Lutheran vs Presbyterian Views on The Lord's Supper

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BibleCyst

Puritan Board Freshman
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

I find myself slightly mixed up in regard to The Lord's Supper. Within the course of my life, I've gotten diverse explanations on what exactly takes place during this sacrament. (This probably has to do with the fact that I grew up in the PCA, and attended a Lutheran school for a number of years.) I understand that the Roman Catholic position is that the elements literally transform into the body and blood of Christ, and that the holy communion is a sacrifice (not unlike the Old Testament sacrifices) which imputes the sins of the receiver to Christ. I also understand that the Baptist position is generally the other extreme - the Lord's Supper is purely symbolic and holds no real spiritual benefit for the receiver (correct me if I'm wrong?). Am I not mistaken that the Presbyterian position lies somewhere in the middle? That the elements do not literally transform into the body and blood of Christ, but that the elements are also more than just bread and juice? I was looking through the Westminster Confession, but I feel as though the section for the Lord's Supper is not really confirming (or rejecting) what I've been taught - perhaps I need to look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. At any rate, my first question is, what exactly do Presbyterians believe happens during the Lord's Supper?

Now, to bring Lutheranism into the mix. For an unrelated reason, I was browsing the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website, and I happened across their section on the Lord's Supper. (This is actually what peaked my curiosity on this subject.) I found that my presuppositions on the Lord's Supper matched their statements. (More specific examples coming up.) I fear that my mix of PCA and Lutheranism has caused my theology to be confused on this matter, and I'm having trouble placing where in-between Rome and Purely Symbolic both Lutherans and Presbyterians stand. For example:

The clear promise that Christ gives to his church is, "Take and eat, this is my body," and "This is my blood" (Matthew 26:26-28). Together with the bread and wine that we receive, Jesus, the Son of God, says he gives us his body and his blood that were given into death and poured out on our behalf.

The real presence of Christ's body and blood is a special, sacramental presence that is beyond our full understanding. We say this to avoid crass, cannibalistic ideas that have no place here. This eating is real, but it is supernatural. We do not see or taste the body and blood. It cannot be detected by our senses. We do not digest it like ordinary food.

In summary, we believe that Christ's body and blood are present in the Sacrament and received because of the promise of Christ and because Christ’s body is the body of the Son of God.

We believe that, together with the bread and wine, Christ's body and blood are truly present, however, this does not depend on papal ordination but on Christ's institution. We do not accept the adoration (worship) of the host, nor do we believe that a sacrifice takes place. We stick just to what the Words of Institution say.

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)

Forgive me, I know this post is kind of all over the place. What am I missing here?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Here is a good place to start:

LBC Chapter 30

Paragraph 1. The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing to all the world the sacrifice of himself in his death,1 confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.2
1 1 Cor. 11:23-26
2 1 Cor. 10:16,17,21

Paragraph 2. In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the quick or dead, but only a memorial of that one offering up of himself by himself upon the cross, once for all;3 and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same.4 So that the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, injurious to Christ's own sacrifice the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
3 Heb. 9:25,26,28
4 1 Cor. 11:24; Matt. 26:26,27

Paragraph 3. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use, and to take and break the bread; to take the cup, and, they communicating also themselves, to give both to the communicants.5
5 1 Cor. 11:23-26, etc.

Paragraph 4. The denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.6
6 Matt. 26:26-28, 15:9, Exod. 20:4,5

Paragraph 5. The outward elements in this ordinance, duly set apart to the use ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, although in terms used figuratively, they are sometimes called by the names of the things they represent, in other words, the body and blood of Christ,7 albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.8
7 1 Cor. 11:27
8 1 Cor. 11:26-28

Paragraph 6. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ's body and blood, commonly called transubstantiation, by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone,9 but even to common sense and reason, overthrows the nature of the ordinance, and has been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.10
9 Acts 3:21; Luke 14:6,39
10 1 Cor. 11:24,25

Paragraph 7. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.11
11 1 Cor. 10:16, 11:23-26

Paragraph 8. All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord's table, and cannot, without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto;12 yea, whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.13
12 2 Cor. 6:14,15
13 1 Cor. 11:29; Matt. 7:6

This is also a great resource: The Mystery Of The Lord's Supper
 

KaphLamedh

Puritan Board Freshman
Was it Zwingli or Calvin, who said that Luther was silly, because he believed that the bread is God? Lutherans or at least theologians believe that Jesus Christ is physically presented in bread and wine when the sacrament is given. When the church meeting is over then bread is just bread and wine is just wine, unlike Catholics believe that bread and wine are still God or Christ. Some Lutherans believes that it doesn't matter who give sacrament, was it unbelieving female priest or true believer. That includes baptism also.

Here in Finland, what is the most Lutheran country in the world, you really don't believe how hostile they are against reformed/calvinistic theology. Just go to some forum and say you are a calvinist and write something about calvinism and defend it, you are quite quickly banned, blocked and mocked.
Today's Lutheran believe isn't necessarily that what Martin Luther it meant to be, but Philip Melanchton made something that made it go back closer to Rome.
For years many Lutheran sunday meetings are called as mass and it seems that more more Lutheran church worldwide is going back to Rome.
 

