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Zwingli vs. Luther #39654
Fri May 16, 2008 2:08 PM
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I've been watching lectures on Luther and I just finished watching a discussion of the debate between Luther and Zwingli and the Lord's Supper. The discussion left me with a lot of questions but the commentary was fascinating nonetheless.

It seems Calvin's position regarding The Lord's Supper would fall somewhere between Z. & L.'s.

I have some questions/observations regarding this issue. I'd like everybody's feedback.


1) what exactly is a sacrament - was the Lord's Supper always considered a "sacrament" or simply a faithful command.

2) when scriptures say the "flesh avails nothing" what exactly does that mean?

3) if people who take the body and blood unworthily do so under condemnation are we to believe that Jesus is actually really PRESENT in the wine and bread regardless of whether the person participating has true faith or not?

4) Z. & L. argue that Jesus is one essence/two entities vs one essence/one entity respectively. To clarify: Z. believes Jesus PHYSICAL body is in Heaven but He is spiritually present everywhere while L. does not make this distinction and says since God is everywhere and Jesus sits at the right hand of the father His body is also everywhere including the bread and wine.

So while Luther argues "THIS IS MY BODY" literally means this is my body! Zwingli argue "THIS IS MY BODY" signifies this is my body. While Calvin seems to be in-between that the Supper is not a mere memorial but that only Jesus' spiritual presence exists in the bread and wine not the physical.

5)However, does Calvin believe that the spiritual presence is there for the non-believers that partake or is the spiritual presence dependent upon our internal faith?

The commentator argues in favor of the Lutheran view that the power of the sacrament is not dependent upon what WE bring to the table but is something external that exists in the sacrament & words of promise associated with Jesus' real presence which is dependent on/& effectual outside ourselves and which is why we are condemned if we partake in unbelief (in that aspect the state of hearts does play a part). But we look outside ourselves to Jesus for inward strengthening/grace rather than looking inside ourselves. While it is only effectual for the believer and condemning for the unbeliever.

I hope my concerns make sense - this is pretty heavy stuff and hard to convey.

thanks!

Last edited by AC.; Fri May 16, 2008 2:13 PM.

The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: AC.] #39655
Fri May 16, 2008 8:23 PM
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I've been watching lectures on Luther and I just finished watching a discussion of the debate between Luther and Zwingli and the Lord's Supper.




I would be interested in hearing these discussions could you provide the link?




Thanks, William




Re: Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: William] #39656
Fri May 16, 2008 10:57 PM
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Sure,

The author/teacher is Anglican and also somewhat ecumenical (which may influence his perspective - but it's still worth exploring his POV I think)

http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=6633&pc=Religion

http://www.ctsfw.edu/events/symposia/papers/sym2007cary.pdf

I think the commentator is saying that Calvin/Zwingli are too fixed inward and are depending on their own faith as the means for obtaining faith and fueling the sacrament of the Eucharist(and that because of our natural psychological processes we will wrestle and be plauged with doubts and crisises of faith as to whether we truly are a true believer)but instead, as Luther taught, we should look outside ourselves to Jesus and His promises as the basis for our faith.

Personally, as somebody who struggles with doubt about my own faith/standing before God/election this sounds appealing becasue let's be honest how can we ever be sure if we are truly saved? (a true child of God). IF we are constantly fixed inward to know we have faith we can drive ourselves nuts but if we are convicted of our sins and look outward for deliverence that's when we stop with the constant introspection (which can be a vicious cycle) that Calvin may have endorsed??? and look at Jesus and what He has done to deliver us from our sins.



Am I off-base here? Or am I mischaracterizing Calvin and his beliefs/teachings? I really do want to be set straight!

thanks!


The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: AC.] #39657
Sat May 17, 2008 7:45 AM
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“The Eucharistic Presence in Calvin”
by Phil Cary

Is Christ’s body objectively present in the sacrament, according to Calvin? Unfortunately, that depends on what you mean by “objective,” which is a slippery and ambiguous word with no exact equivalent in the 16th-century discussion. (The word did not begin to acquire its current range of meanings until the writings of Immanuel Kant in the late 18th century). Still, we can always try defining our terms explicitly. And if we do that, we can identify one important sense of the phrase “objectively present,” in which Christ’s body is objectively present in the sacrament in the Lutheran and Roman Catholic views but not in Calvin’s.

For suppose we define “objectively present” as meaning “present independent of anyone’s state of mind,” where “state of mind” includes things like belief. Then Christ’s body is not objectively present in the sacrament in Calvin’s view but is objectively present in the Lutheran and Roman Catholic views. Let me illustrate.

I may believe there is no bread present in the house, but be mistaken: my wife has bought bread and put it in the breadbox where it is objectively present despite my belief to the contrary. Likewise, I can even have bread objectively present in my mouth without believing it: suppose for instance I inattentively pop a piece of bread in my mouth thinking it’s a bit of ricecake. The bread is present in my mouth even though I don’t believe it. In precisely this sense, according to both Lutheran and Roman Catholic views, Christ’s body is objectively present in the mouth of all who partake in the sacrament, whether they believe it or not.

This is a form of Eucharistic presence that Calvin explicitly and repeatedly denies, and he quite astutely identifies it as the key point on which he differs from the Lutherans. The point even has a technical name: manducatio indignorum, or the eating of the unworthy. In the Lutheran view, even unbelievers and anyone else who unworthily partake of the supper have not only bread but Christ’s body in their mouths, whether they believe it or not. Calvin insists, on the contrary, that we do not partake of Christ’s body without faith.

In what sense, then, can a Calvinist say that Christ’s body is objectively present in the sacrament? I would suggest that according to Calvin’s view Christ’s body can rightly be said to be “objectively presented” to us. This seems to me a good description of the intention of Calvin’s characteristic language of Christ’s body being truly offered, exhibited, presented and even given to us.

