Saturday, December 2, 2017

Eucharistic Real Presence: Luther’s Magnificent Defense

From Dave Armstrong. . .

. . . [Martin Luther] believed in the Real Presence, although he denied transubstantiation and rejected the Sacrifice of the Mass. Luther (according to his nominalistic, anti-Scholastic leanings) didn’t want to speculate about metaphysics and how the bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ. He simply believed in the miracles of the literal presence of Jesus’ Body and Blood “alongside” the bread and wine (consubstantiation). In this respect, his position was similar to the Eastern Orthodox one.
Interesting. . .


Ted Badje said...

So, when are you going to invite Dave to church?

Carl Vehse said...

Or get Dave to convert from the Roman Church to the Lutheran Church?

Anonymous said...

Luther the philosopher gave as good as his opponents:

"Dr. Luther himself, in the very beginning, presented against the Sacramentarians in the following words (Dr. Luther in his Large Confession concerning the Holy Supper): My reasons upon which I rest in this matter are the following:

94] 1. The first is this article of our faith: Jesus Christ is essential, natural, true, perfect God and man in one person, inseparable and undivided.

95] 2. The second, that God's right hand is everywhere.

96] 3. The third, that God's Word is not false, nor does it lie.

97] 4. The fourth, that God has and knows of many modes of being in any place, and not only the single one concerning which the fanatics talk flippantly, and which philosophers call localem, or local.

98] Also: The one body of Christ [says Luther] has a threefold mode or all three modes of being anywhere.

99] First, the comprehensible, bodily mode, as He went about bodily upon earth, when, according to His size, He vacated and occupied space [was circumscribed by a fixed place]. This mode He can still use whenever He will, as He did after the resurrection, and will use at the last day, as Paul says, 1 Tim. 6:15: "Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed God [and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords]." And to the Colossians, 3:4: "When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear." In this manner He is not in God or with the Father, neither in heaven, as the mad spirits dream; for God is not a bodily space or place. And this is what the passages how Christ leaves the world and goes to the Father refer to which the false spirits cite.

100] Secondly, the incomprehensible, spiritual mode, according to which He neither occupies nor vacates space, but penetrates all creatures wherever He pleases [according to His most free will]; as, to make an imperfect comparison, my sight penetrates and is in air, light, or water, and does not occupy or vacate space; as a sound or tone penetrates and is in air or water or board and wall, and also does not occupy or vacate space; likewise, as light and heat penetrate and are in air, water, glass, crystal, and the like, and also do not vacate or occupy space; and much more of the like [many comparisons of this matter could be adduced]. This mode He used when He rose from the closed [and sealed] sepulcher, and passed through the closed door [to His disciples], and in the bread and wine in the Holy Supper, and, as it is believed, when He was born of His mother [the most holy Virgin Mary]."

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for the share, Pastor Peters. It would be enjoyable to have lunch, if we lived closer, but I wouldn't expect either one of us to convert to something else. :-)

Many of the people I respect most, that I know, are Protestant pastors. One who had a profound influence on my spiritual life was Rev. Richard Bieber in Detroit. A great man . . .

I wish you a blessed Advent and Christmas,


Dave Armstrong said...

Rev. Bieber was Lutheran. I meant to mention that, but he was in ELCA, and was a very "evangelical"-type person. I assume he accepted the usual Lutheran beliefs. He wasn't a theological liberal.

Anonymous said...

As a Russian Orthodox Christian, I must say that Luther's doctrine of the Holy Eucharist was most definitely NOT that of the Orthodox Church. We Orthodox are often misunderstood in regard to transubstantiation. Of course, transubstantiation is a scholastic Latin theological term that the Church of Rome uses to describe its view of the Eucharist. We know that. But it disturbs me when I hear non-Orthodox Protestants saying that Orthodox 'reject' a belief in transubstantiation. While we did not invent this term and it is not our preference to use it very much, we Orthodox absolutely accept the sacramental reality of what the term "transubstantiation" is trying to convey. We DO believe that the Bread is TRANSFORMED into the Body of Christ and the wine is TRANSFORMED into the Blood of Christ at the Epiclesis (the Invocation of the Holy Spirit). Now as to HOW that actually happens, we say it is a Holy Mystery. We don't try to define it with Aristotelian philosophical terms such as "accidence" and "essence." In fact, the Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Church (sometimes called the Catechism of Metropolitan Philaret) specifically ENDORSES the term "transubstantiation" provided that it is used to affirm the permanent transformation of the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Epiclesis. As long as the term "transubstantiation" is used to describe the REALITY of the Eucharistic miracle, the Orthodox Church has no problem with it. Only when the term is used to try to describe HOW the Eucharistic miracle occurs does Orthodoxy caution against its uses, because that is something that is understood by God alone.

Dave Armstrong said...

That's my understanding of the Orthodox approach to the question as well. I don't see much or any difference at all in how I understand your position and how you just expressed it. You think we philosophize too much; we think that you do a bit too little. But on the essence of the Holy Eucharist we agree.

In my article (from one of my books), I wrote: "Luther] believed in the Real Presence, although he denied transubstantiation and rejected the Sacrifice of the Mass. Luther . . . didn’t want to speculate about metaphysics and how the bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ."

My emphasis was on the similarity of belief in the Real Presence and antipathy to "excessive" explanation: common to both Lutheranism and Orthodoxy. I didn't mean to imply that Orthodox deny a transformation. I can see, however, that I worded it a bit imprecisely.

I would change it, except that I was citing my book, so I can't really do that. But I could add your comment and this one of mine to the end of the paper, to clarify.