« Prev The Eucharistic Controversy Next »

§ 103. The Eucharistic Controversy.


I. Sources (1) Lutheran. Luther: Wider die himmlischen Propheten, Jan. 1525 (against Carlstadt and the Enthusiasts). Dass die Worte, "Das ist mein Leib," noch fest stehen (wider die Schwarmgeister), 1527. Grosses Bekenntniss vom Abendmahl, March, 1528 (against Zwingli and Oecolampadius). Kurzes Bekenntniss rom heil. Sacrament, 1544. All these tracts in the Erl. ed. vols. XXVI. 254; XXIX. 134, 348; XXX. 14, 151; XXXII. 396. Walch, Vol. XX. 1–2955, gives the eucharistic writings, for and against Luther, together with a history.

Bugenhagen: Contra novum errorem de sacramento corporis et sanguinis Christi. 1525. Also in German. In Walch, XX. 641 sqq. Brentz and Schnepf: Syngramma Suevicum super verbis coenae Dominicae "Hoc est corpus meum," etc., signed by fourteen Swabian preachers, Oct. 21, 1525. Against Oecolampadius, see Walch, XX. 34, 667 sqq.

(2) On the Zwinglian side. Zwingli: Letter to Rev. Mathaeus Alber, Nov. 16, 1524; Commentarius de vera et falsa religione, 1525; Amica exegesis, id est, Expositio eucharistiae negotii ad M. Lutherum, 1526; Dass diese Worte Jesu Christi: "Das ist myn Lychnam," ewiglich den alten eynigen Sinn haben werden, 1527; and several other eucharistic tracts. Oecolampadius: De genuina verborum Domini: "Hoc est corpus meum," juxta vetustissimos auctores expositione, Basel, 1525; Antisyngramma ad ecclesiastas Suevos (with two sermons on the sacrament), 1526. Oecolampadius and Zwingli: Ueber Luther’s Buch Bekenntniss genannt, zwo Antworten, 1528. See Zwingli: Opera, ed. Schuler and Schulthess, vol. II. Part II. 1–223; III. 145; 459 sqq.; 589 sqq.; 604 sqq. Also Walch, vol. XX. Extracts in Usteri and Vögelin, M. H. Zwingli’s Sämmtl. Schriften im Auszuge, vol. II. Part I., pp. 3–187.

II. The historical works on the eucharistic controversies of the Reformation period, by Lavater (Historia Sacramentaria, Tig. 1563): Selnecker and Chemnitz (Hist. des sacram. Streits, Leipz., 1583 and 1593); Hospinian (Hist. Sacramentaria, Tig. 1603, 2 vols.); Löscher (Hist. Motuum, in 3 Parts, Leipz., second ed., 1723); Ebrard (Das Dogma vom heil. Abendmahl und seine Geschichte, 2 vols., 1846); Kahnis (1851); Dieckhoff (1854); H. Schmid (1873).

III. The respective sections in the General Church Histories, and the Histories of the Reformation, especially Seckendorf, Gieseler, Baur, Hagenbach, Merle, Fisher. Planck, in his Geschichte des Protest. Lehrbegriffs (Leipz. second revised ed., 1792, vol. II., Books V. and VI.), gives a very full and accurate account of the eucharistic controversy, although he calls it "die unseligste alter Streitigkeiten" (II. 205).

IV. Special discussions. Dorner: Geschichte der protestant. Theologie (Muenchen, 1867), pp. 296–329. Jul. Mueller: Vergleichung der Lehren Luther’s und Calvin’s ueber das heil. Abendmahl, in his "Dogmatische Abhandlungen" (Bremen, 1870, pp. 404–467). Köstlin: Luther’s Theologie, II. 100 sqq., 511 sqq.; Mart. Luther, I. 715–725; II. 65–110 (Luther und Zwingli); 127 sqq.; 363–369. August Baur: Zwingli’s Theologie (Halle, 1885; second vol. has not yet appeared).