Since that last verb can be misleading, let me clarify: when Calvin says the body of Christ is given to unbelievers in the supper, he means it is offered but not received, like a gift given but refused. People who partake of the sacrament without faith of course do not refuse the bread—they take it right into their mouths—but they do refuse Christ and his body. And their refusal is effective. Again, the Lutherans affirm the contrary: precisely in putting the bread in their mouths, all who partake of the sacrament put Christ’s body in their mouths, whether they believe it or not. Roman Catholics agree, except that they teach that the Eucharistic host is wholly Christ’s body under the appearance of bread. Those who partake of the sacrament, worthily or not, have no bread in their mouths at all, but only Christ’s body.

Calvin’s view that Christ’s body is objectively presented rather than objectively present–—as he would say, “truly presented to us” but not “enclosed in the bread” or “chewed with the teeth”—gives his teaching a distinctive place on the spectrum of Eucharistic doctrine. This is distinct not only from the Lutheran and Calvinist views but also from the low Protestant view usually attributed (I do not know how fairly) to Zwingli. In this low Protestant view the supper is merely a memorial, which means that the only link to Christ’s body is our state of mind, our faith. On the contrary, when Calvin insists that Christ’s body is truly presented, offered, and given to us, he is talking not about our state of mind but about the action of God, and perhaps the most important thing to pay attention to is the adverb truly, for what is at stake here is the truth of God’s word. Does God do as he says when he offers us Christ’s body? Calvin’s answer is an emphatic yes.

With this in view, we can see why Calvinist theologians insist on the objectivity of the sacrament. And we could explain the fact that the unworthy do not partake of Christ’s body using this terminology: the offer is objectively made—quite independent of whether we believe it—but subjectively refused. As Calvin puts it, in one of his most helpful discussions of the manducatio indignorum, “it is one thing to be offered, another to be received” (Institutes 4:17.33). What is not objective is whether we actually partake of Christ’s body, for that requires precisely our subjective appropriation of the truth of God’s word, which is to say, our faith.

All this can be explained without using the technical terminology of signum and res (sign and thing signified) which goes back to Augustine. But if we turn to that terminology, I think we will see the fundamental conceptual difference at stake here. There are a number of key conceptual points, going back to Augustine, on which all parties to this dispute agree. Reformed, Lutheran and Roman Catholic all think of the sacrament as a sign that signifies spiritual gifts. What is more—and this is not often noticed—all agree that certain kinds of unworthiness, especially unbelief, separate the sign from the thing it signifies, so that the unworthy receive the signum or sacramentum but not the res. So for instance all agree that those who receive the sacrament in unbelief receive an outward sign but not the inner grace it signifies.

Given these agreements, the crucial question is whether Christ’s body is signum or res, the sacramental sign or thing it signifies. Calvin’s answer is clearly the latter. To see this, those of us who read Calvin in English need to be reminded that when he says Christ’s body is the “substance” or “matter” of the sacrament, which he does quite often, the Latin term he uses is res. Thus, in the shared Augustinian vocabulary of 16th-century theology, he identifies Christ’s body as belonging to the res sacramenti, the thing signified by the sacrament. That means it is precisely the sort of thing that is not received by unbelievers.

It can be properly be said of unbelievers that they receive a mere empty sign—which for Calvin means, the bread of the supper without the body of Christ that it signifies. Or to put it in medieval terms, those who partake of the sacrament without faith receive “the sacrament alone” (sacramentum tantum, which means sacramentum without res). This is just another way of saying “the sign alone,” since by medieval definition the sacrament is always a sign, so that sacramentum and res are related precisely as signum and res. And the key point is that those who partake of the sacrament unworthily do partake of the sign, quite independently of what they believe, because to partake of this sacrament is to precisely to take the sacramental sign into your mouth.

The difference between Luther and Calvin on this point is that Luther thinks of the body of Christ as the sacramental sign, not just the thing signified (see for instance his Babylonian Captivity, in Luther’s Works 36:44). Thus in Luther’s reckoning when unbelievers receive the sacrament but not the thing it signifies, this means that they receive no grace or spiritual benefit in the sacrament, but they do receive Christ’s body. For unbelief separates signum from res, but it cannot prevent the sacrament from being the sign that it is. So long as the sacrament is present, the sign is present, which includes Christ’s body. Thus even in receiving a “mere sign” the unworthy eat Christ’s body, whether they believe it or not. They are partaking of the body to their own harm. (There is no paradox in this, for Christ’s bodily presence has always been an occasion not just of blessing and grace but of scandal and unbelief. It was, after all, quite possible to receive Christ’s body and nail it to a tree.)

When Luther thinks of the body of Christ as both sign and thing signified, he is following a standard medieval view. Peter Lombard, followed by many other medieval theologians, not only distinguished sacramentum and res, but added a third, hybrid category, sacramentum et res (“sacrament and thing”), to which Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist belonged. Calvin rejects this threefold classification in Institutes 4:17.33 (the same passage cited above rejecting the manducatio indignorum) and specifically denies that Christ’s body can be classified as sacramentum. He clearly recognizes the implication: if Christ’s body is sacramentum as well as res, sign as well as thing signified, then every valid sacrament will contain not only bread but Christ’s body, present in the outward sign whether you believe it or not. And that is precisely what he means to deny.


