The sacramental imagination

A common notion in studies of Christianity and the arts  is “the sacramental imagination.”  It goes like this:  Christians with a high view of the sacraments believe that spiritual realities are mediated by means of physical things.  Christian artists with those beliefs, therefore, can easily employ images derived from the material world in order to communicate their faith.  This is also why so many Christian artists are Roman Catholics, a church whose sacramental theology encourages this kind of imagination.

That may be.  But it occurred to me–while contemplating that “Luther and the Body” article I blogged about earlier in the course of this road trip that I’m still on (driving long hours giving time for just thinking)–that Lutheran sacramental theology offers a basis for this sacramental imagination more than Roman Catholicism does.

The Roman Catholic view of Holy Communion teaches that the physical bread and wine is no longer present. We receive Christ’s Body and Blood only.  We perceive the “accidents” of bread and wine, their appearance, but the only “substance” is that of Christ.   This take on the physical material reality seems to be more that of Eastern monism–that the physical realm is an illusion–than an actual affirmation of the physical as a vehicle for the spiritual.

The Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence, though, teaches that the bread and the wine, in their physicality, are still present, as is the actual Body and Blood of Christ.  (Again, don’t call this “consubstantiation,” which is the Roman Catholic attempt to explain this  teaching in terms of their own “substance” and “accidents” distinction that Lutheranism rejects.)

The mode of Christ’s presence is explained not in terms of different “substances” but in terms of “the ubiquity of Christ.”  That is, just as God is omnipresent without displacing the existence of other objects, Christ, because of His personal union of the divine and human natures, can be, in His body, present in bread and wine.   Not that He is in the Sacrament only in the sense of God being everywhere, but in a unique sacramental union in which He is present specifically through the Word of the Gospel, his body and blood being given and shed “for you.”

Now, this kind of teaching first of all is going to encourage those who believe it to think of God in Christ as being not far above the universe, looking down, as the imagination of many Christians has Him, but, rather, as being very close.  God, of course, is both transcendent and immanent, but the latter often gets minimized, which it can’t in Lutheran spirituality.

Furthermore, Lutheran theology also teaches the presence of God in vocation.  (It is God who gives us this day our daily bread through the vocation of the farmer and the baker; God milks the cows through the work of the milkmaid; God creates new life by working through mothers and fathers; vocation is a mask of God, etc., etc.)  This again encourages people to see the spiritual dimensions of the physical world.

For artists, it means that not only physical images can manifest the spiritual realm, the very act of creating–whether by paint, words, film, or whatever medium one’s vocation involves–manifests not just the presence of God but His activity, that He creates by means of human creation.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    Dr. Veith,

    Thank you for the enlightening concerning the Lutheran understanding of the sacraments. I had understood this previously (and erroneously) to be consubstantiation, but your explanation makes a bit more sense.

    Now, if only I understood the Lutheran understanding of baptism…

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    Dr. Veith,

    Thank you for the enlightening concerning the Lutheran understanding of the sacraments. I had understood this previously (and erroneously) to be consubstantiation, but your explanation makes a bit more sense.

    Now, if only I understood the Lutheran understanding of baptism…

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Dr. Veith, you so totally nailed the “spiritualizing” tendency of RC with its doctrine of transubstantiation. Kurt Marquart always loved to point this out when speaking on this subject. In RC theology the bread and wine only appear to be present, but are not. The history of the development of the doctrine of transubstantiation is very thoroughly presented by Hermann Sasse in his opus magnum: THIS IS MY BODY. John Stephenson does a fine job as well in his book on the Lord’s Supper in the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Dr. Veith, you so totally nailed the “spiritualizing” tendency of RC with its doctrine of transubstantiation. Kurt Marquart always loved to point this out when speaking on this subject. In RC theology the bread and wine only appear to be present, but are not. The history of the development of the doctrine of transubstantiation is very thoroughly presented by Hermann Sasse in his opus magnum: THIS IS MY BODY. John Stephenson does a fine job as well in his book on the Lord’s Supper in the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series.

  • Allan

    Dr. Veith,

    I’m wondering if you could extend your thoughts on this subject to that of the Reformed faith. I follow its argument against images of Christ and even against the use of art in worship, but I can’t understand the stance against having art as decorum for church buildings. They seem to conflate the former with the latter.

  • Allan

    Dr. Veith,

    I’m wondering if you could extend your thoughts on this subject to that of the Reformed faith. I follow its argument against images of Christ and even against the use of art in worship, but I can’t understand the stance against having art as decorum for church buildings. They seem to conflate the former with the latter.

  • http://www.stjohnswoodlake.com Mike Berg

    My father, a Lutheran pastor, said he read a Norman Nagel article before every Advent, to “get him in the mood”. In this article Prof. Nagel speaks of this hesitancy in the RCC doctrine of transubstantiation. He calls it a “balking” at the real presence. It’s one of those pieces you read and reread with as much joy of discovery as the first time you picked it up. Here is the biographical info…
    Nagel, Norman. “The Incarnation and The Lord’s Supper in Luther.” Concordia Theological Monthly. Vol. XXIV No. 9. September 1953. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1953.

  • http://www.stjohnswoodlake.com Mike Berg

    My father, a Lutheran pastor, said he read a Norman Nagel article before every Advent, to “get him in the mood”. In this article Prof. Nagel speaks of this hesitancy in the RCC doctrine of transubstantiation. He calls it a “balking” at the real presence. It’s one of those pieces you read and reread with as much joy of discovery as the first time you picked it up. Here is the biographical info…
    Nagel, Norman. “The Incarnation and The Lord’s Supper in Luther.” Concordia Theological Monthly. Vol. XXIV No. 9. September 1953. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1953.

  • http://www.stjohnswoodlake.com Mike Berg

    Excuse me, “bibliographical” info.

  • http://www.stjohnswoodlake.com Mike Berg

    Excuse me, “bibliographical” info.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Could anyone comment on the Eastern Orthodox understanding of Holy Communion? My understanding is that they too reject the Roman Catholic/Thomist/Aristotelian notion of transubstantiation, while strongly affirming that the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ. How is their view different from the Lutheran position, or is it?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Could anyone comment on the Eastern Orthodox understanding of Holy Communion? My understanding is that they too reject the Roman Catholic/Thomist/Aristotelian notion of transubstantiation, while strongly affirming that the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ. How is their view different from the Lutheran position, or is it?

  • Tom Hering

    This might be helpful, Dr. Veith.

  • Tom Hering

    This might be helpful, Dr. Veith.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    What, Tom? I didn’t see a link.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    What, Tom? I didn’t see a link.

  • Tom Hering

    Huh! I see it, it’s the word “This,” and it’s working for me.

    But just in case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Presence

  • Tom Hering

    Huh! I see it, it’s the word “This,” and it’s working for me.

    But just in case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Presence

  • Larry

    Dr. Veith,

    Very nice! And this was a nice concise sentence:

    “The mode of Christ’s presence is explained not in terms of different “substances” but in terms of “the ubiquity of Christ.”

    Larry

  • Larry

    Dr. Veith,

    Very nice! And this was a nice concise sentence:

    “The mode of Christ’s presence is explained not in terms of different “substances” but in terms of “the ubiquity of Christ.”

    Larry

  • bunnycatch3r

    Christian artists with those beliefs, therefore, can easily employ images derived from the material world in order to communicate their faith. This is also why so many Christian artists are Roman Catholics, a church whose sacramental theology encourages this kind of imagination.

    And how exactly does this sort of imagination not belie the very clear prohibition contained in the first commandment?
    “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; …”(RSV Exodus 20:3-6).

    Do we explain it away and say “well… since we’re not technically bowing down to the graven image, per se…then of course we’re free to disregard this small portion of the law.” ?

  • bunnycatch3r

    Christian artists with those beliefs, therefore, can easily employ images derived from the material world in order to communicate their faith. This is also why so many Christian artists are Roman Catholics, a church whose sacramental theology encourages this kind of imagination.

    And how exactly does this sort of imagination not belie the very clear prohibition contained in the first commandment?
    “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; …”(RSV Exodus 20:3-6).

    Do we explain it away and say “well… since we’re not technically bowing down to the graven image, per se…then of course we’re free to disregard this small portion of the law.” ?

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, context is everything. “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them …” (Exodus 20:3-5.) God instructed that the tabernacle and the temple be decorated with the likenesses of what is in heaven above and on the earth beneath!

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, context is everything. “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them …” (Exodus 20:3-5.) God instructed that the tabernacle and the temple be decorated with the likenesses of what is in heaven above and on the earth beneath!

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    Agreed with Tom. Remember that later on, in the same book (Exodus), God commands the design of the tabernacle, which entails the fashioning of the images of angels for both the ark and for the veil.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    Agreed with Tom. Remember that later on, in the same book (Exodus), God commands the design of the tabernacle, which entails the fashioning of the images of angels for both the ark and for the veil.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Got it, Tom @ 7. That is, indeed, a fascinating and useful article, and I commend it to all of you. According to that, the Eastern Orthodox DO believe in transubstantiation, that the bread and wine are no longer truly present in the sacrament. The article gives a good account of Lutheran belief and practice and goes on to explain the stances of other churches.

    Anglicans, of course, have a high view of the sacrament and many, if not all in that church that allows such a wide range of opinions, seem to believe in a real presence that sounds, at least, close to what Lutherans believe. Confessional Calvinists and, I was surprised to see, Wesleyans have a relatively high view of the sacrament, to the point of referring to the real presence, though it is not the same as Lutherans. Again, I would recommend reading that article that Tom links to.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Got it, Tom @ 7. That is, indeed, a fascinating and useful article, and I commend it to all of you. According to that, the Eastern Orthodox DO believe in transubstantiation, that the bread and wine are no longer truly present in the sacrament. The article gives a good account of Lutheran belief and practice and goes on to explain the stances of other churches.

    Anglicans, of course, have a high view of the sacrament and many, if not all in that church that allows such a wide range of opinions, seem to believe in a real presence that sounds, at least, close to what Lutherans believe. Confessional Calvinists and, I was surprised to see, Wesleyans have a relatively high view of the sacrament, to the point of referring to the real presence, though it is not the same as Lutherans. Again, I would recommend reading that article that Tom links to.

  • MikeD

    But if Christ’s presence in the elements is explained as such: “The mode of Christ’s presence is explained not in terms of different “substances” but in terms of “the ubiquity of Christ”, then Christ is no less present in an unbeliever’s bowels, Mono Lake, and Satan’s mind than in some unleavened bread. If omnipresence is thought of in terms of location and extension then God is not omnipresent, but created. Rather omnipresence is summed up in that there is nowhere we can go to flee from His presence… he is omniscient.

    Two other points sure to get me in trouble here. Does God really want us to have creative imaginations when it comes to worship, namely, the sacraments? Surely this quality is necessary for the arts, and useful elsewhere, but when it comes to understanding the Word how much of a role could imagination play? Lastly, one could argue (not that I have an ardent desire too) that the memorial view of communion relies on a form of imagination, not in that we try to perceive what we do not see, or employ a philosophy of art while partaking, but rather we use our mind to understand what is represented by the elements in accordance with what has been taught, even though what enteres our mouth is the baked mixture of flour, water, and some other stuff.

    Not to be trite in argument for I know words have different connotations and change over time and such, but I find it odd that we see here that imagination in worship is trying to be extolled when the use of the very word imagination is used about 25 times in the Bible and not some or most, but EVERY time it is a bad thing condemned of the Lord. Why? Because basically it is thinking of a particular issue creatively rather than the way God has said it to be so. Those imaginative folk spoken of in those verses are making stuff up, you know, being creative, rather than agreeing with His word and way. Sometimes I think the word imagination is used to get us to accept doctrine that is at best ineffable, and at worst contradictory.

  • MikeD

    But if Christ’s presence in the elements is explained as such: “The mode of Christ’s presence is explained not in terms of different “substances” but in terms of “the ubiquity of Christ”, then Christ is no less present in an unbeliever’s bowels, Mono Lake, and Satan’s mind than in some unleavened bread. If omnipresence is thought of in terms of location and extension then God is not omnipresent, but created. Rather omnipresence is summed up in that there is nowhere we can go to flee from His presence… he is omniscient.

    Two other points sure to get me in trouble here. Does God really want us to have creative imaginations when it comes to worship, namely, the sacraments? Surely this quality is necessary for the arts, and useful elsewhere, but when it comes to understanding the Word how much of a role could imagination play? Lastly, one could argue (not that I have an ardent desire too) that the memorial view of communion relies on a form of imagination, not in that we try to perceive what we do not see, or employ a philosophy of art while partaking, but rather we use our mind to understand what is represented by the elements in accordance with what has been taught, even though what enteres our mouth is the baked mixture of flour, water, and some other stuff.

    Not to be trite in argument for I know words have different connotations and change over time and such, but I find it odd that we see here that imagination in worship is trying to be extolled when the use of the very word imagination is used about 25 times in the Bible and not some or most, but EVERY time it is a bad thing condemned of the Lord. Why? Because basically it is thinking of a particular issue creatively rather than the way God has said it to be so. Those imaginative folk spoken of in those verses are making stuff up, you know, being creative, rather than agreeing with His word and way. Sometimes I think the word imagination is used to get us to accept doctrine that is at best ineffable, and at worst contradictory.

  • Larry

    Regarding the commandment against idolatry coming from the outside in this was an epiphany moment for me as I understood it as “images”. Weather you keep the 1 commandment with the clause of idolatry as one or break it up as 1 and 2 the issue is the same, “I am the Lord your God…” (Luther often noted the Gospel in this commandment, a thing not seen by the pope or the enthusiast point of view).

    The issue is really not sticks and stones “carved” into something. That’s to entirely miss the point about God being your God and not idols and miss the point of “what is an idol” at the most important level. It’s not the “stick and stone” or “picture” or “other material thing” that is worshipped. One has to go back to the fundamental definition, derived from the first commandment, “I am the Lord your God Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage, you shall have no other gods beside (or in front of) Me.”. Any other “god” is the idol. To which the question becomes most naturally, “What does this mean?” As catechism asks. And the short answer is as I teach my kids nightly, “To fear, love and trust God above all things”.

    To peel that answer apart more it is ESPECIALLY unto trusting nakedly God alone for salvation even above earthly needs (the essence of the “for me” in the sacraments is beginning to show itself, how do I know, God baptized me, Christ said so if I eat and drink His flesh and blood…for you…for the forgiveness of sins…has eternal life…abides in me…etc…”).

    Generically Luther answer the question, then what does it to mean something is my god (the Real God or an idol)? He answers (paraphrased), “A god is that in which one trusts for all things good (for me) and in time of trial and distress finds shelter.” This applies to earthly need but IN PARTICULAR and ESPECIALLY unto salvation.

    Thus the issue of idolatry is not “stick and stones” or “pictures” or “ornamentation” within the church or elsewhere but that into which I “fear, love and trust”. Thus one can eliminate entirely all “stick and stone” carvings and pictures and such and still be steeped in rank idolatry. Investing fear, love and trust into the creature, in short.

    This is why, for example, Luther said of the rebaptizers that if one rebaptizes based upon “faith”, a creature of God, it is shear idolatry. Because the assurance and thus faith is invested in that and not the name, Word and absolution of God in Baptism.

