Great Stuff — Where’s the cup? – The chalice in the celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar

Another great post found on Pastor Surburg’s blog, Surburg.blogspot.com:

 

PrSurburg“In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink of it all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” We hear these words every Sunday in the second half of the Words of Institution as our Lord uses wine to give us His true blood.  Jesus’ words are quite specific as He refers to “this cup.”  Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Altar in the setting of a Passover meal.  The New Testament clearly indicates that our Lord had the disciples share in common a cup that He was using (see Luke 22:17 where Jesus speaks about an earlier cup in the Passover meal).

We do not know what this cup was made of, though clay and glass cups were common in first century A.D. Palestine. What we do know is that almost immediately the use of a common cup became a feature of early Christian worship and was important for understanding the nature and character of the Sacrament.  Paul emphasized the unity created by the Sacrament when he told the Corinthians, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

Paul’s words focused on the body of Christ.  However the use of a common cup quickly became important to the Church as she thought about the unity of the Sacrament.  In the early second century A.D. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, “Be careful therefore to use one Eucharist, for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup for union with his blood, one altar, there is one bishop with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow servants, in order that whatever you do you may do it according unto God” (To the Philadelphians, 4.1).

Cups for use in the Sacrament could be made out of glass or stone, but soon the use of gold and silver became typical, even before Christianity became legal.  During the persecution by the Emperor Diocletian, in 303 AD Roman authorities confiscated the property of a church in North Africa and found chalices made of gold and silver.  After Christianity became legal in 313 AD and was then supported by the Emperor Constantine, these chalices became more valuable and ornate.  Sometimes they were quite large and had handles attached to the sides.

During the medieval period the celebration of the Sacrament became something that people watched, rather than the gift of receiving the body and blood of Christ.  When they did receive the Sacrament they only received the body of Christ (often called “communion in one kind”). As a result handles disappeared and chalices became smaller since usually only the priest handled and drank from it. The Lutheran Reformation restored the blood of Christ to the people in the celebration of the Sacrament as Christians again began to receive both body and blood.  Because the chalice was used to hold the blood of Christ, Lutheran chalices continued the tradition of finally crafted vessels made of silver or gold. [endnote 1]

Lutherans continued in the confession of the catholic (universal) Church that the Sacrament is the true body and blood of Christ.  However, churches that originated in the Reformed and radical portions of the Reformation denied this.  These churches believed that the Sacrament was symbolic and that there was nothing more present than bread and wine. Because the Sacrament was held to be a symbol of unity and not the means that creates it through the true body and blood of Christ, it is not surprising that it was this tradition that produced something completely new in the celebration of the Sacrament.  During the 1890’s several Congregational, Presbyterian and Baptist congregations in the United States began using individual communion cups held in a tray.  This change was prompted by concerns about hygiene and disease.

After arising in this setting, during the twentieth century individual cups (now usually disposable plastic) have become very common in Lutheran churches.  In fact the congregation where I grew up and the first two parishes that I have served as pastor have only had individual cups. This is surprising for several reasons.  First, it is a practice that has its source in a completely foreign theology which does not confess the presence of the body and blood of Christ. Second, it is a new practice that deviates from two thousand years of catholic practice in the Church.  Third, studies have shown that the chalice is not more prone to pass on illness because of the silver and gold of the chalice, the alcohol in the wine and the turning and wiping of the chalice.  At the same time, the fact that the lip of every individual cup has already been handled by those preparing the Sacrament (not to mention the fact that the plastic cup does not have the same preventive qualities) is often overlooked when people consider the individual cup to be more hygienic.

In response to the request from congregation members, Good Shepherd , Marion, IL will introduce the use of the chalice during this summer.  There are several reasons for this.  First, it corresponds to our Lord’s own practice when He instituted the Sacrament and avoids the ironic situation in which the pastor says, “In the same way also He took the cup after supper,” when in fact there is no single cup present at the altar. Second, it corresponds to the catholic practice of the Church which has used a common cup for two thousand years. Third, while the Sacrament is far more than a symbol, the use of a common cup does effectively convey the unity created by the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament. It is an important part of the ceremony of the liturgy – the movements by the pastor, the way the communion ware is handled, the vestments, paraments, candles, etc. The ceremony of the liturgy adorns the Means of Grace and sets them before us.  The use of a single cup communicates the truth of God’s Word that the Sacrament joins us together.  It is the Sacrament of unity.