The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Calvin/Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: AC.] #39658
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“Clinging to Externals: Weak Faith and the Power of the Sacraments” by Phil Cary

Behind the debates about the objectivity of Christ’s presence in the Reformed view of the supper are crucial pastoral questions about the nature of faith, and I think it will bring clarity to the debate if we can state those questions clearly. I have suggested elsewhere (”Why Luther is not Quite Protestant: The Logic of Faith in a Sacramental Promise” in Pro Ecclesia, Fall 2005) that the crucial issue for Protestants is whether faith must be reflective—i.e., whether we must first know we have faith before we are permitted to believe that God is gracious to us as he promised. In connection with the sacrament, the question is: must I first know I believe (i.e. must I have reflective faith) before taking the sacrament, or can the sacrament itself be a means of giving me a faith I am not confident I really have? In short, can the sacrament strengthen weak faith, or does it demand faith? Although it is logically possible for the sacrament to do both, in pastoral practice the latter typically excludes the former. Requiring people to believe is not a good way to strengthen weak faith. For—–to use the classic Protestant distinction—to require something of people is to preach Law rather than Gospel. God gives his gifts by the promise of Christ, which is the Gospel, not by the commandments of the Law—not even the command to believe.

A good way to get at this issue is in terms of the Augustinian theory of signs that Catholics, Lutherans and Reformed share. The sacrament is a sign (signum) says Augustine, and the thing (res) it signifies is a spiritual gift of grace. What all parties to the 16th-century debate agree on is that unbelief separates the signum from the res. This means that to receive the sacrament without faith does a person no good, because that way one receives a sign of grace without the grace it signifies. The crucial difference between the Reformed on one side and the Lutherans and Catholics on the other, I suggested in my previous essay, is that the Reformed identify the body and blood of Christ as the res in the sacrament, whereas the Lutherans and Catholics identify them as belonging to the signum as well. So for the Lutherans and Catholics, those who receive the sign of the sacrament without the thing it signifies still receive the body and blood of Christ, but do so to their own harm.

What all agree about, again, is that those who receive the sacrament without faith receive it to their harm. That point, I suggest, is what raises the crucial pastoral question. The question is: since faith is required for the sacrament to do me good, must I know—or at least believe—that I believe (i.e. must I have reflective faith) before I approach the sacrament? If so, then the sacrament is not likely to strengthen those who have weak faith.

These pastoral questions have played a large role in the history of the Reformed churches, especially among the Puritans. Early in the history of New England Puritanism, for instance, communicant church membership was restricted to those who could give a profession of saving faith. (For the history here, see the classic study by Edmund Morgan, Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea). This institutionalized the requirement of reflective faith: anyone who could not sincerely profess that they had saving faith was excluded from the sacrament and from church membership. And it is important to emphasize here that we are talking about a distinctively Protestant view of saving faith. In contrast to requirements of church membership among earlier Puritans, it was not sufficient simply to confess the creed or to believe and understand Christian teaching. Much less was it sufficient to be baptized. The profession of faith (which made you, in the technical language or the time, a “professor of religion”) meant that you could confidently show that you had a saving interest in the blood of Christ, which typically meant you must be able to narrate the occasion on which you made regenerate by the Holy Spirit through conversion to saving faith.

The concept of saving faith here is distinctively Reformed, and it underlies the requirement of reflective faith. The crucial distinction is articulated by Calvin himself, who contrasts the faith by which we are saved with a temporary faith, by which we experience the goodness of God for a time but do not persevere in true faith until the end. For like Augustine, Calvin teaches that in order to save us God gives not only the intitial gift of faith but also the gift of persevering in the faith until the end. But unlike Augustine, he sees these as one and the same gift: when God gives true saving faith, he necessarily gives us persevering faith, for a faith that does not persevere to the end does not save.

This is a radical departure from Augustine, and it has enormous consequences. For Augustine and the whole Christian tradition prior to Calvin, it is perfectly possible to have a genuine faith and then lose it. Apostates, in other words, have apostasized from the true faith. For Calvin, on the contrary, there is a kind of faith I can have now which I am sure not to lose, because it comes with the gift of perseverance. What is more, I can know that I have such faith rather than the temporary kind. For the whole point of the distinction between saving and temporary faith is that I can know that I am eternally saved, and that means I must know I have saving rather than temporary faith. Again, this is a profound departure from Augustine, who explicitly teaches that we are not yet saved (nondum salvos, in City of God 19:4). In a typical formulation, Augustine insists that we are saved in hope but not yet in reality (in spe, not in re).

Calvin’s departure from Augustine here results in the requirement of reflective faith. In order to believe that you are eternally saved, you must believe that you have saving faith. From this follows what is genuinely distinctive about Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, which is not (as Calvin rightly argues) the doctrine of double predestination, but rather the epistemic thesis that we can know we are among the elect, those chosen by God and predestined for salvation. For anyone who adds to an Augustinian doctrine of predestination the notion that we can know we are saved for eternity will necessarily believe that we can know we are predestined to be saved. For if Augustine is right about predestination, it is logically impossible to know you are saved for eternity without knowing that you are predestined for such salvation. That is precisely why Augustine denies you can know you are predestined for salvation.

So the reflective faith of the Reformed tradition is strong stuff. It assures you not just that God is gracious to you today (like Lutheran faith) but also that you are saved for eternity, which means you can be assured of this much about God’s hidden decree of predestination: that it includes you among the elect. To require such a faith before admission to the sacrament is to require a great deal. It is, I think, to make faith into a work—and quite a substantial work indeed, which many anguished souls could never accomplish. The Puritan churches of New England included many baptized persons who believed that the creed was true but who did not believe they had experienced a conversion to saving faith, and therefore were excluded from the sacrament. In their case, the sacrament could not serve to build up the weak in faith.

Strikingly, there were attempts to reverse this. Solomon Stoddard, Jonathan Edward’s grandfather, allowed baptized churchgoers who could not profess saving faith to come to the sacrament, which Stoddard said could function as a “converting ordinance.” This is an important moment in the history of the Reformed tradition because it displays the possibilities available within Reformed theology. But the fact that Edwards and his followers, who called themselves “consistent Calvinists,” rejected this compomise, suggests that the weight of the Reformed tradition tends to be against it.

