24 September 2007

The Question

On which so many discussions turn is simply this: "What IS the Church?"

How one answers that determines so much! The Lutheran Symbols provide our answer to the question in the Apology. "But the Church is not only the fellowship of outward objects and rites, as other governments, but at its core [principaliter], it is a fellowship of faith [societas fidei] and of the Holy Spirit in hearts." Ap VII/VIII:5

If one grants this, then it is clear why the so-called canonical boundaries [societas externum rerum] are only proximate. There are those within given canonical boundaries that do not partake of the Church's true inner life, her society of faith and the Holy Spirit in the heart. And there are those outside given canonical boundaries who do partake of her inner life, her society of faith and the Holy Spirit in the heart.

This means, it seems to me, that a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the Church itself with any canonical jurisdiction. The Church herself, to whom the promise has been given that the gates of hell will not prevail against her and that she is the pillar and ground of the truth, is not principally this or that jurisdiction, but: "people scattered throughout the whole world. They agree about the Gospel and have the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, and the same Sacraments, whether they have the same or different human traditions." [Ap VII/VIII:10]

When the charge is leveled against this notion that it's mere "idea" - the Apology answers: nonsense! It's not an idea, a platonic state, "But we do say that this Church exists: truly believing and righteous people, scattered throughout the whole world. We add the marks: the pure teaching of the Gospel and the Sacraments. This Church is properly the pillar of the truth. For it keeps the pure Gospel." [Ap. VII/VIII:20]

So when the talk of Church arises, the very first question is NOT "visible or invisible" or any other such thing. The first question is: what do you mean by Church? Until we get that through out heads, we're just talking past each other.

92 comments:

Randy Asburry said...

The challenge, it seems to me, is *not* to drive a wedge between the outward and the inward, when speaking of the Church. Notice the "not only" in what the Apology says: "But the Church is *not only* the fellowship of outward objects and rites, as other governments, but at its core [principaliter], it is a fellowship of faith [societas fidei] and of the Holy Spirit in hearts." (Ap VII/VIII:5, emphasis added)

Clearly, the Apology does not rule out the fellowship of outward objects. It seems to me that it simply reorients the priority: of first importance is the fellowship of faith, then comes the outward fellowship. First and foremost, the Church is the fellowship of those who hear and trust the voice of Good Shepherd Jesus, but it is also, secondarily, an outward fellowship of those gathered around the Gospel and Sacraments. The fellowship of the faith is certainly the essence (esse) of the Church, but the outward fellowship (Christian concord, Communion fellowship, etc.) is also of the welfare (bene esse) of the Church.

It seems to me that while the Medieval Roman Church may have improperly bumped "outward fellowship" up in rank to supplant the "fellowship of faith," we modern Lutherans have gone too far the other way, that is, to the point of practically ignoring and omitting "outward fellowship" in our attempts to hold sacred the "fellowship of the faith."

So, while I certainly rejoice in agree with what you say about the Church being found first and foremost where the Gospel is proclaimed and the Sacraments are given out according to Christ's mandate, I would also say, "Let's not forget the other side of the coin, so to speak. The Church does indeed have an outward element worthy of our discernment and discussion. It may not be the primary element, but it is there nonetheless.

John said...

There is certainly a different facet of the Church being confessed when we ask different questions:

1. Who is a Christian or member of the Church?

2. Where is the Church?

3. What are the marks of the Church?

4. What are the criteria for determining if a mark of the Church is intact?

5. What constitutes the Church?



Related to #5 is this:

If the canon of the New Testament Scriptures were determined by the Church in her tradition, and Scripture is only one subset of tradition, then what are we saying about the Old Testament? Or is it that the Church simply confessed the fulfillment of the Old Testament in recognizing that the canonical books of the New Testament are the Word of God?

6. If this is the case, can the Church (not just a synod) be judged according to Scripture? Or is the Church because of her communion with Christ beyond such.

Christopher Orr said...

of first importance is the fellowship of faith, then comes the outward fellowship...

I wonder if the real question isn't about fellowship, whether outward or of faith (visible or hidden), but about how what we believe the Mystical Body of Christ is; is it physical, spiritual, symbolic, a poetic phrase, etc.?

What parallels might there be between or ecclesiology and our beliefs concerning the Eucharist? How does ecclesiology relate to receptionism, for instance (i.e., my belief makes it real)? How is ecclesiology related to 'improper' peformance of the Eucharist? and the like.

What parallels can be made regarding the people of Israel? Was there an invisible or hidden Israel that Melchisedek was a part of since he was a priest of the Most High God? Or, was there a true boundary line which was the People of Israel, regardless of how God might work extra-ordinarily outside of that gathering?

wm cwirla said...

Amen, William! Couldn't have said it better myself.

"So, while I certainly rejoice in agree with what you say about the Church being found first and foremost where the Gospel is proclaimed and the Sacraments are given out according to Christ's mandate, I would also say, "Let's not forget the other side of the coin, so to speak. The Church does indeed have an outward element worthy of our discernment and discussion. It may not be the primary element, but it is there nonetheless."

The "outward element" is precisely the preached Gospel and administered sacraments (corpus verum). These are what keep the Church from being a "Platonic concept." The "other side of the coin," the "inward element" is faith, which is the union of the believer in Christ in the corpus mysticum.

It's amazing how ecclesiology and Christology are intimately tied together (as Body and Head). Get Christ right, and you get the Church right; get the Church right, and you get Christ right.

William Weedon said...

Randy,

Certainly there should be no wedge driven between the two, but they are to be distinquished without being divided.

John,

The Church as Church does not set herself above that Word that spoke her into life. She lives beneath it and seeks to constantly let it correct, renew, strengthen her.

Christopher,

The Mystical Body of Christ is a "society" that consists of very real people who are bound together by the Holy Spirit of God through His gift of faith that unites them - really and truly - with their Savior so that they are indeed "one body" in and with Him.

Regarding the tie in with the Eucharist, yes, indeed. It is a good way to get at ecclesiology - for St. Paul certainly binds the two together. There is one body because we all eat from the one bread. Receptionism, which you know I reject and abominate, does not teach that the presence of Christ hangs on the faith of the communicant. It asserts that the presence of the Lord's body and blood is certain only in the act of receiving the consecrated elements. If an unbeliever receives the sacred mysteries, a true receptionist would still insist that that unbeliever had eaten and drunk the Lord's body and blood, albeit to his judgment rather than to his blessing.

I think the point of connection then is actually with the notion of the consecration per se. In Lutheranism, as you know, this rests upon the Word and promise of Christ. This is what, joined to the bread and wine, changes them so that they are then the Body and Blood of the Savior. Similarly, the Word and promise of Christ, when joined to the water, makes it be a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a renewal in the Holy Spirit. And so with the person: when the Word has come to them, has engendered faith in them, it transforms them from the society of the world to the society of the Church - the company of those in whose heart the Spirit has wrought faith through the Word and so joined them in the most intimate union with Jesus Christ.

bpw said...

On the subject of the Eucharist being a constitutive element of the "Who or Where is the Church?" may I set up a dilemma and ask for a conclusion?

My dilemma begins with a question, "Does Lutheranism acknowledge the presence of the Eucharist in all liturgies and Eucharistic assemblies (ie. those assemblies that consecrate bread and wine using, at least, the words of our Lord)?"

If the answer to that question is yes (even a qualified yes), then secondly, "Is there one (I don't mean quantitatively but qualitatively) Eucharist in the Church of God or more than one?"

If the answer to that question is one, not more than one, then my final question is, "Why is a person permitted to commune at the "actual" Lord's Supper at one Eucharistic assembly but not another according to some communion policies?"

To be permitted to the one and only Eucharist at one place but not at another strikes me as saying there is more than one (qualitatively) Eucharist instead of just one.

Hence to be allowed to the Eucharist must include one in the Church of God. But to not allowed to commune at another "valid" Eucharist makes the Church more than one (quantitatively).

Christopher Orr said...

