Probably this person doesn't understand either the Catechism or gnosticism. In the Lord's supper our faith is nourshied not that we receive new revelations or knowledge. Question 175, as Mark helpfully posted, is what we do after we receive it. Not what is cognitivly happening while we are receiving it.
Originally Posted by J. Dean
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Lutheran apologists of a conservative stripe (of which Veith is an enthusiastic booster of all things Lutheran) frequently suggest that evangelicalism generally holds to a gnostic view of the supper and of spirituality generally. I confess that this is not an area of competence for me and I do not get the basis of the charge of gnosticism either.
Rosenbladt tells of a conversation with Horton where Horton apparently attempted to find common ground between the two of them using some "obscure Reformed confession." Rosenbladt reports that he stopped the dialog by asking one question: "Mike, what do I put into my mouth?" Horton supposedly replied, "Why bread and wine, of course." To this, Rosenbladt answered, "Nice try, Mike, but no deal."
Evidently (?), from a Lutheran perspective, anything other than a plain "common sense" reading of the words of institution ("this is my body . . . take and eat") involves a gnosticizing tendency. My reading so far suggests that they see the tangibility of the elements as important to the real presence of Christ. The notion of a mystical communion between the earth bound believer with Christ sitting at the right hand of the throne (Rosenbladt calls this Reformed Christianity's "elevator" theory) is gnosticizing.
How they draw this conclusion is over my head. I would think that they would have called the "spiritual" or "memorial" views as docetist rather than gnostic. But, again, not my specialty.
Reformed Christology assumes a relationship between the two natures in the one person that Lutherans see as "leaning" towards Nestorianism. Lutheran Christology, especially in Chemnitz's Two Natures book leans in the opposite direction, towards Monophysitism. Realize that conservative Calvinists and conservative Lutherans do not believe that their views (or that of the other guys) actually cross the line into heresy. But, they will generally admit that one view "tends" in one direction while the other "tends" in the other direction.
In dealing with the practical problems of the unity of God and man, Calvinists have posited the so-called "extra Calvinisticum" where Lutherans deal with the practical problems by recourse to a communication of attributes. Investing the humanity of Christ with "infinite gifts" of the deity as in Chemnitz leads Reformed dogmaticians to cry that this view violates the famous definition of Chalcedon by a communication of attributes that results in mixing or confusing of the two natures.
Hence, when R.C. Sproul met Rosenbladt, he announced: "Here come the Eutychians." To which the Lutheran replied, "Better than a Christ with multiple personality disorder." It is a 500 year old dispute between the two branches of the Rerformation, not likely to be settled here.
Last edited by DMcFadden; 03-28-2012 at 03:01 PM.
Dennis E. McFadden, Ex Mainline Baptist (in Remission)
Atherton Baptist Homes, Alhambra, CA, President/CEO, Retired
Emmanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS), Fort Wayne, IN
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Some strict Lutherans are allergic to almost any sort of introspection; they associate it with a lack of faith, with Luther's experiences before conversion. Luther's Anfechtung (anxiety) from later on is practically equated with the temptation to be introspective; solution="Look away from yourself, always, always look away, away, away; look to the sacraments." Very often in Lutheranism, to DO is tantamount to BELIEVE; don't analyze your faith. It has to do with an extreme objectivization of the means of grace, by which the reality is experienced. Lutherans are not fond of self-examination; they find it entirely too Pietistic (which was a religious expression that had a virulent phase among the Lutheran Confessionalists).
Contra the Romanist doctrine of ex opere operato, the Lutherans believe in the indispensability of faith to the benefit of the sacrament; however they also believe that participation in the Sacrament (particularly as the ordained minister employs the Word of Institution), faith is actually created in the recipient (faith cometh by the presence of the Word). So, by faith-created the sacrament is effectual right then for salvation for the worthy participant.
And, consistent with those tenets, Lutherans believe that the very salvation that was just received in fact by the recipient, can also be lost. So, everyone who belongs to the church (had the beginning of faith in baptism), and continues to receive the Word in verbal and sacramental form, is constantly receiving his salvation at the moment he is receiving the means. For the person who is prone to lose his faith/salvation the moment he leaves the Divine Service, he better hope Jesus Comes-Again in the middle of worship.
So, the unworthy person who receives communion really and truly receives the body and blood of the Savior in Lutheran theology. To sin against the body and blood is to do more than violence to the formality of the covenant in His blood; it is to do violence to Jesus himself, bodily. In Lutheran theology, Jesus has not been exalted beyond all puny human powers to do him further injustice or indignity. But, by the ubiquity of the human-nature (as communicated), Jesus because of his ineffable condescension continues to suffer himself to be humiliated. The unworthy actually "crucifies Christ afresh," thus meriting strong condemnation.
And, I should probably say that admittedly there are many, many evangelicals (as well as some less-well catechized in Reformed churches) whose views might best be described as "gnostic."
It's easy and simplistic (and part of their ongoing vendetta against their Reformed cousins) for the Lutherans to take everyone to their "left" and lump everything from the Reformed Confessionalist to the foaming Pentacostal in one category of "fanatic," or with more venom, as "Reformed." So, if there is a tendency anywhere to the "left" of them (and of us) to "gnosticism," then ipso facto, the "Reformed" are gnostic. They are not interested in judging any particular group by their particular Confession. It is sufficient that none of them are sufficiently "Lutheran."
It's a manifestation of their long-standing fury at us, their closest cousins, for daring to disagree with them; for daring to think that the Holy Scriptures themselves would support our views, and oppose theirs. Just remember this: only the Lutherans have made their explicit hostility to us a matter of church-confession; the converse is not the case, though we clearly confess a denial of those errors which they hold. We think they are mistaken; they think we are heretical. In general, we would not refuse them Communion; they will refuse us, assuming they mind their Confession.
The Reformed view isn't gnostic, not in the least; that's just a standard element of Lutheran slander. But you must understand: to affirm spiritual reality; to insist on a full-orbed faith (notitia, assensus, fiducia) as essential to salvation, and such faith is necessarily reflexive and reflective; to deny that eternal salvation can be lost by strength of a human will (even while affirming apostasy, rightly defined); to believe that the embodied Christ has been "received into heaven until the times of restoration of all things," Act.3:21, i.e. that the risen Christ has a localized body like all other embodied humanity (pre-death & post-resurrection)--such doctrines, in the form we affirm them, offend our Lutheran brethren.
And yes, we should continue to identify truly Protestant Lutherans as brethren. Their one-way street of invective does not need to be reciprocated. They will continue to anathematize Calvin; we will continue to revere Luther. Let certain ones among them bear their petty disgust toward us. "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice" Php.1:18.
Last edited by Contra_Mundum; 03-29-2012 at 12:28 AM.
Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church, CentralLake, MI
Made both Lord and Christ--Jesus, the Destroyer
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