Why? Samuel Hopkins, a student of Edwards and a leader of the consistent Calvinists, gives an explanation that parallels the Augustinian point about how unbelief separates signum from res. The means of grace, Hopkins argues, do no good except to the regenerate, and when the unregenerate (i.e. those who do not have saving faith) make use of the sacraments, they succeed only in offending God by their inexcusable unbelief and misuse of his holy ordinances. Note that all the objectivity in the sacraments thus only makes this offense worse: if Christ is truly presented and offered in the sacrament, as Calvin insists, then all the more inexcusable is the unbelief of those who partake of the sacrament unworthily.

How might the Reformed resist such reasoning? I do not see how they can do so consistently without abandoning the requirement of reflective faith, and I do not see how they can do that without abandoning the fundamental Calvinist conviction that we can know we are eternally saved. It is that radical new conviction that creates the characteristic tensions and pastoral problems of the Calvinist tradition. This is not to say that other traditions do not have tensions and problems of their own. The point is that they take a different form than in the Reformed tradition. Catholics, for instance, do not worry about whether they have true saving faith. You will never find a hint of any such worry anywhere in Augustine, for instance, despite all his introspective power. For the idea that I have to have a special kind of faith which I know in advance will persevere to the end is an idea that simply never occurred to him.

Different worries generate different pastoral practices. Catholics don’t worry about whether they have saving faith but whether they are in a state of mortal sin—so they go to confession. Reformed Protestants don’t worry about mortal sin but about whether they have true saving faith—so they seek conversion. The pastoral problem this generates is that either it turns faith into a work, a decision of faith one is required to make, or it leaves a poor sinner nowhere to go to find the grace of God, since all means of grace only work harm to the unregenerate.

Let me suggest a Lutheran diagnosis (and then identify the pastoral problems that result from this Lutheran view). Reformed and Lutheran will heartily agree that the sacramental means of grace can only do me good only because of the Word that gives them their form and power. There is no sacrament of Christ’s body without the Word of institution: “This is my body, given for you.” The question is, if I am weak in faith, how can I trust that this sacrament and its Word will do me good? Luther points here to the words “for you,” and insists that they include me. When faith takes hold of the Gospel of Christ, it especially takes hold of these words, “for you,” and rejoices that Christ did indeed died for me.

In this way the Gospel and its sacraments are signs that effectively give us the gift of faith. I do not have to ask whether I truly believe; I need merely ask whether it is true, just as the Word says, that Christ’s body is given for me. And if the answer is yes, then my faith is strengthened—without “making a decision of faith,” without the necessity of a conversion experience, and without even the effort to obey a command to believe. In Luther’s view, I have not chosen to believe—as if this were something that could be achieved by my own free will, a notion that Luther fiercely rejects—but have instead received faith as a gift. For what the sacramental word tells me is not: “You must believe” (a command we must choose to obey) but “Christ died for you” (good news that causes us to believe). Thus both Word and sacrament do not demand faith but strengthen it, functioning not as Law but as Gospel.

In my judgment, the requirement of reflective faith is a disaster because it means that I have no right to believe that the sacramental words, “for you,” include me unless I first know or at least believe that I have true saving faith. To make this judgment is to say that the characteristic pastoral problems of the Reformed tradition are not so much problems to be solved as theological mistakes to escape. But to be fair, let me say what pastoral problems my Lutheran view entails.

It entails rejecting the view that we can know we are eternally saved. In Luther’s view, we can be assured we have grace, but we cannot be assured of eternal salvation. For the promise of God gives us Christ—in both word and sacrament—but it does not promise that we shall persevere in the faith of Christ until the end. This is a crucial fact about the biblical Word that no amount of theologizing can get over: the Word of Christ can give me faith and thereby give me Christ himself, but it does not promise to give me perseverance in the faith and therefore does not give me assurance of eternal salvation. If you want that kind of assurance, you have to go the road of reflective faith, believing not just in the Word but in your own belief in it, being somehow assured that the faith you have is true saving faith. To put it succinctly, what you give up by rejecting the requirement of reflective faith is the assurance of salvation.

The pastoral problems this produces have a label, which Luther himself gives them. He calls them anfechtungen, the assaults of the devil, who loves to taunt us with the fear that maybe we are not among those predestined for salvation. This is why Luther insists on turning away from the Deus absconditus, the God of the hidden decree of predestination, and clinging to the Deus revelatus, the God who reveals himself in the Gospel. It is sufficient to know that Christ’s body is given for me. If I cling to that in faith, all will go well with me. And whenever the devil suggests otherwise, I keep returning to that sacramental Word, and also to the Word of my baptism, and to the “for us” in the creed (”for us and for our salvation he came down from heaven” and “he was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate”), where the “us” includes me. Thus precisely the kind of faith that is insufficient to get me admitted to the Puritan sacraments—which is to say, mere belief in the truth of the creed and trust in my baptism—is all the faith I have. If Luther is right, it is all the faith I can ever have, and all the faith I need.

In this way the sacraments do help me when I face the typical pastoral problems generated by Lutheran theology. By contrast, the Reformed tradition generates pastoral problems that cannot be helped by the sacrament, because neither word nor sacrament can assure me that I have true saving faith. The logic of the matter, it seems to me, makes it impossible to split the difference between these two positions and get the best of both. On the one hand, if you want a concept of saving faith and the assurance of eternal salvation, then the sacraments cannot help you in the way that matters most. For—on the other hand—if you cling to the sacraments to strengthen your faith, then the faith you get is not what the Reformed tradition calls saving faith. Therefore I do not think one can consistently hold both a strong view of the power of the sacraments and the Reformed view of the nature of faith.





http://pontifications.wordpress.com/phillip-cary-2/

Last edited by AC.; Sat May 17, 2008 4:58 PM.
Anybody Home??? [Re: AC.] #39659
Mon May 19, 2008 4:06 PM
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This board goes through major lulls sometimes, very frustrating!