We recognize that there will be congregation members who continue to have concerns about hygiene issues related to the use of the chalice.  For this reason Good Shepherd will continue to use individual cups in addition to adding the chalice.  The chalice will receive the primary role during the consecration, and then both chalice and individual cups will be used in distributing Christ’s blood.



[1] For an immensely helpful discussion of this and many other aspects of the celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar in the history of the Church, see: Edward Foley, From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist (rev. and exp. edition; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008).

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff — Where’s the cup? – The chalice in the celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar — 38 Comments

  1. The worlds of institution for our modern times:

    Jesus took artisan gluten-free bread and having given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body. Also it has 32 calories, and chew carefully so as not to choke”

    He then took a cup, and opened up a package of little plastic cups and carefully poured from the larger cup to the smaller ones, and when he had given thanks, saying “Drink from the little cups, all of you. They are recyclable in areas where recycling facilities exist.”

    Do this in remembrance of me.

  2. I completely agree that the biblical, original and therefore best practice is the use of a common chalice in the administration of the Lord’s Supper. I too grew up in a Lutheran church that did not even offer a chalice, but rather used only plastic communion cups. (And being cheap Germans the Altar Guild even washed all the plastic cups and reused them again.)
    I do have a question though. What is the best practice with the host? Does not St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:17 say “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” Jesus more than likely used one piece of bread and broke it to give it to his disciples to eat (Luke 22:19). Would that not imply that the most correct practice should be one host that is consecrated and then broken and distributed? Please don’t take my question to be desiring to argue against the use of the chalice, it is just a question that has been rolling around in my mind lately.

  3. From the main post: “Third, studies have shown that the chalice is not more prone to pass on illness because of the silver and gold of the chalice, the alcohol in the wine and the turning and wiping of the chalice.”

    One peer-reviewed journal article that I am aware characterizes prior studies rather differently:

    Bacteriological experiments have shown that the occasional transmission of micro-organisms is unaffected by the alcoholic content of the wine, the constituent material of the cup or the practice of partially rotating it, but is appreciably reduced when a cloth is used to wipe the lip of the cup between communicants.

    (Emphasis added. Excerpted from:
    J Infect. 1988 Jan;16(1):3-23. The hazard of infection from the shared communion cup. Gill ON.)

    A group of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control write this:

    Experimental studies have shown that bacteria and viruses can contaminate a common communion cup and survive despite the alcohol content of the wine. [However,] the risk for infectious disease transmission by a common communion cup is very low, and appropriate safeguards–that is, wiping the interior and exterior rim between communicants, use of care to rotate the cloth during use, and use of a clean cloth for each service–would further diminish this risk. In addition, churches may wish to consider advising their congregations that sharing the communion cup is discouraged if a person has an active respiratory infection (ie, cold or flu) or moist or open sores on their lips (eg, herpes).

    (Excerpted from: American Journal of Infection Control October 1998 * Volume 26 * Number 5
    Risk of Infectious Disease Transmission from a Common Communion Cup)

  4. Thanks, Pastor Surburg, for the good overview of the historical use of the chalice. Would you consider amending “Paul emphasized the unity created by the Sacrament…” to “Paul emphasized the unity expressed by the sharing of the Sacrament when he told the Corinthians…”? I believe that the difference between “unity created” and “unity expressed” is important as we address the practice of ‘open communion’ among us.

  5. We probably encounter more bacteria and viruses when we shake hands and hug during the sharing of the Peace. I receive from the common cup, but I noticed that my sons use the individual cups. I asked them why, and they said “because that is what is offered first.”

  6. My mother’s congregation uses a common cup but insists that everyone intinct, and intinction actually increases the possibility of communicating disease. Hands are filthy.