"Society" is another word within the "fellowship" paradigm and it just hit me that perhaps this is a place where RC and Orthodox ecclesiologies may unconsciously dissent. A normal body is not a society or fellowship of members after all. Taking the Body of Christ as a metaphor or a 'spiritual' reality dependent on the individual's 'right belief' seems to be part and parcel of the 'fellowship' or 'society' paradigm. Not judging, just noting. A muscular, visible church ecclesiology as found in the RCC or the East seems to be founded within a more 'physical' understanding of the term.

Not sure what to do with it, but it just hit me that one does not usually hear terms such as fellowship and society, etc. as authoritative terms in Orthodox discussions regarding The Church.

William Weedon said...

Bryce,

That is, of course, one of the most painful subjects for Christians to address, as you well know. The divided altar is not "normal" and cannot be accepted as such. It sets before us a task that we cannot avoid addressing and continuing to work out - no matter how hopeless it may appear to human eyes.

Christopher,

Societas, I believe, comes from St. Augustine. It certainly is what runs behind the "city of God" image and fits rather well with Vatican II talk of "the people of God." Note, though, that we are not talking here about people holding the same opinions about this or that as the binding together, but people whose hearts have been bound to the Lord Jesus Christ through a living faith in Him, a faith wrought by the Holy Spirit.

This morning in praying Psalm 136 I thought again of how the image of Og and Bashan are the demon lords who try to possess the Christian and how our Joshua, our Jesus, is sent to vanquish them and their kindred from God's "promised land" - the very heart and life of the Christian. The Church, then, is those in whom the conquering Lord has planted the banner of His cross and begun His task of driving forth all that opposes His kingdom within; the Church is those who own the lordship of the Crucified and Risen King and who pray in union with Him that His Father's good and gracious will be done!

Chris Jones said...

BPW,

It seems to me that the answer to your beginning question is "No". A qualified "No", perhaps, but "No" all the same.

If the Gospel is not rightly preached or the sacraments are not rightly administered, then we are not able to recognize the presence of the Church. And how, if the Eucharist is constitutive of the Church, could a genuine Eucharist exist apart from the Church? So, from a Lutheran perspective, where the marks of the Church are not evident, the Eucharist cannot be relied upon.

We may maintain a charitable agnosticism about the presence of the Church -- and therefore of the Eucharist -- among the outwardly heterodox. But, it seems to me, we cannot positively affirm it.

bpw said...

William,
I agree. What bothers me is the implied doctrine of the Eucharist contained in the practice that I can "validly" commune at the Eucharist at a Lutheran Church but cannot commune at an equally "valid" Eucharist at a non-Lutheran Church. There is only one Eucharist (of course). But to maintain the current practice implies more than one Eucharist.

Chris,
I thought that the AC confessed, "Properly speaking, the church is the assembly of saints and true believers. However, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled with believers, it is allowable to use the sacraments even when they are administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ, “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat,” etc. (Matt. 23:2). 2 Both the sacraments and the Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ even if they are administered by evil men.
Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The Augsburg confession : Translated from the Latin (The Confession of Faith: 2, VIII, 1-2). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

William Weedon said...

Bryce,

Your citations of the AC do not address Chris' point, though, do they? What the AC is addressing is whether within the Church where the Word is purely taught and the sacraments correctly administered an immoral priest would render the sacraments questionable? Their answer is no.

bpw said...

William,
Let's say the first italicized part could be interpreted in that way. But the second italicized part, that "the sacraments and the Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ even if they are administered by evil men", are you saying this doesn't apply to any communion outside of those communions that hold the BoC as their confessional document?

bpw said...

p.s. In other words, can one not use the theo-logic of AC VIII because all "non Lutheran" communions have been excluded by their lack of "the Gospel purely taught and sacraments rightly administered" of AC VII?

William Weedon said...

Bryce,

The point I would want to guard against is that a communion could deny or permit the denial that the bread in the Eucharist is the true body of Christ and still have a "valid Eucharist" because they have the words and the elements. In this regard, the passage in the Symbols that needs attention is SD VII:32.

bpw said...

William,
Would that not rightly be understood as a rejection of a certain doctrine concerning the Eucharist but not a rejection of the "actual" presence of Christ in the Sacrament?

Bryce

p.s. Somehow this seems to be getting a little bit away from my first two posts...but hence, the nature of blogging.

bpw said...

William,
What about SD VII:35?

p.s. for those without there BoC or Librnix handy: "That faith, and not the omnipotent words of Christ’s testament, effect and cause this presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper."
Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The book of concord : The confessions of the evangelical Lutheran church (The Formula of Concord: 1, VII, 35). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

bpw said...

Sorry, but for clarity's sake, the quoted SD VII:35 is a "rejected and condemned" doctrine by the Formula.

Chris Jones said...

Bryce,

My comments are not referring to the moral character or theological opinions of the celebrant, but to the public confession and teaching of the congregation. If what is taught from a congregation's pulpit is not the Catholic faith, and the administration of the sacraments is not according to Catholic order, then I cannot be sure that the congregation is a manifestation of the Catholic Church. That is why I am unable to be confident in the genuineness of the Eucharist offered at its altar. The character of the priest has nothing to do with it, so the issue of Donatism addressed in AC VIII is irrelevant.

To put it another way, a bit more succinctly: it is true that the Eucharist is constitutive of the Church. But the Church which is thus constituted is the Catholic Church, proclaiming the Catholic faith and worshipping according to Catholic order. To suppose that there could be a genuine Eucharist constituting a local Church, which then teaches and lives by a faith other than the Catholic faith, is a contradiction.

bpw said...

Chris,
I think if you connect my last 3-4 disjointed posts, they address, from the BoC, your points.

William Weedon said...

Bryce,

The passage I was referring to from Concordia SD VII:32 (quoting Dr. Luther of blessed memory):

"It does not rest on man's belief or unbelief but on the Word and ordinance of God - ***unless they first change God's Word and ordinance and misinterpret them, as the enemies of the sacrament do at the present time. They, indeed, have only bread and wine, for they do not also have the words and instituted ordinance of God but have perverted and changed it according to their own imagination.***"

Fr John W Fenton said...

This means, it seems to me, that a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the Church itself with any canonical jurisdiction.

If I may, it seems that a Lutheran most certainly does identify the Church itself with one or another canonical jurisdiction when those who are not of certain jurisdictions (even those named "Lutheran") are denied admittance to the altar. In other words, the whole notion of "communion fellowship" rests upon identifying the church with a particular canonical jurisdiction.

If this is not the case, then either the defintion of the church as Eucharistic assembly is denied, or the Sacrament is being used for non-churchly reasons.

William Weedon said...

Fr. John,

Krauth once said: "The Lutheran Church does claim that it is God's truth which she confesses, and by logical necessity regards the deviations from the doctrines of the Confession as deviations from divine truth, but she does not claim to be the whole Church. 'The Christian Church and Christian holiness, both name and thing, are the common possession of all churches and Christians in the world' (Luther). It is enough for her to know that she is a genuine part of it, and she can rejoice and does rejoice, that the Savior she loves has his own true followers in every part of Christendom. She says: "The Catholic Church consists of men scattered thorughout the world, from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof" She unchurches none of other names, even though they may be unsound. It is not her business to do this. They have their own Master, to whom they stand or fall. She protests against error; she removes it by spiritual means from her own midst; but she judges not those who are without. God is her judge and theirs, and to Him she commits herself and them. Our Church confesses 'that among many who are upon the true foundation there are many weak ones, who build upon the true foundation perishing stubble, that is, empty human notions and opinions, and yet because they do not overthrow the foundation, are still Christians, and their faults may be forgiven them or even emended.'" [Conservative Reformation p. 142]

The point is that the Lutheran Confessions recognize and insist on recognizing the difference between those whose confession of the Gospel is pure and those in whom the confession of the Gospel itself is mixed with error. She cannot have fellowship at the Table with those who have added to the Gospel (as it appears from the light given her) but she does not thereby declare that the others are not Church, or that they do not have the true Eucharist. And this gives her the assignment - which she dare not shirk - of seeking by any and every possible God-pleasing means to overcome the barriers that divide the baptized at the Lord's one table.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I don't understand any of this! Sometimes you (Lutherans) seem to be saying the Church is where the Gospel is rightly proclaimed and other times you seem to be pointing to individuals, even though they attend parishes where the Gospel may NOT be rightly proclaimed or the sacraments rightly administered. Which is it?