    As to Christ’s ubiquity. Luther helps here too. Why did Luther say he’d rather drink blood with the pope than just wine with the sacramentarians? Because, as he stated, God is still God even in hell, the Cross being the primary example. Under that hidden suffering and hellish crucifixion, behold God saving you.

    Luther thus makes the distinction of God being everywhere in general where he is hidden and only death, wrath and hell are perceived versus in the sacraments where He is FOR YOU. Thus, I cannot tell if God has saved me by the events and things and changes in and around my life, only death, wrath and hell (theology of glory). But I can tell God has saved me, forgiven me, in the sacraments. Why? Because He said so, there his saving Word is FOR ME (theology of the Cross).

    In summary: He thus hides himself, where we seek him as a fallen theology of glory, we naturally in our fallen state gravitate to this, in creation to NOT BE FOUND in a saving way but only in wrath and incertitude. And then hides himself where we would not seek him in suffering and Cross, where, ironically and paradoxically we may find him savingly for us, in Gospel Word, Gospel Sacraments.

    And where there is forgiveness of sin there is (necessarily) life (eternal) and salvation…literally.

    Larry

  • Larry

    Regarding the commandment against idolatry coming from the outside in this was an epiphany moment for me as I understood it as “images”. Weather you keep the 1 commandment with the clause of idolatry as one or break it up as 1 and 2 the issue is the same, “I am the Lord your God…” (Luther often noted the Gospel in this commandment, a thing not seen by the pope or the enthusiast point of view).

    The issue is really not sticks and stones “carved” into something. That’s to entirely miss the point about God being your God and not idols and miss the point of “what is an idol” at the most important level. It’s not the “stick and stone” or “picture” or “other material thing” that is worshipped. One has to go back to the fundamental definition, derived from the first commandment, “I am the Lord your God Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage, you shall have no other gods beside (or in front of) Me.”. Any other “god” is the idol. To which the question becomes most naturally, “What does this mean?” As catechism asks. And the short answer is as I teach my kids nightly, “To fear, love and trust God above all things”.

    To peel that answer apart more it is ESPECIALLY unto trusting nakedly God alone for salvation even above earthly needs (the essence of the “for me” in the sacraments is beginning to show itself, how do I know, God baptized me, Christ said so if I eat and drink His flesh and blood…for you…for the forgiveness of sins…has eternal life…abides in me…etc…”).

    Generically Luther answer the question, then what does it to mean something is my god (the Real God or an idol)? He answers (paraphrased), “A god is that in which one trusts for all things good (for me) and in time of trial and distress finds shelter.” This applies to earthly need but IN PARTICULAR and ESPECIALLY unto salvation.

    Thus the issue of idolatry is not “stick and stones” or “pictures” or “ornamentation” within the church or elsewhere but that into which I “fear, love and trust”. Thus one can eliminate entirely all “stick and stone” carvings and pictures and such and still be steeped in rank idolatry. Investing fear, love and trust into the creature, in short.

    This is why, for example, Luther said of the rebaptizers that if one rebaptizes based upon “faith”, a creature of God, it is shear idolatry. Because the assurance and thus faith is invested in that and not the name, Word and absolution of God in Baptism.

    As to Christ’s ubiquity. Luther helps here too. Why did Luther say he’d rather drink blood with the pope than just wine with the sacramentarians? Because, as he stated, God is still God even in hell, the Cross being the primary example. Under that hidden suffering and hellish crucifixion, behold God saving you.

    Luther thus makes the distinction of God being everywhere in general where he is hidden and only death, wrath and hell are perceived versus in the sacraments where He is FOR YOU. Thus, I cannot tell if God has saved me by the events and things and changes in and around my life, only death, wrath and hell (theology of glory). But I can tell God has saved me, forgiven me, in the sacraments. Why? Because He said so, there his saving Word is FOR ME (theology of the Cross).

    In summary: He thus hides himself, where we seek him as a fallen theology of glory, we naturally in our fallen state gravitate to this, in creation to NOT BE FOUND in a saving way but only in wrath and incertitude. And then hides himself where we would not seek him in suffering and Cross, where, ironically and paradoxically we may find him savingly for us, in Gospel Word, Gospel Sacraments.

    And where there is forgiveness of sin there is (necessarily) life (eternal) and salvation…literally.

    Larry

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    God Himself commanded His people to use beautiful decorations, symbols, images and such in the Tabernacle and the Temple. So, the Reformed/Calvinist attempt to use the so-called “Second Commandment” to preclude any visual arts in a place of worship is false.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    God Himself commanded His people to use beautiful decorations, symbols, images and such in the Tabernacle and the Temple. So, the Reformed/Calvinist attempt to use the so-called “Second Commandment” to preclude any visual arts in a place of worship is false.

  • MikeD

    17 Rev. Paul T. McCain @ 17…

    He also commanded the slaughter of an animal too. So if a church precluded that would that be, false, as you called it?

    Furthermore, there are many Reformed churches that have beautiful things here and there around the building, like stained glass and varnished wood, but they are not to be regarded as essential for worship, like the Temple art you mentioned a bit ago. To do so would be going back to types and shadows.

  • MikeD

    17 Rev. Paul T. McCain @ 17…

    He also commanded the slaughter of an animal too. So if a church precluded that would that be, false, as you called it?

    Furthermore, there are many Reformed churches that have beautiful things here and there around the building, like stained glass and varnished wood, but they are not to be regarded as essential for worship, like the Temple art you mentioned a bit ago. To do so would be going back to types and shadows.

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    A friend notified me of this blog post and I only came by to talk about such a huge coincidence that I believe it’s worth mentioning! I have a blog of politics and culture in which I include a Sunday Faith Blog every week. This week, I had quite a conversation develop in the COMMENTS about communion, and baptism, including a friend talking about how he baptized his own children………well, I called for help from my friend and my pastor and they both helped me in my comments but then my friend sent me this piece by you this morning and it was perfect and, I hope you don’t mind, but I copy/pasted into the comments section (quoting you, of course, Mr. Veith!)…….This really helps me understand my own church’s communion even better and I couldn’t get over the ‘coincidence’ that you’d have it posted on the day we were having our conversation……thanks SO much. Big blessings to you, Z

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    A friend notified me of this blog post and I only came by to talk about such a huge coincidence that I believe it’s worth mentioning! I have a blog of politics and culture in which I include a Sunday Faith Blog every week. This week, I had quite a conversation develop in the COMMENTS about communion, and baptism, including a friend talking about how he baptized his own children………well, I called for help from my friend and my pastor and they both helped me in my comments but then my friend sent me this piece by you this morning and it was perfect and, I hope you don’t mind, but I copy/pasted into the comments section (quoting you, of course, Mr. Veith!)…….This really helps me understand my own church’s communion even better and I couldn’t get over the ‘coincidence’ that you’d have it posted on the day we were having our conversation……thanks SO much. Big blessings to you, Z

  • Jonathan

    Dear Bunny at number 11– This is no other God, no idol present in the Supper. This is the very God of very God coming right down to you, right into your own mouth and over your gullet–FOR you! And for the forgiveness of your your sins!

  • Jonathan

    Dear Bunny at number 11– This is no other God, no idol present in the Supper. This is the very God of very God coming right down to you, right into your own mouth and over your gullet–FOR you! And for the forgiveness of your your sins!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    MikeD, we are, of course, talking about three different things: Christ’s presence in the Sacrament, the notion that believing in that encourages Christian artists to express their faith in concrete terms, and the use of art in worship.

    If Christ is, in fact, present in Holy Communion, that is not idolatry, since Christ is the true God and no idol.

    God’s omnipresence does indeed make Him present in your bowels, in the lake, and in Hell (“whither can I escape from thy presence? if I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there”). But His presence can do different things: keep the universe in existence or keep the damned in His judgement.

    In the Sacrament, as I said, Christ’s presence is in the mode of saving–”given and shed for the forgiveness of all your sins”–that is, in the mode of the Gospel, which is not true of all cases of omnipresence.

    It’s interesting, MikeD, that you demonstrate what Lutherans say about the Reformed beliefs, though some of my Calvinist friends say they are being mischaracterized! You question the use of art in church, the value of art for expressing Christian concepts, and the presence of Christ in the sacrament. You also conflate God’s omnipresence with His omniscience, turning God into someone who knows everything, but remains far above the universe. Lutherans accuse the Reformed of believing these things, but the Reformed often deny the accusation! I appreciate your honesty in following the implications of your assumptions.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    MikeD, we are, of course, talking about three different things: Christ’s presence in the Sacrament, the notion that believing in that encourages Christian artists to express their faith in concrete terms, and the use of art in worship.

    If Christ is, in fact, present in Holy Communion, that is not idolatry, since Christ is the true God and no idol.

    God’s omnipresence does indeed make Him present in your bowels, in the lake, and in Hell (“whither can I escape from thy presence? if I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there”). But His presence can do different things: keep the universe in existence or keep the damned in His judgement.

    In the Sacrament, as I said, Christ’s presence is in the mode of saving–”given and shed for the forgiveness of all your sins”–that is, in the mode of the Gospel, which is not true of all cases of omnipresence.

    It’s interesting, MikeD, that you demonstrate what Lutherans say about the Reformed beliefs, though some of my Calvinist friends say they are being mischaracterized! You question the use of art in church, the value of art for expressing Christian concepts, and the presence of Christ in the sacrament. You also conflate God’s omnipresence with His omniscience, turning God into someone who knows everything, but remains far above the universe. Lutherans accuse the Reformed of believing these things, but the Reformed often deny the accusation! I appreciate your honesty in following the implications of your assumptions.

  • Tom Hering

    MikeD @ 18, art in a church isn’t essential for worship. It is, however, essential for beauty. Which isn’t essential for worship either, but why not have it, as it’s a good thing?

  • Tom Hering

    MikeD @ 18, art in a church isn’t essential for worship. It is, however, essential for beauty. Which isn’t essential for worship either, but why not have it, as it’s a good thing?

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The notion that a Biblical view of our worship spaces requires a sterile worship space is one that does not originate in the Scriptures, but in false assumptions and preconceptions that arose in the Geneva and Radical streams of the Reformation. It is not Biblical. Every evidence that we have shows us that God delights in the visual arts. It is sad to see Christians embrace legalism based on misunderstanding.

    Here is a particularly striking painting that is a wonderful tool for preaching/teaching the Gospel:

    http://cyberbrethren.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/CranachWeimarAltar2.jpg

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The notion that a Biblical view of our worship spaces requires a sterile worship space is one that does not originate in the Scriptures, but in false assumptions and preconceptions that arose in the Geneva and Radical streams of the Reformation. It is not Biblical. Every evidence that we have shows us that God delights in the visual arts. It is sad to see Christians embrace legalism based on misunderstanding.

    Here is a particularly striking painting that is a wonderful tool for preaching/teaching the Gospel:

    http://cyberbrethren.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/CranachWeimarAltar2.jpg

  • bunnycatch3r

    Thanks for all of your insights into the first commandment.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Thanks for all of your insights into the first commandment.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Z @ 19: Another strange conjunction! Please send us the link to that discussion.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Z @ 19: Another strange conjunction! Please send us the link to that discussion.

  • MikeD

    As to Veith’s comment at #21:

    “If Christ is, in fact, present in Holy Communion, that is not idolatry, since Christ is the true God and no idol.” What is not idolatry? I didn’t say anything was idolatry so I’m not sure what you are referring to. Are you saying that if one genuflects or prays before a communion wafer, there is a mode of God’s presence that makes it acceptable worship?

    As for Christ being present in the elements and also in our bowels, would the key distinction be that Christ is “in, under, and through” the wafer and wine, but only “in” our bowels? I hope not. If it goes back to the mode of God’s activity with the instrument of the wafer and wine, then even there He is not always saving. He is sometimes condemning, for many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. What makes communion, as you put it, “in the mode of the Gospel” and not as I’ll put it, “in the mode of condemnation/law” is the lovingkindness of God manifested in the intellectual activity of remembrance of Him, (which has been granted to us to beleive by grace alone through the Spirit) concerning Christ’s person and work that we hopefully heard in the sermon. Before we all scream, “Head knowledge,” “or “Knowledge puffs up,” let us remember that ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness come by way of knowledge. The same is true, for example, of the crucifixion, For some will be saved by his blood, but others will be guilty of it.

    As for your other Calvinist friends I imagine (yep, I said it;-) that’s exactly the conversation you have, and I too from the other side of the spectrum. Calvin in the Institutes chides the Catholic view as evil and irrational and then a couple of pages later, literally, says that Christ is really present, but that the notion is ineffable. I say, how dare he or anybody else! Nobody is under compulsion to believe what has not been understood, for it is not only plain ol’ not nice, but IMPOSSIBLE. Faith presupposes (or includes if you wish) understanding of the proposition believed… yep you guseed it, the doctrine of implicit faith has gotta go too!

  • MikeD

    As to Veith’s comment at #21:

    “If Christ is, in fact, present in Holy Communion, that is not idolatry, since Christ is the true God and no idol.” What is not idolatry? I didn’t say anything was idolatry so I’m not sure what you are referring to. Are you saying that if one genuflects or prays before a communion wafer, there is a mode of God’s presence that makes it acceptable worship?

    As for Christ being present in the elements and also in our bowels, would the key distinction be that Christ is “in, under, and through” the wafer and wine, but only “in” our bowels? I hope not. If it goes back to the mode of God’s activity with the instrument of the wafer and wine, then even there He is not always saving. He is sometimes condemning, for many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. What makes communion, as you put it, “in the mode of the Gospel” and not as I’ll put it, “in the mode of condemnation/law” is the lovingkindness of God manifested in the intellectual activity of remembrance of Him, (which has been granted to us to beleive by grace alone through the Spirit) concerning Christ’s person and work that we hopefully heard in the sermon. Before we all scream, “Head knowledge,” “or “Knowledge puffs up,” let us remember that ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness come by way of knowledge. The same is true, for example, of the crucifixion, For some will be saved by his blood, but others will be guilty of it.

    As for your other Calvinist friends I imagine (yep, I said it;-) that’s exactly the conversation you have, and I too from the other side of the spectrum. Calvin in the Institutes chides the Catholic view as evil and irrational and then a couple of pages later, literally, says that Christ is really present, but that the notion is ineffable. I say, how dare he or anybody else! Nobody is under compulsion to believe what has not been understood, for it is not only plain ol’ not nice, but IMPOSSIBLE. Faith presupposes (or includes if you wish) understanding of the proposition believed… yep you guseed it, the doctrine of implicit faith has gotta go too!

  • Larry

    “…To do so would be going back to types and shadows.”

    Is really a reformed category underpinned by reformed “sign” thought. It is part and parcel with the reformed sign only and symbol only language. A sign in reformed thinking is a philosophical sign, meaning really the ABSENCE of the thing. Hence the standard reformed “don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified”. But for Luther he used “sign” per a theological not philosophical definition. That is to say a sign is the actual PRESCENCE of the thing.

    Because the reformed only hold out the sacraments as “signs” (e.g. bread and wine = “this is NOT MY body and blood”), whether Zwingli or Calvin, they in fact have only “types and shadows” in the NT or OT. I.e. the bread is a sign pointing to Christ’s body up in the fiery heaven, the wine is a sign pointing to Christ’s blood up in the fiery heaven.