Elizabeth

Puritan Board Sophomore
For years many Lutheran sunday meetings are called as mass and it seems that more more Lutheran church worldwide is going back to Rome.

From what I've seen of the American conservative Lutherans(we visit an LCMS church and it looks like hubby is leaning towards them, which would actually be an improvement over his current TEC congregation), there is a def strain going towards Rome(CPH is pushing their Apocrypha pretty heavily).

But, there is also a def strain of crypto-calvinism. I guess if we go to Wittenberg, I'll join that rank.

The romanists in the Lutheran church can be rabidly anti-Calvinist, but they don't really seem to understand just what Calvinism IS. There is a def ignorance among that strain of Lutheranism.

* TEC=The Episcopal Church

Also, in America: TEC church has 'mass'. The LCMS we visit has 'divine service'.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Here is a good place to start:

I'd suggest that the WCF might be a better place to look for Presbyterian views on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper than would the LBC's discussion of the 'ordinance', although there is much more overlap on the Lord's Supper than there is on baptism.
 

Grafted In

Puritan Board Freshman
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

I find myself slightly mixed up in regard to The Lord's Supper. Within the course of my life, I've gotten diverse explanations on what exactly takes place during this sacrament. (This probably has to do with the fact that I grew up in the PCA, and attended a Lutheran school for a number of years.) I understand that the Roman Catholic position is that the elements literally transform into the body and blood of Christ, and that the holy communion is a sacrifice (not unlike the Old Testament sacrifices) which imputes the sins of the receiver to Christ. I also understand that the Baptist position is generally the other extreme - the Lord's Supper is purely symbolic and holds no real spiritual benefit for the receiver (correct me if I'm wrong?). Am I not mistaken that the Presbyterian position lies somewhere in the middle? That the elements do not literally transform into the body and blood of Christ, but that the elements are also more than just bread and juice? I was looking through the Westminster Confession, but I feel as though the section for the Lord's Supper is not really confirming (or rejecting) what I've been taught - perhaps I need to look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. At any rate, my first question is, what exactly do Presbyterians believe happens during the Lord's Supper?

Now, to bring Lutheranism into the mix. For an unrelated reason, I was browsing the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website, and I happened across their section on the Lord's Supper. (This is actually what peaked my curiosity on this subject.) I found that my presuppositions on the Lord's Supper matched their statements. (More specific examples coming up.) I fear that my mix of PCA and Lutheranism has caused my theology to be confused on this matter, and I'm having trouble placing where in-between Rome and Purely Symbolic both Lutherans and Presbyterians stand. For example:

The clear promise that Christ gives to his church is, "Take and eat, this is my body," and "This is my blood" (Matthew 26:26-28). Together with the bread and wine that we receive, Jesus, the Son of God, says he gives us his body and his blood that were given into death and poured out on our behalf.

The real presence of Christ's body and blood is a special, sacramental presence that is beyond our full understanding. We say this to avoid crass, cannibalistic ideas that have no place here. This eating is real, but it is supernatural. We do not see or taste the body and blood. It cannot be detected by our senses. We do not digest it like ordinary food.

In summary, we believe that Christ's body and blood are present in the Sacrament and received because of the promise of Christ and because Christ’s body is the body of the Son of God.

We believe that, together with the bread and wine, Christ's body and blood are truly present, however, this does not depend on papal ordination but on Christ's institution. We do not accept the adoration (worship) of the host, nor do we believe that a sacrifice takes place. We stick just to what the Words of Institution say.

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)

Forgive me, I know this post is kind of all over the place. What am I missing here?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Well, I understand the confusion. The wonderful mysteries of the Supper are great and there have been many divergent attempts at explaining the real presence of Christ in the it. Rome, Luther, and Calvin all affirmed the real presence of Christ in the Supper, however, all of them argue for it in radically different ways. Zwingli, on the other hand, held a strict memorialist view, which makes the sacrament a bare sign of what Christ has done.

The Lutheran understanding of Christ's real presence, often called consubstantiation by non-Lutheran theologians (Lutherans don't like or use the term), was rightly criticized and rejected by the Reformed churches. In order to have Christ really present in the Supper they posit that Christ's human nature is infused with the incommunicable divine attribute of ominpresence. This doctrine is referred to as the ubiquity of Christ's human nature. The ubiquity of Christ's human nature allows Lutherans to say that Christ's body and blood are present "in, with, and under" the bread and wine. This doctrine is to be rejected because it confuses the divine nature and human nature of Christ, which we must never do.

Calvin, however, argued that Christ is present instrumentally by the Spirit who works faith in Christ's people as they partake of this "visible word." By the Spirit, we are caught up into heaven where Christ's human nature is so that we may partake of his body and blood. This is a gross oversimplification, but I believe it represents what Calvin taught. A good place to look for a fuller, yet uncomplicated, explanation of Calvin's doctrine would be in J. Mark Beach's Piety's Wisdom: A Summary of Calvin's Institutes. Chapter 21 covers Calvin's treatment of the sacraments and chapter 23 covers his treatment of the Lord's Supper. This is a great resource!