In other words, since you say this is not a mere "idea," an abstraction, WHERE, concretely, do you say the true Church IS? Can you point to any specific true Church outside of a few Lutheran parishes?

Anastasia

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

If, as you wrote, the "Lutheran Church" *cannot* have fellowship at the Table with those who have added to the Gospel, then one of two things is possible:

a) You don't believe that innovations in the LCMS are additions to the Gospel--little things like grape juice instead of wine in the eucharist, and lay absolution--since you continue to have "fellowship at the Table" with those who practice these things (you are not 'in status confessionis,' I take it; nor is that an option if Al Colver's paper is to be believed);

or

b) You are not part of this 'she' that you speak of.

William Weedon said...

Anastasia:

Where the Church is and what the Church is are discrete questions, no? WHAT the Church is, in our understanding, is the total company of those in whom the Holy Spirit has worked the faith that binds their hearts to the one Lord Jesus Christ.

Fr. Gregory:

In the case of those with whom one is already in fellowship and who have begun to err in one respect or another, one gives brotherly admonition and the invitation to repent, rather than instantly breaking off fellowship. It is when the invitation to repent is consistently rejected that the division sadly must come. The very nature of such things has folks differing on when an invitation has been rejected, or when it has not been yet truly heard and heeded. I know of, for example, and commend your willingness to address these matters with an invitation to repent when you were a Lutheran pastor. I also know of cases where the "grape juice" was inherited and where my brother pastors have worked with both patience and love to lead the people away from such uncertainty and back to the joyful gift of the Supper. And the Synod has twice, I think, spoken in convention to urge the parishes NOT to use elements other than bread and wine for the Holy Eucharist since anything else is outside the mandate.

William Weedon said...

I should likely have continued quoting Krauth on this, but don't have time to type him out. But if any are following and have it, the discussion on pages 142-145. The mark of heresy, as Luther gives it there, is not simply error, but the refusal to be taught and the insistence that error is truth even when shown to be contrary to the Sacred Scriptures.

Christine said...

Hmmm. The Church. The "ekklesia", those who are "called out" under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Seems to me that after that's established the question is more or less how is the church, the community called out by Jesus, to be ordered in this world?

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Pr. Weedon,

If you endorse "patience" with respect to the use of an element in a Sacrament whose use, by your own testimony, introduces uncertainty, then I guess we never were on the same planet. But then, you have to counsel patience, for you are in communion fellowship with it too.

And with regard to the Synod's "speaking" twice--in the Church we have these fellows called "bishops." Our parishes and priests do what they tell us. It works well.

I will try to leave you be. I'm sure I'm a pain and a shutnik. You will one day discover who your true friends were.

The unworthy priest,

Fr. Gregory

William Weedon said...

Dear Robb,

Those who substitute grape juice have done so out of a desire not to place a stumbling block in the way of those to whom the alcohol constitutes a temptation and danger. I respect their desire to love their fellow members of the Body of Christ, but would challenge the altering of our Savior's mandate which negates the very joy they wish to bring to others.

About your friendship, do you think for one second that I've thought you were just being a pain in order to be a pain? You take pains because you believe your friend to be utterly in the wrong, deceiving himself and deceiving others, and you seek to call him from that. I know that. Even when you are being infuriating, I remember that it is a true friend's heart that speaks. And I will love you for that - even when you are mistaken in your assessments.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

So WHAT the Church is, for you is individual people, regardless of whether they are members of a parish where the Gospel is rightly preached or the sacraments rightly administered? So long as they have the same faith? But if we had the same faith, wouldn't we be praching the same Gospel and administering the sacraments rightly?

The Blood of Christ, constituting a temptation or a danger? Are you serious? This is unheard of! What a thought! 'Twill never happen, my friend, never, where it indeed IS the Body of Christ. Fear even to think it.

Anastasia

William Weedon said...

Anastasia,

I did not say individuals, but the sum total of all people (the Church is whole, not pieces) in whom the Spirit has worked faith that unites them to Christ and thus makes them one body in Him.

About the blood of Christ, indeed I would agree. As we sing: "No poison can be in the cup that my Physician sends me." I was not expressing any fear or concern I had about the holy chalice, but about the good intention that leads people to make a mistake about subbing the element that our Lord mandates and why they make that mistake.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

The relevant question, Pr. Weedon, is why you respect their pastoral concern and good intention, more than you would respect the divine mandate "THIS do"--which is precisely the case, if you continue in communion fellowship with them despite their practice.

One would not worry about pastoral concern if rose petals substituted for water in baptism at a parish where he went. Nor would he respect someone else's pastoral concern if they did so. One would say "no." Anything less--anything else--is acquiesence in the error.

William Weedon said...

Father Gregory,

I think your rose petals are apples and oranges when it comes to this question. You're once again searching for ways to inflict a bad conscience on others, and it is simply uncalled for. The use of grape juice for the Supper is improper, contrary to the divine mandate. Seeking to understand the pastoral heart that led people into error does not excuse the error itself, but it might mitigate the manner in which one deals with it. How many years were you a pastor in the Lutheran Church and aware of parishes using grape juice and yet remained in altar and pulpit fellowship with them? Think on these things.

William Weedon said...

Robb,

The reason I said apples and oranges is because I cannot conceive of any notion of any sort that would explain a pastoral and godly concern for members of the Body that would lead to the substitution of rose petals for water in Baptism. I probably didn't make that clear, and I should have. I can understand (even if I totally disagree with) what leads some pastors to substitute grape juice upon the altar for parishioners to whom alcohol has become a stumbling block.

Fr John W Fenton said...

This means, it seems to me, that a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the Church itself with any canonical jurisdiction.

WHAT the Church is, in our understanding, is the total company of those in whom the Holy Spirit has worked the faith that binds their hearts to the one Lord Jesus Christ.


If the Church is the sum total company of all believers (to summarize), then it is logical that the Church not identify itself with any canonical jurisdiction. For that sum total may be in many jurisdictions.

Why, then, deny communion to some of the sum total? If jurisdictional lines are not the identity of the Church, yet the Eucharistic assembly makes concrete the Church, then why not commune all who meet the pre-determined standard of purity, regardless of jurisdiction? And why not deny communion to those within one's jurisdiction who hold error, even if these are pastorally motivated & well-meaning yet still errors? Would it not be true pastoral concern to say "well-meaning pastoral concern that is erring reveals well-meaning yet erring doctrine"?

It seems to me that the whole exercise of declaring altar and pulpit fellowship is either eucharistically/ecclesiastically meaningless (since jurisdictional lines do not identify the church), or they bespeak something other than what is maintained.

Or else I misunderstand the reasons intra & intersynodical communion fellowship is both declared and practiced.

William Weedon said...

Fr. john,

That is the question that Bryce raised. I will say the same thing that I said to him in a private conversation:

I affirm with all my heart that there ought be only one Table of the people of God in any locale - one manifestation there of the one altar of sacrifice from which we all eat. But how will this be achieved? I do not believe we can simply set aside the true and deep doctrinal divisions between the families of Christendom and just commune together in the hopes that eating the one bread of life with one another we shall be led into the full unity that our Lord both promises and desires for us. The need for doctrinal unity cannot ultimately be dispensed with, even if that means for the time being living with a fractured table that screams to high heaven against us. Have you ever thought of Matthew 5:23,24 in terms of the Ecumenical task??? No, I'm not saying that all Eucharists should cease, but I am saying that our Lord puts a far higher premium on getting these things worked out than we seem to be doing.

Which is all a way of saying that for those who practice the divided table - and who do so knowing that we are shutting off Christ's body and blood from our baptized brothers and sisters in the one body (not exactly the position of the East, but of Rome and the LCMS), this practice can only be done faithfully with tears in our eyes and with a plea of forgiveness to our sisters and brothers and the acknowledgment that we're just not sure what else to do at this juncture, but pleading with them to join in fervent prayer for the day when this nightmare is over and we can be one: one in the doctrine taught from the altar; one in the gifts received from the altar.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Pr. Weedon,

The rose petal analogy is exact with respect to the point being made: the material element of the Sacraments is not up for discussion, regardless of any 'pastoral concern' one might have. Substituting another element doesn't make a sacrament uncertain; it makes quite plain that there is no sacrament in such a case. Christ said, "Do THIS," not "Do something like this."

