mean by this is that I think it is possible to receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us by means of the sacraments, even if you don't know haw the sacraments work, or even if your belief about the sacraments is completely wrong. It is faith in Jesus Christ that justifies, not faith in the means of grace. This position has support in the Lutheran Confessions. When the Large and Small Catachism say what words the recipient must have faith in to be "worthy" to receive communion, the words are NOT "This is my Body" or "This is my blood"! Rather, the recipient must have faith in the words "Given and shed for you".

The reformed DO have faith in the given and shed body and Blood of Jesus Christ as the basis for their salvation and the forgiveness of their sins. At least many of them do. And many of the reformed have a better understanding of and faith in the Gospel than Roman Catholics (whose understanding of the sacrament is closer to the truth but whose understanding of Grace is more flawed).

It's true that the reformed don't see the sacrament of Communion the same way we do. But the ones who at least try to use the Bible as the foundation for their (flawed) doctrine do have faith in the the given and shed Body and Blood of Christ as the means of their salvation. When they take Communion (much less often than we do) they contemplate Christ's suffering and death on the cross and their sins that put Him there. I simply don't see how the Sovereign God stops working through His means of Grace simply because His people don't understand them. No Christian is saved by his own reason or strength. Not even the reformed, who might think they are.

I realize I Corinthians 11 indicates the it is possible for a participant in Communion to "eat and drink damnation unto" himself, and I am not yet sure what that means. (I have some ideas, but I really need to study more to take a clear position on this) But what I think those words DON'T mean is that not understanding the nature of the Eucharist condemns a repentent Christian to Hell or that it renders God and His chosen means of Grace ineffective.

I agree that where the elements consist of bread and fruit of the vine and the spoken words of institution are present, there is the sacrament. This is only all the more frightening for those who have it and deny it and eat it to their condemnation. The Reformed have a valid baptism, but they prove themselves to be a true and faithful Christian or not by their fruits. What good to them is a valid baptism without faith? They have gained nothing in the end. It is not a matter of understanding but a matter of denying. No one can fully understand the mysteries of God and yet we benefit from them because we do not deny them.

In Communion the Reformed deny the real prescence of Christ. If I may use the apple/orange analogy one more time... If I should give you a bright red apple and you tell me that it is not an apple but an orange, then two things happen. First, you do not recieve the gift as it was meant to be given. Forgiveness was meant to be given, but the gift was not accepted. This is by your own fault and misbelief, not because God stopped "working". Secondly, you have made yourself a god by declaring that what was given to you was not True and instead set up your own "truth". In doing so one rejects the Gift and the Spirit that it was given in. Those who reject God, the wicked and unrepentant, do not recieve His forgiveness.

Also, baptism and communion cannot be lumped together as a one for one thing. They are separate means of grace and meant to accomplish different things. A valid baptism does not mean a de facto valid communion.

Faith in Christ is faith in the Sacraments and His Word. If you don't have faith in the means of grace, you don't have faith in Christ to do the things He promised to do in the Sacraments. "Given and shed for you for the remission of sins" are not the only words a person must believe to worthily recieve Communion. You must also believe the words of Christ that this bread and wine is His body and blood.

Verily, there are those who within the Reformed do recieve forgiveness in Communion, but only because they believe contrary to their church's doctrines.

Yours in Christ,
Emily

Kerner,
Thanks a bunch for responding! I was calling the Mormon example an extreme one precisely because they are not Christian.
Now I agree (for the most part) with your statement that the reformed have faith in Christ’s body and blood being shed for the remission of their sins. But what happens when they deny that that same body and blood that hung on the cross is right there in front of them? They would all say that they believe God created the world with a word but can’t really mean what He says in the words of institution?
Now, I’m not saying we have to intellectualize it to receive it, just the opposite in my opinion. The person who tells me he understands the mystery of the Eucharist I’m even more concerned about. We are just as flawed as the reformed if we say we understand it in an intellectual way.
Yes I believe it is faith that provides the efficacy of the Eucharist, but I’m trying to wrap my head around what do we say when a persons confession says that Christ can’t be where Christ says he is.
And for the record (Kerner this is not directed at you in any way) I’m not just talking about the reformed but our own churches as well! (I’m an equal opportunity offender) This is why I think the discussion has much larger application.
Kerner, back to you again, I was baptized in an LCA Lutheran congregation that taught baptism was only a command. Did my baptisim take? (A lot of folks would say no!) I have faith now to say that it did. And I would say if your brothers died in the faith theirs did as well.