    This is even true of the naked Word without bread, wine or water. The Word (or Sacraments) only “works” if/when the Holy Spirit attends somewhere around/beside/in front/in back of it and then “only sometimes”. It might be best understood of reformed thought that the Word or Sacrament only sets forth the invitational location/spot upon which God might potentially operate and then only selectively (one man converts the guy next to him does not ever). It sets forth a “representative presentation” only of the Gospel, but never actually GIVES it.

    It is thus, word and sacrament in reformed thought, truly “just a type and shadow” still (e.g. Christ’s real and true flesh and blood are not in the sacrament). In Lutheranism on the other hand it is no “type and shadow” at all, but the very ever present real and true body and blood of Christ and the communion extends to be with the actual and true saints in heaven. Thus, the sacrament in Lutheranism does not confine itself to space and time, but is Christ actually given us and with them, communing truly and really together, who have already fallen asleep in the wounds of Christ (e.g. we are not just communing with the guy next to me, but my grandparents in heaven).

    It is a tremendous Gospel, rich and unfathomable.

  • Larry

    “…To do so would be going back to types and shadows.”

    Is really a reformed category underpinned by reformed “sign” thought. It is part and parcel with the reformed sign only and symbol only language. A sign in reformed thinking is a philosophical sign, meaning really the ABSENCE of the thing. Hence the standard reformed “don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified”. But for Luther he used “sign” per a theological not philosophical definition. That is to say a sign is the actual PRESCENCE of the thing.

    Because the reformed only hold out the sacraments as “signs” (e.g. bread and wine = “this is NOT MY body and blood”), whether Zwingli or Calvin, they in fact have only “types and shadows” in the NT or OT. I.e. the bread is a sign pointing to Christ’s body up in the fiery heaven, the wine is a sign pointing to Christ’s blood up in the fiery heaven.

    This is even true of the naked Word without bread, wine or water. The Word (or Sacraments) only “works” if/when the Holy Spirit attends somewhere around/beside/in front/in back of it and then “only sometimes”. It might be best understood of reformed thought that the Word or Sacrament only sets forth the invitational location/spot upon which God might potentially operate and then only selectively (one man converts the guy next to him does not ever). It sets forth a “representative presentation” only of the Gospel, but never actually GIVES it.

    It is thus, word and sacrament in reformed thought, truly “just a type and shadow” still (e.g. Christ’s real and true flesh and blood are not in the sacrament). In Lutheranism on the other hand it is no “type and shadow” at all, but the very ever present real and true body and blood of Christ and the communion extends to be with the actual and true saints in heaven. Thus, the sacrament in Lutheranism does not confine itself to space and time, but is Christ actually given us and with them, communing truly and really together, who have already fallen asleep in the wounds of Christ (e.g. we are not just communing with the guy next to me, but my grandparents in heaven).

    It is a tremendous Gospel, rich and unfathomable.

  • MikeD

    Tom @ 22,

    Beauty is great and to be sought after insomuch as it is not a distraction or a direct violation of the word of God. For example, not all beautiful songs that can be sung to God’s glory in worship are appropriate, for who can keep up with certain classical pieces, their inflections, pace, etc. A fine bronze sculpture of Eve, let’s say before any fig leaves may be beautiful too, but certainly not appropriate, especially for the fellas. Stained-glass is prettier than iron bars, but perhaps it would be a misallocation of scarce resources called moolah. The occassion of appropriateness may differ from people to people, but all must be within the principles of Scripture.

    For corporate sacred worship, what’s beautiful is truth, love, and often suffering. This is most clearly set forth in the active and passive obedience of Christ. This is consistent with the theology of the cross. What is more in line with the theology of glory is thinking that there’s anything sacred/redemptive or God-pleasing about pretty things.

  • MikeD

    Tom @ 22,

    Beauty is great and to be sought after insomuch as it is not a distraction or a direct violation of the word of God. For example, not all beautiful songs that can be sung to God’s glory in worship are appropriate, for who can keep up with certain classical pieces, their inflections, pace, etc. A fine bronze sculpture of Eve, let’s say before any fig leaves may be beautiful too, but certainly not appropriate, especially for the fellas. Stained-glass is prettier than iron bars, but perhaps it would be a misallocation of scarce resources called moolah. The occassion of appropriateness may differ from people to people, but all must be within the principles of Scripture.

    For corporate sacred worship, what’s beautiful is truth, love, and often suffering. This is most clearly set forth in the active and passive obedience of Christ. This is consistent with the theology of the cross. What is more in line with the theology of glory is thinking that there’s anything sacred/redemptive or God-pleasing about pretty things.

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Larry, what a gorgeous comment..thanks for that.
    MikeD, I’ve been in such plain churches I actually don’t feel at all’drawn in’, sadly..maybe that’s a shortcoming of my own. I love the beauty of our stained glass windows and the brick walls, flowers, etc..candles; it’s sure not more important than the service, but it sure does open one’s heart to the beauty of it.

    Gene, thank you so much; https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5516627478339613810&postID=7721476532030596280

    That’s the direct line into the comments page….start from about halfway down, I believe you’ll find where the meatier discussion re communion and baptism starts. Thank you for asking and God bless, I’m a huge admirer of yours. Z

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Larry, what a gorgeous comment..thanks for that.
    MikeD, I’ve been in such plain churches I actually don’t feel at all’drawn in’, sadly..maybe that’s a shortcoming of my own. I love the beauty of our stained glass windows and the brick walls, flowers, etc..candles; it’s sure not more important than the service, but it sure does open one’s heart to the beauty of it.

    Gene, thank you so much; https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5516627478339613810&postID=7721476532030596280

    That’s the direct line into the comments page….start from about halfway down, I believe you’ll find where the meatier discussion re communion and baptism starts. Thank you for asking and God bless, I’m a huge admirer of yours. Z

  • MikeD

    Larry @ 27,

    Perhaps this is a can of worms, no snakes, being opened, but, “this is my body.” I say this lovingly, seriously, but you gotta be kidding me! It’s called a metaphor. Albeit with great depth and richness, as you put it, but still a metaphor. Talk about the lack of imagination. How can a such great deal of a system of though come from one verse. The bread is no more Christ’s physical body than the narrow gate is. Check out John 10 and then let verse 6 marinate in particular, “Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.” As to the “unfathomable” nature of the Gospel, I’ll grant that too you insomuch as you mean it matter of quantity or as being hidden from unaided discovery, but not quality. What God has revealed is perspicuous and for all who want to know Him. What is unrevealed is still a secret.

    From Larry again, “But for Luther he used “sign” per a theological not philosophical definition. That is to say a sign is the actual PRESCENCE of the thing.” As for Luther and his view of a sign, I’ll have to differ to the Luther scholars here but granting that you are correct, do you know what would he say about Abraham who was given the sign of circumcision? Clearly the PRESENCE of imputed righteousness was there before the sign, so how can the sign be that very presence? See Rom 4 for a theological, if not philosophical, take on signs.

  • MikeD

    Larry @ 27,

    Perhaps this is a can of worms, no snakes, being opened, but, “this is my body.” I say this lovingly, seriously, but you gotta be kidding me! It’s called a metaphor. Albeit with great depth and richness, as you put it, but still a metaphor. Talk about the lack of imagination. How can a such great deal of a system of though come from one verse. The bread is no more Christ’s physical body than the narrow gate is. Check out John 10 and then let verse 6 marinate in particular, “Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.” As to the “unfathomable” nature of the Gospel, I’ll grant that too you insomuch as you mean it matter of quantity or as being hidden from unaided discovery, but not quality. What God has revealed is perspicuous and for all who want to know Him. What is unrevealed is still a secret.

    From Larry again, “But for Luther he used “sign” per a theological not philosophical definition. That is to say a sign is the actual PRESCENCE of the thing.” As for Luther and his view of a sign, I’ll have to differ to the Luther scholars here but granting that you are correct, do you know what would he say about Abraham who was given the sign of circumcision? Clearly the PRESENCE of imputed righteousness was there before the sign, so how can the sign be that very presence? See Rom 4 for a theological, if not philosophical, take on signs.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    MikeD (@30), “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” Also, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”

    “One verse”? Hardly.

    You can tell me that “the bread is no[t] Christ’s physical body”, but you’ll have to argue with Paul first.

    Moreover, John 6 explicitly identifies Jesus’ words as a “figure of speech”. Does the account even mention an actual gate? Where is the metaphor noted when the Lord’s Supper is mentioned? What context clues does the text give that Jesus does not actually mean what he says?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    MikeD (@30), “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” Also, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”

    “One verse”? Hardly.

    You can tell me that “the bread is no[t] Christ’s physical body”, but you’ll have to argue with Paul first.

    Moreover, John 6 explicitly identifies Jesus’ words as a “figure of speech”. Does the account even mention an actual gate? Where is the metaphor noted when the Lord’s Supper is mentioned? What context clues does the text give that Jesus does not actually mean what he says?

  • fws

    Dr Veith and all:

    This may be a nit, but I believe Dr Sasse in his wonderful “This is my body, Luther´s contention for the real presence” points out that Lutherans do not claim that “Ubiquity” is a doctrine of the church.

    It is merely presented just one plausable theory , that does not contradict scripture, to make the point that the real presence is possible even though it would seem to be contrary to reason.

    Lutheran´s studiously avoid thinking that they have to explain how Christ can be really present is the entire point.

    The fact that Christ says “This is my body. ” is entirely and all that is necessary to establish the Real Presence as an objective fact.

  • fws

    Dr Veith and all:

    This may be a nit, but I believe Dr Sasse in his wonderful “This is my body, Luther´s contention for the real presence” points out that Lutherans do not claim that “Ubiquity” is a doctrine of the church.

    It is merely presented just one plausable theory , that does not contradict scripture, to make the point that the real presence is possible even though it would seem to be contrary to reason.

    Lutheran´s studiously avoid thinking that they have to explain how Christ can be really present is the entire point.

    The fact that Christ says “This is my body. ” is entirely and all that is necessary to establish the Real Presence as an objective fact.

  • fws

    “Furthermore, Lutheran theology also teaches the presence of God in vocation. (It is God who gives us this day our daily bread through the vocation of the farmer and the baker; God milks the cows through the work of the milkmaid; God creates new life by working through mothers and fathers; vocation is a mask of God, etc., etc.) ”

    I like Dr Veith´s comparison of the various communions on the Blessed Sacrament as it pertains to other areas. Dr Veith I think you missed this important and came only close here:

    Calvinists don´t believe that there is a New, new man. This is metaphor. What happens in regeneration is that the Old Adam is transformed, and now our wills are enlightened. Bread and wine of the Old adam remain bread and wine, and christians need to fix their eyes on something super transcendent and there identify with being something else. It is “transformation” of the old . It is not “new” and “real”.

    Rome believes that that old adam is not really there any more after baptism and that now man becomes sacrifice to God with his works.

    Lutherans believe that there is the bread and wine Old Adam that still continues as before after baptism. It is real. and it can be made useful but will never change. It is not very good bread and wine and never will be and that is not the point. This is where vocation is. and there is no such thing as “christian ” vocation. Vocation is acting in love. Loaf-of-bread-to-starving man is the same love no matter who does it for whatever reason.

    Then we believe that there is a real presence of a new man, in with and under that old adam bread and wine. and in this new man dwells the incarnate christ. This we can know only by faith alone. It is a wholy unseen presence.

    So now that old adam bread and wine, still the SAME bread and wine as before, unchanged and the same bread and wine as that of pagans, or maybe even not so tasty as what alot of pagans can produce, but completely indiferentiatable from pagan bread and wine, now carries an invisible yeast and salt that is the first fruit of the new creation.

    Formula of Concord Article VI

    http://www.thirduse.com

  • fws

    “Furthermore, Lutheran theology also teaches the presence of God in vocation. (It is God who gives us this day our daily bread through the vocation of the farmer and the baker; God milks the cows through the work of the milkmaid; God creates new life by working through mothers and fathers; vocation is a mask of God, etc., etc.) ”

    I like Dr Veith´s comparison of the various communions on the Blessed Sacrament as it pertains to other areas. Dr Veith I think you missed this important and came only close here:

    Calvinists don´t believe that there is a New, new man. This is metaphor. What happens in regeneration is that the Old Adam is transformed, and now our wills are enlightened. Bread and wine of the Old adam remain bread and wine, and christians need to fix their eyes on something super transcendent and there identify with being something else. It is “transformation” of the old . It is not “new” and “real”.

    Rome believes that that old adam is not really there any more after baptism and that now man becomes sacrifice to God with his works.

    Lutherans believe that there is the bread and wine Old Adam that still continues as before after baptism. It is real. and it can be made useful but will never change. It is not very good bread and wine and never will be and that is not the point. This is where vocation is. and there is no such thing as “christian ” vocation. Vocation is acting in love. Loaf-of-bread-to-starving man is the same love no matter who does it for whatever reason.

    Then we believe that there is a real presence of a new man, in with and under that old adam bread and wine. and in this new man dwells the incarnate christ. This we can know only by faith alone. It is a wholy unseen presence.

    So now that old adam bread and wine, still the SAME bread and wine as before, unchanged and the same bread and wine as that of pagans, or maybe even not so tasty as what alot of pagans can produce, but completely indiferentiatable from pagan bread and wine, now carries an invisible yeast and salt that is the first fruit of the new creation.

    Formula of Concord Article VI

    http://www.thirduse.com

  • MikeD

    To Todd @ 31:

    True enough there are other verses that speak to the matter and I did not mean to belittle the Lutheran position, but I have had many pleasant talks with y’all Lutherans where “This is my body” is enunciated very clearly, many times, as if that was the proof. This anecdote is not entirely irrelevant for what seems to come across often, as it has here today. That being the sentiment that the Lutheran take is non-interpretive and a brute fact while other views play fast and loose with the text. But this is not so. [Somewhere between your last post and this long one from me brother fws did it again: "The fact that Christ says “This is my body. ” is entirely and all that is necessary to establish the Real Presence as an objective fact." ]

    The text says, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor 11

    True enough Jesus said with the bread in his hand, “This is my body.” But why not apply the same literalism to the second part? If so, we would believe, not the wine, but the cup itself is, not Christ’s blood, but the new covenant in his blood. So a bronze chalice (I’m a product of Indiana Jones pt 3 here!) packs all that power huh? But we all interpret the text otherwise, and for good reason. Jesus need not say, “Now this is a metaphor everybody.” I think the literalism that you are calling for would legitimize the accusation against Christ for calling for the destruction of the temple or back up the claim that Christ was advocating cannibalism. In fact in many places he rebukes the disciples for their lack of understanding without the metaphor qualification… the understanding was expected.

    I appreciate the call to look at context closely, but the larger principle is the analogy of faith which teaches that clearer explanatory passages clear up the less clear ones. Jesus said that the Scripture cannot be broken and then proceeded to refute the Sadducees by deducing the truth of the resurrection from the name of God. My point being that sometimes what corrects our understanding of a given verse is another text that at first glance is seemingly unrelated, but by the grace of God has logical implications that clear things up and aid in systematization.