The good intentions that lead some to substitute grape juice, and others to live with this practice, are but paving bricks on the way to the negative afterlife.

William Weedon said...

Robb,

Just as long as you are clear that those who "live with this practice" are active in their protest against it and seek to call the others back to the certainty that comes from the dominical mandate...

Wishing you every good thing in Him who is our one and only Bread of Life!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Okay, so you do not agree with the idea that the Cup could be a temptation or difficulty for anybody. Excellent!

I'm still confused on the rest. WHAT the Church is, is the collective body of true believers; is that what you are saying? And WHERE the Church is, is where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered?

What if a person rightly believes but attends a parish where the Gospel is not rightly preached, nor the Sacraments rightly administered? Is he in the Church or not? (This I ask to address the WHAT question; what is the Church?)

Turning the question around to ask the WHERE: is the Church in him or not? If the Church is in such a person, then she is not where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. If the Church is not in such a person, where is she?

Anastasia

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

If the table is "fractgured," then there no longer is one bread or one cup, is there? There are many, contrary to the Pauline doctrine.

If the table is "fractured" then we are disobeying Christ's command to leave our gift upon the altar and go and be reconciled to our brother first, before offering it.

How can any oferring of the Holy Communion, in such circumstances, be faithful in any sense?

It isn't really your fidelity I question here, but the ecclesiology that, ISTM, would define you as unfaithful.

In this ecclesiology, what if I am (properly, validly) baptized but am not a believer? Did Holy Baptism plant me into Christ or not? If so, am I not in the Church? If not, is that sacrament of no effect?

?????????????

Anastasia

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Pr. Weedon, you asked,

"How many years were you a pastor in the Lutheran Church and aware of parishes using grape juice and yet remained in altar and pulpit fellowship with them?"

Answer: Less than 1, after I realized the implications of church fellowship. This insight, which I gained from Fr. Fenton, combined with my own practical experience, (when a faithful lay couple joined a "toss out the cups" parish), led me to conclude: I must leave, NOW.

At one time, it seemed that you had gotten that same insight into the implications of church fellowship. Somehow, you've made your peace with the situation as it is--a situation which, *from Lutheran lights alone*, calls into question the ecclesial character of Lutheranism. (Remember Augustana 7: "The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered." "Right administration" involves, precisely, *the actual practice* of the sacraments. So either you must conclude that you are not in the same body as those who do these things, though you transfer and receive members and give every appearance of so being, or that grape juice and disposable cups are included in 'right administration,' or that no one can know that Lutheranism is Church.)

As far as inflicting a bad conscience, that power I do not have. Conscience is, as Dostoyevsky said somewhere, a little red spider: easily overlooked, but once sighted, difficult to ignore.

When I was a Lutheran minister, I came up against the use of grape juice once. I was filling in somewhere else. When I took the cover off the plate of individual cups and saw two different-colored liquids, at first I thought, "Huh. Two different wines. This is a bit much." So I asked the elder who was assisting and he said that the light-colored liquid was grape juice.

I stopped the service and announced, "It seems your normal custom is to use grape juice. I cannot speak the Lord's words over what the Lord has not given us to use. Grape juice will not be distributed today." I figured the pastor might be upset with me. But then I figured I should be upset with him, for changing the sacrament. That, in my view, is how a pastor deals with a sacrament-destroying practice like changing the element.

Once I came to realize that there were hundreds, if not thousands of parishes in which that practice is common, and that I was in communion fellowship with them, so that what was done at that altar was done at mine, the game was over. Period. But then, I am

the unworthy priest, fool, newbie and hypocrite,

Fr. Gregory Hogg

Fr John W Fenton said...

...a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the Church itself with any canonical jurisdiction.

I do not believe we can simply set aside the true and deep doctrinal divisions between the families of Christendom...


So it appears that while a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the Church with any canonical jurisdiction, he will create and acknowledge canonical jurisdictions when doctrinal unity between within the Church does not exist. Is that a fair summary of what you've written?

Christopher Orr said...

The real question comes down to what makes one a member of the Church? Another way to approach the question is to ask how one leaves the Church. Is it my personal faith that makes me a member of the Church, do certain actions I take put me in or take me out of the Body of Christ, or do the Sacraments that the Church does to me keep me 'in' in a way regardless of my personal faith, actions, etc.? If a person need not be 'rebaptized' when returning to the Church from apostasy, were they always members of the Church? How might this relate to teaching of many saints that Heaven and Hell are the different experiences of the one reality of the uncovered Love and Energies of God?

William Weedon said...

Blogger's giving me fits this morning. I've tried three times to post, and wonder if this one will go through. Don't have time to do justice to the conversation at the moment, but briefly and in reverse:

1. Christopher, the Lutheran answer is that the Spirit-wrought faith which binds a person to Christ (which faith is created and sustained through the means of grace) is what makes one a member of the Church.
2. Fr. John, could you check what you wrote and see if there is typo somewhere - I'm honestly not getting your question, I've reread it and can't see where the typo is to make sense out of it.
3. Fr. Gregory, do you really think it numbers in the thousands? I've not encountered it often, and almost every place I have encountered it, it was readily remedied with a bit of patient teaching, for I don't think those who sub grape juice do so to thumb their nose at the Lord's mandate, but out of a misdirected kindness.
4. Anastasia, about your #2, Baptism plants you into Christ and Christ into you. But if you in unbelief reject your Baptism, your unbelief drives out the Holy Spirit whose presence is the mark of belonging to the Church as He binds hearts to Christ in faith. About your #1, where the saving truth of the Gospel is proclaimed even when it is joined to false teaching, the Holy Spirit seeks to be operative to give saving faith. There is false teaching of such a nature that it simply destroys the Gospel itself and there the Holy Spirit's instrument for working faith does not exist. That means that certain jurisdictions in the opinion of the Lutheran Church teach the saving Gospel and yet add to it harmful opinions yet not so as to overthrow the Gospel. We rejoice that the Holy Spirit has His Church also among them, but we cannot enter into the outward fellowship of altar and pulpit with those who hold teachings we regard as false on the basis of God's Word. That's horribly short, but I've got to run and I really hope this thing posts this time! More later - and anyone else, feel free to chime in!

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Suppose it numbers in the hundreds...I feel fairly confident in saying that's true...the point stands. Hence, either you don't think you're in the same body as those who do this; or, you think that "right administration" includes these practices; or, according to the Lutheran Confessions, no one can know that Lutheranism is in any way "Church."

And from where did you learn the notion of pastoral patience and forbearance when a Sacrament is fundamentally altered?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Well, we're getting there, slowly...

So certain jurisdictions (outside Lutheran ones)in the opinion of the Lutheran Church teach the saving Gospel, even if they do add erroneous opinions to it. Would you kindly point out an example or two of such jurisdictions?

How about jurisdictions where the error DOES "overthrow the Gospel"? What is an example of one of those?

William Weedon said...

Robb,

I AM in the same body as those who use grape juice; I don't think it is a right practice; and I seek to correct it wherever I encounter it. Again, I would point out that it is not error per se, but the persistent holding to error when the truth has been shown, that marks the impenitence which calls for severing of fellowship. At least so far I have not encountered it with regards to the grape juice. Patience in regard to abnormal sacramental practice was part and parcel of the Lutheran Reformation, no? One thinks of Luther RESTORING communion under one kind for a time.

Anastasia,

Not difficult at all. You Orthodox strike me precisely a jurisdiction or communion where the Gospel is proclaimed and the Holy Spirit is at work binding hearts to the Savior through the proclaimed Word, Baptism and the Eucharist. I also think your jurisdiction holds some dangerous human opinions that can obscure that Gospel. I'd hold the same for Rome or the Southern Bapstists.

A jurisdiction or communion where the foundation has been overthrown would be the Mormons, the Jehovah Witness, groups like that which do not and cannot confess the faith of the Apostles', Nicene, or Athanasian Creeds.

William Weedon said...