Any takers.

Let me simplify! What exactly did Calvin believe about the Eucharist and does it totally jive with scriptures???

No links please, try to break it down for the ignorant (me)please

thanks!!!


The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Anybody Home??? [Re: AC.] #39660
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AC. said:
This board goes through major lulls sometimes, very frustrating!

Any takers.

Let me simplify! What exactly did Calvin believe about the Eucharist and does it totally jive with scriptures???


No links please, try to break it down for the ignorant (me)please

thanks!!!




AC

I understand your frustration about the slowness of the discussions. The reason I do not post so much is because I have been Blogged about and PM'd for being abrupt and not right with God. Some of it I have brought on myself and some is persecution of God's church. I also realize (after 5 years) I am not qualified as I lack education (perhaps by God) and writing skills. Nevertheless I do consider this place a friend and am not bitter against anyone. And just so ya know I have been having several trials in succession adding up to over two years now. Oh well life is hard but praise God the Lord is coming soon and it will be made anew.

So are you asking about the elements used in the Lord's Supper (bread and wine) or do you really mean "the eucharist"?

I do not know how to answer questions nor have I had time to look search it out. If you meant the eucharist I'm sure Calvin thought it was a gross idolatry and an abomination to God which it still is till this day.


Thank you for the links.

Last edited by William; Mon May 19, 2008 8:35 PM.
Re: Anybody Home??? [Re: AC.] #39661
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AC,

If you can find a book by Keith Mathison titled Given For You I think you will find it most helpful on what Calvin's beliefs were. I do know Mathison wrote this about Calvin's views on the Eucharist:
Quote
Wallace provides a helpful summary of the various aspects of Calvin's thought. He reminds us, first of all, that Calvin agrees with the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics "that the flesh of Christ is given in the sacrament." This is repeatedly emphasized throughout Calvin's works. In fact, Calvin asserts, "the whole of Christ is given in the sacrament." This is necessary, according to Calvin, because the flesh of Christ is the channel of the life that belongs inherently to the divine nature." Wallace points out four basic points in Calvin's eucharistic doctrine that must be kept in mind as we next consider the mode of partaking of Christ's body and blood:
(i) The body of Christ, in which he wrought our redemption and apart from which we cannot be saved, in being communicated to us in the sacrament remains, throughout the participation, in heaven, beyond this world, and retains all its human properties...
(ii) Communion with the body of Christ is effected through the descent of the Holy Spirit, by whom our souls are lifted up to heaven, there to partake of the life transfused into us from the flesh of Christ...
(iii) Partaking of the flesh of Christ in the supper is thus a heavenly action, in which the flesh is eaten in a spiritual manner...
(iv) The presence of the body of Christ in the Supper, though it may be called a real presence and a descent of Christ by the Spirit, is nevertheless also a "celestial mode of presence" and leads to no localisation of the body of Christ on earth, no inclusion of it in the elements, no attachment of it to the elements...


Perhaps this will be of some help.

Theo

Re: Anybody Home??? [Re: AC.] #39662
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AC. said:
This board goes through major lulls sometimes, very frustrating!

Any takers.

Let me simplify! What exactly did Calvin believe about the Eucharist and does it totally jive with scriptures???

No links please, try to break it down for the ignorant (me)please

thanks!!!


AC, I think there are quite a number of people on the board that would like to answer you in full but who perhaps now don't have the time to do so. Having read your initial post I considered reading what Calvin says in his Institutes but, also being pressed for time from other sides, decided not to do so. So I decided to take a shortcut and copy for you below from the Belgic Confession, which I think is close to what Calvin thought on the sacrament. And after that parts of the Heidelberg Cathecism which also might be close to Calvin's views.

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We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ has ordained and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper to nourish and sustain those who are already born again and ingrafted into his family: his church.

Now those who are born again have two lives in them. The one is physical and temporal-- they have it from the moment of their first birth, and it is common to all. The other is spiritual and heavenly, and is given them in their second birth; it comes through the Word of the gospel in the communion of the body of Christ; and this life is common to God's elect only.

Thus, to support the physical and earthly life God has prescribed for us an appropriate earthly and material bread, which is as common to all as life itself also is. But to maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to believers he has sent a living bread that came down from heaven: namely Jesus Christ, who nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of believers when eaten-- that is, when appropriated and received spiritually by faith.

To represent to us this spiritual and heavenly bread Christ has instituted an earthly and visible bread as the sacrament of his body and wine as the sacrament of his blood. He did this to testify to us that just as truly as we take and hold the sacraments in our hands and eat and drink it in our mouths, by which our life is then sustained, so truly we receive into our souls, for our spiritual life, the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Savior. We receive these by faith, which is the hand and mouth of our souls.

Now it is certain that Jesus Christ did not prescribe his sacraments for us in vain, since he works in us all he represents by these holy signs, although the manner in which he does it goes beyond our understanding and is uncomprehensible to us, just as the operation of God's Spirit is hidden and incomprehensible.

Yet we do not go wrong when we say that what is eaten is Christ's own natural body and what is drunk is his own blood-- but the manner in which we eat it is not by the mouth but by the Spirit, through faith.

In that way Jesus Christ remains always seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven-- but he never refrains on that account to communicate himself to us through faith.

This banquet is a spiritual table at which Christ communicates himself to us with all his benefits. At that table he makes us enjoy himself as much as the merits of his suffering and death, as he nourishes, strengthens, and comforts our poor, desolate souls by the eating of his flesh, and relieves and renews them by the drinking of his blood.

Moreover, though the sacraments and thing signified are joined together, not all receive both of them. The wicked person certainly takes the sacrament, to his condemnation, but does not receive the truth of the sacrament, just as Judas and Simon the Sorcerer both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it. He is communicated only to believers.