Emily
"This is only all the more frightening for those who have it and deny it and eat it to their condemnation." That is exactly where I going with this.

" baptism and communion cannot be lumped together as a one for one thing. They are separate means of grace and meant to accomplish different things." Are you sure they can be seperated?

"You must also believe the words of Christ that this bread and wine is His Body and Blood".

Emily:
This would be a simpler issue, if the Confessions actually said that, but they don't. At least, nobody has ever pointed a passage out to me where they do. I don't believe in accidents when it comes to the language used in the Confessions. If the reformers meant that the recipient had to believe what you say, they would have said so.

Frank and Emily:

I really am not trying to be a trouble maker here. I worry a lot that I might be wrong, and maybe I am. But, as I study the Bibliical and Confessional passages relating to communion I think that misunderstanding what it does, and even being wrong about what it is, do not seem to create the conclusion that it stops working. I know it seems a little odd that somebody that denies thae nature of the very sacrament he partakes in can still get the benefit from it. But I think the analogy holds up.

Give me an apple, Frank. Or better yet, give me some medicine.

If I take the medicine you give me, and follow the directions, it doesn't matter if I call tat medicine and orange, grapes, green cheese, sugar pills or drano. I can CALL it anything I want, and even BELIEVE it is something else, but the medicine remains what it is and will kill the germs it is meant to kill whether I believe it or not.

Where this analogy breaks down somewhat is that Communion will strengthen and preserve the Christian in the true Faith only if he HAS the true Faith. But if he's a Christian, I assume he does have the true Faith. This is why I think, if we're talking about a Christian, the medicine (Sacrament) has to work, even if the Christian thinks he's receiving something other than medicine.

Kerner,
“I really am not trying to be a trouble maker here. I worry a lot that I might be wrong, and maybe I am.” I don’t think you’re trying to be a troublemaker at all! What I think is so cool here is that we are having a discussion. I’m hoping someone will prove me right (or wrong for that matter) and explain how he or she did it. Too often all of us are afraid to really discuss issues in fear of offending our brother or sister. I think discussion and even arguments are helpful.

I know I'm rambling on about this, but this issue is fascinating me for some reason.

There may be differences between Baptism and Communion or not, and I look forward to more information about this if anybody has any. But the argument used against the reformed receiving forgiveness of sins in Communion could be just as easily be used against their Baptisms, but they would be wrong.

If the reformed Christian says (as their confessions do) "I have faith in Christ, but I have no faith in my Baptism. I don't believe that my water Baptism is anything more than a ceremony and a public profession of my faith. The Holy Spirit doesn't do a thing when I am Baptized." We could just as easily respond, "Well, since you have rejected the idea that the Holy Spirit worked in your Baptism, then you have also rejected the Holy Spirit Himself; you are not a Christian, not saved". But the Confessions clearly teach that we would be wrong to say that. The Holy Spirit works in their baptisms, even though they reject the whole idea of the Holy Spirit working in ANYONE'S baptism.

So, if we say "Well, you reject the idea that Christ is giving you forgiveness for your sins in His Body and Blood, you have also rejected the forgiveness that Christ offers, therefore your sins are not forgiven", wouldn't we be just as wrong?

Emily asks what good are the valid baptisms of the reformed without faith? And the answer to her rhetorical question is, of course, no good at all. But that's true for us as well.

"I know I'm rambling on about this, but this issue is fascinating me for some reason." Kerner, I'm right there with you on this one!

Hmmm...
About Baptism and Communion being a separate means of grace, they are separate but should not be separated. Baptism leads to Communion and in Communion you remember your Baptism. They are intimately linked. They do also accomplish different things otherwise they would be interchangable. A person recieves the Holy Spirit in Baptism but not in Communion although through both one recieves forgiveness. Perhaps this is why Baptism is considered valid among the Reformed, because the Holy Spirit has been imparted and cannot be taken away.

