A Laymen’s Commentary on the Augsburg Confession: Both Kinds in the Sacrament

This is part 23 of 27 in the series A Layman's Commentary on the Augsburg Confession

Article XXII: Of Both Kinds in the Sacrament.

1] To the laity are given Both Kinds in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, because this usage has the commandment of the Lord in Matt. 26:27: Drink ye all of it, 2] where Christ has manifestly commanded concerning the cup that all should drink. 3] And lest any man should craftily say that this refers only to priests, Paul in 1 Cor. 11:27 recites an example from which it appears that the whole congregation did use both kinds. 4] And this usage has long remained in the Church, nor is it known when, or by whose authority, it was changed; although Cardinal Cusanus mentions the time 5] when it was approved. Cyprian in some places testifies that the blood was given to the people. 6] The same is testified by Jerome, who says: The priests administer the Eucharist, and distribute the blood of Christ to the people. Indeed, Pope Gelasius 7] commands that the Sacrament be not divided (dist. II., De Consecratione, cap. Comperimus). 8] Only custom, not so ancient, has it otherwise. But it is evident 9] that any custom introduced against the commandments of God is not to be allowed, as the Canons witness (dist. III., cap. Veritate, and the following chapters). 10] But this custom has been received, not only against the Scripture, but also against the old Canons 11] and the example of the Church. Therefore, if any preferred to use both kinds of the Sacrament, they ought not to have been compelled with offense to their consciences to do otherwise. And because the division 12] of the Sacrament does not agree with the ordinance of Christ, we are accustomed to omit the procession, which hitherto has been in use.

In the Roman Catholic churches of Luther’s day, only one kind of sacrament (the host) was given to the laity.  The priests consumed both the host and the cup. However, in the Lutheran churches both the body and blood are given the the laity.  Thus the Lutheran’s needed to discuss why they made this change.

Christ clearly says that everyone is to drink the cup (Matthew 26:26-29).  However, One could point out that only the Apostles received the cup at the Last Supper.  Thus we need to go to St. Paul who makes it clear that everyone is receiving both kinds in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).  If this was wrong St. Paul would have reprimanded them as he reprimands them for everything else.  Furthermore, the ancient church gave out both kinds. In continuation of this, the Eastern Church gives out both kinds too.

Christ says for all to eat and drink.  We should listen to Christ. No one can be compelled by Scripture to only give out one kind.

In addition, we should not separate the body and blood in the Sacrament.  They are to be taken together. Likewise in Corpus Christi it should be both the body and blood paraded and consumed.  Dividing the two is not right, nor is simply parading around the Sacrament without consuming it.  Christ says to eat and drink, so we must do what He commands.

That being said if you receive one kind of the Sacrament you receive the whole Christ.  So if you must receive one kind for various reasons you need not burden your conscience.  This should be a rare exception, not the rule.  Normally you should receive both in accord with the Lord’s command.

The Confutation disagrees and says that from ancient times the laity have never received the wine.  Even more than that they should not because there is a chance of spilling the Sacrament or of the wine going bad.  Also, the institution of one kind was to confess against those who claimed you had to receive both to have the Sacrament (i.e. strong adiaphora).  The Apology responds thusly:

1] It cannot be doubted that it is godly and in accordance with the institution of Christ and the words of Paul to use both parts in the Lord’s Supper. For Christ instituted both parts, and instituted them not for a part of the Church, but for the entire Church. For not only the presbyters, but the entire Church uses the Sacrament by the authority of Christ, and not by human authority; and this, 2] we suppose, the adversaries acknowledge. Now, if Christ has instituted it for the entire Church, why is one kind denied to a part of the Church? Why is the use of the other kind prohibited? Why is the ordinance of Christ changed, especially when He Himself calls it His testament? But if it is not allowable to annul man’s testament, much less will it be allowable to annul the testament of Christ. 3] And Paul says, 1 Cor. 11:23ff, that he had received of the Lord that which he delivered. But he had delivered the use of both kinds, as the text, 1 Cor. 11, clearly shows. This do [in remembrance of Me], he says first concerning His body; afterwards he repeats the same words concerning the cup [the blood of Christ]. And then: Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. [Here he names both.] These are the words of Him who has instituted the Sacrament. And, indeed, he says before that those who will use the Lord’s Supper should use both. 4] It is evident, therefore, that the Sacrament was instituted for the entire Church. And the custom still remains in the Greek churches, and also once obtained in the Latin churches, as Cyprian and Jerome testify. For thus Jerome says on Zephaniah: The priests who administer the Eucharist, and distribute the Lord’s blood to the people, etc. The Council of Toledo gives the same testimony. Nor would it be difficult to accumulate a great multitude of testimonies. 5] Here we exaggerate nothing; we but leave the prudent reader to determine what should be held concerning the divine ordinance [whether it is proper to prohibit and change an ordinance and institution of Christ].

6] The adversaries in the Confutation do not endeavor to [comfort the consciences or] excuse the Church, to which one part of the Sacrament has been denied. This would have been becoming to good and religious men. For a strong reason for excusing the Church, and instructing consciences to whom only a part of the Sacrament could be granted, should have been sought. Now these very men maintain that it is right to prohibit the other part, and forbid that the use of both parts be allowed. 7] First, they imagine that, in the beginning of the Church, it was the custom at some places that only one part was administered. Nevertheless they are not able to produce any ancient example of this matter. But they cite the passages in which mention is made of bread, as in Luke 24:35, where it is written that the disciples recognized Christ in the breaking of bread. They quote also other passages, Acts 2:42,46; 20:7, concerning the breaking of bread. But although we do not greatly oppose if some receive these passages as referring to the Sacrament, yet it does not follow that one part only was given, because, according to the ordinary usage of language, by the naming of one part the other is also signified. 8] They refer also to Lay Communion, which was not the use of only one kind, but of both; and whenever priests are commanded to use Lay Communion [for a punishment are not to consecrate themselves, but to receive Communion, however, of both kinds, from another], it is meant that they have been removed from the ministry of consecration. Neither are the adversaries ignorant of this, but they abuse the ignorance of the unlearned, who, when they hear of Lay Communion, immediately dream of the custom of our time, by which only a part of the Sacrament is given to the laymen.