  7. I have been communing for over 57 years, including at congregations that offered the cup, only, the cup and individual cups, and individual cups, only. I took from the cup, when offered.

    I just can’t get all concerned about cup v glasses. Do you think that the glasses jump into the trays on their own? People put them there. Sometimes the pastor hands the glasses to the person who is communing.

    Folks seem to have no problem shaking hands with the pastor (thus shaking hands with everyone who’s shaken hands with him before you), then going for fellowship, eating a donut, then licking their fingers.

    Don’t we go to a restaurant, being ignorant of the health of the cooks and food servers?

    I wonder whether I stand a better chance of getting ill from the person behind me sneezing/coughing, or from the cup/glass when partaking of Holy Communion. But then, I really don’t think about it. If I did, I’d never go to church, much less partake of Holy Communion.

  8. I wrote this stuff on a previous post, but anyone approaching the altar worrying about whether the body and blood of their crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ is pure enough to touch their sinful lips has some profound theological issues. This “concern” turns reality on its head. Like Moses kneeling before the burning bush, or Isaiah facing God on His throne, the communicant is in the very physical presence of the God who created the heavens and the earth. The filthiest thing at the communion rail is me. Like Isaiah I need to be made pure by God. This is not the time or place to be worrying about whether Christ’s blood is harboring germs, and only someone who had totally lost all conception of what is happening in the mass could think like that.

    I am also bothered by the unstated assumption that we as a scientific culture understand germs in a way that Jesus (the Author of creation after all) did not. Did Christ’s true humanity limit His divine knowledge of His creation to the extent that He instituted the Sacrament of His body and blood in a form that hurt His bride the Church? Was Jesus “2,000 years dumber” than we are about human physiology in His true humanity? My answer is absolutely not. Luther lapped the consecrated wine he had spilled from the dusty stone floor in front of the altar not because he didn’t understand germs, but because he did understand that, in the case of the sacramental union, the finite contains the infinite.

    Still, this is not a damning issue, but an impoverishing one, and w/ patient catechesis we can make the individual cups go away in a few generations. That would be my suggestion and my prayer for our churches.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  9. @Erich #7

    We use inctinction with the common cup in our Sunday evening service, though it is the pastor who dips the wafer into the wine for each communicant. Only one set of (hopefully clean) hands on the chalice.

    And thanks to the author, who brought this good point back into the light, once again.

  10. @Brad #10

    Well, that is the way it’s supposed to be done if intincting, but sadly one sees people being handed the Body of Christ and dipping their fingers along with the Host as they dribble the Blood of Christ across the floor and communion rail on the way to their mouths.

    @Matthew Mills #9

    Your comment reminds me of a friend of mine, who was an alcoholic. He used to sip from the cup without fear of a relapse. He’d say there is nothing in the Blood of Christ that can harm me.

    You are correct we are the filthiest things at the communion rail.

  11. Another problem with the individual cups that gets overlooked is how are they disposed of. Does the remainder get dumped down the drain? Are they just tossed in the trash? As an Elder, making sure that this true blood of Christ gets properly & reverently treated is no easy task. If I had my way, my congregation would give up the practice of individual cups altogether!!!

  12. I wrote in the previous thread, but I will mention these things here. Please read all of this with an encouraging and optimistic tone. (these are not theses)

    1) Let the common cup be found in all congregations, now and until Christ comes again.

    2) For the disposal of the common cups – let us rejoice that you recognize the real presence of Jesus. Nevertheless, let us be mindful not to fall into the false teaching of transubstantiation. That which you received for the forgiveness of sins is the blood of Christ. That which goes down the drain is the elements. It should still be done respectfully, by all means. Let your conscience be at peace.

    3) Regarding the cleaning of the individual cups – Let us refrain from grumbling (1 Cor 10:10, James 5:9), but serve the Lord in gladness. If the joy of the real presence is abounding, let us carry that joy into the sacristy.

