The importance of Christ’s Ascension

Yesterday was Ascension Day, marking the resurrected Christ’s return to His Father.  Pastor Reeder quotes the classic Bible scholar Paul E. Kretzmann on what the Ascension means:

“By His exaltation and ascension the Son of Man, also according to His human body, has entered into the full and unlimited use of His divine omnipresence. His gracious presence is therefore assured to His congregation on earth. He is now nearer to His believers than He was to His disciples in the days of His flesh.

He is now sitting at the right hand of His heavenly Father. As our Brother He has assumed the full use of the divine power and majesty. He reigns with omnipotence over all things, but especially also over His Church. God has put all things under His feet, and has given Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all, Eph. 1, 22. 23.

By His Word and Sacrament He gathers unto Himself a congregation and Church upon earth. He works in and with His servants; He governs in the midst of His enemies. He preserves and protects His Church against all the enmity of the hostile world and against the very portals of hell. And His intercession before His heavenly Father makes our salvation a certainty, Rom. 8, 34.”

via On the Lord’s Ascension « Pastor Reeder’s Blog.

Strangely, the Reformed use the Ascension as an argument against the presence of Christ in the sacrament.  (“Jesus isn’t here any more.  He’s in Heaven.”)  But Lutherans use the Ascension as an argument for the Real Presence, since now the Son of God, having taken His place in the Godhead, is omnipresent.

Why Lutherans don’t believe in consubstantiation

While browsing through the bookstore at Concordia Publishing House at my final board meeting, I came across a book entitled Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper (Counterpoints: Church Life).  It featured a Roman Catholic, a Lutheran, a Calvinist, and a Baptist reflecting on each tradition’s understanding of the Lord’s Supper, with each participant also responding to that understanding.  It was a good format for theological debate.  Anyway, David Scaer ably presented the Lutheran position.  I appreciated his explanation of why the term “consubstantiation,” which the Catholics and the Reformed say is what Lutherans believe is rejected by Lutherans themselves.

The term, he says, indicates that there are two “substances” in the Lord’s supper.  That, however, keeps them apart, as two separate things.  The Lutheran confessions speak rather of a “sacramental union.”  The bread and the wine are somehow united to Christ’s Body and Blood.  Thinking in terms of “consubstantiation” misses that entirely. (As does “transubstantiation.”  The Roman Catholic participant in the forum did not realize that Lutherans hold such a high view of the Sacrament.  Actually, it could be argued that Lutherans hold a higher view than Roman Catholics do.)


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