9] And consider their impudence. Gabriel recounts among other reasons why both parts are not given that a distinction should be made between laymen and presbyters. And it is credible that the chief reason why the prohibition of the one part is defended is this, namely, that the dignity of the order may be the more highly exalted by a religious rite. To say nothing more severe, this is a human design; and whither this tends can easily be judged. 10] In the Confutation they also quote concerning the sons of Eli that, after the loss of the high-priesthood, they were to seek the one part pertaining to the priests, 1 Sam. 2:36 (the text reads: Every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest’s offices (German: Lieber, lass mich zu einem Priesterteil) that I may eat a piece of bread]. Here they say that the use of one kind was signified. And they add: “Thus, therefore, our laymen ought also to be content, with one part pertaining to the priests, with one kind.” The adversaries [the masters of the Confutation are quite shameless, rude asses, and] are clearly trifling when they are transferring the history of the posterity of Eli to the Sacrament. The punishment of Eli is there described. Will they also say this, that as a punishment the laymen have been removed from the other part? [They are quite foolish and mad.] The Sacrament was instituted to console and comfort terrified minds, when they believe that the flesh of Christ, given for the life of the world, is food, when they believe that, being joined to Christ [through this food], they are made alive. But the adversaries argue that laymen are removed from the other part as a punishment. “They ought,” they say, “to be content.” 11] This is sufficient for a despot. [That, surely, sounds proud and defiant enough.] But [my lords, may we ask the reason] why ought they? “The reason must not be asked, but let whatever the theologians say be law.” [Is whatever you wish and whatever you say to be sheer truth? See now and be astonished how shameless and impudent the adversaries are: they dare to set up their own words as sheer commands of lords; they frankly say: The laymen must be content. But what if they must not?] This is a concoction of Eck. For we recognize those vainglorious words, which if we would wish to criticize, there would be no want of language. For you see how great the impudence is. He commands, as a tyrant in the tragedies: “Whether they wish or not, 12] they must be content.” Will the reasons which he cites excuse, in the judgment of God, those who prohibit a part of the Sacrament, and rage against men using an entire Sacrament? [Are they to take comfort in the fact that it is recorded concerning the sons of Eli: They will go begging? That will be a shuffling excuse at the judgment seat of God.] 13] If they make the prohibition in order that there should be a distinguishing mark of the order, this very reason ought to move us not to assent to the adversaries, even though we would be disposed in other respects to comply with their custom. There are other distinguishing marks of the order of priests and of the people, but it is not obscure what design they have for defending this distinction so earnestly. That we may not seem to detract from the true worth of the order, we will not say more concerning this shrewd design.

14] They also allege the danger of spilling and certain similar things, which do not have force sufficient 15] to change the ordinance of Christ. [They allege more dreams like these, for the sake of which it would be improper to change the ordinance of Christ.] And, indeed, if we assume that we are free to use either one part or both, how can the prohibition [to use both kinds] be defended? Although the Church does not assume to itself the liberty to convert the ordinances of Christ into 16] matters of indifference. We indeed excuse the Church which has borne the injury [the poor consciences which have been deprived of one part by force], since it could not obtain both parts; but the authors who maintain that the use of the entire Sacrament is justly prohibited, and who now not only prohibit, but even excommunicate and violently persecute those using an entire Sacrament, we do not excuse. Let them see to it how they will give an account to God for their decisions. 17] Neither is it to be judged immediately that the Church determines or approves whatever the pontiffs determine, especially since Scripture prophesies concerning the bishops and pastors to effect this as Ezekiel 7:26 says: The Law shall perish from the priest [there will be priests or bishops who will know no command or law of God].

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession Article XXII (X)

It is clear that the Roman Catholics only kept the kinds divided as a power play and to distinguish the priests from the laity.  They had no Scriptural basis to stand on.  Fortunately, we can rejoice that this abuse has finally been corrected with the advent of Vatican II which permitted the giving of both kinds to the laity.  We can only hope that time will produce more repentance about the other abuses which we will cover next.

1 Draw near and take the body of the Lord,
And drink the holy blood for you outpoured;
Offered was He for greatest and for least,
Himself the victim and Himself the priest.

2 He who His saints in this world rules and shields,
To all believers life eternal yields;
With heav’nly bread He makes the hungry whole,
Gives living waters to the thirsting soul.

3 Come forward then with faithful hearts sincere,
And take the pledges of salvation here.
O Lord, our hearts with grateful thanks endow
As in this feast of love You bless us now.

(LSB 637)

About Dr. Paul Edmon

Dr. Paul Edmon is from Seattle, Washington and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He is professional staff at Harvard University and acts as liaison between Center for Astrophysics and Research Computing. A life long Lutheran, he is formerly a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle and University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis. He now attends First Lutheran Church (FLC) of Boston where he teaches Lutheran Essentials. He sings bass in the FLC choir and Canto Armonico. He was elected to the Concordia Seminary St. Louis Board of Regents in 2016. He is single and among his manifold interests are scotch, football, anime, board games, mythology, history, philosophy, and general nerdiness. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent Harvard University or Concordia Seminary. Twitter: @pauledmon

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