I would quote a couple of folks in response. First is the Rev. William Weedon, now Chaplain at the International Center and Director of Worship for the LCMS.
Where the Lutherans continued the elevation it had the meaning of a confession of the real presence of our Lord's body and blood. Dr. Luther spoke of it this way: "We do not want to abolish the elevation because it goes so well with the German Sanctus and signifies that Christ has commanded us to remember him. For just as the sacrament is bodily elevated, yet Christ's body and blood are not seen in it, so he is also remembered and elevated by the word of the sermon and is confessed and adored in the reception of the Sacrament. In each case he is apprehended only by faith; for we cannot see how Christ gives his body and blood for us and even now daily shows and offers it before God to obtain grace for us." AE 53:82.
Where [elevation] really came into force and into its own was in Lutheran Brandenburg, where in the 17th century the prince tried to smuggle in Calvinism. The Lutherans there insisted on the elevation as a vital confession of the real presence of our Lord's Body and Blood and even added some words to the action: "Dear Christian, this is the true body of your Lord, born of Mary, and this is the true blood of Christ, poured out for you upon the cross." This was called the Ostentatio. The Calvinists, of course, screamed bloody murder over the practice.
In our day and age, the elevation with the adoration of the Lord's body and blood, is a fine protest against "receptionism" which would teach that our Lord's almighty words do not effect His presence until the bread and wine are bodily tasted. Rather, the Lutheran Symbols, quoting St. John Chrysostom, speak of our Lord's body resting upon all the altars of Christendom! Thus, we kneel before Him to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and we confess - as Luther says - that though hidden from our eyes, He is present in His body and blood among us, just as He has promised.
Let it be clear here that the folks who objected to the elevation and adoration were not the Lutherans who feared transubstantiation but the Reformed who refused to locate the presence of Christ in the bread and wine. Some of the Lutherans also felt uncomfortable about this and receptionism tried to distract the attention away from the consecration and onto the actual communion itself. Luther is no friend to this movement. "For as soon as Christ says: 'This is my Body,' his body is present through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. If the Word is not there, it is mere bread; but as soon as the words are added they bring with them that of which they speak." AE 36:341
"...no one, unless he be an Arian heretic, can and will deny that Christ Himself, true God and man, who is truly and essentially present in the Supper, should be adored in spirit and in truth in the true use of the same, as also in all other places, especially where His congregation is assembled." (Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, VII, The Lord's Supper, 112, 126)
Luther, writing only a few years before his death, makes it even more abundantly clear: If Christ is truly present in the Bread, why should He not be treated with the utmost respect and even be adored?" Joachim, a friend, added: "We saw how Luther bowed low at the Elevation with great devotion and reverently worshiped Christ. (Mathesius, Table Talk, Leipzig, 1903, 341) Writing a year later, calling the Sacrament of the Altar the adorable sacrament, Calvin directly accused Luther of idolatry.
What are we doing when we sing "O Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; have mercy on us"? These words are addressed not to Christ in general but to the specific Christ who is present according to His promise where He has pledged to be -- the bread and wine of His Holy Supper. “There is no question that the Agnus Dei is specifically a prayer of adoration to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Here it is not incorrect to defy even the externalists, and kneel. The Agnus Dei is certainly not a joyous hymn of praise. It was rejected only by those who feared that it might lead to an adoration of the Host, rather than of the Saviour Himself” (F. R. Webber, Studies in the Liturgy, 153).
Finally, we would be careful about attempting to separate, even though we might distinguish, Christ's flesh and blood from the earthly elements of bread and wine, to which He has attached Himself in the Holy Sacrament. For such separation of the Lord from the mortal flesh and blood of His incarnation is gross heresy and the denial that He is one Lord and one Christ. Such is the problem with consubstantiation as an attempt to replace transubstantiation or as a short hand way (wrongly) of describing what it is that Lutherans do believe and confess with regard to Christ and His presence in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
This was so enlightening for me. Thank you.
The adoration at the elevation, bowing, genuflecting, crossing oneself, etc. have always meant that the True Christ was there. For the short time I have been a Lutheran, all the things I was taught about idolatry and magic have fallen away. Looking back, the fear instilled as a child was so ridiculous, and totally misplaced. The "Real Absence" as many say of churches who fail to believe Christ's Word, is so sad.
Another thing I recently learned is that the Agnus Dei is (of course) being sung to Jesus. At the elevation, all eyes should be upon the host and chalice, as it is truly Christ's bodily presence among us. In times past, if not all the congregants could see, they would say, "Heft Him higher, sir Priest (Pastor)!"
What comfort it is that Christ comes to us!
Do you have a citation for that Calvin quote? I'd love to read it in context...
From Bodo Nischan, either from Lutherans and Calvinists in the Age of Confessionalism OR Prince People and Confession. . .
That's too bad, I'd hoped to find where Calvin actually, supposedly, said that Luther was an idolater.
Lutherans and Calvinists in the Age of Confessionalism goes for $115 used according to Amazon. Prince, People, and Confession: The Second Reformation in Brandenburg is much more affordable.
David, I make a quick Google search on "adorable sacrament Calvin" and got many hits but nothing that I thought was a rock solid cite. People writing about it, but not the principals involved. Still, the gist is that Luther used the term "adorable sacrament" (must have been in Latin originally)in his academic response to the theology faculty at Leuven/Louvain in 1545. In short order Calvin became aware of it, and wrote a letter to Bucer stating that if Luther does indeed apply that term to the Lord's Supper, meaning that it is appropriate to adore the elements after the consecration, that Luther has set up an idol in the temple of God. I would prefer to see the letter (Calvin to Bucer, ca 1545). Joanne
I'd like to see the letter as well...
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