Finally, with humility and reverence we receive the holy sacrament in the gathering of God's people, as we engage together, with thanksgiving, in a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior, and as we thus confess our faith and Christian religion. Therefore no one should come to this table without examining himself carefully, lest "by eating this bread and drinking this cup he eat and drink to his own judgment."^78

In short, by the use of this holy sacrament we are moved to a fervent love of God and our neighbors.

Therefore we reject as desecrations of the sacraments all the muddled ideas and damnable inventions that men have added and mixed in with them. And we say that we should be content with the procedure that Christ and the apostles have taught us and speak of these things as they have spoken of them.



Here from the Heidelberg Catechism. I include the Scripture references for only some of the answers. Note the particular question about the popish mass, Question 80. I strongly suspect that Calvin would have answered in the same way, although I will have to check his Institutes to be sure that it is his view. First something general on the sacraments.

Quote

Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?

Answer: From the Holy Ghost, (a) who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. (b)

Question 66. What are the sacraments?

Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. (a)

Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? (a)

Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.


Question 68. How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?

Answer: Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.


Specific on the Holy Supper. Note the last two questions on who can and cannot partake in the Holy Supper.

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Question 75. How art thou admonished and assured in the Lord's Supper, that thou art a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?

Answer: Thus: That Christ has commanded me and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him, adding these promises: (a) first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes, the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me; and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ.

Question 76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?

Answer: It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; (a) but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, (b) by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven (c) and we on earth, are notwithstanding "flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone" (d) and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, (e) as members of the same body are by one soul.

Question 78. Do then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ?

Answer: Not at all: (a) but as the water in baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, neither is the washing away of sin itself, being only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed of God; (b) so the bread in the Lord's supper is not changed into the very body of Christ; (c) though agreeably to the nature and properties of sacraments, (d) it is called the body of Christ Jesus.

(a) Matt.26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. (b) Eph.5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Tit.3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (c) Mark 14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 1 Cor.10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 1 Cor.10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Cor.11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 1 Cor.11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 1 Cor.11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. (d) Gen.17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. Gen.17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Gen.17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. Gen.17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. Exod.12:11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover. Exod.12:13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. Exod.12:27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. Exod.12:43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: Exod.12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. Exod.13:9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. 1 Pet.3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Cor.10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 1 Cor.10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 1 Cor.10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 1 Cor.10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Question 79. Why then doth Christ call the bread "his body", and the cup "his blood", or "the new covenant in his blood"; and Paul the "communion of body and blood of Christ"?

Answer: Christ speaks thus, not without great reason, namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so his crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are fed to eternal life; (a) but more especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of his true body and blood by the operation of the Holy Ghost as we receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of him; (b) and that all his sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.

(a) John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. (b) 1 Cor.10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 1 Cor.10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

Question 80. What difference is there between the Lord's supper and the popish mass?

Answer: The Lord's supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; (a) and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, (b) who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, (c) and will there be worshipped by us. (d) But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry. (e)

(a) Heb.7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. Heb.9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Heb.9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; Heb.9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Heb.9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Heb.9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Heb.10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Heb.10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Heb.10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. Heb.10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. Matt.26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (b) 1 Cor.6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 1 Cor.10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (c) Heb.1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Heb.8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; Heb.8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (d) Matt.6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: Matt.6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. John 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Luke 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, Acts 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Col.3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Philip.3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Philip.3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. 1 Thess.1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. Heb.9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. Heb.9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: Heb.9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Heb.9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Heb.9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. (e) Heb.9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Heb.10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Heb.10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Heb.10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Heb.10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Heb.10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God; Heb.10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Heb.10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Heb.10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Heb.10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb.10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, Heb.10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. Heb.10:28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Heb.10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? Heb.10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. Heb.10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Question 81. For whom is the Lord's supper instituted?

Answer: For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves. (a)

(a) 1 Cor.10:19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 1 Cor.10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 1 Cor.10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 1 Cor.10:22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? 1 Cor.11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 1 Cor.11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Question 82. Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?

Answer: No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned, and his wrath kindled against the whole congregation; (a) therefore it is the duty of the christian church, according to the appointment of Christ and his apostles, to exclude such persons, by the keys of the kingdom of heaven, till they show amendment of life.



Johan

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Re: Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: AC.] #39663
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Thanks!

Ok, I want to narrow my concerns down to 2 (even though I have so many questions).

What do you guys think about this portion of Cary's commentary I posted previous regarding the Calvinistic view of the Lord's Supper,


Quote

So the reflective faith of the Reformed tradition is strong stuff. It assures you not just that God is gracious to you today (like Lutheran faith) but also that you are saved for eternity, which means you can be assured of this much about God’s hidden decree of predestination: that it includes you among the elect. To require such a faith before admission to the sacrament is to require a great deal. It is, I think, to make faith into a work—and quite a substantial work indeed, which many anguished souls could never accomplish. The Puritan churches of New England included many baptized persons who believed that the creed was true but who did not believe they had experienced a conversion to saving faith, and therefore were excluded from the sacrament. In their case, the sacrament could not serve to build up the weak in faith.



1) Is the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper only for the Assurred and if so isn't this perspective a bit of an oxymoron - because do the assured really require such a strengthening of their faith since they are already "assurred? I guess I may be simplifying, but aren't we complicating the L.S. if we say we must know we are a true child to partake of it - aren't we leaving out those with weak faith to whom the sacrament should be a great help! It's almost a catch-22, don't come up if you are not truely called - but you need to come up despite your own insecurities and sinfully cloudy self-perception.

I guess I'm having conflict between assurance of inner righteousness vs. looking outside one's self for Christ's righteousness.

AM I MAKING ANY SENSE???