    As for having to argue with Paul first before proving something to you, again we have the, “jus’ look at dem werds!” approach. The logic of your hermeneutic would also have us believe many other objectionable propositions from that very passage. Namely, that it’s the cup that is the communion of his blood, not that he is physically present in the elements (v.16). That the bread is the communion of Christ’s body, but not that it is the body. (v.16). That we also are physically present in the bread, for we are one loaf (v.17). That priests as they ate of the sacrifice partook (whatever that means) of the altar, a wooden object, not what it represented or procured. (v.17) We drink the cup, not the wine (v.21) There’s only one cup, forget those little communion cups (v.21). That we eat the Lord’s table, not bread or wine (v.21) and devil’s have a table. What’s the point? We all interpret and to say otherwise is an unfair caricature. Which is the most consistent view across all the scripture is the issue, not whether one simply takes the text for what it says and the other does gymnastics.

    A quick FYI, I had referred to John 10 and verse 6, not John 6. Maybe that’ll clear up the gate issue. As for Jesus not saying what he meant, nice try (I mean that in a funny way not being nasty). Jesus always said what he meant, but what did he mean? To answer that sometimes we need to check out quite a few verses rather than quote one or two over and over.

    Anyhow, I hope it’s not thought of as a punk move, but I’m outtie for the night. Blessings to you guys.

  • MikeD

    To Todd @ 31:

    True enough there are other verses that speak to the matter and I did not mean to belittle the Lutheran position, but I have had many pleasant talks with y’all Lutherans where “This is my body” is enunciated very clearly, many times, as if that was the proof. This anecdote is not entirely irrelevant for what seems to come across often, as it has here today. That being the sentiment that the Lutheran take is non-interpretive and a brute fact while other views play fast and loose with the text. But this is not so. [Somewhere between your last post and this long one from me brother fws did it again: "The fact that Christ says “This is my body. ” is entirely and all that is necessary to establish the Real Presence as an objective fact." ]

    The text says, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor 11

    True enough Jesus said with the bread in his hand, “This is my body.” But why not apply the same literalism to the second part? If so, we would believe, not the wine, but the cup itself is, not Christ’s blood, but the new covenant in his blood. So a bronze chalice (I’m a product of Indiana Jones pt 3 here!) packs all that power huh? But we all interpret the text otherwise, and for good reason. Jesus need not say, “Now this is a metaphor everybody.” I think the literalism that you are calling for would legitimize the accusation against Christ for calling for the destruction of the temple or back up the claim that Christ was advocating cannibalism. In fact in many places he rebukes the disciples for their lack of understanding without the metaphor qualification… the understanding was expected.

    I appreciate the call to look at context closely, but the larger principle is the analogy of faith which teaches that clearer explanatory passages clear up the less clear ones. Jesus said that the Scripture cannot be broken and then proceeded to refute the Sadducees by deducing the truth of the resurrection from the name of God. My point being that sometimes what corrects our understanding of a given verse is another text that at first glance is seemingly unrelated, but by the grace of God has logical implications that clear things up and aid in systematization.

    As for having to argue with Paul first before proving something to you, again we have the, “jus’ look at dem werds!” approach. The logic of your hermeneutic would also have us believe many other objectionable propositions from that very passage. Namely, that it’s the cup that is the communion of his blood, not that he is physically present in the elements (v.16). That the bread is the communion of Christ’s body, but not that it is the body. (v.16). That we also are physically present in the bread, for we are one loaf (v.17). That priests as they ate of the sacrifice partook (whatever that means) of the altar, a wooden object, not what it represented or procured. (v.17) We drink the cup, not the wine (v.21) There’s only one cup, forget those little communion cups (v.21). That we eat the Lord’s table, not bread or wine (v.21) and devil’s have a table. What’s the point? We all interpret and to say otherwise is an unfair caricature. Which is the most consistent view across all the scripture is the issue, not whether one simply takes the text for what it says and the other does gymnastics.

    A quick FYI, I had referred to John 10 and verse 6, not John 6. Maybe that’ll clear up the gate issue. As for Jesus not saying what he meant, nice try (I mean that in a funny way not being nasty). Jesus always said what he meant, but what did he mean? To answer that sometimes we need to check out quite a few verses rather than quote one or two over and over.

    Anyhow, I hope it’s not thought of as a punk move, but I’m outtie for the night. Blessings to you guys.

  • Larry

    Z,

    Thanks.

    FWS,

    Very nice, both comments. And you are correct Sasse makes that very point in that great book. Luther at length avoided such arguments because they ultimately get away from the word and tickle the ears of fallen human reason which unbelief is using to inflame its problem with the simple “this is…”.

    Ultimately what a person has to ask one’s self BEFORE one engages in “defending” another position is “Why (at the base level) cannot I not take Christ at His word as is?” The answer to that answers why all the apologetics for a false position abound. In some since it is as simple as I heard Dr. Rosenbladt state once, something like, “If Jesus would have only said plainly, ‘this is My body’, then the matter would be settled.” It makes the point.

    Ultimately “metaphor” was and is the same tool the Gnostics used to deny the two natures, in various ways, of Christ (just talk with a JW for a while and you’ll hear it constantly). The same occurs with the sacrament of the alter. There is an undeniable connection between the two natures and the Lord’s Supper (Sasse makes this point near the end).

    For Calvin it was ultimately his mammoth philosophical underpinning of the “the finite cannot contain the infinite”. That set his interpretative grid, not Scripture alone, not revelation. That being said, the GREAT irony of that epistemology is that it dies by its own sword. It says “the finite cannot contain the infinite”, then it seizes upon the deity and says, “Now you God cannot go beyond this epistemology “the finite cannot contain the infinite” and thus, ironically, attempts to contain the infinite within its finite epistemological boundaries.

    Mike,

    You are trying to speak assessing Lutheran via a reformed paradigm, it can never work that way. You’ll have to go into a hypothetical mode and at least pretend that you accept the Lutheran paradigm and then look at it. Because you are functioning with reformed definitions. It’s like attempting to assess X with not-X thinking. There are so many things here to reset if you wish to understand. Just because imputed righteousness was there before the sacrament doesn’t change a thing. You are for one making a dichotomy between the Word and sacraments that doesn’t exist in Lutheran thought (the paradigm problem). The Word creates faith and the sacrament (the Word) creates faith. You miss the point that Abraham did not come to faith prior to the Word either. Some come to faith (by the word) and are then baptized (by the Word) and some are baptized (by the Word) and then come to faith. Apart from the Word, the revelation, we know nothing, literally. And that’s the point of staying nakedly humbly and only IN the Word and not being led astray by “other words” or reason, affections or experiences (the tools and trade of the devil).

    Nestigen commenting and quoting Luther on what precisely was original sin might be at least helpful:

    Taking up the story of the fall, Luther argues that Adam and Eve were created for faith
    and lived in it until the devil led them from faith in God’s word to faith in their own believing. “And this also reveals Satan’s cunning,” Luther writes.

    Luther further comments, “He does not immediately try to allure Eve by means of the loveliness of the fruit. He first attacks man’s greatest strength, faith in the word. Therefore the root and source of sin is unbelief and turning away from God.” Describing how this drawing away took place, Luther writes: the pattern of all the temptations of Satan is the same, namely, that he first puts faith to trial and draws away from the Word. Then follow the sins against the Second Table. From our own experience we perceive that this is his procedure. The events which now follow deal with the description of sin: what its nature is when it is active, and what it is later on when it lies in the past. For while it is active it is not felt; otherwise we would be warned and draw back. But because
    these lie hidden, we proceed smugly to the deed itself after we have forsaken our
    uprightness and faith. Eve trespassed similarly in the instance of the fruit after she
    had been persuaded, contrary to the Word of God, that she would not die.

    Moved from faith in the word to faith in their own faith, Adam and Eve have literally no
    one to whom they can turn. They are left hanging. The original sin is enthusiasm, a
    god-within-ism that assumes itself in possession of the promise and thereby attempts to propel itself beyond all earthly limit. Seeking to transcend itself, it gets stuck with itself. It only wakes up to what has happened after the fact, when there is no alternative.

    –End Quote

    The great temptation is to leave the Word by trial of faith in that external Word, once unhinged then Satan inserts “other words” via the instruments of reason, affections and/or experiences (theologies of glory as it is termed). These are real and not fake temptations, their pull is real, the pull of reason is real (Luther even admitted this to Zwingli but said ultimately of Christ’s Word – in the institution of the Supper – “are too strong for me”), else they really wouldn’t be “trials” and “temptations” and “persecutions to leave the Word”. They are very real and very forceful to us all, no one is exempt from them. Once we leave the external Word via some temptation we are stuck with believing in our believing ultimately (this is ultimately where both reformed and baptist find their personal (for me) “assurance of election/salvation/rebirth”. You will never hear them say to such trials of the devil asking “how do you know”, answer, “I am baptized” or “I have eaten and drank the very flesh and blood of Christ). Thus they find ultimate assurance and thus certitude at the “for me” level in faith in their believing (e.g. believers baptism and rebaptism for Baptist and the necessity of faith in the supper to ascend into the fiery heaven where Christ is – what do the unbelieving receive? – those are just elaborate schemes of ‘faith in my believing’ or ‘faith in faith.) Here we see that such doctrines are precisely antichristic and Satanic because they follow the same prescribed never new way. As Luther said, “the pattern of all the temptations of Satan is the same, namely, that he first puts faith to trial and draws away from the Word”. In these cases faith is put on trial regarding baptism (Word) and the Lord’s Supper (Word), one’s faith in what they say and do, and then onto faith in faith in some form.

    The most crass example of this is believers baptism, it brings it out most obvious. It is the most obvious “hath God really said”, putting faith (in the objective Word) on trial for the purpose of dislodging it to itself and onto other words. For it fundamentally says, “God did baptize you, nor did He forgive you in your baptism, nor did He give you the Holy Spirit, God did not save you in your baptism, etc…(as Scripture plainly says objectively). This is the first, “hath God really said”. Satan then proceeds to use human reason and experience to further dislodge faith in the Word (baptism) by citing evidences, “see over here all these general people who once believed and fell away but were baptized. That is the, faith having now already been dislodged from the external Word, “and she saw that the fruit looked good and able to make one wise”. Then, in this case, comes the temptation to ‘take a bite’ by denying baptism its efficacy or going all the way and then being RE-baptized (the bite into the forbidden fruit). And this rebaptism is another word that is a word that says “faith in faith”, a violation of the first commandment, another god beside God for salvation and certitude and assurance, idolatry. That’s why fundamentally believers baptism is faith in faith, baptism is thus BASED upon not the name and Word of God alone with or without attending faith, but the faith of the person. That’s why under that doctrine there is no baptism if there is no faith, or some might say no right baptism, which is saying the same thing – making faith the sine quo non of baptism The creature faith, then, becomes the god beside or in front of God.

    The same can be drawn out about the sacrament of the altar with Zwingli’s and Calvin’s doctrines. To save time I’ll not do that now.

    Some things to just ponder, not necessarily respond to, just ponder them for a while – don’t try to “win the debate” right now, just ponder and let them soak in.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • Larry

    Z,

    Thanks.

    FWS,

    Very nice, both comments. And you are correct Sasse makes that very point in that great book. Luther at length avoided such arguments because they ultimately get away from the word and tickle the ears of fallen human reason which unbelief is using to inflame its problem with the simple “this is…”.

    Ultimately what a person has to ask one’s self BEFORE one engages in “defending” another position is “Why (at the base level) cannot I not take Christ at His word as is?” The answer to that answers why all the apologetics for a false position abound. In some since it is as simple as I heard Dr. Rosenbladt state once, something like, “If Jesus would have only said plainly, ‘this is My body’, then the matter would be settled.” It makes the point.

    Ultimately “metaphor” was and is the same tool the Gnostics used to deny the two natures, in various ways, of Christ (just talk with a JW for a while and you’ll hear it constantly). The same occurs with the sacrament of the alter. There is an undeniable connection between the two natures and the Lord’s Supper (Sasse makes this point near the end).

    For Calvin it was ultimately his mammoth philosophical underpinning of the “the finite cannot contain the infinite”. That set his interpretative grid, not Scripture alone, not revelation. That being said, the GREAT irony of that epistemology is that it dies by its own sword. It says “the finite cannot contain the infinite”, then it seizes upon the deity and says, “Now you God cannot go beyond this epistemology “the finite cannot contain the infinite” and thus, ironically, attempts to contain the infinite within its finite epistemological boundaries.

    Mike,

    You are trying to speak assessing Lutheran via a reformed paradigm, it can never work that way. You’ll have to go into a hypothetical mode and at least pretend that you accept the Lutheran paradigm and then look at it. Because you are functioning with reformed definitions. It’s like attempting to assess X with not-X thinking. There are so many things here to reset if you wish to understand. Just because imputed righteousness was there before the sacrament doesn’t change a thing. You are for one making a dichotomy between the Word and sacraments that doesn’t exist in Lutheran thought (the paradigm problem). The Word creates faith and the sacrament (the Word) creates faith. You miss the point that Abraham did not come to faith prior to the Word either. Some come to faith (by the word) and are then baptized (by the Word) and some are baptized (by the Word) and then come to faith. Apart from the Word, the revelation, we know nothing, literally. And that’s the point of staying nakedly humbly and only IN the Word and not being led astray by “other words” or reason, affections or experiences (the tools and trade of the devil).

    Nestigen commenting and quoting Luther on what precisely was original sin might be at least helpful:

    Taking up the story of the fall, Luther argues that Adam and Eve were created for faith
    and lived in it until the devil led them from faith in God’s word to faith in their own believing. “And this also reveals Satan’s cunning,” Luther writes.

    Luther further comments, “He does not immediately try to allure Eve by means of the loveliness of the fruit. He first attacks man’s greatest strength, faith in the word. Therefore the root and source of sin is unbelief and turning away from God.” Describing how this drawing away took place, Luther writes: the pattern of all the temptations of Satan is the same, namely, that he first puts faith to trial and draws away from the Word. Then follow the sins against the Second Table. From our own experience we perceive that this is his procedure. The events which now follow deal with the description of sin: what its nature is when it is active, and what it is later on when it lies in the past. For while it is active it is not felt; otherwise we would be warned and draw back. But because
    these lie hidden, we proceed smugly to the deed itself after we have forsaken our
    uprightness and faith. Eve trespassed similarly in the instance of the fruit after she
    had been persuaded, contrary to the Word of God, that she would not die.

    Moved from faith in the word to faith in their own faith, Adam and Eve have literally no
    one to whom they can turn. They are left hanging. The original sin is enthusiasm, a
    god-within-ism that assumes itself in possession of the promise and thereby attempts to propel itself beyond all earthly limit. Seeking to transcend itself, it gets stuck with itself. It only wakes up to what has happened after the fact, when there is no alternative.