May the Lord give you greater understanding into these important issues that you might eat and drink in faith to the spiritual nourishment of your soul.

Grace and Peace
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
he Lutheran understanding of Christ's real presence, often called consubstantiation by non-Lutheran theologians (Lutherans don't like or use the term),

They hate it. I've gotten pretty familiar with Lutheran doctrines (Confessional/Conservative Lutherans, not namby pamby wimpy ones) by talking to a friend in the Lutheran Church - Canada (sister church of the LCMS), having heard their explanations several times, I understand why they believe in the Real + Local Presence in the Lord's Supper. Reformed folk (in accordance with the WCF and BC) can affirm a "Real" presence, just not a local presence.

I have not come across many criticisms of Lutheranism from a Reformed perspective, I'm sure if somebody were to dig into the Reformed scholastics they could find something that is of worthy note. Perhaps reading explanations of the pneumatic (Reformed0 presence in the Supper you can find reasons to object to the local presence in the Supper.

I do love my Lutheran brothers :D.
 

KaphLamedh

Puritan Board Freshman
For years many Lutheran sunday meetings are called as mass and it seems that more more Lutheran church worldwide is going back to Rome.

From what I've seen of the American conservative Lutherans(we visit an LCMS church and it looks like hubby is leaning towards them, which would actually be an improvement over his current TEC congregation), there is a def strain going towards Rome(CPH is pushing their Apocrypha pretty heavily).

But, there is also a def strain of crypto-calvinism. I guess if we go to Wittenberg, I'll join that rank.

The romanists in the Lutheran church can be rabidly anti-Calvinist, but they don't really seem to understand just what Calvinism IS. There is a def ignorance among that strain of Lutheranism.

* TEC=The Episcopal Church

Also, in America: TEC church has 'mass'. The LCMS we visit has 'divine service'.

Maybe I generalized too much by useing the world "worldwide", I have to admit that. About the thing called mass as I have experienced them here. There is certain formula which is followed and there's quite short time for preaching. It felt too easy for the congregation just go to mass and take Lord's supper and receive forgiveness of sins just by eating the bread. Here's many Lutheran organizations and some of them has started to have mass instead of having the church meeting where the Word of God is taught and preached. I feel it's counter reformation, back to Rome. There might be conservative Lutheran churches around the world that are closer or just as Luther it meant to be.
As you said it's easier to be closetcatholic in todays Lutheran church than crypto-calvinist.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
A seminarian at our Kirk gave some lessons in Sabbath School about this issue. They are available
Here
Here
Here
And here

Don't let the fact that he's a seminarian fool you. He is very good, and his lessons are helpful.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
I've been following Jordan Cooper, who was a former Reformed Christian who converted to Lutheranism. Here's a little bit about Lutheran communion.

Just and Sinner: The Lutheran Doctrine of Holy Communion

Lutherans run to one of two arguments about the communion with regard to the Lord's supper/Eucharist when arguing with Calvinists and non-Reformed protestants:
1.) They point to the early church fathers and indicate that their rhetoric concerning the Lord's Supper is not taken as symbolic (In line with their basis of Jesus' words "This is my body.")
2.) They accuse Calvin of exalting rationalism over Scripture because of the Reformed statement that "The finite cannot contain the infinite" and point to the Trinity and the hypostatic union of Christ, stating that both of these deny rationalistic thought, and state that Christians who do not believe in the literal presence of Christ are championing rationality over the plain words of Scripture.

In fairness, let me say that the denegrating of the Sacraments to being "merely symbolic" on the part of many Protestants doesn't help this argument, as treating them as nothing but symbolic by a good number of churches has caused at times a flippancy to the Lord's table (I once read of a pastor doing communion with pizza and coke).
 

KaphLamedh

Puritan Board Freshman
1.) They point to the early church fathers and indicate that their rhetoric concerning the Lord's Supper is not taken as symbolic (In line with their basis of Jesus' words "This is my body.")

But they forget that Jesus was still in human body. Why they take literally that when Jesus says that bread is His body? He said also that he is the way and door of lambs.
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
1.) They point to the early church fathers and indicate that their rhetoric concerning the Lord's Supper is not taken as symbolic (In line with their basis of Jesus' words "This is my body.")

But they forget that Jesus was still in human body. Why they take literally that when Jesus says that bread is His body? He said also that he is the way and door of lambs.

The response usually has to do with hypostatic union.
 

KaphLamedh

Puritan Board Freshman
1.) They point to the early church fathers and indicate that their rhetoric concerning the Lord's Supper is not taken as symbolic (In line with their basis of Jesus' words "This is my body.")

But they forget that Jesus was still in human body. Why they take literally that when Jesus says that bread is His body? He said also that he is the way and door of lambs.

The response usually has to do with hypostatic union.

Yes, you're right.
 
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