By the way, what on earth got all you Orthodox going on my blog again??? Not that I'm complaining or saying your comments are not welcome. To the contrary!

But if your point is that Lutherans don't have the same ecclesiology as the Orthodox, well, that's sort of obvious, what? And a lot of the discussion ends up being rather circular because we simply do not regard the term CHURCH as denoting exactly the same thing.

Now if you want something to really get you going, what about this from Krauth, quoting an unnamed Lutheran theologian of his day (Kliefoth would be my guess, but I'm not sure):

"In the pathway of my search for truth, I was led to Jesus Christ, who is the truth, and by him to the Lutheran Church, which I have held and do now hold to be not the only true Church, but the pillar of the truth in the Church universal." (p. 146)

He explains a tad more when he adds: "He only has an ecumenical mind and catholic heart for that which is true in all churches; he only has an ear for the harmonies of truth which still ring out from the dissonances of the countless varieties of the notes of our times." (p. 146)

Thus, the Scriptural truth from which the Lutheran Churches draw their very life's breath in our teaching and preaching of the Crucified and Risen Lord as the salvation fo the world - that Scriptural truth lives on in other communions also and we recognize and celebrate it among them, even when we deplore the teachings they tolerate or practices in which they engage which would in any way obscure that glorious truth.

Nor do we claim for one second that our pure confession is matched by equally pure practice. We wish we could, but such is not the case. The answer then is not the abandonment of our Confession, but letting it shape our life together. Thus, the uselessness (to my ear, anyway) of Fr. Gregory's arguments which invariably focus upon faithless practices but do not touch upon error in the Symbols.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Pr. Weedon, you wrote:

"Nor do we claim for one second that our pure confession is matched by equally pure practice. We wish we could, but such is not the case. The answer then is not the abandonment of our Confession, but letting it shape our life together. Thus, the uselessness (to my ear, anyway) of Fr. Gregory's arguments which invariably focus upon faithless practices but do not touch upon error in the Symbols."

Rx:
Not all 'impurity' in practice is alike--even by the light of the Lutheran Symbols. If a parish doesn't offer eucharist every Sunday, that's an impure practice; but it doesn't affect the nature of the Sacrament. But when someone offers grape juice instead of or in addition to wine, it affects the nature of the sacrament.

To tolerate the former impure practice may well display a pastoral heart. To tolerate the latter impure practice betokens a higher regard for feelings than it does for the truth.

According to confessional theology, rightly administered Sacraments are one of the notae ecclesiae. Either the sacraments are administered rightly when grape juice is used, or those who practice such things destroy the certainty sought by the teaching of the notae. And those who remain in communion fellowship with such who destroy them, say that this isn't a fellowship-breaking error--thus, ultimately, agreeing with the error.

TUPAF,

Fr. Gregory

William Weedon said...

Robb,

Just see the comment you were commenting on. The point still stands.

Wishing you every good gift in Christ, the Savior of poor sinners!

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Bill,

The point you made, in the post I commented on, was that not error _per se_, but persistence in error, requires a break in fellowship.

My response was meant to demonstrate that such is not necessarily the case--viz., when error is practiced such as to abolish the nature of the Sacrament. Regardless of the celebrant's intention, if one used rose petals in baptism it would be no baptism. If one uses grape juice in the eucharist, it is no eucharist.

Now, either I'm right or I'm wrong--i.e. either using grape juice does destroy the nature of the sacrament, or it doesn't. Which of the two do you say?

William Weedon said...

Robb,

Those who receive consecrated grape juice do not receive our Lord's blood. But they do receive our Lord's body when they partake of the consecrated bread. Further, all those receiving the consecrated wine in that celebration do receive our Lord's blood. That's why I think the Rose petal thing is still not apropos.

William Weedon said...

By the way, it is quite a similar thing to the peculiarly Roman practice for centuries of distributing only our Lord's body - though it was not in accord with the mandate, and was and is a manifest abuse, it did not destroy the essence of the Sacrament for the laity who received a part of the Sacrament.

Fr John W Fenton said...

You're right, Pr Weedon, there is a typo. Here's what I was hoping to write:

...a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the Church itself with any canonical jurisdiction.

I do not believe we can simply set aside the true and deep doctrinal divisions between the families of Christendom...


So it appears that while a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the church with any canonical jurisdiction, he will create and acknowledge canonical jurisdictions when doctrinal unity within the church does not exist. Is that a fair summary of what you've written?


Haste makes confusion (as does typing before having the first cup of coffee)!

William Weedon said...

Fr. John,

Thanks for the clarification. You write:

So it appears that while a Lutheran cannot and will not identify the church with any canonical jurisdiction, he will create and acknowledge canonical jurisdictions when doctrinal unity within the church does not exist. Is that a fair summary of what you've written?

I am not sure I understand what you mean by "he will create and acknowledge jurisdictions when doctrinal unity ***within the church*** does not exist."

How are you using the word "church" there?

I mean, some jurisdictions are not founded on doctrinal unity, but on unity of other sorts. I believe that Rome falls into that category, as also the Anglicans (united in polity and prayerbook).

Lutherans, though, have never thought that jurisdictional unity was necessary for doctrinal unity. Thus, for some time Lutherans from Slovakia communed freely with the Swedes, the Swedes with the Danes, the Danes with the Icelanders, the Icelanders with the Dutch, and the Dutch with the Saxons, etc. Though not in a single jurisdiction, they recognized a common and shared faith.

If by Church you mean it as Lutherans use the term strictly speaking, that is, for the sum total of those whom the Holy Spirit has joined to Christ through saving faith wrought through the means of grace, then indeed, it is true that Lutherans would see the Church subsisting also in jurisdictions where error is taught alongside of truth - provided only that error does not "overthrow the foundation" itself.

But, honestly, what are you getting at? I mean, you know what Lutherans teach regarding the Church better than most Lutherans!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

So the JWs and Mormons belong to a group in which the Church does not subsist, you say. How does that square with your earlier statement about not unchurching anybody?

Anastasia

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

OK. I said,

"Now, either I'm right or I'm wrong--i.e. either using grape juice does destroy the nature of the sacrament, or it doesn't. Which of the two do you say?"

and you replied,
"Those who receive consecrated grape juice do not receive our Lord's blood. But they do receive our Lord's body when they partake of the consecrated bread. Further, all those receiving the consecrated wine in that celebration do receive our Lord's blood. That's why I think the Rose petal thing is still not apropos."

then added:
"By the way, it is quite a similar thing to the peculiarly Roman practice for centuries of distributing only our Lord's body - though it was not in accord with the mandate, and was and is a manifest abuse, it did not destroy the essence of the Sacrament for the laity who received a part of the Sacrament."

Rx:
So I take it that you're saying, offering/receiving grape juice instead of wine does not destroy the nature of the Sacrament. It creates a situation similar to that of the mediaeval Roman confession. (Not entirely the same, of course, because they never used an element other than wine, so their change was a deletion rather than a substitution, and it wasn't a complete deletion, since the priest continued to receive both kinds.)

This whole discussion is a bit academic for my practical nature; can we bring it home, so to speak? I want to offer an entirely plausible scenario:

You and your family go, while on vacation, to a LCMS church. As you sit in the pew, reading the bulletin, you discover an announcement something like this: "We offer grape juice, in addition to wine, for those who have problems with alcohol."

1. Would you commune?
2. If so, why? If not, why not?

I'm not so interested in the answer to the second question, btw, as I am to the answer to the first.

Thanks for being patient with me.

TUPAF,

Fr. G.

William Weedon said...

Anastasia,

The "unchurch" statement was Krauth originally (did I use it as if it were mine?) and he was speaking specifically in terms of other Trinitarian and Christologically Orthodox communions; the JW's or Mormons were not on the radar screen. Said another way: he was speaking of those who had been baptized into the name of the Blessed Trinity and who confessed that name in its fullness.

Robb:

1. Would I commune? Most likely; though I've not been to an LCMS Church on vacation where the situation arose.

2. Why would I commune? I commune each Sunday with Churches where the abuse exists because my parish is in altar and pulpit fellowship with them - how does being in the physical presence of the abuse alter that? Abusus non tollet... I would speak to the steward of the mysteries in that place toward a correction of the abuse, both as a guest at that altar and as a fellow steward in the same altar and pulpit fellowship.