    –End Quote

    The great temptation is to leave the Word by trial of faith in that external Word, once unhinged then Satan inserts “other words” via the instruments of reason, affections and/or experiences (theologies of glory as it is termed). These are real and not fake temptations, their pull is real, the pull of reason is real (Luther even admitted this to Zwingli but said ultimately of Christ’s Word – in the institution of the Supper – “are too strong for me”), else they really wouldn’t be “trials” and “temptations” and “persecutions to leave the Word”. They are very real and very forceful to us all, no one is exempt from them. Once we leave the external Word via some temptation we are stuck with believing in our believing ultimately (this is ultimately where both reformed and baptist find their personal (for me) “assurance of election/salvation/rebirth”. You will never hear them say to such trials of the devil asking “how do you know”, answer, “I am baptized” or “I have eaten and drank the very flesh and blood of Christ). Thus they find ultimate assurance and thus certitude at the “for me” level in faith in their believing (e.g. believers baptism and rebaptism for Baptist and the necessity of faith in the supper to ascend into the fiery heaven where Christ is – what do the unbelieving receive? – those are just elaborate schemes of ‘faith in my believing’ or ‘faith in faith.) Here we see that such doctrines are precisely antichristic and Satanic because they follow the same prescribed never new way. As Luther said, “the pattern of all the temptations of Satan is the same, namely, that he first puts faith to trial and draws away from the Word”. In these cases faith is put on trial regarding baptism (Word) and the Lord’s Supper (Word), one’s faith in what they say and do, and then onto faith in faith in some form.

    The most crass example of this is believers baptism, it brings it out most obvious. It is the most obvious “hath God really said”, putting faith (in the objective Word) on trial for the purpose of dislodging it to itself and onto other words. For it fundamentally says, “God did baptize you, nor did He forgive you in your baptism, nor did He give you the Holy Spirit, God did not save you in your baptism, etc…(as Scripture plainly says objectively). This is the first, “hath God really said”. Satan then proceeds to use human reason and experience to further dislodge faith in the Word (baptism) by citing evidences, “see over here all these general people who once believed and fell away but were baptized. That is the, faith having now already been dislodged from the external Word, “and she saw that the fruit looked good and able to make one wise”. Then, in this case, comes the temptation to ‘take a bite’ by denying baptism its efficacy or going all the way and then being RE-baptized (the bite into the forbidden fruit). And this rebaptism is another word that is a word that says “faith in faith”, a violation of the first commandment, another god beside God for salvation and certitude and assurance, idolatry. That’s why fundamentally believers baptism is faith in faith, baptism is thus BASED upon not the name and Word of God alone with or without attending faith, but the faith of the person. That’s why under that doctrine there is no baptism if there is no faith, or some might say no right baptism, which is saying the same thing – making faith the sine quo non of baptism The creature faith, then, becomes the god beside or in front of God.

    The same can be drawn out about the sacrament of the altar with Zwingli’s and Calvin’s doctrines. To save time I’ll not do that now.

    Some things to just ponder, not necessarily respond to, just ponder them for a while – don’t try to “win the debate” right now, just ponder and let them soak in.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • Larry

    FWS,

    Is that your blog “thirduse.com”. What you said above was EXTREMELY helpful in fleshing, no pun intended, out a lot of things.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • Larry

    FWS,

    Is that your blog “thirduse.com”. What you said above was EXTREMELY helpful in fleshing, no pun intended, out a lot of things.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • fws

    Mike D @ 34

    I have one simple question for you:

    How would Christ have to had spoken differently if he had actually wanted to you have no way to escape a meaning of the words of institution the way we Lutherans understand them?

    That would be my question to you Mike. It is a very serious question and I hope that you answer it with the gravity it deserves.

    Lutherans take his reference to the cup as synectoche (sp?) Mike. that would be a very natural reading and unforced reading of that word cup yes?

  • fws

    Mike D @ 34

    I have one simple question for you:

    How would Christ have to had spoken differently if he had actually wanted to you have no way to escape a meaning of the words of institution the way we Lutherans understand them?

    That would be my question to you Mike. It is a very serious question and I hope that you answer it with the gravity it deserves.

    Lutherans take his reference to the cup as synectoche (sp?) Mike. that would be a very natural reading and unforced reading of that word cup yes?

  • fws

    larry @ 36

    yup that blog would be mine.

  • fws

    larry @ 36

    yup that blog would be mine.

  • Tom Hering

    fws, Christ spoke clearly enough. “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matthew 26:26.) “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28.) And St. Paul asked clearly enough, “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1st Corinthians 10:16.)

  • Tom Hering

    fws, Christ spoke clearly enough. “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matthew 26:26.) “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28.) And St. Paul asked clearly enough, “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1st Corinthians 10:16.)

  • fws

    tom @39

    I of course agree dear brother Tom!

    I just like to ask calvinists what they think Jesus would have to had said for them to not be able to escape what we Lutherans feel are the clear and natural understanding of those words.

    I have yet to get an answer to that simple question.

  • fws

    tom @39

    I of course agree dear brother Tom!

    I just like to ask calvinists what they think Jesus would have to had said for them to not be able to escape what we Lutherans feel are the clear and natural understanding of those words.

    I have yet to get an answer to that simple question.

  • Tom Hering

    fws, I knew that you agree – I’m just helping others with the answer to your question. They don’t have to speculate. “Take, eat; this is My body.” Period, end of statement. “Drink from it, all of you; this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” No mention of a cup – a mention that in 1st Corinthians 11:25 makes the plain meaning questionable for some.

  • Tom Hering

    fws, I knew that you agree – I’m just helping others with the answer to your question. They don’t have to speculate. “Take, eat; this is My body.” Period, end of statement. “Drink from it, all of you; this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” No mention of a cup – a mention that in 1st Corinthians 11:25 makes the plain meaning questionable for some.

  • Tom Hering

    I should have said, no mention of a cup in Christ’s words.

  • Tom Hering

    I should have said, no mention of a cup in Christ’s words.

  • Tom Hering

    “Christian artists with those beliefs … can easily employ images derived from the material world in order to communicate their faith.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/09/church-ad-campaign-jesus-womb

  • Tom Hering

    “Christian artists with those beliefs … can easily employ images derived from the material world in order to communicate their faith.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/09/church-ad-campaign-jesus-womb

  • bunnycatch3r

    Christ spoke clearly enough. “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matthew 26:26.) “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

    I’m still having trouble understanding in what way exactly this is true. I understand from the responses above that it’s not true metaphorically. It’s not true empirically. “Spiritually” is not a word that this blog likes too well either. So, if the consecrated wine is the blood of Christ -in what sense then?

    And is this a fair comparison – Jesus tells us (for example) that the sky is and will forever be red. We see that it is blue -but we take him literally, so then, it is red but only in the sense that we claim a belief that it is.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Christ spoke clearly enough. “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matthew 26:26.) “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

    I’m still having trouble understanding in what way exactly this is true. I understand from the responses above that it’s not true metaphorically. It’s not true empirically. “Spiritually” is not a word that this blog likes too well either. So, if the consecrated wine is the blood of Christ -in what sense then?

    And is this a fair comparison – Jesus tells us (for example) that the sky is and will forever be red. We see that it is blue -but we take him literally, so then, it is red but only in the sense that we claim a belief that it is.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, the only “red” reference I can find is Matthew 16:2-3. No statement by Jesus, there, that the sky will be red forever.

    The way in which to understand that “This is My body – This is My blood” is true is to recognize that Jesus said it, but offered no explanation, because faith needs none. And faith cannot be separated from this matter, because it’s faith that receives the forgiveness of sins that’s being offered.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, the only “red” reference I can find is Matthew 16:2-3. No statement by Jesus, there, that the sky will be red forever.

    The way in which to understand that “This is My body – This is My blood” is true is to recognize that Jesus said it, but offered no explanation, because faith needs none. And faith cannot be separated from this matter, because it’s faith that receives the forgiveness of sins that’s being offered.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering -The red sky scenario was just a model I created in order to see the issue from a different perspective. I wasn’t too clear.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering -The red sky scenario was just a model I created in order to see the issue from a different perspective. I wasn’t too clear.

  • MikeD

    fws @ 37,

    You asked, “How would Christ have to had spoken differently if he had actually wanted to you have no way to escape a meaning of the words of institution the way we Lutherans understand them? ” I appreciate the question, and yet it is not such a “simple question” as you put it… for example:

    A Catholic says, “What would it take for you to believe that we are not justified through faith alone, but also by works?” I reply, “A verse that teaches very concept.” He gladly replies with James 2:24… “Jus’ look at dem werds.” If we have the, “the doctrine equals the sum of of the words in a verse or two” we also have a contradiction between James and Romans 4:5. This has been well-attested to by our dear brother Luther who repudiated the book of James for this very reason. Notice “reason.” In fact, it was “plain reason” which bound His conscience along with the Word of God. Luther did well in rejecting that which was perceived as illogical, but he should have realized that the justification spoken of by James was not before God, but a vindication of your faith before men. In other words interpretations are not brute facts. Again, Luther was right in his desire to see the unity of the Scripture, for it cannot be broken, it presents a system of truth.

    Another example in which I’m sure we’ll agree is when a Unitarian references John 17:3 to point out that the Person we call the Father is the only person that may be attributed full diety. We then to refute their thinking with many other verses and sound reasons such as counter examples like the fact that Isaac was noted as Abraham’s only-begotton son, when in fact there was good ol’ Ishmael. Again, Christianity proclaims the crucified and raised Son of God, the LOGOS… in whom all things consist, and are consistent.

    Now, fws, I’m not trying to squirm out of anything here. My point is that since our interpretation of any given text is part of a larger complex of truth, one proposition informs another and WE ALL, not just Calvinists, have the blessed privilege and duty of hammering that out as ability and vocation permit.

    As to your comment and question about the cup being a synecdoche. Thanks for sharing. It’s always good to learn new ideas and words. I take “the cup” to mean the liquid in it, but my comment originally was to the nature of a literal interpretation. I looked up “synecdoche” and I could not agree more! I quote, “Synecdoche is closely related to metonymy, the figure of speech in which a term denoting one thing is used to refer to a related thing; indeed, synecdoche is often considered a subclass of metonymy. It is more distantly related to other figures of speech, such as metaphor.” In other words by your own admission that passage is loaded with metaphor and figures of speech… I could not have said it better myself.

    So what about your main question? I’m trying to be charitable and fair when I say that there would need to be some explicit verbal indication from Christ or by the author of the given Scripture that there was no figure of speech, synecdoche, or metaphor employed. This is not unreasonable seeing that there are numerous examples in Scripture where we see explicity that folks are getting tripped up over metaphors, analogies, parables and allegories by taking them in a wooden-literal sense or imputing to them imaginative analogues that were never intended. (This was mentioned before in my post to tODD where a literal interpretation justified bailing out on Christ for cannibalism or epaking against the temple)

    While I have little confidence this will change any body’s mind here, I hope you think I dealt with the question respectfully and perhaps my response will also be pondered as Larry requested in his last post. Until next time.

  • MikeD

    fws @ 37,

    You asked, “How would Christ have to had spoken differently if he had actually wanted to you have no way to escape a meaning of the words of institution the way we Lutherans understand them? ” I appreciate the question, and yet it is not such a “simple question” as you put it… for example:

    A Catholic says, “What would it take for you to believe that we are not justified through faith alone, but also by works?” I reply, “A verse that teaches very concept.” He gladly replies with James 2:24… “Jus’ look at dem werds.” If we have the, “the doctrine equals the sum of of the words in a verse or two” we also have a contradiction between James and Romans 4:5. This has been well-attested to by our dear brother Luther who repudiated the book of James for this very reason. Notice “reason.” In fact, it was “plain reason” which bound His conscience along with the Word of God. Luther did well in rejecting that which was perceived as illogical, but he should have realized that the justification spoken of by James was not before God, but a vindication of your faith before men. In other words interpretations are not brute facts. Again, Luther was right in his desire to see the unity of the Scripture, for it cannot be broken, it presents a system of truth.

    Another example in which I’m sure we’ll agree is when a Unitarian references John 17:3 to point out that the Person we call the Father is the only person that may be attributed full diety. We then to refute their thinking with many other verses and sound reasons such as counter examples like the fact that Isaac was noted as Abraham’s only-begotton son, when in fact there was good ol’ Ishmael. Again, Christianity proclaims the crucified and raised Son of God, the LOGOS… in whom all things consist, and are consistent.

    Now, fws, I’m not trying to squirm out of anything here. My point is that since our interpretation of any given text is part of a larger complex of truth, one proposition informs another and WE ALL, not just Calvinists, have the blessed privilege and duty of hammering that out as ability and vocation permit.

    As to your comment and question about the cup being a synecdoche. Thanks for sharing. It’s always good to learn new ideas and words. I take “the cup” to mean the liquid in it, but my comment originally was to the nature of a literal interpretation. I looked up “synecdoche” and I could not agree more! I quote, “Synecdoche is closely related to metonymy, the figure of speech in which a term denoting one thing is used to refer to a related thing; indeed, synecdoche is often considered a subclass of metonymy. It is more distantly related to other figures of speech, such as metaphor.” In other words by your own admission that passage is loaded with metaphor and figures of speech… I could not have said it better myself.

    So what about your main question? I’m trying to be charitable and fair when I say that there would need to be some explicit verbal indication from Christ or by the author of the given Scripture that there was no figure of speech, synecdoche, or metaphor employed. This is not unreasonable seeing that there are numerous examples in Scripture where we see explicity that folks are getting tripped up over metaphors, analogies, parables and allegories by taking them in a wooden-literal sense or imputing to them imaginative analogues that were never intended. (This was mentioned before in my post to tODD where a literal interpretation justified bailing out on Christ for cannibalism or epaking against the temple)

    While I have little confidence this will change any body’s mind here, I hope you think I dealt with the question respectfully and perhaps my response will also be pondered as Larry requested in his last post. Until next time.

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    If the whole Bible is ‘metaphors’, we’re in deep trouble. Who decides what is and isn’t? I hate to sound so simplistic after all your erudite discussion here, but, really………..I know I’m not smart enough to decide which is which. I’m not saying we shouldn’t read and seek and question, BELIEVE me…I do, maybe too much…
    I guess it’s trust which we must have to believe any of it in the first place ..where’s that trust STOP, anyway? How do we not take Christ’s words seriously?

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    If the whole Bible is ‘metaphors’, we’re in deep trouble. Who decides what is and isn’t? I hate to sound so simplistic after all your erudite discussion here, but, really………..I know I’m not smart enough to decide which is which. I’m not saying we shouldn’t read and seek and question, BELIEVE me…I do, maybe too much…
    I guess it’s trust which we must have to believe any of it in the first place ..where’s that trust STOP, anyway? How do we not take Christ’s words seriously?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Z
    If the Bible cannot be viewed metaphorically then we’re in trouble. For example, science tells us that there was no world wide flood, that life has been on the planet billions of years before humans (Adam & Eve) and “the fall”, and that man is a species of ape. The only way to take the Bible literally then is to(despite the evidence) just believe it -that is to cultivate a sort of cognitive dissonance with physical reality.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Z
    If the Bible cannot be viewed metaphorically then we’re in trouble. For example, science tells us that there was no world wide flood, that life has been on the planet billions of years before humans (Adam & Eve) and “the fall”, and that man is a species of ape. The only way to take the Bible literally then is to(despite the evidence) just believe it -that is to cultivate a sort of cognitive dissonance with physical reality.

