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Ecclesiology discuss Zwingli's View of the Lord's Supper? in the Theological Forum forums; Zwingli is the "commemorative view" whipping boy of the Reformed and I want to know if it's true that he held to a substantially different ...

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    Casey's Avatar
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    Question Zwingli's View of the Lord's Supper?

    Zwingli is the "commemorative view" whipping boy of the Reformed and I want to know if it's true that he held to a substantially different view than the other (Reformed) Reformers. I only found one thread where this was discussed tangentially (in which Pastor Winzer argued, I think, that his view wasn't different). Are there any primary source documents of Zwingli's available online that I could read and decide for myself? Could someone point me to proof, one way or the other, that his view was different or the same? Thanks.
    Casey, Chicagoland, OPC

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    This is an exerpt from Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: Volume 1, 1523–1552

    Prof. Dennison even commented at the presentation of the book on this subject. He disagreed that Zwingli had a mere commemorative or memorial view of the supper. I found this here.

    Zwingli now moved to abolish the Mass entirely. On Easter
    Sunday (April 13, 1525), Zurich officially abolished the Mass. The Lord’s
    Supper was instituted “in remembrance of ” the Lord Jesus’ atoning death; it
    was not a bloodless re-sacrifice of Christ according to the Roman doctrine
    and rite. Zwingli’s concept of the presence of Christ in communion was
    certainly not corporeal (either by transubstantiation or consubstantiation),
    yet he did maintain a Eucharistic presence in the Holy Spirit (“...but Christ
    is present in the Supper by his Spirit, grace, and strength,”
    Werk [1828–
    42], VI, i, 758.33–36).
    Traci
    Lynnwood OPC

    "I have taken all my good deeds, and all my bad deeds, and cast them through each other in a heap before the Lord, and fled from both, and betaken myself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him I have sweet peace."--David Dickson

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    armourbearer is offline. Moderator
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    "Exposition of the Christian Faith" is available in Works, vol. 2, which can be found at archive.org. For secondary materials I would begin with the level-headed discussions of William Cunningham, "Zwingle and the Sacraments" in Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, and Charles Hodge's section on the Lord's Supper in vol. 3 of his Systematic Theology.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

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    Also see Bavinck, RD IV:557-558.
    Casey, Chicagoland, OPC

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    "To eat the body of Christ sacramentally, if we wish to speak accurately, is to eat the body of Christ in heart and spirit with the accompaniment of the sacrament...You eat the body of Christ spiritually, though not sacramentally, every time you comfort your heart in its anxious query 'How will you be saved'...When you comfort yourself thus, I say, you eat his body spiritually, that is, you stand unterrified in God against all attacks of despair, through confidence in the humanity he took upon himself for you.

    But when you come to the Lord's Supper with this spiritual participation and give thanks unto the Lord for his kindness, for the deliverance of your soul, through which you have been delivered from the destruction of despair, and for the pledge by which you have been made sure of everlasting blessedness, and along with the brethren partake of the bread and wine which are the symbols of the body of Christ, then you eat him sacramentally, in the proper sense of the term, when you do internally what you represent externally, when your heart is refreshed by this faith to which you bear witness by these symbols" (Zwingli's Fidei Expositio in "Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries pp.190-191).
    Adam King
    Reformed Presbyterian Church
    Wichita, KS

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADKing View Post
    "To eat the body of Christ sacramentally, if we wish to speak accurately, is to eat the body of Christ in heart and spirit with the accompaniment of the sacrament...You eat the body of Christ spiritually, though not sacramentally, every time you comfort your heart in its anxious query 'How will you be saved'...When you comfort yourself thus, I say, you eat his body spiritually, that is, you stand unterrified in God against all attacks of despair, through confidence in the humanity he took upon himself for you.

    But when you come to the Lord's Supper with this spiritual participation and give thanks unto the Lord for his kindness, for the deliverance of your soul, through which you have been delivered from the destruction of despair, and for the pledge by which you have been made sure of everlasting blessedness, and along with the brethren partake of the bread and wine which are the symbols of the body of Christ, then you eat him sacramentally, in the proper sense of the term, when you do internally what you represent externally, when your heart is refreshed by this faith to which you bear witness by these symbols" (Zwingli's Fidei Expositio in "Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries pp.190-191).
    Peter (W P) Stephens gives readers the idea that Zwingli was much closer to Calvin and the later Reformed than he was. Adam's quotation illustrates the problems with that claim however.