William Weedon said...

And of course the chief reason I would commune at such an altar is because this poor, miserable sinner can only live from the forgiveness of his sins, the divine life, and the everlasting salvation that is in our Lord's most holy body and blood.

Fr. Gregory said...

OK. Thanks.

1. Another thought occurs to me, which you need not answer if I'm getting overly annoying.

Suppose the vacation parish didn't offer wine at all, but only grape juice. Would you receive the host, but not the juice? Would you not commune at all, if wine is not offered?

2. And since you have been so patient--Many people are allergic to wheat gluten--I'm sure you remember the story about a little Roman catholic boy a few years ago.

If, in an effort to help such people pastorally, as well as alcoholics, a parish began using grape juice and rice cakes for the eucharist, would you commune then?

3. You've spoken often about the need to correct others, and only breaking fellowship if they refused correction--i.e. showed themselves to be impenitent. Is there any sort of reason you would break communion immediately, albeit temporarily? Suppose, for example, you heard a brother pastor say in a sermon that Christ had not risen from the dead--or that Communion is simply a memorial meal. Would you go to the altar at the eucharist immediately following? If you would break communion, why? If not, why not?


I'm trying to figure out the parameters of your point of view. The last few exchanges have been helpful to me. Thank you.

William Weedon said...

Not annoying, Robb. Here are my answers:

1. Because there was no wine, I would not commune, being uncertain of the Lord's mandate. But have you ever heard of or encountered a Lutheran parish that does that? I haven't.

2. The Lutheran Church historically has said that what grain the bread is made from is not a matter of consequence. My good friend, Heath Curtis, argues that this derives from a false read of John 6 (with the barley loaves), and that the Roman tradition is correct that the Eucharistic bread must be made of wheat flour. I'm still thinking about his arguments, though my training also taught me that the make of the flour was irrelevent so long as it was a grain. Fortunately, as Heath also showed me, Catholic supply stores now offer a gluten free wheat wafer (don't ask me how!).

3. Of course if I heard a pastor proclaim that Christ was not raised from the dead or that the Eucharist was merely a memorial meal, I would break altar and pulpit fellowship - or rather recognize that there simply is no fellowship - with that person. I would also seek to have him removed from service in our congregations. If the congregation held to his false teaching, fellowship would also be broken with them.

Fr. Gregory said...

Thanks, Bill.

Case 1 above was seeking to determine if you'd commune when--as I understand your position--only one of the two elements were offered, with a substitute for the other. It somewhat surprised me that you would not commune at all, instead of simply taking the host. But that's fine. That's why I'm asking.

Case 2 above was seeking to determine if you'd commune when neither of the two elements were offered. But given your answer to case 1, it's irrelevant.

Your answers so far also suggest to me that as long as what the Lord gave (bread and wine) is offered, you'd commune--regardless of whether other stuff (grape juice) is offered or not.

If that's so, then the next thing is this: without regard to your personal faith (fides qua) about the Lord's presence, consider the confession (fides quae) taking place in an assembly that offers both grape juice and wine. Is this act not saying that the material at hand is an adiaphora--i.e. is the act in itself (without regard to the personal motives of those administering and receiving) not placing wine and grape juice on a par? And if you commune there, are you not, in essence, publicly assenting to that fides quae--whatever your fides qua might be?

Recall the confrontation between Peter and Paul at Antioch, recorded in Galatians. It was nothing Peter *said*; it was his *act* that Paul found to be against the Gospel, and publicly and immediately rebuked. The "fides quae" of an act, even if no other speech takes place, seems itself to be biblical grounds for immediate public rebuke.

Now if it be said that this is different, that we're dealing with a case of pastoral attempts to be sensitive to weaker brothers (i.e. those who stumble at wine): then I reply that Peter could say the selfsame thing. For he changed his actions based on the presence of certain brethren from Jerusalem. Furthermore, as I understand it, Lutherans hold that the sacraments are gospel themselves: so it would seem that the change we're talking about (adding a grape juice option) pertains to the heart of the gospel no less than did the question of who Peter ate with.

William Weedon said...

Robb,

To receive the Supper in such a situation is to confess that the addition of grape juice by itself does not destroy the divine mandate. But, as you recall, my action was not only to commune, but to denounce the practice to the steward in that place and seek to call him to repentance.

The example of Peter and Paul does not *seem* to me to apply to this situation. Of course, our actions preach. What my action would preach is that this abuse of the sacrament does not destroy its actual use, but that the abuse should stop.

What was at issue with Peter and Paul seems of a different order. It was whether or not faith in Christ delivered the goods or whether the Jewish laws also needed to be observed for salvation. Peter was willing to cave on that - surprising as that is given the account of Cornelius' conversion! Paul could not. What is given in Christ which faith receives and holds to is the lot, the whole of salvation, unfractionable. Nothing can be allowed to diminish that with the suggestion that something more than Christ, more than faith in Him, is needed. Peter's public action suggested otherwise and needed to be publicly addressed. Paul does so and Paul is willing to speak the anathema on any who operate with a Jesus +, for such would not be the Gospel he proclaimed. So I don't see how it applies to point to that particular "confessing by action" to address the abuse of grape juice being added to the Lord's table.

Fr. Gregory said...

Bill,

You didn't address the main point of my last post. What fides quae, what confession, does the act of including grape juice as an option make about the pastor/parish's doctrine of the Supper? And what fides quae, what confession does your act of receiving, albeit with protest, make?

William Weedon said...

Including grape juice as an option makes the confession on the part of the celebrant that he holds that grape juice is not excluded from the term "fruit of the vine" and he holds it is a legitimate manner of receiving our Lord's blood, albeit not the preferred manner (since he overwhelming offers consecrated wine).

The act of communing at such an altar, but not receiving the grape juice, confesses that the presence of the grape juice does not destroy the nature of the Sacrament in the consecrated bread and wine; and the admonition given to the Pastor who presumes to alter the mandate confesses that grape juice is and remains just that - it is outside the mandate.

Fr. Gregory said...

(Humor mode on:)

Pr. Weedon: "By offering grape juice, you've acted outside the Lord's mandate."

Rev. X: "No; grape juice is not excluded from the term 'fruit of the vine.' Besides, by communing you've admitted it's ok."

Pr. Weedon: "Yes you have, and no I haven't!"

Rev. X: "No I haven't, and yes you have!"

Pr. Weedon: "You have and I haven't!"

Rev. X: "You have and I haven't!"

Notice that they end up "saying the same thing" after all...Behold--these two are in pulpit and altar fellowship.

Eric Phillips said...

It's true, and relevant to the discussion that's been going on here, that Scripture never calls the content of the cup "wine," and that grape juice is also "fruit of the vine." The same fruit of the same vine, at that.

Now, we know that they didn't have refrigerators in the ancient world, so we can read between the lines. I have no doubt that it was WINE in the cup at the Last Supper, not fresh grape juice. Thus I agree with Pastor Weedon's emphasis on CONFIDENCE in the sacrament as the factor that determines a proper opposition to the "grape juice" school of thought. That is, even if Scripture does not use the WORD "wine," we know Jesus was using wine, and we want full certitude that our sacrament is His sacrament. But someone who uses grape juice isn't REMOTELY in the same class as someone who "baptizes" with rose petals.

Another thought strikes me. It's a fact that we know from _historical_ considerations, and not from the actual divine words, that Christ instituted the Supper with wine. Well, we also know, from similar historical considertaions, that the bread used at Passover was UNLEAVENED bread. Don't the Eastern Orthodox churches all use leavened bread to this day?

If the use of grape juice instead of wine invalidates the sacrament and serves as evidence that the celebrant is not a Shepherd of the True Fold, then it follows that the use of leavened bread does exactly the same thing.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Nice try, Dr. P. The early church used leavened bread, as Roman scholars admit. I quote from "The Church at Prayer. Vol 2: The Eucharist" by Robert Cabie, published by Liturgical Press (Imprimatur George H. Speltz, Bp. of St. Cloud; Nihil obstat Rev. Robert C. Harren):

"The use of unleavened bread, already practiced by the Armenians, *became general in the West in the eleventh century; this presupposes that it had been introduced here and there a little earlier.* The faithful received Communion only infrequently, and the donation of a liturgical gift from their own tables had lost its meaning. Practical reasons, having to do especially with the reservation of the species, must have played a part, but were joined to considerations from the gospel...From this time on, the Latin theologians condemned the use of leavened bread; the result was bitter disputes with the Eastern Churches."

So around the turn of the millenium--the centuries from about 800-1200 AD--the west officially introduced such things as unleavened bread, the filioque, purgatory, treasury of merits, Anselmian atonement, Roman supremacy, abandonment of infant communion etc. Hmm.

Eric Phillips said...

Fr. Hogg,

Your citation hardly supports the conclusion that "the early church" used leavened bread. I'm sure some churches did, and others did not. It's also likely that grape juice, or something like it ("sweet wine"), got used in some places around the time of year when the grapes were pressed.

I'm not arguing from historical usage, but from the institution of our Lord. And I thought you were too. Earlier in this thread, you wrote, "Christ said, 'Do THIS,' not 'Do something like this.'" Well, when Christ said, "Do this," he was talking about WINE and UNleavened bread. You can't treat the first half as a command while ignoring the second half in favor of Church tradition.

William Weedon said...

Eric,

I may be wrong, but I thought that the East took the chronology of John's Gospel as correct and therefore concluded that the Supper could not have been celebrated on Passover. Not that not being Passover means it HAD to be unleavened bread, of course.

William Weedon said...

Grr. I meant to say: "Not that it not being passover meant that it HAD to be leavened." They could still have been eating unleavened bread outside the passover. Just like we sometimes do!

Eric Phillips said...

Rev. Weedon,

I don't know anything about that, I'm afraid. It would be interesting if that opinion suddenly became important to this discussion.

But according to Matt. 26:18, _Jesus_ was planning to celebrate the Passover at the Last Supper.

Chris Jones said...

Eric

It's a fact that we know from historical considerations, and not from the actual divine words, that Christ instituted the Supper with wine.

There is a subtle bit of question-begging in this claim, which I missed until you later said

You can't treat the first half as a command while ignoring the second half in favor of Church tradition.

Because in your latter comment you distinguish between a command of the Saviour and the tradition. But the command of the Saviour comes to us precisely by Tradition; even the Scriptural accounts of the institution are the recording of an already-existing liturgical tradition.

The matter of the sacrament (bread and wine) were established by the Saviour in the institution of the sacrament, handed down in the Church in her liturgical usage, and then written down in the Scriptures. If the Scriptural authors did not specify that it was wine that was in the cup, that is because those to whom the Scriptures were addressed already knew that it was wine in the cup. Because that is what they all experienced in the Church's liturgy.

The point is that we know that wine is to be used in the sacrament not because of historical research, but because we have received a continuous living liturgical tradition which tells us that -- a tradition which itself underlies the Scriptural accounts of the institution.

So the question-begging is the implicit attitude that the Church's liturgical tradition is not authoritative. Let us take care lest we injure the Gospel in its vitals.

Eric Phillips said...

Chris,

The question isn't whether or not some facet of the Eucharistic service has been passed down to us, but whether or not that facet was ordained by Christ. When tradition carries the words of Christ to us, that's a completely different thing than when it merely carries to us the usages of the ancient--or not so ancient--Church.

When you say, "the Church's liturgical tradition is...authoritative," you assume the Church _has_ a single liturgical tradition. This isn't true when it comes to the question of the bread. On the question of the wine, it _is_ true, but that doesn't make it _authoritative._ I doubt you'll find any Father or medieval saint discoursing on the importance of using wine instead of grape juice, because the latter was not a practical possibility until recently. The mere fact that the Church has traditionally used wine doesn't tell us that we _should_ use wine instead of grape juice any more than it tells us to use candelabras and natural daylight instead of electic lightbulbs. We could infer from it that Christ probably used wine too, but if we didn't have scriptural testimony to that fact, we wouldn't know for sure that He did.

In any case, your argument doesn't change the efficacy of mine. Whether we know it was wine because we apply historical reasoning to "this fruit of the vine" or because we study liturgical history, the fact remains that we know it was wine. And on the bread side, the fact remains that liturgical tradition gives us contradictory answers, so we are left to apply historical reasoning to the fact that Jesus was observing Passover.

The upshot is the same. Jesus used wine AND unleavened bread.

Fr Gregory Hogg said...

Dr. Phillips,

You said: "The question isn't whether or not some facet of the Eucharistic service has been passed down to us, but whether or not that facet was ordained by Christ. When tradition carries the words of Christ to us, that's a completely different thing than when it merely carries to us the usages of the ancient--or not so ancient--Church."

Rx: You express very well the notion, first made popular by the gnostics and then by the protestants, that we have access to Christ apart from his word *in the Church*.

Is it any wonder that once Christ and the Scriptures are opposed to the Church, once the Church herself (and not merely her teachers) begins to be the object of criticism and judgment (cp. Gerhard's "The Scriptures judge the Church"), then in the next generation the Scriptures themselves become the object of criticism and judgment? Higher criticism is, after all, the product of the Reformation. Read the history. See where and when it began!

William Weedon said...

Robb,

Your last there leaves me shaking my head a bit in puzzlement. I know that's how it looks from where you are sitting now. But you got to where you are sitting now by the assumption that it wasn't the Church at all that taught you that "God's Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else". Of course, from our perspective that is the true voice of the Church!

What it appears to me that you have embraced is a tradition in which Scripture is given quite limited scope to be the rule by which authenticity is established. What ends up being accepted by the majority of Orthodox across time is de facto held to be true because what you consider the Church accepts and teaches it. And then because the Church can't change, some of these later developments are read back into history as having always been there. (For example, I think of the fact that Nazianzus actually was far closer to Luther on the books that were to be regarded as true Scripture than to the current position of the Orthodox Church - yet you will hear some folks say that the current listing are the books the whole Church has always accepted!).

In any case, you gave your assessment of what it looks like from Orthodoxy looking toward the Lutheran side; that's my assessment from the Lutheran side looking toward Orthodoxy - and not at all meaning to disparage the many and wonderfully great things about the communion you are now a part of, but unable to accept the whole of what you call Tradition as being Scriptural. FWIW

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Hans Frei, "The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative": "Not very much of Protestant orthodoxy passed over into rationalist religious thought, but this one thing surely did: the antitraditionalism in scriptural interpretation of the one bolstered the antiautharitarian stance in matters of religious meaning and truth of the other." p. 55

Wm J. Abraham, "Canon and criterion in Christian theology": "The Enlightenment was not merely a secular revolt against the authority of the Church or tradition or Scripture; it was a movement created by Christian intellectuals to resolve deep canonical problems which Christians themselves had unwittingly created. It was in part a Christian heresy. Hence, the attack on the credibility of Christian tradition which eventually emerged was not the alien invention of outside enemies. It was the revolt of Christian offspring. Using the brilliant epistemic weapons of their parents, invented in all good faith to save the tradition, they undermined from within the whole Christian enterprise. Christians in effect reaped the deep consequences of the canonical sins which they had committed in the initial division between East and West and the ensuing divisions within the West, and consisted in transforming the canons of the Father from spiritually effective means of grace into dubious norms of truth."
pp. 165-166


Neither of these scholars is, to the best of my knowledge, Orthodox. Both these books are published by reputable publishers (Yale and Oxford), not some knockoff press. Both recognize that the Enlightenment and its higher critical method is, in some sense, the progeny of the Reformation.

When the Orthodox say that the Church can't change, we don't mean that it's some sort of immutable block of stone. The Church can't change in the same sense that any living organism can't change: it can't be made into what it isn't. A man is born an infant, becomes a child, and grows to manhood. But he never becomes a dog, for example.

On matters of controversy between East and West, when one does historical research one invariably finds that the East maintained earlier tradition, and the West changed it. The issue of leavened bread, which came up yesterday, is a perfect example. And it isn't just Orthodox authors who say it. Yesterday's quote was from a Roman catholic, in an officially-sanctioned book.

William Weedon said...

