09 August 2003

bucer on eucharist

The Lutheran Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration) reports the following as the views agreed to by the Strasbourg Reformed at the Wittenburg Concord with the Lutherans in 1536:They confess, according to the words of Irenaeus, that in this Sacrament there are two things, a heavenly and an earthly. Accordingly, they hold and teach that with the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ are truly and essentially present, offered, and received. And although they believe in no transubstantiation, that is, an essential transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, nor hold that the body and blood of Christ are included in the bread localiter, that is, locally, or are otherwise permanently united therewith apart from the use of the Sacrament, yet they concede that through the sacramental union the bread is the body of Christ, that when the bread is offered, the body of Christ is at the same time present, and is truly tendered. For apart from the use, when the bread is laid aside and preserved in the sacramental vessel, or is carried about in the procession and exhibited, as is done in popery, they do not hold that the body of Christ is present.

Secondly, they hold that the institution of this Sacrament made by Christ is efficacious in the Church, and that it does not depend upon the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister who offers the Sacrament, or of the one who receives it. Therefore, as St. Paul says, that even the unworthy partake of the Sacrament, they hold that also to the unworthy the body and blood of Christ are truly offered, and the unworthy truly receive them, if where the institution and command of the Lord Christ are observed. But such persons receive them to condemnation, as St. Paul says; for they misuse the holy Sacrament, because they receive it without true repentance and without faith. For it was instituted for this purpose, that it might testify that to those who truly repent and comfort themselves by faith in Christ the grace and benefits of Christ are here applied, and that they are incorporated into Christ and are washed by His blood.
This Bucerian approach to the eucharist--sometimes called "dynamic receptionism"--was influential partiularly in Anglican theology.

Bucer, however, seems to have differed with Calvin on some points and emphases, particularly with regard to what the unworthy and unbelieving receive in the sacrament. Perhaps I'll say more about that later.