  • Tom Hering

    “… that is to cultivate a sort of cognitive dissonance with physical reality.”

    Nah. It’s to cultivate cognitive dissonance with the scientific method as the final determiner of truth about the Creation.

  • Tom Hering

    “… that is to cultivate a sort of cognitive dissonance with physical reality.”

    Nah. It’s to cultivate cognitive dissonance with the scientific method as the final determiner of truth about the Creation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    MikeD (@47), I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that you or anyone thinks that the proper way to interpret Scripture — or any text, for that matter — is that “there would need to be some explicit verbal indication … by the author … that there was no figure of speech, synecdoche, or metaphor employed.”

    We do not assume a metaphor unless shown otherwise. Quite the opposite. Or else you would have to show me where in the text Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was explicitly indicated to not be a metaphor. And so on.

    Earlier, you’d stated (@34), “why not apply the same literalism to the second part? If so, we would believe, not the wine, but the cup itself is, not Christ’s blood, but the new covenant in his blood.” FWS attempted to explain this to you as synecdoche, to which you said, more or less, “Aha! If there’s metaphor in part, there must be in all!” — though you obviously don’t assume the entire Bible to be metaphor except in those explicitly literal passages (and what are those, anyhow?).

    But how did FWS know it was synecdoche? Are there any clues in the Scriptures themselves? (I do feel that is what’s missing from your application here.) Of course the Scriptures make clear that Jesus was referring to the wine in the cup. Forgive me for being pedantic, but I can’t see any other way to reply to your supposed claim.

    Consider Matthew 26:

    Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

    Notice that “this”, Jesus’ “blood of the covenant”, is “poured out”. Tell me: is the liquid poured out, or is only its container poured out? Did the cup itself grow on a vine?

    For that matter, can you “drink this cup” — or do you drink the liquid in the cup? To argue that Jesus was referring literally to the cup would be to ignore the consistent use of synecdoche, not just in the Last Supper passages, to refer to the cup instead of the contents (“Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”, etc.)

    In short, the Bible itself makes clear that Jesus was using synecdoche when referring to “the cup”.

    However, the Bible does not do such things for his statement “this is my body.” Try and convince me otherwise.

    Maybe if you use the phrase “jus’ look at dem werds!” one more time, I’ll be convinced.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    MikeD (@47), I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that you or anyone thinks that the proper way to interpret Scripture — or any text, for that matter — is that “there would need to be some explicit verbal indication … by the author … that there was no figure of speech, synecdoche, or metaphor employed.”

    We do not assume a metaphor unless shown otherwise. Quite the opposite. Or else you would have to show me where in the text Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was explicitly indicated to not be a metaphor. And so on.

    Earlier, you’d stated (@34), “why not apply the same literalism to the second part? If so, we would believe, not the wine, but the cup itself is, not Christ’s blood, but the new covenant in his blood.” FWS attempted to explain this to you as synecdoche, to which you said, more or less, “Aha! If there’s metaphor in part, there must be in all!” — though you obviously don’t assume the entire Bible to be metaphor except in those explicitly literal passages (and what are those, anyhow?).

    But how did FWS know it was synecdoche? Are there any clues in the Scriptures themselves? (I do feel that is what’s missing from your application here.) Of course the Scriptures make clear that Jesus was referring to the wine in the cup. Forgive me for being pedantic, but I can’t see any other way to reply to your supposed claim.

    Consider Matthew 26:

    Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

    Notice that “this”, Jesus’ “blood of the covenant”, is “poured out”. Tell me: is the liquid poured out, or is only its container poured out? Did the cup itself grow on a vine?

    For that matter, can you “drink this cup” — or do you drink the liquid in the cup? To argue that Jesus was referring literally to the cup would be to ignore the consistent use of synecdoche, not just in the Last Supper passages, to refer to the cup instead of the contents (“Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”, etc.)

    In short, the Bible itself makes clear that Jesus was using synecdoche when referring to “the cup”.

    However, the Bible does not do such things for his statement “this is my body.” Try and convince me otherwise.

    Maybe if you use the phrase “jus’ look at dem werds!” one more time, I’ll be convinced.

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    bunnycatcher, scientific facts? Whew. Well, it’s not like ALL OF US HERE (and I do dare to speak on this for all the others and myself) haven’t heard all those’ facts’ of yours!!…and haven’t seen proof quite the opposite……..so where do we go from here!?
    I’ll be signing off …and wishing you the best! Thanks.

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    bunnycatcher, scientific facts? Whew. Well, it’s not like ALL OF US HERE (and I do dare to speak on this for all the others and myself) haven’t heard all those’ facts’ of yours!!…and haven’t seen proof quite the opposite……..so where do we go from here!?
    I’ll be signing off …and wishing you the best! Thanks.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @z
    “Proof quite the opposite”. No, you really haven’t. Not one of the The Concordia University System’s science departments uses a textbook which teaches biblical creationism. Not one of them teaches a worldwide flood. Not one of them teaches anything contrary to biological evolution. And this is what I was getting at with “cognitive dissonance”. I’d like to see the LCMS address these issues. We have the means! How many churches can boast of having ten science departments?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @z
    “Proof quite the opposite”. No, you really haven’t. Not one of the The Concordia University System’s science departments uses a textbook which teaches biblical creationism. Not one of them teaches a worldwide flood. Not one of them teaches anything contrary to biological evolution. And this is what I was getting at with “cognitive dissonance”. I’d like to see the LCMS address these issues. We have the means! How many churches can boast of having ten science departments?

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Well, bunnycatcher, obviously, many of us believe that, no matter what Concordia’s science dept teachers, their theology classes are hopefully teaching at least to consider both sides of the flood, the fall, and, certainly, evolution! I mean, a good secular high school does that! What do you mean that you’d like to see the LCMS address these issues and that we have the ‘means’?

    Also, regarding the blood/body discussion that started all of this, in John 6, Jesus says very clearly “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you……for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” When those he was so desirous of convincing turned away “This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?” (v 60), Jesus says “Does this offend you?” He didn’t say “Hey, guys, JUST KIDDING….it’s not REALLY MY BLOOD! any more than he said, from the cross ‘hey, get me DOWN from here, this has gone WAY TOO FAR’!”
    As Gene Veith says above in his essay “That is, just as God is omnipresent without displacing the existence of other objects, Christ, because of His personal union of the divine and human natures, can be, in His body, present in bread and wine.” So well put, so affirming…..
    you might say, he makes this subject ‘palatable’ (so to speak!)
    thanks for the discussion

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Well, bunnycatcher, obviously, many of us believe that, no matter what Concordia’s science dept teachers, their theology classes are hopefully teaching at least to consider both sides of the flood, the fall, and, certainly, evolution! I mean, a good secular high school does that! What do you mean that you’d like to see the LCMS address these issues and that we have the ‘means’?

    Also, regarding the blood/body discussion that started all of this, in John 6, Jesus says very clearly “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you……for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” When those he was so desirous of convincing turned away “This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?” (v 60), Jesus says “Does this offend you?” He didn’t say “Hey, guys, JUST KIDDING….it’s not REALLY MY BLOOD! any more than he said, from the cross ‘hey, get me DOWN from here, this has gone WAY TOO FAR’!”
    As Gene Veith says above in his essay “That is, just as God is omnipresent without displacing the existence of other objects, Christ, because of His personal union of the divine and human natures, can be, in His body, present in bread and wine.” So well put, so affirming…..
    you might say, he makes this subject ‘palatable’ (so to speak!)
    thanks for the discussion

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Z
    I meant that the LCMS does not address theology vs science issues and that with ten science departments within the university system we have the means to do so. And why would a secular high sch0ol discuss the biblical flood, or the fall, or creationism -historically, these never took place.
    They have no scientific or historical basis. So, as Lutherans how are we to respond? Do we ignore science following a tradition akin to the Amish? Or do we argue that science is wrong -Just like Luther did just like Luther didwhen he refuted Copernicus (with scripture) proving that the sun does indeed revolves around the Earth?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Z
    I meant that the LCMS does not address theology vs science issues and that with ten science departments within the university system we have the means to do so. And why would a secular high sch0ol discuss the biblical flood, or the fall, or creationism -historically, these never took place.
    They have no scientific or historical basis. So, as Lutherans how are we to respond? Do we ignore science following a tradition akin to the Amish? Or do we argue that science is wrong -Just like Luther did just like Luther didwhen he refuted Copernicus (with scripture) proving that the sun does indeed revolves around the Earth?

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Of course, I meant evolution/creationism when I suggested secular high schools would be fair to present both.
    What would you like the LCMS to do, agree with science over the Word of God? “Oh, okay….well, there are shell fossils on mountain tops but we know there was no flood….there are roman carriage wheels in the Red Sea just where the river supposedly parted but that’s just accident, man did not come from Adam and Eve…” is that what you’d like them to ‘address’, go completely against the one book that informs their faith? I’m really curious.
    If the Bible is the Word of God and we don’t believe all of it, does that make God a liar? I’m with the crowd who, before we got so sophisticated these last 50 years or ago, believed in all of His Word ….maybe I’m just old fashioned. Thank God.

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Of course, I meant evolution/creationism when I suggested secular high schools would be fair to present both.
    What would you like the LCMS to do, agree with science over the Word of God? “Oh, okay….well, there are shell fossils on mountain tops but we know there was no flood….there are roman carriage wheels in the Red Sea just where the river supposedly parted but that’s just accident, man did not come from Adam and Eve…” is that what you’d like them to ‘address’, go completely against the one book that informs their faith? I’m really curious.
    If the Bible is the Word of God and we don’t believe all of it, does that make God a liar? I’m with the crowd who, before we got so sophisticated these last 50 years or ago, believed in all of His Word ….maybe I’m just old fashioned. Thank God.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Z
    Well, it’s obvious that the word of God is more important to you than anything science is interested in. You Christian!
    Peace,
    Bunnycatch3r

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Z
    Well, it’s obvious that the word of God is more important to you than anything science is interested in. You Christian!
    Peace,
    Bunnycatch3r

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    And, on, Bunnycatch…don’t think that, over the years, I haven’t considered everything you’ve said a billion times (give or take!) …and sometimes still do.
    Thanks for the compliment :-) Peace back. Good talking with you! Z

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    And, on, Bunnycatch…don’t think that, over the years, I haven’t considered everything you’ve said a billion times (give or take!) …and sometimes still do.
    Thanks for the compliment :-) Peace back. Good talking with you! Z

  • Larry

    Bunnyc,

    I do like your question because you are getting right to the jugular of the issue!

    Arguing details sometimes can just get into a “fact” arguing mission between two proposed yet opposing set of “facts”. I thinks first things first sometimes is better and getting at over riding principles, a 50,000 foot view if you will or “big picture” of what’s driving everything else, true or false as facts and details, is more helpful. But it’s challenging sometimes to get people to focus on that.

    Maybe this will help, at least in part. ALL articles of faith ask us to believe something not adhering to reason. The most poignant is the incarnation of and crucifixion of God. The Trinity for another example, three persons one God. A holy and utterly pure God yet dying for sinners AT the hands of the very same. Creation ex nihilo (out of nothing), “let there be…”. All of these things and more are utterly incomprehensible to reason, affections and experiences period. They are only perceived by faith alone. The same with baptism, the same with Christ’s words. We might think of it this way, a limited analogy: neither our powers of reason or affections or experience or senses that provide the measuring sticks for the above can perceive, comprehend, apprehend or in any like fashion grasp hold of any single article of faith. Whether it be the real body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, the Trinity, the incarnation, the crucifixion or the creation ex nihilo. It takes, to borrow a movie title, a “sixth sense” per se (again a limited analogy to make the point) and that is faith. Faith, alone, literally, perceives, comprehends, apprehends and in any like fashion grasp hold all these articles of faith.

    That’s why Luther said if God told him to eat dirt he’d eat it. You see. Take some of Jesus’ miracles in which he instruments sometimes and sometime just spoke. E.g. he one time made mud with his spittle and put it on a blind man’s eyes and told him go and wash and he could then see again. Jesus needed none of that he could have just said, “Now see” and that would have worked or he could have just done it silently and it would have been done. But none the less he used, sometimes, instruments or MEANS.

    Now the question in our fallen nature, we always seek to get behind the deity (be as god) and endlessly ask the child’s question “why” or “how”. And to this there is no answer. But, pardon the irony, why no answer? Two things that relate: (1) Because He ALONE is God and Creator and Savior and you and I nor anyone else is not (that hurts/kills our original sin, “to be like or as god”, our original enthuisiam/Gnosticism/pietism to seek to be like god). And (2) why then something seemingly superfluous at best, doing the action He says to do. More to the point what is the benefit of eating his real flesh and blood in this sacrament? Part of the answer is because the forgiveness of sins is actually given and that which procured that forgiveness of sins for us is fed to us, his body and blood. But why is it necessary to BE his true and real flesh and blood, what’s the point of this “faith-mouth” eating and drinking? Luther’s answer is brilliant and gets back to the whole scope of original sin and our salvation: BECAUSE GOD SAID SO. No further inquiry (which is in fact, further inquiry, original sin). Luther’s answer is simple: If God said to do so, whether I understand it or not, fully or partially or not at all (all the hows and whys), then it is GOOD for me regardless because my Creator and Savior is THAT GOOD. You see the original sin was to NOT trust God for all good (recall violation of the first commandment assumes this and thus idolatry and then all the violations of the second table of the law. Or Paul’s discussion, the same, in Romans 1:18-ff: first is idolatry then and only then the more gross sins follow as effects of being turned over to self from the original sin of pious idolatry!). Now comes the Redeemer and says, “this do…”, “baptize…”, “absolve…”. Part of this is there is literally life and salvation where there is ALREADY forgiveness of sin ALREADY GIVEN, not just held forth to be observed or “offered”. And the second part of the reason is simply a non-answer yet profound answer, “Because God said so and that is good for me even if or especially if I don’t understand all the ins and outs (original sin)”. It is to attack the high flying enthused jets of our bound fallen reason, affections and experiences; to think we can know god “our way” via the created order (which we cannot after the fall, it is ALWAYS met with darkness, incertitude, wrath, death, law and hell – God hides himself to not be found where we might look so fallen). And God comes, in fact to show that He alone is God and comes where He wishes and in this way MOST OPPOSITE of where we fallen creatures look, is suffering and in the Cross (all in the sacraments too), where now fallen reason, affections and experiences will NEVER look or “believe true” to be found savingly to and for us, and only faith perceives this. God thus hides a second time in the unlikely suffering and cross, but this time hides TO BE FOUND. But not to be found by reason, affections, and experiences but by FAITH ALONE.

    This is the wisdom of God that destroys and makes foolish the wisdom of the world! This is why it is right to say that God is most hidden in the sacraments, and particularly this sacrament. When reason or affections or experience inquires into the sacrament it is a black pit to it and the same three will find nothing. Only faith sees the Savior there. The tongue taste bread and wine only but faith knows there is Christ’s body and flesh there also. How does this faith know this? Because God said so, “This IS My body…This is My blood…”. Reason, affections and experience “hear” the words but do not really HEAR them, so they go about doing the devil’s deed and seek to explain them some other way, “hath God really said…”. “Did God really say ‘This is my body/blood…’”, “did God really say, ‘let there be…’”, “Did God really say, ‘you will die…’”.