I will have to look up more about what one must believe to worthily recieve communion. I don't have a lot of time to do it today, maybe tomorrow?

Kerner, if you believe the Reformed recieve forgiveness through Communion, do you also believe in open Commmunion of a sort? Just curious.

I also find this topic interesting, and it touches on many more (paedeocommunion, open/closed communion, ect.) interesting topics. I don't think you're being a trouble maker, Kerner (or you either, Frank). I'm glad you guys don't mind so much that I've jumped into your conversation.

One more thing, I think this issue is also related to the Ablaze tm Movement. They focus on having "critical encounters" with those people who have not heard the Gospel. People in other church bodies seem to be left out of the equation. I guess we Lutherans don't want to be seen as "sheep stealers" but if it is true that the Reformed among others are recieving Communion to their damnation then they would need to be saved as much as your co-worker who never heard of Jesus.

It's a difficult question, but the quote from SD VII:16 bears close scrutiny, especially this part "where Christ's institution and command are observed, the body and blood of Christ are truly distributed." The question is whether the Reformed Churches, by their plain denial of the bodily presence are observing Christ's command and institution. Frank makes a good point about how we should be circumpspect in passing judgment on others in such matters. It's certainly a tough call!

But I note that Pieper and many of the old Lutherans were quite convinced that when you include in your church's confession a clear denial of the bodily presence, this is difficult to squared with "observing Christ's institution". I tend to think the Rev. McCain was correctin his answer to this difficult question.

k. martin

Emily, you can jump in at any time on any conversation, as can anyone else. As you may be able to tell, I think this is fun!
Pr. Martin, the definition of circumspect is “showing unwillingness to act without first weighing the risks or consequences” uh, you’re not calling me that, are you? My wife is going to fall over laughing tonight, first I’m called gracious and then circumspect. We should all be looking for the four elephants of the apocalypse to be arriving soon, soon I tell you.

Pr. Martin,
SD VII,16 states; 16] Secondly, they hold that the institution of this Sacrament made by Christ is efficacious in Christendom [the Church], and that it does not depend upon the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister who offers the Sacrament, or of the one who receives it. Therefore, as St. Paul says, that even the unworthy partake of the Sacrament, they hold that also to the unworthy the body and blood of Christ are truly offered, and the unworthy truly receive them, if [where] the institution and command of the Lord Christ are observed. But such persons receive them to condemnation, as St. Paul says; for they misuse the holy Sacrament, because they receive it without true repentance and without faith. For it was instituted for this purpose, that it might testify that to those who truly repent and comfort themselves by faith in Christ the grace and benefits of Christ are here applied, and that they are incorporated into Christ and are washed by His blood.
How does that not back up what Herr Bettler and Herr Kerner are saying? I looked at the same text and it caused me to reverse my original line of thinking...

I have found in Pieper's Christian Dogmatics a discussion of this same topic. (pg. 371,2)

"Because the Reformed publicly declare that they do not have the intention of celbrating the Supper with the Real Prescence of Christ's body and blood, but pronounce such a Sacrament an abomination, they are in fact not celebrating the Supper Christ gave to His Church. ... Hence they have no word of God [since their doctrine renunciates Christ's words of institution] for their Supper; He did not institute a Supper in which bread and wine are distrubuted and received as symbols of the absent body and blood of Christ."

Luther also says, "For it does not depend upon the faith or unbelief of men, but upon God's Word and ordinance, unless they first change God's Word and ordinance and interpret it otherwise, as the enemies of the Sacrament do at the present day, who, of course, have nothing but bread and wine; for they also do not have the words and appointed ordinance of God, but have perverted and changed them according to their own [false] command" Trigl. 983, S.D. VII, 32

Pieper goes on to say that the Reformed have a valid baptism because they do not denounce the words of Baptism as they denounce the words of the Supper.

I would gather from these statements that as Lutherans we do not agree that the Reformed have the Sacrament of the Eucharist. However Pieper does say that not all of the Lutheran teachers were of one mind on this matter.

I think I will read what Chemnitz has to say next.