2a) It's still not clear to me if the Calvinistic/Reformed tradition believes the L.S. has spiritual power outside of the inner faith we bring to the table.

Theo, what you quoted suggest yes - but not "locally" in the sacrament? Our souls are lifted up to Heaven - what does Calvin use for justification for this belief? I'm not saying I disagree - just probing.

2b) Why are we condemned if we are participating w/out true faith since it is our faith that brings power to the sacrament in the first place (if the sacrament has no power in itself - wouldn't it be just an empty act - why the condemnation?).

I guess the unbelievers souls are not lifted up since for them there is no spiritual benefit.

2c) why does the pastor say a blessing over the bread & wine if the sacraments do not actually become the things signified (at least in a spiritual sense)?

I guess we'd have to consider what it means that the spirit descends and bring our souls up to heaven upon particiaption of the sacarment - Jesus is not present locally in the sacrament but via spirit we are lifted up to Him (this is a bit beyond my comprehension/understanding).

I wonder how did Calvin developed this perspective?




I'm not expecting you guys to have all the answers!

I'm not questioning predestination - but I've always kinda questioned complete assurance of predestination (I guess I'm more of an Augustinian that way! and I think my questions/concerns regarding the Reformed practice/perspective of Lord's Supper kinda touches on my concerns).

God Bless!!!

AC

Last edited by AC.; Tue May 20, 2008 11:21 AM.

The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: AC.] #39664
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1) Is the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper only for the Assurred and if so isn't this perspective a bit of an oxymoron - because do the assured really require such a strengthening of their faith since they are already "assurred? I guess I may be simplifying, but aren't we complicating the L.S. if we say we must know we are a true child to partake of it - aren't we leaving out those with weak faith to whom the sacrament should be a great help! It's almost a catch-22, don't come up if you are not truely called - but you need to come up despite your own insecurities and sinfully cloudy self-perception.

I guess I'm having conflict between assurance of inner righteousness vs. looking outside one's self for Christ's righteousness.


AC, I would say that the answer to question 81 of the HC is the answer to this question of yours. The requirement is not a certain level of assurance. Scripture speaks of different measures of faith given to God's children but the measure of faith that one received is not the requirement either. The LS is instituted For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy;. We therefore participate in the Lord's Supper not because we regard ourselves as perfect or to be without sin but rather because we look to find our life in Christ and not in ourselves.

Johan

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But how do I know I'm truly sorrowful for my sins and that my faith is not merely temporary. I don't want to be presumptuous. So is my faith lacking or am I simply void of true saving faith.

I don't know if I'll ever have this all worked out before I go to the table - but if I don't go I'm forsaking one of God's holy ordinances.

I guess I can examine myself and see where do my true desires lie. The problem is that even those whom are regenerated have an old nature that still craves after sin - so how can I know that my spiritual desires are not merely intellectual or moral rather than spiritual. Or how can I safeguard agiainst allowing the old nature (and the devil) from getting the best of me and keeping me stuck in doubt of a true conversion.


Johan, you said,
Quote

"We therefore participate in the Lord's Supper not because we regard ourselves as perfect or to be without sin but rather because we look to find our life in Christ and not in ourselves."




I like what you said here and I agree - as long as we don't question our initial conversion becasue the sacrament has been instituted for the saved not the unsaved.


The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

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But how do I know I'm truly sorrowful for my sins and that my faith is not merely temporary. I don't want to be presumptuous. So is my faith lacking or am I simply void of true saving faith.

I don't know if I'll ever have this all worked out before I go to the table - but if I don't go I'm forsaking one of God's holy ordinances.

I guess I can examine myself and see where do my true desires lie. The problem is that even those whom are regenerated have an old nature that still craves after sin - so how can I know that my spiritual desires are not merely intellectual or moral rather than spiritual. Or how can I safeguard agiainst allowing the old nature (and the devil) from getting the best of me and keeping me stuck in doubt of a true conversion.


AC, again I have to take a shortcut and refer you to the last part of the Canons of Dordt on the preservation of the saints (parts of it quoted below). Read it carefully. To me this part of the Canons of Dordt always have been a great comfort. I've put in bold some parts which may be of importance to the discussion.

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Article 1: The Regenerate Not Entirely Free from Sin

Those people whom God according to his purpose calls into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, he also sets free from the reign and slavery of sin, though in this life not entirely from the flesh and from the body of sin.

Article 2: The Believer's Reaction to Sins of Weakness

Hence daily sins of weakness arise, and blemishes cling to even the best works of God's people, giving them continual cause to humble themselves before God, to flee for refuge to Christ crucified, to put the flesh to death more and more by the Spirit of supplication and by holy exercises of godliness, and to strain toward the goal of perfection, until they are freed from this body of death and reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.

Article 3: God's Preservation of the Converted

Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them and also because of the temptations of the world and Satan, those who have been converted could not remain standing in this grace if left to their own resources. But God is faithful, mercifully strengthening them in the grace once conferred on them and powerfully preserving them in it to the end.

Article 4: The Danger of True Believers' Falling into Serious Sins

Although that power of God strengthening and preserving true believers in grace is more than a match for the flesh, yet those converted are not always so activated and motivated by God that in certain specific actions they cannot by their own fault depart from the leading of grace, be led astray by the desires of the flesh, and give in to them. For this reason they must constantly watch and pray that they may not be led into temptations. When they fail to do this, not onlycan they be carried away by the flesh, the world, and Satan into sins, even serious and outrageous ones, but also by God's just permission they sometimesare so carried away--witness the sad cases, described in Scripture, of David, Peter, and other saints falling into sins.

Article 5: The Effects of Such Serious Sins

By such monstrous sins, however, they greatly offend God, deserve the sentence of death, grieve the Holy Spirit, suspend the exercise of faith, severely wound the conscience, and sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time--until, after they have returned to the way by genuine repentance, God's fatherly face again shines upon them.