    4) Regarding the gluten free, etc.
    “Dr. C. F. W. Walther, in his Pastoral Theology, wrote concerning the kind of grain from which
    the flour for the bread has been prepared: “It is an adiaphoron whether the bread be leavened, whether
    it be rye, wheat, barley, or oats bread, and whether it have this or that form, so long only as it is baked
    of grain flour and water.”
    – it would helpful and Godly not to reference these things in a mocking, disdainful, or condescending manner. Let us rejoice that God has provided a way to receive the body of Christ in a healthy manner.

    5) Regarding the recycling of cups. It would be helpful and Godly not to reference these things in a mocking or disdainful manner. This is not the ideology of a free-love-liberal-hippie. All Christians are called to care for God’s creation, just as Adam was called to work the garden of Eden. Let us rejoice that God has given his creation continued means to care for it.
    http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=341 – a must read!

    6) I will forever encourage those who go to the Lord’s supper to recognize the real presence of Christ, as well as the sinfulness of the individual at the rail

    7) We would be well not to turn the chalice into a golden calf. What is a great symbol of unity, and A container for the real presence of God, is not the means of Grace. Just as Luther was not concerned about germs as he lapped the spilled blood from the dusty stone, he CLEARLY was not concerned about the container at that moment.

    8) For all the talk about humility at the altar and the real presence, it seems to be missed that the forgiveness of sins is in the elements, not in the containers. It’s about the body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Blood blood blood blood blood blood blood. Not cup cup cup cup cup.
    Those who are receiving the body and blood are receiving the same Jesus. The cup/s do not affect their salvation. Let us not be disdainful of our brothers at the rail.

    9) The error of transubstantiation may be seen when people say “nothing in the blood/body of Christ can hurt me. The blood is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, but it is not something out of Indiana Jones. To pour it on a wound will not cause it to close up. Remember, that it has not ceased to be bread and wine. Those with wine and gluten allergies should be encouraged and cared for, body and soul. (5th commandment) To suggest that the wine cannot be contaminated is to essentially claim a transubstantiation error.

    10) The Lord’s supper is both vertical and horizontal. To be mindful of one’s own physical health, is Godly, so too is it to be mindful of others and their physical health. Regardless of shaking hands or any other neglect, there is nothing unholy about care and concern for cleanliness. Read up on all the purity laws in the Old Testament to see how God acted towards physical uncleanliness. Moreover, those who are concerned with such things, in Love for their neighbor and in proper care for ones self should be encouraged.

    11) To speak of best practice and to ignore the wafers is odd. But the strangest thing is how the LCMS has no trouble with the various modes of Baptism, and yet continues to be schismatic concerning individual cups. The same grace is offered in immersion and a sprinkling. The same blood of Christ is offered in a single cup, as well as a common cup. The symbol of unity is arguably stronger in the cup, but so too is the symbol for the drowning of the old Adam in immersion. I don’t believe there can be a solid argument of practice for the sake of symbols, particularly when the Christ is truly present. The early church may have used one cup, but they also baptized in rivers. I don’t think anyone would want to be dunked in the Ganges, if they had a choice. Nevertheless, the church today is well to use it’s own Lectionary, Liturgical colors, English, and other things not found by Ignatius.

    12) To suggest Christ was dumber 2000 years ago is just as troubling as to say Christ lacked the foresight to provide for the health and well-being of his church 2000 years later. Christ probably saw the difference between him and his 12, as opposed to a group of 500. I don’t know if the early church had the same problem with Cold sores and Hep. But I can see a Jesus who provides ways to protect his people from these things, and still share in Holy Communion.
    .
    13) To say “someone who had totally lost all conception of what is happening in the mass could think like that,” is unhelpful at best. It’s insulting, broadly cast, and antagonistic. Furthermore, to say this means the person is not receiving the supper worthily (recognizing their own sin) and means they are heaping damnation upon their own heads. So you would be accusing those of coming to the table of sinning against the body and blood. If this is the case, then it would be appropriate to take a larger stand on this. I don’t see how one could attend a church with individual cups, if this is what is thought – much less commune with someone they perceive in such a way.

