Saturday, January 17, 2009

Here the LCMS stands on Warren, Robinson, etc. Part Two

part one | part two | part three

Continued from previous post.

But a more interesting point can be found in the official Lutheran view of the world. To most non-Christians, and in fact to most Christians, Lutherans are considered as the vanguard of the Protestant movement. But we Lutherans consider ourselves unique among Christian groups. Regarding Holy Communion, for example, everybody else is wrong.

The Lutheran church believes, teaches and confesses that the Lord's Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, given to us Christians to eat and to drink. We hold that the bread and the wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ and that these are given and received into the mouths of all who commune. Those who believe the promise: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. This promise, along with the bodily eating and drinking, is the main thing in the Sacrament.

The Lutheran church rejects and condemns incorrect understandings of the Lord's Supper, such as the view that the sacrifice of the Mass delivers man from his sins, or that the substance of the consecrated bread and wine is actually changed into the body and blood of Christ. We also reject and condemn the view that in the Lord's Supper the true body and blood of Christ is not received by the mouth of the communicants, under the bread and wine, but is received only spiritually in the heart by faith, or that the bread and wine are only symbols of the far-distant body and blood of our Lord.

In essence, the Lutheran worldview assumes that there are Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Reformed views about the Lord's Supper, and that the other two views (addressed in the second paragraph above) are wrong.

Not that Lutheran belief can be rightly called consubstantiation. C.F.W. Walther (note: when an LCMS person cites Walther, he or she is supposed to pause and observe a momentary reverent silence):

First of all, what do these terms mean? Consubstantiation, as the word indicates, means a combination of two substances in such a way that by being mixed together they are fused into one substance or mass, consisting of different ingredients. For example, pouring the substances of water and wine together produces a watered wine (Weinwasser); blending honey and water produces mead; mixing meat and flour produces meat pies. Hence, in the Lord’s Supper consubstantiation would involve the concept of a spacial combination, mixture, and fusion of the body and blood of Christ with the consecrated elements as a new dual mass, as Eutyches once asserted the fusion of both natures in Christ into one nature.

Impanation signifies the spacial inclusion, concealment, incapsulation of an item within the bread, as in a capsule containing and enclosing the item. Hence, in the Lord’s Supper impanation would express the idea that the body of Christ, compressed into a very small body, lies concealed under the consecrated bread and is enclosed by it as by its container.

These conceptions of the presence of Christ, that is, of His body and blood, in the Holy Supper are thoroughly unbiblical, materialistic, unworthy, and self-contradictory, and they are equally un-Lutheran and in contradiction to the Confessions of our church....

Our church. This brings us to a Lutheran doctrine, that of the true visible church. Walther (pause) wrote a series of theses that touched upon both the invisible church and the visible church. The invisible church is described in Thesis I:

The one holy Christian Church on earth, or the Church in the proper sense of the word, outside of which there is no salvation, is, according to God's Word, the total of all that truly believe in Christ and are sanctified through this faith.

After discussing various visible churches and their possible beliefs (e.g. churches "erring obstinately in fundamentals"), Walther gets to Thesis VIII:

Though church-writers sometimes call communions holding God's Word essentially true, i. e., real, churches over against non-churches, yet over against erring churches, or sects, a true visible Church in the absolute sense is that only in which God's Word is preached right and the holy Sacraments are administered in accordance with the Gospel.

So which church does C.F.W. Walter, the accepted founder of what became the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, believe is the true visible church? You could read Theses X through XXV, or you could take a wild guess. Hint: it's not the United Methodists.

So, what does this mean?

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