Article 6: God's Saving Intervention

For God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election does not take his Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does he let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by him, into eternal ruin.

Article 7: Renewal to Repentance

For, in the first place, God preserves in those saints when they fall his imperishable seed from which they have been born again, lest it perish or be dislodged. Secondly, by his Word and Spirit he certainly and effectively renews them to repentance so that they have a heartfelt and godly sorrow for the sins they have committed; seek and obtain, through faith and with a contrite heart, forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator; experience again the grace of a reconciled God; through faith adore his mercies; and from then on more eagerly work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Article 8: The Certainty of This Preservation

So it is not by their own merits or strength but by God's undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost. With respect to themselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to God it cannot possibly happen, since his plan cannot be changed, his promise cannot fail, the calling according to his purpose cannot be revoked, the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.

Article 9: The Assurance of This Preservation

Concerning this preservation of those chosen to salvation and concerning the perseverance of true believers in faith, believers themselves can and do become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith, by which they firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.


Article 10: The Ground of This Assurance

Accordingly, this assurance does not derive from some private revelation beyond or outside the Word, but from faith in the promises of God which he has very plentifully revealed in his Word for our comfort, from the testimony of the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are God's children and heirs (Rom. 8:16-17), and finally from a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works. And if God's chosen ones in this world did not have this well-founded comfort that the victory will be theirs and this reliable guarantee of eternal glory, they would be of all people most miserable.

Article 11: Doubts Concerning This Assurance

Meanwhile, Scripture testifies that believers have to contend in this life with various doubts of the flesh and that under severe temptation they do not always experience this full assurance of faith and certainty of perseverance. But God, the Father of all comfort, does not let them be tempted beyond what they can bear, but with the temptation he also provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13), and by the Holy Spirit revives in them the assurance of their perseverance.

Article 12: This Assurance as an Incentive to Godliness

This assurance of perseverance, however, so far from making true believers proud and carnally self-assured, is rather the true root of humility, of childlike respect, of genuine godliness, of endurance in every conflict, of fervent prayers, of steadfastness in crossbearing and in confessing the truth, and of well-founded joy in God. Reflecting on this benefit provides an incentive to a serious and continual practice of thanksgiving and good works, as is evident from the testimonies of Scripture and the examples of the saints.

Article 14: God's Use of Means in Perseverance

And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments.


Article 15: Contrasting Reactions to the Teaching of Perseverance

This teaching about the perseverance of true believers and saints, and about their assurance of it--a teaching which God has very richly revealed in his Word for the glory of his name and for the comfort of the godly and which he impresses on the hearts of believers--is something which the flesh does not understand, Satan hates, the world ridicules, the ignorant and the hypocrites abuse, and the spirits of error attack. The bride of Christ, on the other hand, has always loved this teaching very tenderly and defended it steadfastly as a priceless treasure; and God, against whom no plan can avail and no strength can prevail, will ensure that she will continue to do this. To this God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.





Johan

Last edited by Johan; Tue May 20, 2008 2:15 PM.
Re: Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: Johan] #39667
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Thanks Johan,

That was helpful and reminded me to reflect on Article 16 of the first head which is also a comfort,

Quote


Article 16

Those who do not yet experience a lively faith in Christ, an assured confidence of soul, peace of conscience, an earnest endeavor after filial obedience, and glorying in God through Christ, efficaciously wrought in them, and do nevertheless persist in the use of the means which God hath appointed for working these graces in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to rank themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to persevere in the use of means, and with ardent desires devoutly and humbly to wait for a season of richer grace. Much less cause have they to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation, who, though they seriously desire to be turned to God, to please Him only, and to be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire; since a merciful God has promised that He will not quench the smoking flax nor break the bruised reed. But this doctrine is justly terrible to those, who, regardless of God and of the Savior Jesus Christ, have wholly given themselves up to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they are not seriously converted to God.




I'm pretty much in agreement with the Reformed view of the Lord's Supper as a sign and seal of what Jesus has done for us on a personal level. Through sorrow over sin and the faith of His promise we are compelled to come.

I do have to remind myself that I will never have anything in myself that will make me worthy to come but that God has worked in my life to awaken my spiritual consciousness from sin and evil toward His saving love and forgiveness. How can I not acknowledge that and not allow myself to glory and find comfort in Him and His sacrifice.

Last edited by AC.; Tue May 20, 2008 2:34 PM.

The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Zwingli vs. Luther [Re: AC.] #39668
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Quote

A C wrote:
I do have to remind myself that I will never have anything in myself that will make me worthy to come but that God has worked in my life to awaken my spiritual consciousness from sin and evil toward His saving love and forgiveness. How can I not acknowledge that and not allow myself to glory and find comfort in Him and His sacrifice.


Although I have nothing to add to the theological discussion here, I would like to share this prayer by St. Basil the Great that has often helped me to approach the Lord's Table "with boldness and without condemnation"


Quote

I know O Lord, that I have communion unworthily of Thy most pure Body and Thy most precious Blood, that I am guilty and drink condemnation to myself not discerning Thy Body and Blood, O my Christ and God. But daring upon Thy generous loving-kindness I come to Thee who hast said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him." Be merciful, therefore, O Lord, and do not rebuke me a sinner, but deal with me according to Thy mercy, and let Thy holy things be for my purification and healing, for enlightenment and protection, for the repulsion of every tempting thought and action of the devil which works spiritually in my fleshly members. Let them be for boldness and love for Thee, for the correction and grounding of my life, for the increase of virtue and perfection, for the fulfillment of Thy commandments, for the communion of the Holy Spirit, for the journey of eternal life, for a good and acceptable answer at Thy dread judgment, but not for judgment or condemnation. Amen


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