Everyone is being so tolerant of me, but I still feel like a troublemaker for arguing this. The reformed may not denounce the words of baptism, but they do denounce their meaning in their public confessions.

New disclaimer. I am by vocation, a lawyer. I argue for a living, and I often don't know when to quit. If I become obnoxious, somebody stop me.

Emily, I agree that this issue affects other issues, such as paedo-communion and open/closed communion. I guess I am less committed on those issues than I am on other Lutheran practices, because the foundation for the other Lutheran practices is more easily found in the Word and the Confessions (at least it has been for me). I will be very interested to find out what Chemnitz said about all this, if anything. I guess it makes me feel a little better that, if I'm going to disagree with Pieper, at least some of his Lutheran contemporaries did too.

Here is what the Council of Trent states:

"If anyone denies that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood together with the soul and divinty of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, are truly, really, and substantially contained, but says that He is in it only as in a sign or figure or power, let him be anathema."

Chemnitz in the Examination of the Council of Trent agrees with the above statement. He says, "Some contend that these words [of institution] are not to be understood in that sense which is their simple, proper, genunine meaning, which is commonly used in Scripture, give but that they should be twisted by figures of speech to the point that the true and real presence of the substance of the body and blood of Christ is taken out of His Supper and removed farther from it than heaven is removed from earth, and that in the Lord's Supper there is left with us on earth only the sign and figure of the body and blood of Christ, which is itself far absent and far removed from us. Or, Christ is said to be present in the Supper only according to His divine nature, offering and supplying to the communicants not the substance itself but only the power and strength of His body and blood, which are not present but far away... I for my part confess that I disagree with these opinions."

It would seem that Lutherans uphold that if you twist and mangle the instituion as the Reformed do, the Body and Blood is not present and the Sacrament is not valid.

The reformed may not denounce the words of baptism, but they do denounce their meaning in their public confessions.
In this case, I would say that it is only the Words of Baptism that matter and not the following understanding or public confession of them. The Reformed baptise with the water and the Word, therefore their baptism is valid.

A lawyer! Well, at least you know how to argue and I would venture to say that you are not entirely out of your element amogst those who would discuss theology. Honestly you are not obnoxious. Keep it coming!

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Kerner, “I am by vocation, a lawyer. I argue for a living” No fair, I cry foul! You’re arguing with a slack jawed yokel here. Seriously, I don’t think that arguing for the sake of arguing is always a bad thing. The old Lutherans and the church fathers certainly seem to argue a lot. Case in point is the creed of Nicea- Constantinople. The church fathers argued for years before all that we have today had been hammered out. Imagine arguing for years whether to use the word person or substance…
And truth be told I like people that argue for what they believe and confess. The flip side of that statement is how much I despise people that don’t think theology is worth arguing about. Those folks in the end wind up agreeing to an entirely “new truth” just to get along and be nice. Ninety nine percent of the time, new truths are just old heresies wrapped up in a new package.

Ok Emily, I find myself now aparently opposed to both Pieper and Chemnitz, a very bad sign. While not from the Confessions themselves, these writings of the reformers are highly indicative of what they were talking about when they confessions that they themselves wrote about the same subject.

My only recourse is that much of the writings of even Luther Himself were excluded from the Confessions when these other writings were slightly inconsistent with them. I've been busy with my vocation and unable to really research this, but I will consider this again in light of the authorities you cite.

Kerner, again, I'd like to thank you for taking so much of your time to argue with me. I'm with Emily in saying; keep it coming! Too often we think that by arguing that we must be doing something wrong. We’re having a good bit of fun if you ask me. This kind of theological discussion is obviously something all here are very passionate about. It is something that can be discussed without name calling or without hurting one another’s feelings. Ain’t it cool that we can do this? Here’s the way I look at it, I’m just having a little chat with old friends that I’ve just never had the pleasure of meeting. Very cool eh? You guy’s (and gals Emily) are awesome!

Oh Frank, there you go getting all mushy! :)

I like to think that we're just being civilized - something that some bloggers seem to have forgotten how to do. My rule of thumb is don't type something you wouldn't say to that same person's face.

Kerner, I'm interested to hear the rest of your position - when you get the time.

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  • From The Haut South
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