    The reason the battle for this sacrament will never cease, the reason the orthodox confessions will always HAVE to battle for it is because IT IS PRECISELY THE GOSPEL and the Gospel in this fallen world will always have to be battled for against the world and against the false teachers, doctrines and churches as well. The battle for the Gospel for the church is ceaseless, though we all feel the desire to not have to any longer and all be at peace, but this is what it means to be the church militant or suffering church.

    I hope that is helpful or at least some things to ponder.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • Larry

    Bunnyc,

    I do like your question because you are getting right to the jugular of the issue!

    Arguing details sometimes can just get into a “fact” arguing mission between two proposed yet opposing set of “facts”. I thinks first things first sometimes is better and getting at over riding principles, a 50,000 foot view if you will or “big picture” of what’s driving everything else, true or false as facts and details, is more helpful. But it’s challenging sometimes to get people to focus on that.

    Maybe this will help, at least in part. ALL articles of faith ask us to believe something not adhering to reason. The most poignant is the incarnation of and crucifixion of God. The Trinity for another example, three persons one God. A holy and utterly pure God yet dying for sinners AT the hands of the very same. Creation ex nihilo (out of nothing), “let there be…”. All of these things and more are utterly incomprehensible to reason, affections and experiences period. They are only perceived by faith alone. The same with baptism, the same with Christ’s words. We might think of it this way, a limited analogy: neither our powers of reason or affections or experience or senses that provide the measuring sticks for the above can perceive, comprehend, apprehend or in any like fashion grasp hold of any single article of faith. Whether it be the real body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, the Trinity, the incarnation, the crucifixion or the creation ex nihilo. It takes, to borrow a movie title, a “sixth sense” per se (again a limited analogy to make the point) and that is faith. Faith, alone, literally, perceives, comprehends, apprehends and in any like fashion grasp hold all these articles of faith.

    That’s why Luther said if God told him to eat dirt he’d eat it. You see. Take some of Jesus’ miracles in which he instruments sometimes and sometime just spoke. E.g. he one time made mud with his spittle and put it on a blind man’s eyes and told him go and wash and he could then see again. Jesus needed none of that he could have just said, “Now see” and that would have worked or he could have just done it silently and it would have been done. But none the less he used, sometimes, instruments or MEANS.

    Now the question in our fallen nature, we always seek to get behind the deity (be as god) and endlessly ask the child’s question “why” or “how”. And to this there is no answer. But, pardon the irony, why no answer? Two things that relate: (1) Because He ALONE is God and Creator and Savior and you and I nor anyone else is not (that hurts/kills our original sin, “to be like or as god”, our original enthuisiam/Gnosticism/pietism to seek to be like god). And (2) why then something seemingly superfluous at best, doing the action He says to do. More to the point what is the benefit of eating his real flesh and blood in this sacrament? Part of the answer is because the forgiveness of sins is actually given and that which procured that forgiveness of sins for us is fed to us, his body and blood. But why is it necessary to BE his true and real flesh and blood, what’s the point of this “faith-mouth” eating and drinking? Luther’s answer is brilliant and gets back to the whole scope of original sin and our salvation: BECAUSE GOD SAID SO. No further inquiry (which is in fact, further inquiry, original sin). Luther’s answer is simple: If God said to do so, whether I understand it or not, fully or partially or not at all (all the hows and whys), then it is GOOD for me regardless because my Creator and Savior is THAT GOOD. You see the original sin was to NOT trust God for all good (recall violation of the first commandment assumes this and thus idolatry and then all the violations of the second table of the law. Or Paul’s discussion, the same, in Romans 1:18-ff: first is idolatry then and only then the more gross sins follow as effects of being turned over to self from the original sin of pious idolatry!). Now comes the Redeemer and says, “this do…”, “baptize…”, “absolve…”. Part of this is there is literally life and salvation where there is ALREADY forgiveness of sin ALREADY GIVEN, not just held forth to be observed or “offered”. And the second part of the reason is simply a non-answer yet profound answer, “Because God said so and that is good for me even if or especially if I don’t understand all the ins and outs (original sin)”. It is to attack the high flying enthused jets of our bound fallen reason, affections and experiences; to think we can know god “our way” via the created order (which we cannot after the fall, it is ALWAYS met with darkness, incertitude, wrath, death, law and hell – God hides himself to not be found where we might look so fallen). And God comes, in fact to show that He alone is God and comes where He wishes and in this way MOST OPPOSITE of where we fallen creatures look, is suffering and in the Cross (all in the sacraments too), where now fallen reason, affections and experiences will NEVER look or “believe true” to be found savingly to and for us, and only faith perceives this. God thus hides a second time in the unlikely suffering and cross, but this time hides TO BE FOUND. But not to be found by reason, affections, and experiences but by FAITH ALONE.

    This is the wisdom of God that destroys and makes foolish the wisdom of the world! This is why it is right to say that God is most hidden in the sacraments, and particularly this sacrament. When reason or affections or experience inquires into the sacrament it is a black pit to it and the same three will find nothing. Only faith sees the Savior there. The tongue taste bread and wine only but faith knows there is Christ’s body and flesh there also. How does this faith know this? Because God said so, “This IS My body…This is My blood…”. Reason, affections and experience “hear” the words but do not really HEAR them, so they go about doing the devil’s deed and seek to explain them some other way, “hath God really said…”. “Did God really say ‘This is my body/blood…’”, “did God really say, ‘let there be…’”, “Did God really say, ‘you will die…’”.

    The reason the battle for this sacrament will never cease, the reason the orthodox confessions will always HAVE to battle for it is because IT IS PRECISELY THE GOSPEL and the Gospel in this fallen world will always have to be battled for against the world and against the false teachers, doctrines and churches as well. The battle for the Gospel for the church is ceaseless, though we all feel the desire to not have to any longer and all be at peace, but this is what it means to be the church militant or suffering church.

    I hope that is helpful or at least some things to ponder.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • Tom Hering

    “… the biblical flood, or the fall, or creationism -historically, these never took place. They have no scientific or historical basis. So, as Lutherans how are we to respond?” – bunnycatch3r @ 55.

    Genesis is all about Christ and the Gospel, and what Lutheran would give up Christ and the Gospel – just to satisfy the limited (and often enough wrong) understanding of our reason (which includes the sciences)? But can’t Genesis be true spiritually, while the sciences determine what is true historically? No. Our faith is meaningless apart from its historicity – apart from every action of God in history – as God has recounted it in Scripture. (The Earth circling the Sun doesn’t contradict the real experience, as viewed from the Earth, of the Sun standing still – which is all that Scripture asserts.) Evolutionary scientists aren’t wrong when they show how living things can evolve. They are wrong when they stretch and arrange all their findings to build an alternative history on a foundation of unbelief.

  • Tom Hering

    “… the biblical flood, or the fall, or creationism -historically, these never took place. They have no scientific or historical basis. So, as Lutherans how are we to respond?” – bunnycatch3r @ 55.

    Genesis is all about Christ and the Gospel, and what Lutheran would give up Christ and the Gospel – just to satisfy the limited (and often enough wrong) understanding of our reason (which includes the sciences)? But can’t Genesis be true spiritually, while the sciences determine what is true historically? No. Our faith is meaningless apart from its historicity – apart from every action of God in history – as God has recounted it in Scripture. (The Earth circling the Sun doesn’t contradict the real experience, as viewed from the Earth, of the Sun standing still – which is all that Scripture asserts.) Evolutionary scientists aren’t wrong when they show how living things can evolve. They are wrong when they stretch and arrange all their findings to build an alternative history on a foundation of unbelief.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Larry,
    Thanks for your insight. I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of understanding concerning this sacrament but after a first reading I’m optimistic that I’m finding it less objectionable. I appreciate the help.

    But can’t Genesis be true spiritually, while the sciences determine what is true historically? No. Our faith is meaningless apart from its historicity – apart from every action of God in history – as God has recounted it in Scripture

    Thanks for the response Tom and I have to say that I respect your perspective although I think it has some problems.

    Are we to take a position then that the scientific method reveals accurate models of reality in all areas except where we decide to take scripture literally? For example should we like Luther be Earth-centrists?

    How should Christians be instructed to practice science? Should certain questions or fields of study be held off limits?

    And concerning the Sun standing still – Luther argued (based on scripture) that Copernicus was wrong ~that the sun orbits the Earth. He was, after all, taking scripture literally. And, I think you’ll agree that his interpretation was wrong.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Larry,
    Thanks for your insight. I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of understanding concerning this sacrament but after a first reading I’m optimistic that I’m finding it less objectionable. I appreciate the help.

    But can’t Genesis be true spiritually, while the sciences determine what is true historically? No. Our faith is meaningless apart from its historicity – apart from every action of God in history – as God has recounted it in Scripture

    Thanks for the response Tom and I have to say that I respect your perspective although I think it has some problems.

    Are we to take a position then that the scientific method reveals accurate models of reality in all areas except where we decide to take scripture literally? For example should we like Luther be Earth-centrists?

    How should Christians be instructed to practice science? Should certain questions or fields of study be held off limits?

    And concerning the Sun standing still – Luther argued (based on scripture) that Copernicus was wrong ~that the sun orbits the Earth. He was, after all, taking scripture literally. And, I think you’ll agree that his interpretation was wrong.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@61), I think those are interesting questions. I like to consider myself something of a science fan, though I eventually veered off into (computer) engineering. But my wife is a chemistry teacher and we enjoy talking science at the dinner table.

    Anyhow, “Are we to take a position then that the scientific method reveals accurate models of reality in all areas except where we decide to take scripture literally?” It would be interesting if you were to define what you mean by “the scientific method” here. People like to pretend that there’s a single scientific method, but there isn’t. And the typical method that students learn in school actually can’t really be applied when it comes to discovering our origins.

    Myself, I have no problem with accepting conclusions based on the scientific method when they are replicable. But anytime science is used to deduce what happened in the past, we can’t do that. All we can do is to gather data, form a hypothesis, and then see if all subsequent data we gather conforms to that hypothesis. That subsequent data-gathering is all the “experimenting” we can do. So it goes with evolutionary history, the origins of the universe, the history of language, anthropology, etc.

    Now, I’m not saying that all these areas are inherently wrong or routinely come to false conclusions. We can’t really know, honestly. We have some models, they seem to work, it’s our best guess. But it’s a fundamentally different kind of best guess than is arrived at by science that is replicable.

    Where this comes to a head is in the realm of the supernatural. Science can only be about the natural. It may be technically agnostic when it comes to the supernatural, but it certainly never works the supernatural into its assumptions. But what if someone claimed a knowledge outside of, or higher than, science — from the Creator of the Laws with which science deals? Christians do make that claim, that the Bible is from such a Creator, and reveals truths outside of — and sometimes contrary to — the findings of science.

    For instance, we hold that Jesus truly was a man (but not merely a man) that died and then rose from the dead. Science will tell you, plainly, that that is not so. Science has never observed that happen (at least, not as the Bible tells us it happened, though scientists may attempt to explain it in a way such that Scripture had some details wrong), nor does it have any explanations for how it could happen. But Christians believe it is so. Not because they disdain science, but because they value Scripture over science when the two are in conflict. If science tells us Jesus did not rise from the dead, then science be damned.

    What do you think?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@61), I think those are interesting questions. I like to consider myself something of a science fan, though I eventually veered off into (computer) engineering. But my wife is a chemistry teacher and we enjoy talking science at the dinner table.

    Anyhow, “Are we to take a position then that the scientific method reveals accurate models of reality in all areas except where we decide to take scripture literally?” It would be interesting if you were to define what you mean by “the scientific method” here. People like to pretend that there’s a single scientific method, but there isn’t. And the typical method that students learn in school actually can’t really be applied when it comes to discovering our origins.

    Myself, I have no problem with accepting conclusions based on the scientific method when they are replicable. But anytime science is used to deduce what happened in the past, we can’t do that. All we can do is to gather data, form a hypothesis, and then see if all subsequent data we gather conforms to that hypothesis. That subsequent data-gathering is all the “experimenting” we can do. So it goes with evolutionary history, the origins of the universe, the history of language, anthropology, etc.

    Now, I’m not saying that all these areas are inherently wrong or routinely come to false conclusions. We can’t really know, honestly. We have some models, they seem to work, it’s our best guess. But it’s a fundamentally different kind of best guess than is arrived at by science that is replicable.

    Where this comes to a head is in the realm of the supernatural. Science can only be about the natural. It may be technically agnostic when it comes to the supernatural, but it certainly never works the supernatural into its assumptions. But what if someone claimed a knowledge outside of, or higher than, science — from the Creator of the Laws with which science deals? Christians do make that claim, that the Bible is from such a Creator, and reveals truths outside of — and sometimes contrary to — the findings of science.

    For instance, we hold that Jesus truly was a man (but not merely a man) that died and then rose from the dead. Science will tell you, plainly, that that is not so. Science has never observed that happen (at least, not as the Bible tells us it happened, though scientists may attempt to explain it in a way such that Scripture had some details wrong), nor does it have any explanations for how it could happen. But Christians believe it is so. Not because they disdain science, but because they value Scripture over science when the two are in conflict. If science tells us Jesus did not rise from the dead, then science be damned.

    What do you think?

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    If you’re going to argue the resurrection, I’m getting popcorn and sitting back to watch! :-)

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    If you’re going to argue the resurrection, I’m getting popcorn and sitting back to watch! :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Are we to take a position then that the scientific method reveals accurate models of reality in all areas except where we decide to take scripture literally?” – bunnycatch3r @ 61.

    No, that still assumes an ultimate conflict between science and Scripture. Let’s be honest: an unbelieving scientist doesn’t construct his non-Scriptural cosmogeny because the facts he discovers force him to. Rather, he constructs it because he wants to get rid of the supernatural. We can’t have a discussion of science and Scripture if we start with the assumption that unbelieving scientists are objective in their “reconstruction” of origins.

  • Tom Hering

    “Are we to take a position then that the scientific method reveals accurate models of reality in all areas except where we decide to take scripture literally?” – bunnycatch3r @ 61.

    No, that still assumes an ultimate conflict between science and Scripture. Let’s be honest: an unbelieving scientist doesn’t construct his non-Scriptural cosmogeny because the facts he discovers force him to. Rather, he constructs it because he wants to get rid of the supernatural. We can’t have a discussion of science and Scripture if we start with the assumption that unbelieving scientists are objective in their “reconstruction” of origins.

  • Larry

    BunnyC,

    Again to help; the literal understanding of the sun orbiting the earth as Luther took it versus the earth orbiting the sun is at the end of the day not an issue concerning salvation. THAT itself is not an article of faith dealing with original sin. If Luther was wrong on that particular issue, something not an article of faith it makes no difference concerning articles of faith otherwise. If he erred he erred TRUSTING God’s Words, that’s very different than reinterpreting them concerning salvation and God being one’s God. “Hath God really said” is not a temptation from the devil concerning the orbit of the earth and sun. In fact the real temptation from the devil there is that by imposing more importance on this “non-issue” concerning faith concerning orbits and then exalting it falsely toward the sacraments (which are articles of faith) is the trial of faith. Articles of faith are against human reason, affections and experiences on purpose.