"Antitraditionalism in scriptural interpretation" - that certainly does not seem to fit with the Lutheran writers, does it? Perhaps with other Protestants - I am honestly not in a position to know - but Gerhard finding in Gideon's fleece a type pointing to the mystery of the incarnation and the perpetual virginity is certainly NOT antitraditionalism!!!

William Weedon said...

By the way, Krauth uses the same analogy about infancy to adulthood when describing the Church's development through the years - and therefore the faith can unfold but it cannot depart from its earliest expressions.

William Weedon said...

Which is why for us Lutherans that earliest expression written by the Spirit-inspired writers remains normative in the determination of true "unfolding" and false development.

Fr. Gregory said...

Come on, Bill. You know perfectly well that after Gerhard, the traditional understanding of Ezekiel 44 was tossed out the window by the "Orthodox" Lutheran dogmaticians, and the semper virgo relegated to the old-age home of "pious opinion."

And wrt Krauth: the widespread use of lay absolution is not an outgrowth from, but a departure from, Augustana 14. Creative worship is not an outgrowth from, but a departure from, Augustana 15. Lutheranism has, in fact, departed.

Eric Phillips said...

Fr. Gregory,

> You express very well the notion, first
> made popular by the gnostics and then by the
> protestants, that we have access to Christ
> apart from his word *in the Church*.

You need to read more carefully. I didn't say anything like that. I did NOT claim that we have access to the Words of Christ apart from the Church. I simply pointed out the obvious and hugely significant difference between a "tradition" (i.e. something the Church has passed down, including the Bible) that begins "Thus saith the Lord," and a tradition that begins, "For a long time now, this is how the Church has done things."

Eric Phillips said...

Fr. Gregory,

> Both recognize that the Enlightenment
> and its higher critical method is, in some
> sense, the progeny of the Reformation.

Well of COURSE it is. So what? If generation B puts the triumphs of generation A to bad use, that doesn't impeach generation A. The Reformation has had many children--some very good, some very bad; some more faithful to it, and some less.

> Yesterday's quote was from a Roman catholic,
> in an officially-sanctioned book.

Unfortunately, yesterday's quote did not say what you claimed it said. When you find an "officially sanctioned book" from an RC that actually SAYS that the West used leavened bread from the beginning all the way up to the 11th century (instead of saying that it began to insist on unleavened bread in the 11th century), go ahead and post that quotation.

Then, likely, I'll counter with a quotation from another "officially sanctioned" RC book that disagrees with yours.

William Weedon said...

Robb,

The statement you quoted, though, is demonstrably false for the formative years of the Reformation and high orthodoxy. That was my point.

You've said that lay absolution is frequent in the Divine Service in our chruches. It's something that I've not encountered - but I don't get around much, I admit. I do wonder if it is as common as you think it is, though.

In any case, no it does not grow out of AC XIV nor does the use of Pentecostal Liturgy in Lutheran parishes grow out of AC XV - both are abuses. Nor, would I argue, does high criticism grow out of confessional Lutheranism, but from the rejection of it. But of course, higher criticism is not unknown among the Orthodox either, sadly.

Fr. Gregory said...

Dr. Phillips,

Past experience in discussing things with you has taught me that such discussions are profitless. Your last post demonstrates this well.

When a Roman Catholic author, who therefore has no reason to be biased in favor of the east, speaks of unleavened bread being "*introduced* here and there a little earlier than the eleventh century" in the west, he plainly presupposes that the universal custom in east and west, before that introduction, was to use leavened bread. (In a footnote, he cites Rhabanus Maurus (+856) as an early reference to unleavened bread.) When you assert that even further evidence would be cause for a quote war, the pointlessness of further discussion with you is evident.


Those of good will who read, may draw the conclusions they like.

Fr. Gregory said...

Bill, I take it you mean the first quote? It said, "Not very much of Protestant orthodoxy passed over into rationalist religious thought, but this one thing surely did: the antitraditionalism in scriptural interpretation of the one bolstered the antiauthoritarian stance in matters of religious meaning and truth of the other"--

to which you replied that this statement

"is demonstrably false for the formative years of the Reformation and high orthodoxy."

Rx: You'll note that your statement does not refute Frei's. You speak of the "formative years" of the Reformation and of "high orthodoxy." He speaks of the whole sweep of Protestant Orthodoxy. So you're not quite talking about the same thing.

If by "high orthodoxy" you mean the period from the Formula of Concord through Gerhard, it's no surprise. It was Gerhard, as best as I can tell, who formulated the "Scripture vs. the Church" expression that led to the mischief in question. He did not draw out the implications of his idea, but his followers did. And their followers took it further, until this critical spirit reached its logical conclusion a few generations later in higher criticism.

True enough, some Orthodox have made use of higher criticism. That, and Communism, were the two German imports that have most damaged Russia.

Eric Phillips said...

Fr. Gregory,

If the book you are quoting actually SAID what you want it to say, I assume you would give us the relevant quotation, instead of trying to balance your 10-ton argument on such a spindly inference.

I'd also like to point out that you've quoted the opinion of a single RC scholar as evidence that THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH agrees with you. Yeesh. A "nihil obstat" doesn't mean that every sentence in the book is official RC dogma.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Well, I like the citation I offered--from a Roman publication, so no Eastern bias; from an historian of the liturgy; and given in its context--better than the one you didn't. So there it is.

Eric Phillips said...

When you give me a citation that actually argues your case, then I'll worry about digging up a counter-citation.

Viekerhaus said...

88 posts and counting. Who would have guessed . . .

Fr. Gregory said...

Describing the papal mass c. 700 AD:

"Now began the communion which had to be preceded by the breaking up of the bread, for the bread then used came from ordinary Roman households and was not quite small enough..."

(Ordinary bread in the ancient world was, of course, leavened--even among the Jews. Hence their being careful to rid their houses of leaven before the feast of unleavened bread.)

and how things had changed by 1073:

The inability of the offertory procession to survive "is understandably connected to a certain extent with the fact that *since the ninth century, primarliy (we presume) under the influence of Old Testament texts, the use of unleavened bread at the celebration of the eucharist in the West became the general custom*; the most important contribution to the sacrifice made by the faithful, the bread that they baked at home, became from this period onwards no longer usable as bread for the eucharist." (Theodor Klauser, A short history of the western liturgy, pp. 67, 110.)

Now if in the earlier centuries the bread for the eucharist (in Rome, at least) came from the homes of the faithful;
and if the bread normally used in the homes of the faithful were leavened;
and if the general introduction of unleavened bread in the ninth century is one cause of the loss of the offertory procession--

then it is plain to those of reasonable intelligence and a modicum of good will, that before that time, certainly in Rome, and apparently more broadly in the West, the normal eucharistic bread was leavened.

Note, too: I have not been arguing here that the eucharistic bread *must* be leavened; only that the historical record suggests that it was in fact leavened, in both east and west, before the middle of the Middle Ages.

My theological library is, admittedly, small--only some 1700 volumes, and not many of those on liturgical matters. This will have to do. I trust it *will* do, for those of reasonable intelligence and a modicum of good will.


I am fairly sure it will not convince Dr. Phillips. And I don't care to pursue the issue of azymes with him any more.

Eric Phillips said...

I would like to ask Theodor Klauser why he assumes that the faithful were incapable of baking unleavened bread in their own kitchens.

> I have not been arguing here that the
> eucharistic bread *must* be leavened

I know. Nor have I been arguing that it must be unleavened. It seems most likely that different locales used different kinds of bread for centuries before the yeast-line resolved as an East-West border. And considering the fact that the Bible says merely "bread," this is not surprising.

But that brings us back to the actual point of the thread, which is not "the issue of azymes" at all, but one simple fact:

Jesus used wine and unleavened bread when He instituted the Lord's Supper. But in both cases, this is something we know from inference, not from explicit biblical declaration. So on what basis do you argue "Christ said, 'Do THIS,'" on the question of the wine, but then turn right around and do something other than what He did on the question of the bread?

Obviously, you can't argue from the Bible on this point. You have nothing to appeal to but the long usage of the (pre-refrigeration)Church. And hey--that's not insignificant, but it's not the same thing as a divine mandate.