American discussions of the eucharistic controversies. J. W. Nevin (Reformed, d. 1886): The Mystical Presence, Philadelphia, 1846; Doctrine of the Reformed Church on the Lord’s Supper, in "The Mercersburg Review," 1850, pp. 421–549. Ch. Hodge (Presbyt, d. 1878): in "The Princeton Review" for April, 1848; Systematic Theology, New York, 1873, vol. III., 626–677. C. P. Krauth (Luth., d. 1883): The Conservative Reformation (Philadelphia, 1872), p. 585 sqq. H. J. Van Dyke (Calvinist): The Lord’s Supper, 2 arts. in "The Presbyterian Review," New York, 1887, pp. 193 and 472 sqq. J. W. Richard (Luth.), in the "Bibliotheca Sacra" (Oberlin, O.), Oct. 1887, p. 667 sqq., and Jan. 1888, p. 110 sqq.

See, also, the Lit. quoted in Schaff, Church Hist., I. 471 sq. and IV. 543 sq.


While the Reformers were agreed on the question of infant-baptism against the Anabaptists, they disagreed on the mode and extent of the real presence in the Lord’s Supper.

The eucharistic controversies of the sixteenth century present a sad and disheartening spectacle of human passion and violence, and inflicted great injury to the progress of the Reformation by preventing united action, and giving aid and comfort to the enemy; but they were overruled for the clearer development and statement of truth, like the equally violent Trinitarian, Christological, and other controversies in the ancient church. It is a humiliating fact, that the feast of union and communion of believers with Christ and with each other, wherein they engage in the highest act of worship, and make the nearest approach to heaven, should have become the innocent occasion of bitter contests among brethren professing the same faith and the same devotion to Christ and his gospel. The person of Christ and the supper of Christ have stirred up the deepest passions of love and hatred. Fortunately, the practical benefit of the sacrament depends upon God’s promise, and simple and childlike faith in Christ, and not upon any scholastic theory, any more than the benefit of the Sacred Scriptures depends upon a critical knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.

The eucharist was twice the subject of controversy in the Middle Ages,—first in the ninth, and then in the eleventh, century. The question in both cases turned on a grossly realistic and a spiritual conception of the sacramental presence and fruition of Christ’s body and blood; and the result was the triumph of the Roman dogma of transubstantiation, as advocated by Paschasius Radbertus against Ratramnus, and by Lanfranc against Berengar, and as finally sanctioned by the fourth Lateran Council in 1215, and the Council of Trent in 1551.817817    Schaff, Church History, vol. IV. 543-572; Creeds of Christendom, II 130-139.

The Greek and Latin churches are substantially agreed on the doctrine of the communion and the mass, but divide on the ritual question of the use of leavened or unleavened bread. The withdrawal of the cup from the laity caused the bloody Hussite wars.

The eucharistic controversies of the Protestants assumed a different form. Transubstantiation was discarded by both parties. The question was not, whether the elements as to their substance are miraculously transformed into the body and blood of Christ, but whether Christ was corporally or only spiritually (though no less really) present with the natural elements; and whether he was partaken of by all communicants through the mouth, or only by the worthy communicants through faith.

The controversy has two acts, each with several scenes: first, between Luther and Zwingli; secondly, between the Lutherans and Philippists and Calvinists. At last Luther’s theory triumphed in the Lutheran, Calvin’s theory in the Reformed churches. The Protestant denominations which have arisen since the Reformation on English and American soil,—Independents, Baptists, Methodists, etc.,—have adopted the Reformed view. Luther’s theory is strictly confined to the church which bears his name. But, as the Melanchthonian and moderate Lutherans approach very nearly the Calvinistic view, so there are Calvinists, and especially Anglicans, who approach the Lutheran view more nearly than the Zwinglian. The fierce antagonism of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has given way on both sides to a more dispassionate and charitable temper. This is a real progress.

We shall first trace the external history of this controversy, and then present the different theories with the arguments.



« Prev The Eucharistic Controversy Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |