Thursday, March 01, 2018

Defence of the Seven Sacraments: Week 2 - The Sacrament of the Altar

In his treatise The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Martin Luther wrote:

“I now know for certain that the papacy is the kingdom of Babylon and the power of Nimrod, the mighty hunter (Gen 10:8-9).” 

“All three [sacraments] have been subjected to a miserable captivity by the Roman Curia, and the church has been robbed of her liberty.”

Luther on Communion in one kind: “2.21 The first captivity of this sacrament, therefore, concerns its substance or completeness, of which we have been deprived by the despotism of Rome. Not that they sin against Christ, who use the one kind, for Christ did not command the use of either kind, but left it to every one's free will, when He said: ‘As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me.’ But they sin who forbid the giving of both kinds to such as desire to exercise this free will.”

Luther on Transubstantiation: “2.23 The second captivity of this sacrament is less grievous so far as the conscience is concerned, yet the very gravest danger threatens the man who would attack it, to say nothing of condemning it.”

He called the term “a monstrous word and a monstrous idea” and notes that it was not used by the fathers until the philosophy of Aristotle returned about 1200. For Luther, belief in the corporeal presence of Christ in the Sacrament is not the issue; the question was about whether the substance of the bread and wine do or do not remain. “For my part, if I cannot fathom how the bread is the body of Christ, I will take my reason captive to the obedience of Christ, and clinging simply to His word, firmly believe not only that the body of Christ is in the bread, but that the bread is the body of Christ.”

Luther took an incarnational approach to the Real Presence (later termed “consubstantiation” or Christ present “in, with, and under” the bread and wine). “2.36 Therefore it is with the sacrament even as it is with Christ. In order that divinity may dwell in Him, it is not necessary that the human nature be transubstantiated and divinity be contained under its accidents. But both natures are there in their entirety, and it is truly said, This man is God, and This God is man. . . . in order that the real body and the real blood of Christ may be present in the sacrament, it is not necessary that the bread and wine be transubstantiated and Christ be contained under their accidents. But both remain there together.” 

Luther on the Mass as Sacrifice and Work: “2.37 The third captivity of this sacrament is that most wicked abuse of all, in consequence of which there is today no more generally accepted and firmly believed opinion in the Church than this – that the mass is a good work and a sacrifice. This abuse has brought an endless host of others in its wake.”

Luther responds that instead of being a sacrifice and work, the Mass is a testament received by faith. It is a sacramental seal of a promise. The Words of institution are there to be meditated upon (not to be used in hushed reverence). Rome has perverted the sacrament into idolatry. “This misery of ours, what is it but a device of Satan to remove every trace of the mass out of the Church? although he is meanwhile at work filling every nook and corner on earth with masses, that is, abuses and mockeries of God's testament, and burdening the world more and more heavily with grievous sins of idolatry, to its deeper condemnation. For what worse idolatry can there be than to abuse God's promises with perverse opinions and to neglect or extinguish faith in them?” . . . “There is no doubt, therefore, that in our day all priests and monks, together with all their bishops and superiors, are idolaters and in a most perilous state, by reason of this ignorance, abuse and mockery of the mass, or sacrament, or testament of God.”

“We learn from this that in every promise of God two things are presented to us – the word and the sign – so that we are to understand the word to be the testament, but the sign to be the sacrament. Thus, in the mass, the word of Christ is the testament, and the bread and wine are the sacrament. And as there is greater power in the word than in the sign, so there is greater power in the testament than in the sacrament.” 

“What godless audacity is it, therefore, when we who are to receive the testament of God come as those who would perform a good work for Him! This ignorance of the testament, this captivity of the sacrament – are they not too sad for tears? When we ought to be grateful for benefits received, we come in our pride to give that which we ought to take, mocking with unheard-of perversity the mercy of the Giver by giving as a work the thing we receive as a gift. So the testator, instead of being the dispenser of His own goods, becomes the recipient of ours. What sacrilege!”

What is the Mass supposed to be about? Luther describes it thus:

Henry VIII responds in his Defence of the Seven Sacraments:

The Church Fathers were not just emphatic that it is Christ, they were also emphatic that it is no longer bread and wine.

Luther’s goal is to tear down and rebuild.

Development of Communion in one kind (by about 1200s): The main concern was reverence and spillage.

(1) private domestic Communion, a portion of Eucharistic bread brought home;

(2) in the Communion of the sick, which was usually the Host alone; 

(3) in the Communion of children, usually under the species of wine alone;

(4) in the Communion with the Host alone at the Mass of the Presanctified;

(5) the practice of the intinctio panis, i.e. the dipping of the Host in the Precious Blood and serving it on a spoon.

(6) Development of Communion outside of (High) Mass as normative

The Council of Lambeth (1281) directed that wine is to be received by the priest alone, and non-consecrated wine (an ablution cup) is to be received by the faithful.

Background on the Bohemian Schism: (Luther fled to Bohemia) The Bohemian Brethren are a link in a chain of sects beginning with Wyclif (1324-84) and coming down to the present day. The ideas of the Englishman found favour with Hus, and Bohemia proved a better soil for their growth than England. Both Wyclif and Hus were moved by a sincere desire to reform the Church of their times; both failed and, without intending it, became the fathers of new heretical bodies — the Lollards and the Hussites. These were forerunners of Protestantism. One of their tenants was insistence on communion under both kinds for salvation (from John 6:53-56 “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.”)

The Council of Basle granted (1433) the use of the chalice to the Calixtines of Bohemia under certain conditions, the chief of which was acknowledgment of Christ's integral presence under either kind. This concession, which had never been approved by any pope, was positively revoked in 1462 by the Nuncio Fantini on the order of Pius II. 

Theological issue involved in Communion under one Kind--Concomitance. The Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ form one indivisible Person, and must be found together. That virtue or force which unites the body to the blood, and vice versa, in the Eucharist, is known in Catholic theology under the term concomitance.

Common Sense Henry retorts: This is an effort for Luther to turn the laity against the clergy First Luther laments that a council did not authorize it, then he decries the bishops for not making the reform without a council. The Fathers and general Christian consent had no problem with it. Exposes Luther’s contradiction. He says Christ commands it, but then insists that it be a matter of personal liberty.

If we are supposed to do the Eucharist just like Jesus did it, why stop at insisting on Communion in both kinds. What about . . . children before first communion? Why not always communicate after supper? How can he add water to the wine when there only tradition to support it? Henry points out how practices evolve in the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Christian consent (change to morning Mass, to fasting Mass, to communion in one kind). Luther’s insistence on personal liberty, even to the point of not having to receive communion at Easter, goes too far.

Transubstantiation—a change of substance? Or a new incarnation? Luther’s current view is consubstantiation. How do we know that will stay his view. Luther admits his thinking has changed three times already.

Interpretive Key: 

“. . . We confess he took Bread, and blessed it; But that he gave Bread to his Disciples, after he had made it his Body, we flatly deny; and the Evangelists do not say he did . . . [Institution narratives] . . . In all these Words of the Evangelists, I see none, where, after the Consecration, the Sacrament is called Bread and Wine; but only Body and Blood. They say, That Christ took Bread in his Hands., which we all confess; but when the Apostles received it, it was not called Bread, but Body. Yet Luther endeavours to rest the Words of the Gospel, by his own Interpretation. Take, eat; this, that is, this Bread, (says he, which he had taken and broken,) is my Body. This is Luther’s Interpretation; not Christ’s Words, nor the Sense of his Words.” (pg 151) 

“As for what Luther argues, or rather trifles, to shew the Simplicity of his own Faith; when of the Wine, Christ does not say, Hoc, est Sanguis meus, but, Hic, est Sanguis meus: I wonder why it should enter into any Man’s Mind to write thus: For who sees not that this makes Nothing at all for him, nay, rather, does it not make against him? It had seemed more for his Purpose, if Christ had said, Hoc est Sanguis meus: For then he might have had some Colour at least, whereby he might have referred the Article of Demonstrating to the Wine. But now, though Wine is of the neuter Gender; yet Christ did not say Hoc, but Hic est Sanguis meus. And though Bread is of the masculine Gender, yet, notwithstanding, he says, Hoc est Corpus meum, not Hic; that it may appear, by both Articles, that he did not mean to give either Bread or Wine, but his own Body and Blood. 

“. . . because Bread and Body are of different Genders in the Latin; he that translated it from the Greek should have joined the Article with Panis, if he had not found that the Evangelical Demonstration was made of the Body. Moreover, when Luther confesseth that the same Difference of Gender is in the Greek, he might easily know that when the Evangelists writ in Greek, they would have put in the Article relating to the Bread, if they had not known our Lord’s Mind; but they were willing to teach the Christians, by the Article relating to the Body, that, in the Communion, Christ did not give Bread to his Disciples, but his Body.” 

Wherefore, when Luther, to serve his own Turn, interprets the Words of Christ, ‘take, and eat, this is my Body,’ that is, this Bread he had taken; not I, but Christ himself teacheth us to understand the Contrary, to wit, That what was given them, and seemed to be Bread, was not Bread, but his own Body; if the Evangelists have rightly delivered us the Words of Christ: For otherwise he should say, not Hoc, that it might be expounded for Hic, but, more properly, Hic Panis est Corpus meum: By which Saying he might teach his Disciples, what Luther now teaches to the whole Church, to wit, That in the Eucharist the Body of Christ, and the Bread are together. But our Saviour spoke after that Manner, that he might plainly manifest, that only his Body is in the Sacrament, and no Bread.” (pg 152-153)

In other words, Jesus knew what he was talking about, and we have his plain words!

What is in a word? Luther says, ‘This Doctrine of Transubstantiation, is risen in the Church within these three Hundred Years; whereas before, for above twelve Hundred Years, from Christ’s Birth, the Church had true Faith: Yet all this while was there not any Mention made of this prodigious (as he calls it) Word Transubstantiation.’ 

If he strives thus only about the Word, I suppose none will trouble him to believe Transubstantiation; if he will but believe, that the Bread is changed into the Flesh, and the Wine into the Blood; and that Nothing remains of the Bread and Wine but the Species; which, in one Word, is the Meaning of those who put in the Word Transubstantiation. Henry goes into a series of proofs from the Fathers: Hugo of St Victor, Eusebius, Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Theophilus, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan. Henry contends that no Fathers would have made use of the metaphor of the iron and fire for the Real Presence. Pg 158 “That Opinion of Luther is therefore false, as it is against the public Faith, not only of this Time, but also of all Ages: Nor does he free from Captivity those who believe him; but, drawing them from the Liberty of Faith, that is, from a safe Hold, (as he himself confesses) he captivates them, leading them into a Precipice, into inaccessible, uncertain, doubtful and dangerous Ways: And he that loves Danger, shall perish therein.” (pg 155)

Luther “examines the Lord’s Supper, and ponders the Words which Christ used in the Institution of the Sacrament of the Mass: And, having found in them the Word Testament, (as if a Thing very obscure,) he begins to triumph, as though he had conquered his Enemies” (pg 159).

On page 162, Henry educates us: Christ is our great high priest who offers the eternal sacrifice for us and he has given us this memorial to proclaim his death (i.e., sacrifice) until his return.

“If Luther should argue that the Priest cannot offer, because Christ did not offer in his Supper, let him remember his own Words, That a Testament involves in it the Death of the Testator; therefore has no Force or Power, nor is in its full Perfection; till the Testator be dead. Wherefore, not only those Things which Christ did first at his Supper, do belong to the Testament, but also his Oblation on the Cross: For on the Cross he consummated the Sacrifice which he began in the Supper: And therefore the Commemoration of the whole Thing, to wit, of the Consecration in the Supper, and the Oblation on the Cross, is celebrated, and represented together in the Sacrament of the Mass; so that it is, the Death that is more truly represented than the Supper. And therefore, the Apostle, when writing to the Corinthians, in these Words, As often as ye shall eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, adds, not the Supper of our Lord, but ye shall declare our Lord’s Death.” (Pg 163).

“And if Christ did any Work, I am certain none will doubt of its being a good Work: For if the Woman, who poured the Ointment upon his Head, wrought a good Work in that, who doubts of his performing a good Work, when he gave his Body for our Nourishment, and offered it in Sacrifice to God? If this cannot be denied, unless by him who intends to trifle in so serious a Matter, neither can it also be denied that the Priest worketh a good Work in the Mass; seeing that in the Mass he does nothing else but what Christ did in his last Supper, and on the Cross; for this is declared in Christ’s own Words, Do this in Commemoration of me.” (Pg 165)

Luther vs the Fathers “It is a Wonder that, of so many holy Fathers, of so many Eyes which have read the Gospel in the Church for so many Ages, none was ever so quick-sighted, as to perceive a Thing so apparent; and that at this present Time they are all so blind, as not to discern what Luther (though he points it out with his Finger,) brags so clearly to see himself! Is not Luther rather mistaken, and thinks himself to see something, which in Reality he sees not, or endeavours to shew us with his Finger, that which is no-where to be found? For pray what Sort of Proof is that where he undertakes to teach ‘that Mass is no Sacrifice, because it is a Promise;’ as if Promise and Sacrifice were as repugnant together as Heat and Cold?” Pg 169

“I suppose that none will believe him, unless he first shews that he has read another Gospel different from that the holy Fathers ever read, or that in reading the same, he has been more diligent than they, or has better understood it; or finally, that he is more careful about Faith, than ever any Man before him was.” 

Conclusion: if Luther has his way, the use of the Sacrament of the Altar will shrivel up in the common practice of the Lutheran faith, and that’s exactly what we saw in the rise of pietism—Word to the neglect of Sacrament. 

“These are the excellent Promises of Luther; this is that spacious Liberty he promises to all those who forsake the Catholic Church to follow him, viz. That they may be freed at last from the Use and Faith of the Sacrament!” (Pg 172).

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