Objective vs Subjective presence in the Lord's Supper

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ERK

Puritan Board Freshman
I was reading an article earlier that was comparing the different views of "real" presence in the Lord's Supper from various traditions. They claimed that, whatever sense Christ is really present, He is only objectively present in the Lutheran view. I believe the argument was that the other traditions make the real presence of Christ subject to either a miracle performed by a priest (Roman Catholic), or the faith of the recipient (Reformed), rather than the promise of God in His word.

This was confusing to me because it was claiming that Christ's real presence is dependent on the faith in the recipient in the Reformed view. They then argued that the promises associated with the Supper cannot be really made unless Christ is really present regardless of the faith in the hearers, and that the condemnation received through unworthy participation could not be possible unless Christ was really present in some sense in the Supper.

I was under the impression that the words of institution conveyed the real presence (spiritually) of Christ in the sacrament, and that faith was the instrumental cause of truly receiving the thing signified. Not that faith was what made Christ really present in the Supper in a subjective sense.

Also to the point of unworthy participation... does Christ need to be really received (somehow) without faith in the recipient in order for it to be condemnation on themselves? I don't think that unbelievers are able to receive Christ in the Supper in a real sense, but is a real reception of Christs real presence what makes the participation lead to condemnation? Or is it simply remaining under condemnation on the basis of rejecting Christ because of the absence of faith?
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
According to the Lutheran view, Christ is not only objectively present in the Lord's Supper, but also in common household objects. That's what it means to be ubiquitous, after all.
According to Beza's doctrine of the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Supper contains a conditional promise. So the body and blood of Christ are really offered to all, whether or not they partake worthily. However, only those who are really united to Christ do partake of his body. So the promise is objective, but conditional.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Also helpful is Beza's Catechism on the Sacraments, although it covers very different territory than the Treatise on the Lord's Supper, which is specifically a polemic against the Lutheran view. The Catechism covers more aspects of his doctrine; the Treatise is a master class in polemics and gives more detail on the specific matter of the words of institution and the manner of Christ's presence.
The Catechism is here.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I don't know that I have an answer to your question at the moment, but I recommend the book, Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper by Keith Mathison which I'm working through and I believe would help to answer it.

By the way, glad to see there is another Reformed church in Tucker. I was sad that our presbytery ended up having to close the first Presbyterian church founded in Tucker, an ARP Church, due to some internal issues. In fact I believe the PC(USA) church in Tucker split from them, which usually the mainline church was formed first. I have family in the area and would like to see more faithful churches up there.
 

ERK

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't know that I have an answer to your question at the moment, but I recommend the book, Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper by Keith Mathison which I'm working through and I believe would help to answer it.

By the way, glad to see there is another Reformed church in Tucker. I was sad that our presbytery ended up having to close the first Presbyterian church founded in Tucker, an ARP Church, due to some internal issues. In fact I believe the PC(USA) church in Tucker split from them, which usually the mainline church was formed first. I have family in the area and would like to see more faithful churches up there.

Yes! Tucker Presbyterian is a PCA church plant out of Westminster Presbyterian. We’ve been going for a few months now. It’s been great so far!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
The WCF summarizes the Reformed view:
CHAPTER XXVII.
Of the Sacraments.


I. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits, and to confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.


II. There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.


III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

Note that a Sacrament actually conveys the graces signified to those to whom the graces belong.

It is a way of stating that the Holy Spirit confers the graces to the elect who, by union with Christ, receive the graces signified in a Sacrament.

So what does the Lord's Supper signify?

I. Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord's Supper, to be observed in his Church unto the end of the world; for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death, the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

In summary, only those in union with Christ participate in these benefits.
 
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