    When Zwingli says "heart and spirit" we can see immediately that he was speaking in psychological categories not in objective categories. Spirit here refers to the human spirit not to the Spirit of God. To put it bluntly, even crassly, even in Zwingli's very latest writings, Zwingli was still teaching only the intense psychological experience of remembering Jesus' death.

    Even Zwingli's "highest" language is some ways from the language of Calvin, the Heidelberg or the Belgic. Zwingli would never say with the Belgic that, in the Supper, by the mysterious operation of the Spirit, believers eat the "proper and natural" body and blood of Christ!

    BC Art 35 says:

    In the mean time we err not when we say that what is eaten and drunk by us is the proper and natural body and the proper blood of Christ. But the manner of our partaking of the same is not by the mouth, but by the Spirit through faith.
    HC 75 says, "that with His crucified body and shed blood He Himself feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life...."

    This wasn't Zwingli's doctrine of the Supper. What takes place in the Supper is, at most, an internal psychological (I don't mean only intellectual, but also emotional) experience of remembering. For Calvin, the HC, the BC, and, I think, the Westminster Standards there is undeniably a memorial aspect to the Supper but that memorial aspect exhausts neither the Supper nor the operation of the Spirit through the Supper.

    -----Added 12/9/2008 at 11:44:45 EST-----

    ps. Here's an essay on the Supper - free and online! This is my penance for always flogging books and published essays.

    pps: I no longer agree with what I wrote (in '95 or '96) that, "Even Zwingli, who has sometimes been criticized for teaching that the Supper was a mere memorial of Christ’s death, taught that Christ strengthens us through the Supper."

    postscript #3. Okay, I figured out how to turn this post into a way to flog a book! There is a chapter on the Supper and Christology in Caspar Olevian and the Substance of the Covenant -- recently republished by RHB.
    Last edited by R. Scott Clark; 12-09-2008 at 11:02 AM.

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    SolaGratia is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    Dr. Clark,

    What about Luther's letter to his wife after Luther and Zwingli met in Marburg, Germany, in 1529, where Luther comments to his wife that, "Our opponents will only allow Christ spiritually in the bread."

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    Quote Originally Posted by SolaGratia View Post
    Dr. Clark,

    What about Luther's letter to his wife after Luther and Zwingli met in Marburg, Germany, in 1529, where Luther comments to his wife that, "Our opponents will only allow Christ spiritually in the bread."
    Okay.

    And your question is?

    It comes down to what was intended by "spiritually." Does it mean "metaphorically" or "symbolically" or "figuratively" or does it mean more than that? Calvin and the BC and HC taught/teach more than a mere metaphor, symbol, or figure. Even Bullinger advanced beyond that.

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    That Luther understood Zwingli view of the Lord's Supper to be "spiritually" and not literally like the Lutherans and Papist. I think Zwingli by "spiritually" he meant nothing that pertains to the elements of this world.

    Is your point that Zwingli view of the Lord's Supper was "memorial" and that he did not changed his view on this?

    In the Lord's Supper how did Zwingli agreed and disagreed with Calvin/BC/HC.

    It seems to me that it depends who Zwingli is talking to (the papist, Lutherans, Anabaptis, etc.). In other words, he was careful not to make the Lord's Supper into an Idolatry.

    Also, what do you mean when someone has a "higher view" of the Lord's Supper? Can we really have a "higher view" of the Lord's Supper from what we find from the Scriptures. Did Calvin had this "higher view"?

    The HC does not make the Lord's Supper a means of "Grace" like the Westminster Standards/Divines, right. Do you agreed with this?
    Last edited by SolaGratia; 12-09-2008 at 05:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SolaGratia View Post
    That Luther understood Zwingli view of the Lord's Supper to be "spiritually" and not literally like the Lutherans and Papist. I think Zwingli by "spiritually" he meant nothing that pertains to the elements of this world.
    There's a long history in Western theology of using the adverb "spiritually" as a synonym for "figuratively," going back to the 9th century.

    Is your point that Zwingli view of the Lord's Supper was "memorial" and that he did not changed his view on this?
    Yes. I don't think that the evidence supports the claims that Zwingli's views matured toward the end of his life, thus closing the gap between Zwingli's view and the later Reformed view.