    14) Perhaps it may be useful to view this in light of Romans 14. Though i’m sure both groups view themselves as “strong.” – If such is the case, let those who are strong in the Lord drink from the common cup. And let us rejoice in those strong in the Lord to share the blood of Christ through an individual, recyclable cup.

  13. @Quasicelsus #13
    Your #2 has never been Lutheran doctrine. We don’t consecrate the elements in order to parade them, or use them outside of the context in which they were given, but what makes you say “That which goes down the drain is the elements”? To talk about the elements somehow losing the presence of Christ’s body and blood is at best extra-Biblical speculation. That’s why consecrated wine doesn’t ever go “down the drain” but into a piscina where the pipes go directly into the ground, and not into the sewage system. The reason the Church has always disposed of consecrated elements in the same way we would dispose of a human body (into the earth) is because we acknowledge that there is no reason to assume or assert that they no longer contain the body and blood of Christ.

    This point has absolutely nothing to do w/ transubstantiation btw.
    #2 isn’t the only problem in what you’ve written, but it’s all I’ve got time for on my lunch break.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  14. @Matthew Mills #15

    Everything you’re saying is what I’d hear from a transubstantiation theology. There is a great mystery in the sacrament, and a great miracle happens, but it’s not like a magic formula. We have no bell to ring, as the papists do. The wine in the sacristy is unchanged. There’s no intrinsic power of an altar or radius of casting a spell. The blood of Christ is FOR YOU and the forgiveness of your sins! And you can trust God to keep his promise for that. The blood of Christ is not for the reliquary, the sink, the ground, or the mop. The promise of Christ is for you.

  15. FC SD VII 14-15

    14] They confess, according to the words of Irenaeus, that in this Sacrament there are two things, a heavenly and an earthly. Accordingly, they hold and teach that with the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ are truly and essentially present, offered, and received. And although they believe in no transubstantiation, that is, an essential transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, nor hold that the body and blood of Christ are included in the bread localiter, that is, locally, or are otherwise permanently united therewith apart from the use of the Sacrament, yet they concede that through the sacramental union the bread is the body of Christ, etc. [that when the bread is offered, the body of Christ is at the same time present, and is truly tendered]. 15]For apart from the use, when the bread is laid aside and preserved in the sacramental vessel [the pyx], or is carried about in the procession and exhibited, as is done in popery, they do not hold that the body of Christ is present.

  16. @Quasicelsus #17
    If you’re going to quote FC SD VII 14-15, you need to at least read 13 first:
    “We have heard how Mr. Martin Bucer explained his own opinion, and that of the other preachers who came with him from the cities, concerning the holy Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, namely, as follows:” …
    FC SD VII 14-15 does not state the Lutheran position, but the position of Martin Bucer; It is part of a discussion of the recent history. Bucer wasn’t a Lutheran, and Luther rejected Bucer’s attempt to unify Protestantism by combining Lutheran and Reformed doctrine. You are quoting the opinion of a heterodox theologian.
    You might want to read this: http://weedon.blogspot.com/2007/02/reliquae.html
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  17. Maybe you will like

    Pieper (vol. III, p. 354 note 95) adds: “If a wafer happens to fall to the floor during the distribution, or some of the wine is spilled, Christ’s body does not fall to the ground, nor is Christ’s blood spilled, since extra usum a Christo institutum no unio sacramentalis obtains.” That is, outside the use for which it was instituted by Christ, there is no sacramental union between Christ’s person and the consecrated elements.

  18. @Quasicelsus #19
    If you’re going to quote FC SD VII 14-15, you need to at least read 13 first:
    “We have heard how Mr. Martin Bucer explained his own opinion,…

    Maybe Pieper read 14-15 as Lutheran??? 🙁

    Luther himself was much more concerned about a spill, we are told.

    “During the distribution” would not fall “outside the use for which it was instituted”.

    If everything is not consumed, it should at least be handled reverently.
    The chalice and cups should be rinsed and (lacking a piscina), the water poured on clean ground.
    It should not be poured into the common drain. Then the receptacles can be washed with soap and hot water. (I am assuming glass individual cups.)