    One has to keep in mind what was original sin, why God hides himself in the creation to not be found (theologies of glory) vs God hiding himself where we won’t look for him, in suffering and the Cross, to be found savingly.

    When it comes to the sacraments there must be certain gravity as to this as opposed to that. The orbital of the sun/earth really has nothing to do with God being God as does creation ex nihilo and salvation ex nihilo. Luther pointed out that at the Cross God shows himself to be a true creator (again). How so. His love, godly love, unlike our fallen love, creates the object it will love, i.e. He loves the unlovable, He loves the sinner, the sinner or unbeliever is the “nothing”. Out of this nothingness of unbelief He calls into being ex nihilo by dying for it, showing His love and thus Himself to be a true Creator ex nihilo. The absolution of “your sins are forgiven” is literally the same as “let there be light”. Where there is forgiveness of sins, in reality and present, not just 2000 years ago, there is quite literally, hidden to all but faith, eternal life and salvation. “I forgive your sins” via absolution, baptism or the Lord’s Supper all from God via the instrument of a pastor is literally the reversal of the curse and thus literally life and salvation, for death came because of that sin. The absolving in the particular, to you as opposed to “that guy over there” or some general group of humans, IS the eternal life. Thus, where there is actual giving of forgiveness of sins there is quite literally life eternal and salvation (he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood HAS eternal life…abides in Me).

    Keep in mind the Scripture spoke to the orbit from the perspective of the earthling it was not meant to be a treatise on solar system astronomy, if Luther erred here he simply erred and we don’t agree given the facts today. He didn’t at that time under the very young science have all the data in hand and thus stuck to what the Scriptures said. A safer position, even if wrong, in principle than to not do so. The science at the time was itself still very hypothetical, don’t read anachronistically back into Luther and his time something he no knowledge of. Given STILL hypothetical science on one hand and the scriptures on the other, he took the right path.

    The sacrament is a different issue, Christ meant what He said and said what He meant period. The weight of this is different in that eternal salvation is at issue. We glaze over the very important words of institution up front that give it eternal weight, “ON THE NIGHT HE WAS BETRAYED…”. The holy God is just about to be crucified for the very sinners who will crucify Him. The gravity of this situation, Chemnitz points this out, is much different than a more or less casual statement about the rising and falling sun (which weathermen of science all around the globe STILL state in spite of the orbital realities). The moment of the institution of the sacrament is NOT going to be a moment of confusion or fuzzy language, and indeed it is not, nothing could be planner than what Christ said, “this is my body/blood…”. This is not a casual conversation, the crux of all of history and all that is created turns on this very thing, it is not light at all. And this point is made manifest in that the ONLY thing all the heterodox churches agree upon concerning the supper is what it is NOT, not what it IS. They pretend Christ to be vague at such a moment of infinite gravity.

    Does that help?

  • Larry

    BunnyC,

    Again to help; the literal understanding of the sun orbiting the earth as Luther took it versus the earth orbiting the sun is at the end of the day not an issue concerning salvation. THAT itself is not an article of faith dealing with original sin. If Luther was wrong on that particular issue, something not an article of faith it makes no difference concerning articles of faith otherwise. If he erred he erred TRUSTING God’s Words, that’s very different than reinterpreting them concerning salvation and God being one’s God. “Hath God really said” is not a temptation from the devil concerning the orbit of the earth and sun. In fact the real temptation from the devil there is that by imposing more importance on this “non-issue” concerning faith concerning orbits and then exalting it falsely toward the sacraments (which are articles of faith) is the trial of faith. Articles of faith are against human reason, affections and experiences on purpose.

    One has to keep in mind what was original sin, why God hides himself in the creation to not be found (theologies of glory) vs God hiding himself where we won’t look for him, in suffering and the Cross, to be found savingly.

    When it comes to the sacraments there must be certain gravity as to this as opposed to that. The orbital of the sun/earth really has nothing to do with God being God as does creation ex nihilo and salvation ex nihilo. Luther pointed out that at the Cross God shows himself to be a true creator (again). How so. His love, godly love, unlike our fallen love, creates the object it will love, i.e. He loves the unlovable, He loves the sinner, the sinner or unbeliever is the “nothing”. Out of this nothingness of unbelief He calls into being ex nihilo by dying for it, showing His love and thus Himself to be a true Creator ex nihilo. The absolution of “your sins are forgiven” is literally the same as “let there be light”. Where there is forgiveness of sins, in reality and present, not just 2000 years ago, there is quite literally, hidden to all but faith, eternal life and salvation. “I forgive your sins” via absolution, baptism or the Lord’s Supper all from God via the instrument of a pastor is literally the reversal of the curse and thus literally life and salvation, for death came because of that sin. The absolving in the particular, to you as opposed to “that guy over there” or some general group of humans, IS the eternal life. Thus, where there is actual giving of forgiveness of sins there is quite literally life eternal and salvation (he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood HAS eternal life…abides in Me).

    Keep in mind the Scripture spoke to the orbit from the perspective of the earthling it was not meant to be a treatise on solar system astronomy, if Luther erred here he simply erred and we don’t agree given the facts today. He didn’t at that time under the very young science have all the data in hand and thus stuck to what the Scriptures said. A safer position, even if wrong, in principle than to not do so. The science at the time was itself still very hypothetical, don’t read anachronistically back into Luther and his time something he no knowledge of. Given STILL hypothetical science on one hand and the scriptures on the other, he took the right path.

    The sacrament is a different issue, Christ meant what He said and said what He meant period. The weight of this is different in that eternal salvation is at issue. We glaze over the very important words of institution up front that give it eternal weight, “ON THE NIGHT HE WAS BETRAYED…”. The holy God is just about to be crucified for the very sinners who will crucify Him. The gravity of this situation, Chemnitz points this out, is much different than a more or less casual statement about the rising and falling sun (which weathermen of science all around the globe STILL state in spite of the orbital realities). The moment of the institution of the sacrament is NOT going to be a moment of confusion or fuzzy language, and indeed it is not, nothing could be planner than what Christ said, “this is my body/blood…”. This is not a casual conversation, the crux of all of history and all that is created turns on this very thing, it is not light at all. And this point is made manifest in that the ONLY thing all the heterodox churches agree upon concerning the supper is what it is NOT, not what it IS. They pretend Christ to be vague at such a moment of infinite gravity.

    Does that help?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Todd
    Science by definition cannot understand the supernatural. It’s not equipped to make judgments on God, or the deity of Christ, or the hidden elements of the Eucharist – I mean how could these be tested? Even if Christ visited a lab -the only thing that could be verified scientifically is whether or not he is human. And as far as the resurrection is concerned -without a body science would be hardpressed to make any pronouncements. So if I understand your reservations correctly science remains a safe distance from your condemnation.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Todd
    Science by definition cannot understand the supernatural. It’s not equipped to make judgments on God, or the deity of Christ, or the hidden elements of the Eucharist – I mean how could these be tested? Even if Christ visited a lab -the only thing that could be verified scientifically is whether or not he is human. And as far as the resurrection is concerned -without a body science would be hardpressed to make any pronouncements. So if I understand your reservations correctly science remains a safe distance from your condemnation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@66), agreed that “Science by definition cannot understand the supernatural.” But that is not what science — or, at least, many scientists and not a few in the Anti-Christian Science Club — claims for itself these days. Rather, these people preclude the existence of the supernatural. They cannot understand it, measure it, or subject it to their theories (understandably so), so they assume — or, typically, demand — that it does not exist.

    So was there anything supernatural in the creation of the world and/or universe? Science says no, and goes on to provide perfectly natural explanations for such. That which was assumed was demonstrated.

    As for the Resurrection, show me a member of the Anti-Christian Science Club (you know, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. — if you’re the same “bunnycatch3r” to be found elsewhere on the Internet, you appear to be a fan of a few of those guys) that is agnostic on the issue, that chooses to remain pronouncement-less without any evidence.

    So does science remain at “a safe distance from [my] condemnation”? All depends on what you think science is, I guess.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@66), agreed that “Science by definition cannot understand the supernatural.” But that is not what science — or, at least, many scientists and not a few in the Anti-Christian Science Club — claims for itself these days. Rather, these people preclude the existence of the supernatural. They cannot understand it, measure it, or subject it to their theories (understandably so), so they assume — or, typically, demand — that it does not exist.

    So was there anything supernatural in the creation of the world and/or universe? Science says no, and goes on to provide perfectly natural explanations for such. That which was assumed was demonstrated.

    As for the Resurrection, show me a member of the Anti-Christian Science Club (you know, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. — if you’re the same “bunnycatch3r” to be found elsewhere on the Internet, you appear to be a fan of a few of those guys) that is agnostic on the issue, that chooses to remain pronouncement-less without any evidence.

    So does science remain at “a safe distance from [my] condemnation”? All depends on what you think science is, I guess.

  • fws

    bunnycatch3r @61

    What makes someone a Lutheran (as opposed to Luther-an) is that a Lutheran claims the Lutheran “Book of Concord” or at least the “Small Catechism” part of it as his personal confessions of faith.

    Luther said alot of things. I am not bound to them. I am not UN-Lutheran if I reject those things. No big deal.

    You actually don´t have to go as far back as Luther on an earth centric universe. Franz Pieper, a revered systematic theologian in the LCMS insisted that the Bible mandated an earth centric understanding of the universe right up into the 1930s! Again, we don´t bind consciences to walther, or pieper or Luther. We do to the Confessions if someone wants to claim to be Lutheran.

    My response to the young earth vs evolution controversy: yawn. It is not an area of study that interests me. It does not affect my life really.

    Scriptures were written to bring us to Christ. Now this does not mean that we can reduce everything in scripture to metaphor or reject what does not cannot be proven by science that is based on observable and objective tangible fact.

    But this also means that we don´t have to fear where scientific pursuit of truth takes us since we know that all truth proceeds from the Truth.

    Tom makes an important point when he observes that saying the sun sets is true observationally and does not conflict with the scientific fact that it does not really “set”. Alot of things are about perspective.

  • fws

    bunnycatch3r @61

    What makes someone a Lutheran (as opposed to Luther-an) is that a Lutheran claims the Lutheran “Book of Concord” or at least the “Small Catechism” part of it as his personal confessions of faith.

    Luther said alot of things. I am not bound to them. I am not UN-Lutheran if I reject those things. No big deal.

    You actually don´t have to go as far back as Luther on an earth centric universe. Franz Pieper, a revered systematic theologian in the LCMS insisted that the Bible mandated an earth centric understanding of the universe right up into the 1930s! Again, we don´t bind consciences to walther, or pieper or Luther. We do to the Confessions if someone wants to claim to be Lutheran.

    My response to the young earth vs evolution controversy: yawn. It is not an area of study that interests me. It does not affect my life really.

    Scriptures were written to bring us to Christ. Now this does not mean that we can reduce everything in scripture to metaphor or reject what does not cannot be proven by science that is based on observable and objective tangible fact.

    But this also means that we don´t have to fear where scientific pursuit of truth takes us since we know that all truth proceeds from the Truth.

    Tom makes an important point when he observes that saying the sun sets is true observationally and does not conflict with the scientific fact that it does not really “set”. Alot of things are about perspective.

  • fws

    bunnycatch3r

    what I am trying to say is to not let y0ur doubts about a young earth or belief that there is good scientific proof for the theory of evolution be the “deal breaker ” that keeps you from going to church and hearing the that your Jesus died for you and loves you.

    Lots of us here would argue passionately with you here on this topic.

    I am not one that can join that debate because I am simply unqualified. I am not educated on the scientific issues involved so I would look pretty stupid arguing on this topic. Do I need to get educated on this topic. Um. No.

    Many here you notice argue passionately with me over the topic of homosexuality. And I do know lots about this issue. So I have something probably worth saying. And you see other Lutherans here ok with that in a very honest way. I am saying you can find a home in the Lutheran Church bunnycatch3r without having to feel you are putting your brain into the “park” position.

    I am not saying that these things don´t matter as to what we believer or think or that we should just agree to disagree.

    I AM saying that we Lutherans are not cookie-cutter shaped christians who all think robotically the same. We are honest about our differences, but more than anything else, we are passionate about the Passion of our Lord.

    I sense in the middle of all the arguing that this is one thing that you could be passionate about as well. Let´s talk about that.

    God bless you BCatcher3r.

  • fws

    bunnycatch3r

    what I am trying to say is to not let y0ur doubts about a young earth or belief that there is good scientific proof for the theory of evolution be the “deal breaker ” that keeps you from going to church and hearing the that your Jesus died for you and loves you.

    Lots of us here would argue passionately with you here on this topic.

    I am not one that can join that debate because I am simply unqualified. I am not educated on the scientific issues involved so I would look pretty stupid arguing on this topic. Do I need to get educated on this topic. Um. No.

    Many here you notice argue passionately with me over the topic of homosexuality. And I do know lots about this issue. So I have something probably worth saying. And you see other Lutherans here ok with that in a very honest way. I am saying you can find a home in the Lutheran Church bunnycatch3r without having to feel you are putting your brain into the “park” position.

    I am not saying that these things don´t matter as to what we believer or think or that we should just agree to disagree.

    I AM saying that we Lutherans are not cookie-cutter shaped christians who all think robotically the same. We are honest about our differences, but more than anything else, we are passionate about the Passion of our Lord.

    I sense in the middle of all the arguing that this is one thing that you could be passionate about as well. Let´s talk about that.

    God bless you BCatcher3r.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Thank you everyone for helping me clear up this issue. Although it has always been simple to engage the “new fundamentalists atheists” in such a discussion I have not been so fortunate raising these questions to believers. As a member of the LCMS I’ve brought these concerns to more than a few pastors and came away feeling that my concerns are not widespread. After reading Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” I had a chance to ask him about something I thought his camp (Hitchens, Bennet, et al) was missing. That if we’re to merely experience life through the filter of materialism what then do we make of “love”? Isn’t it too a delusion; a sort of fantasy? And while you’re at it what use is poetry, and metaphor, or song? Do they not deceive as well?
    And so, perhaps the reason there is not a lot of discussion in our church concerning these matters is obvious. Compared to the pleroma of life in Christ it matters little.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Thank you everyone for helping me clear up this issue. Although it has always been simple to engage the “new fundamentalists atheists” in such a discussion I have not been so fortunate raising these questions to believers. As a member of the LCMS I’ve brought these concerns to more than a few pastors and came away feeling that my concerns are not widespread. After reading Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” I had a chance to ask him about something I thought his camp (Hitchens, Bennet, et al) was missing. That if we’re to merely experience life through the filter of materialism what then do we make of “love”? Isn’t it too a delusion; a sort of fantasy? And while you’re at it what use is poetry, and metaphor, or song? Do they not deceive as well?
    And so, perhaps the reason there is not a lot of discussion in our church concerning these matters is obvious. Compared to the pleroma of life in Christ it matters little.

  • Tom Hering

    Actually, bunnycatch3r, my life in Christ has made me more interested in such questions – not less. They’re good questions to ask, and to formulate Christian answers to.

  • Tom Hering

    Actually, bunnycatch3r, my life in Christ has made me more interested in such questions – not less. They’re good questions to ask, and to formulate Christian answers to.

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