    It is an interesting fact that Zwingli's name does not occur in the text of the Institutes. My perception of Calvin is that he was mostly critical of Zwingli.

    In the Lord's Supper how did Zwingli agreed and disagreed with Calvin/BC/HC.
    This is a large question but the short answer is that for Zwingli the supper is a memorial/funeral and for the later Reformed the Supper is a meal wherein believers are fed by Christ's flesh and blood by the mysterious work of the Spirit through the elements.

    Can we really have a "higher view" of the Lord's Supper from what we find from the Scriptures. Did Calvin had this "higher view"?
    Well, "higher" refers to understandings beyond the mere memorial. By implication the mere memorial view would be a "lower" view. Whether Scripture teaches a mere memorial is a disputed question. Of course all Reformed folk are trying to be faithful to Scripture. From the pov of later Reformed theology, Zwingli's account of the Scriptural teaching is defective because it was guilty of a certain rationalism.

    The HC does not make the Lord's Supper a means of "Grace" like the Westminster Standards/Divines, right. Do you agreed with this?
    I think the authors of the HC would be quite surprised to learn that they did not teach the preaching of the gospel and the sacraments are "means of grace"! They certainly explained the catechism in those terms that said as much in HC 65. Certainly the substance of the Reformed doctrine of the sacraments as means of grace is taught clearly in HC 66:

    The Sacraments are visible holy 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: namely, that of free grace, He grants us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life for the sake of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross.

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    Good discussion. I'm rating this a "5" out of "5".
    Scott
    PCA
    North Carolina


    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

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    armourbearer is offline. Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Scott Clark View Post
    This is a large question but the short answer is that for Zwingli the supper is a memorial/funeral and for the later Reformed the Supper is a meal wherein believers are fed by Christ's flesh and blood by the mysterious work of the Spirit through the elements.
    I think one must deny the plain meaning of words to arrive at this answer, because Zwingli plainly says that the body of Christ is eaten sacramentally, and I doubt any reformed author would imply that this body is eaten any other way than "psychologically."
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Scott Clark View Post
    Even Zwingli's "highest" language is some ways from the language of Calvin, the Heidelberg or the Belgic.
    Dr. Clark, I'm not very familiar with Zwingli's writings and would like to hear it from the horse's mouth.

    Could you give me a quote, or a reference, of the "highest" language Zwingli uses? Thanks!
    Casey, Chicagoland, OPC

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    The language quoted above is representative. The "Ground of Faith" (Fidei Ratio) is among the later and "higher" statements by Zwingli on the Supper.

    As to whether all the Reformed would agree with Zwingli's subjective, psychological approach, I disagree. The language of Calvin, the BC, the HC, and even Bullinger in the Consensus moved beyond Zwingli's subjectivism and psychological language.

    It's true that most Reformed folk today, at least in North America, in my experience, are functional Zwinglians but our standards aren't and neither are most of our theologians after the 1540s and 50s.

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    armourbearer is offline. Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Scott Clark View Post
    As to whether all the Reformed would agree with Zwingli's subjective, psychological approach, I disagree. The language of Calvin, the BC, the HC, and even Bullinger in the Consensus moved beyond Zwingli's subjectivism and psychological language.
    There is the physical and the psychological side of man. Either man eats the body of Christ physically or psychologically. The Reformed deny that it is done physically; therefore the only alternative is that it is done psychologically. The difference between objective and subjective is simply the difference between that which the Holy Spirit does and that which the man himself experiences by faith. They are two sides to the same coin, and Zwingli recognises both.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

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    SolaGratia is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    Zwingli on the Lord's Supper:

    IV. On True and False Religion, March 1525

    The Eucharist: I fear that if there is anywhere pernicious error in the adoration and worship of the one true God, it is the abuse of the Eucharist. Now we are all bent upon handling holy things rather than upon making ourselves holy. The results is that we worship with embraces and kisses wood, stone, earth, dust, shoes, vestments, rings, hats, swords, belts, bones, teeth, hair, milk, bread, tablets, wine, knives, jars, and anything that pious man have ever handled. When Christ said, "The bread which I am about to give to you is my flesh," he was not talking of sacramental eating but of the eating of faith. The flesh of Christ profiteth not by being eaten, but by being slain. I unwaveringly believe that there is one and only one way to heaven, firmly to believe and trust in the Son of God and to ascribe no power to any of the elements of this world, that is the things of sense, and those who say, "You seem to me to hold that the bodily flesh and also the blood of Christ are not present in the Eucharist," I answer, "The flesh profiteth nothing." Faith exist in our hearts by the spirit of God and we are sensible of it. That there is an inward change of heart is not an obscure matter but we do not come to it by means of the senses. Bainton, H. Roland, The Age of the Reformation. ps 126-27.

