Friday, February 3, 2012

An Embarrassment from Nebraska

Coming from Nebraska, I rejoice in things red, in corn, in beef cattle fed corn and grilled rare on a hot fire, in small towns, in volunteer fire departments, in community Memorial Day observances, and in Lutheran churches that dot the landscape (especially rural).  A friend who lives in Omaha sent me this link to a piece in which a Lutheran Pastor (LCMC) laments Luther's obsession with the "communion elements" and the rest of Lutheranism's skew of the Sacrament of the Altar.  Ouch.  He embarrasses himself and Lutheranism by his words.  It just goes to show ya how screwed up we can be when personal foibles trump honest Biblical theology and familiarity with our own Confessions.  I might excuse it from one who has not been a Pastor charged with faithful preaching and teaching of what it is that we believe, confess, and teach.  But I cannot excuse this fellow.

As someone who has spent all 47 years of my life in Lutheran churches, I am very familiar with Martin Luther's complex teaching regarding the Lord's Supper. I have seen plenty of people over the years struggle to grasp his puzzling perspective that Christ's literal body and blood are located "in, with and under" the bread and wine. Luther's highly nuanced description of communion 500 years ago was a curious twist on the Roman Catholic position.

This controversial dissection of the elements seems to distort the true meaning of the meal our Lord instituted. It is an unfortunate distraction which takes attention away from the cross where Christ died for sinners. The real purpose of communion as stated in Scripture is to "proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." (1 Cor. 11:26) Amidst the many chains which fell off Martin Luther when he placed his faith in Christ alone, he couldn't seem to shake loose of his Catholic obsession with the communion elements. You won't find this obsession in the teaching of our Lord or His apostles.

Even though the Lutheran church does not teach that believers chew Christ's flesh or swallow His blood at the Lord's Supper, there nevertheless tends to be an enormous emphasis upon "the real presence" of Christ in the bread and wine. In response to Luther's perplexing opinion on this matter, I have often asked people: "What about the real presence of Christ in the heart of every believer 24 hours a day?"

A preoccupation with "Christ's body and blood" being located in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper misses the point of the meal. 

Well, you read it all for yourself.... worse than his own mistakes is the witness he gives to Lutheran doctrine...   You can also check out what Gene Veith has to say about it.... he must have gotten the same email...


BrotherBoris said...

I read the entire article and am speechless. I can't believe this man is actually a Lutheran pastor. He sounds like a pure Zwinglian in his views of the Eucharist. Perhaps Rev. Fisk of Worldview Everlasting can make a youtube video refuting this and giving the traditional Lutheran view? I hope so.

Mastt said...

How - that hurt to read. Need eye bleach! If we are in informal talks with LCMC this certainly one thing we will have to look at closely.

Anonymous said...

The LCMC does not require that its pastors receive training at a Lutheran seminary. For example, the calling congregation can hire a Presbyterian pastor if it so chooses. There is no intense study of Lutheran doctrine for those non-Lutheran pastors who wish to join the LCMC. This policy does not help with the issue of doctrinal consistency. The congregationalist nature of the pious and liberal LCMC will become its undoing.

Anonymous said...

On the Veith blog I read about the LCMC:

The church website says that it rejects membership in any synods, as being hierarchical like Roman Catholics, but it is affiliated with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), which broke away from the ELCA for being too liberal.

"hierarchical" like Roman Catholics but this Pastor rejects belief in the Real Presence which Catholics and Lutherans have always upheld?

Somethin' ain't right in Mount Idy.


Anonymous said...

Simple Math:

ELCA - homosexuality = LCMC and NALC.

The LCMC and the NALC still employ HIstorical/Higher Criticism of the Bible, so anything is possible.

These ELCA splinter groups are still trying to figure out what they want to believe. They will slowly continue to head in a more confessional direction. I wonder how long it will take before they start to think more like the LCMS.

Anonymous said...

First, I was unable to discover where Rev. Denzell denied the real presence. He is talking about emphasis; the idea that the point of the Lord’s Supper is not how the elements are constituted, but what our Lord’s purpose was in instituting the sacrament.

The question, “Did Paul scold them for failing to believe that the body and blood of Christ are located within the bread and wine?” shows that he believes that the “official” MCLS interpretation of “the body” in 1 Cor. 11:29 is not accepted by everyone. And rightly so, since there are no records of any controversy over “The Real Presence” until the fifth century.

I was somewhat amused by the reference to John 6. As most of you know, Martin Luther insisted that “not one syllable” of this text has anything to do with the Lord’s Supper. I know that most Lutherans feel differently today, but it is a source of dispute.

It also struck me as being expressive of modern theological thought, when the author asked, “I have often asked people: "What about the real presence of Christ in the heart of every believer 24 hours a day?" Scripture clearly teaches the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every member of the Kingdom of God. Does it also teach the indwelling of Christ? I am reminded of what Sasse wrote in 1960, “If indeed the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit has lost its place (Heimatrecht) in church and congregation, then it cannot be long before the reality of the Holy Spirit is also lost to us, jus as Christ ceases to be present when He is not truly taught, when His Gospel and sacraments are falsified. Here may lie the explanation of the decline of those means in the church which are to be the specific locations of the activity the Holy Spirit.”

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Terry Maher said...

Great Judas H Priest in a black Geneva, the LCMC is a bunch of ELCA congregations who left the ELCA because they were offgepissed about the Call To Common Mission establishing the tie between the ELCA and the ECUSA, thinking it violated the Confessions. Which it does, but then there's THIS which doesn't?

The church here in Omaha is Wellspring Lutheran Church, comfortably located in white suburbia. Clear across town from me lemme tell ya.

What's funnier than hell is, on their site they say Lutheran parishes are generally franchises of Lutheran corporations called synods that have a hierarchy similar to the RCC, whereas they assume responsibility for their own decisions. Judas H Priest OSB in mitre and crosier, and here our LCMS smells and bells crowd moans and groans that we DON'T operate like franchises of an RCC style hierarchy.


Terry Maher said...

George is bloody right, though. The pastor is not denying the Real Presence, but saying not to get all hung up in explaining it and lose sight of the effect for which the presence is given. Which of course one knows from deeds, not creeds, and that is where the conflict with the Confessions is.

Ted Badje said...

As surely as Luther wrote 'Est' in the dust as he talked with Zwingli, you cannot divorce the Real Presence from the fellowship aspect of Holy Communion. 1 Cor. 10:16.