  19. @Quasicelsus #19
    Pieper is not the only later Lutheran with a receptionist view of the Lord’s Supper, even Pr. Loehe had some of it in him. We live in a fallen and broken world. Still, that does not make receptionism the Confessional Lutheran position. Compare Pieper to Luther lapping the blood of Christ off a dusty floor like a dog. Christ did not say “What you drink, that is my blood,” but “Drink from it all of you – THIS CUP IS the new testament in my blood.”

    I tend to see this discussion as one more piece of evidence that different practices, though they are not damning in themselves, generally come from different theologies.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  20. @helen #20

    I learned this, as I remember it, out of an Altar Guild Book about 40 years ago. The book was published by CPH. I hope it’s still in print.

    I read the Weedon piece just now. Weedon is sound. A chemist in the comments carries things to extremes, just to mock the whole idea presented.

  21. –Christ did not say “What you drink, that is my blood,” but “Drink from it all of you – THIS CUP IS the new testament in my blood.”– yes, go on. the whole thing.

    Have some Chemnitz

    “Christ says of that which is blessed, which is offered, received, eaten and drunk: “This is My
    body, this is My blood. Therefore when the bread is indeed blessed but neither distributed nor
    received, but enclosed, shown and carried about, it is surely clear that the whole word of
    institution is not added to the element, for this part is lacking: He gave it to them and said, Take and eat. And when the word of institution is incomplete, there. can be no complete Sacrament.”

    it’s the whole deal. that does not make me a receptionist. it’s my typing skills that do that.

  22. @Quasicelsus #23
    Time to read the two letters by Luther that are now referenced also in the Kolb/Wengert edition of art. VII of the SD. Luther takes a couple of pastors to task, if I remember right, who put, after the Supper was all done, consecrated bread back together with unconsecrated bread instead of consuming all that was consecrated at the altar or in the sacristy without mixing the consecrated and unconsecrated. By referencing them in the text of SD VII, the authors of that confession (incl. Chemnitz) clearly showed how they wanted to be understood: no corpus Christi processions, no adoration in the tabernacle, but reverent disposal of all that was consecrated by eating and drinking the leftovers.
    Dr. Stephenson wrote a bit about that in his book on the Lord’s Supper and in an earlier LOGIA article.

  23. And, of course, the Lutherans do/did have the consecration bell to ring. The sacristan was still ringing the consecration bell, kneeling at the right side of the altar, in Leipzig all during Bach’s tenure there. However, the consecration bell was only to bring sharp focus to the whole assembled church, at one time, to the consecration happening at the altar. It was a “hey, pay attention to something very important,” but not part of the understanding about when or if the sacramental union disolves.

  24. The innovators’ mantra has generally been “Evangelical style Lutheran substance,” but time after time we see that just a bit of digging will unearth a theological difference driving the innovation of praxis. “Lex orandi, lex credendi”still appears to hold.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  25. @Quasicelsus #28
    Chemnitz neither wrote in support individual communion cups, nor stated that the reliqae were no longer the body and blood of Christ, so your comment puzzles me. Are you trying to equate Luther’s belief that the reliqae are precisely what Christ says they are (the body and blood of Christ) w/ Roman Catholic Corpus Christi processions? If so, that’s just weird.

    My point is this: we do not agree theologically and disagree on praxis; we disagree on theology, and we both advocate a praxis which is alligned w/ our differing theologies. I am not going to spend a lot of time trying to argue you back to the Confessional Lutheran position on the Lord’s Supper, because that’s pretty clear. If you want to engage in Reformed speculation on whether the reliqae are or are not the body and blood of Christ, go ahead, but you leave Luther, Chemnitz, and the BOC behind when you do so.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  26. In his “Grabau and the Saxon Pastors: The Doctrine of the Holy Ministry, 1840-1845” (Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, 62, 1995, p. 93) William M. Cwirla explained:

    “We might summarize the liturgical distinction between the parties in this way: Grabau worked in the direction lex orandi lex credendi (what is prayed is confessed); the Saxons worked it the other way, lex credendi lex orandi (what is confessed is prayed).”