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    The HC, the BC, and the Westm. Standards teach far more than a subjective, psychological experience. They teach that, as Van Mastricht put it, the supper is a sacrament of nutrition. We are not being nourished with mere memories. We are being nourished through instruments by the body and blood of Christ through the operation of the Spirit.

    Zwingli has none of that.

    -----Added 12/10/2008 at 01:23:58 EST-----

    ps. this discussion has been interesting in another respect. I've been trying to work out a theory of the Luther-phobia I've perceived in some quarters of the Reformed and Presbyterian world. I've wondered whether it might be that some are more rooted in Zwingli and others are more rooted in Calvin and Reformed orthodoxy. Some of the feedback I'm getting here and on the HB discussion at least suggest that there might be something to the theory.

    It's not Calvin v Calvinists but Zwinglians v the Calvinists perhaps.

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    SolaGratia is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Scott Clark View Post
    The HC, the BC, and the Westm. Standards teach far more than a subjective, psychological experience. They teach that, as Van Mastricht put it, the supper is a sacrament of nutrition. We are not being nourished with mere memories. We are being nourished through instruments by the body and blood of Christ through the operation of the Spirit.

    Zwingli has none of that.



    -----Added 12/10/2008 at 01:23:58 EST-----

    ps. this discussion has been interesting in another respect. I've been trying to work out a theory of the Luther-phobia I've perceived in some quarters of the Reformed and Presbyterian world. I've wondered whether it might be that some are more rooted in Zwingli and others are more rooted in Calvin and Reformed orthodoxy. Some of the feedback I'm getting here and on the HB discussion at least suggest that there might be something to the theory.

    It's not Calvin v Calvinists but Zwinglians v the Calvinists perhaps.
    Yeap! Agreed. Maybe Zwingli during service taught otherwise, but we do not know. What we do have, which is sufficient and more clear, is our understanding of the Lord's Supper in our confessions/standards. However, I think the Church is stilled confused.

    Reason we need someone to come up with something (book/statement/article/essay) on the Lord's Supper for the Church in order for us to mature in our understanding of the Lord's Supper away from just a "memorial," perhaps communion will take place more in our Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.

    This will be a good thesis work if it hasn't been done.
    Last edited by SolaGratia; 12-10-2008 at 04:54 AM.

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    armourbearer is offline. Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Scott Clark View Post
    The HC, the BC, and the Westm. Standards teach far more than a subjective, psychological experience. They teach that, as Van Mastricht put it, the supper is a sacrament of nutrition. We are not being nourished with mere memories. We are being nourished through instruments by the body and blood of Christ through the operation of the Spirit.
    Reformed sacramentalism begins and ends with the concept that the sacramental elements and action are "signs" to the senses and "seals" to faith. They never cease being symbols. It is faith by the operation of the Holy Spirit which lays hold of the significance of the sacrament for the soul. WCF 29:2, the Lord's supper is fundamentally a commemoration of the one offering up which Christ made of Himself. All sacramental efficacy springs from this fundamental nature of the Lord's supper. Anything else is not reformed, call it by whatever name one pleases.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Scott Clark View Post
    ps. this discussion has been interesting in another respect. I've been trying to work out a theory of the Luther-phobia I've perceived in some quarters of the Reformed and Presbyterian world. I've wondered whether it might be that some are more rooted in Zwingli and others are more rooted in Calvin and Reformed orthodoxy. Some of the feedback I'm getting here and on the HB discussion at least suggest that there might be something to the theory.

    It's not Calvin v Calvinists but Zwinglians v the Calvinists perhaps.
    What feedback here on the PB suggests to you that anyone here is "more rooted in Zwingli" than in Calvin? And I've heard in some quarters that American evangelicals are Zwingli's descendants in regards to their view on the Lord's Supper (assuming Zwingli actually taught a mere memorialism, which is the question of this thread). Could you explain the historical connection? I don't know of many evangelicals reading Zwingli . . .
    Casey, Chicagoland, OPC

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