    In his “Missouri’s Identity Crisis: Rootless in America” (Logia, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2003, p. 39), David P. Scaer explained:

    “Liturgy delivers Christian doctrine to the people, but doctrine and not liturgy, especially when it comes in a variety of shades, is the final arbiter of what the church believes. Lex orandi lex credendi (which is often cited to show that liturgy shapes doctrine) is more correctly interpreted the other way around: dogma is the standard for the liturgy.”

  27. @Carl Vehse #30
    I don’t disagree, but I’d say in practice: theological innovators generally change the liturgy and use that changed liturgy to affect a change in the Church’s doctrine. For the church’s leaders your “lex credendi lex orandi” is probably closer, but for the rank and file the more common “Lex orandi lex credendi” generally applies. I’m not going to lose much sleep over the order though. The two are always pulling together in harness, you can’t change one w/o affecting the other.

  28. Chemnitz is pretty clear on the sacrament. Nothing I have said has been in conflict. Even Luther consuming the wine off the floor is cogent to what Chemnitz and I have stated. – None of which denies the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. To separate the consumption of Christ as a part of the supper (As Chemnitz plainly says) is just as awful to separate good works as a part of Christian living.

    That being said, consuming the relique is great and reverent. Let’s do that. And lets be very very reverent when we do. I don’t think I’ve ever argue for desecrating that which has been set aside for sacred use. (though I feel anything but consumption/piscina would trouble your conscience.)

    Nevertheless, there will be that which is not consumed (like the wine on the purificator, the carpet, etc). And I go to my Chemnitz for that.

    Transubtantiation – and the Thomist/Aristotelion theology that has bread and wine consecrated than paraded, is not the sacrament. I don’t know what Lutheran theologian would think that storing it, smuggling it out and wearing it as a charm, or otherwise not consume it, is any different.

    As Holger noted, Luther was largely and rightfully worried about those that would deny the real presence. Even going so far as to lap up what he could off the floor, lest someone accuse him of denying the real presence. Huzzah to him for doing so.

    The cryptoromanists, on the otherhand, cannot claim Luther, Chemnitz, Pieper, or the BOC either, though many will try. And the hard part about that is this: Their motive is a good one – the desire to be reverent, and recognize the real presence. So I will be had pressed to push them to what other great Lutherans, (and even heretics who make accurate statements Matthew 8:29) have confessed.

  29. @Quasicelsus #32
    Another Luther incident for you from Pr. Weedon’s piece:
    “Dr. Luther, who when the chalice was spilled during distribution in his later years, actually cut out the part of the lady’s dress on which it was spilled and had the chair where the drops fell also planed and then both fabric and wood shavings burned.”

    How does this one fit? Dr. Luther certainly didn’t do this during the distribution.

  30. I’m sorry, I must have missed that part of the Augsburg confession. I do know that he really didn’t like Zwingli and the others. And I know he denied transubstantiation. I can see him being worried about either case. Luther will do floor thing and chastise the congregation in the sacristy to keep them from denying the real presence. Luther can deny someone the satisfaction of thinking they’re smuggling home the blood of their risen lord (or the unwarranted guilt of the damage.

    But he certainly didn’t eat those things.

    Christ says of that which is blessed, which is offered, received, eaten and drunk: “This is My
    body, this is My blood. Therefore when the bread is indeed blessed but neither distributed nor
    received, but enclosed, shown and carried about, it is surely clear that the whole word of
    institution is not added to the element, for this part is lacking: He gave it to them and said, Take and eat. And when the word of institution is incomplete, there. can be no complete Sacrament.

  31. The Cup After Supper can, in fact, refer to the portion of the Passover meal rather than a physical cup. During the Passover meal, there are four cups, four times when everyone drinks from individual cups in most cases. The reference to a cup earlier in the meal references one of these earlier portions of the Passover celebration. The Cup After Supper is also referred to as the Cup of Redemption so it is especially appropriate and meaningful that Jesus chose this time to institute the Lord’s Supper. I will always choose individual cups primarily because I believe that to assume that Jesus used a common cup is a misinterpretation of the scripture rooted in a lack of understanding concerning the Passover.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.