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No Forgiveness in the Supper? Poor Catechesis in the Misery Synod

May 11, 2013 2 comments

Here’s a classic example of poor catechesis, from the May 2013 Lutheran Witness, Letters to the Editor:

I just read the article, Cant We All Just Get Along in the March 2013 issue of The Lutheran Witness. I was more than a little surprised about what we Lutherans are supposed to believe regarding the Lords Supper. The Lords Supper, as beneficial as it is, does not forgive sins. Forgiveness of sins is a free gift, given by grace, those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God who died, was buried and rose again as atonement for our sins. The Lords Supper serves to remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus and to strengthen our faith. To say that it is a source of forgiveness is not Scriptural; it adds a works requirement for the free gift of God to all who believe.

Charles F. Hawkins
Beaumont, Texas

[emphases added]

Wow. I guess Jesus’ statement in Matthew 26:28 is a lie and should be stricken from Holy Scripture:

for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Perhaps Dr. Martin Luther was also lying in the Small Catechism:

VI. The Sacrament of the Altar

As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

Where is this written?

The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write thus:

Our Lord Jesus Christthe same night in which He was betrayedtook bread: and when He had given thanksHe brake itand gave it to His disciplesand saidTake,eat; this is My bodywhich is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.

After the same manner also He took the cupwhen He had suppedgave thanksand gave it to themsayingTakedrink ye all of it. This cup is the new testament in My bloodwhich is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do yeas oft as ye drink itin remembrance of Me.

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

That is shown us in these words: Givenand shed for youfor the remission of sins; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely: Givenand shed for youfor the remission of sins. Which words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Whothenreceives such Sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: Givenand shed for youfor the remission of sins.

But he that does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit; for the words For you require altogether believing hearts. [Small Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar, BookOfConcord.org]

Dr Luther speaks the same way in the Large Catechism:

20] Thus we have briefly the first point which relates to the essence of this Sacrament. Now examine further the efficacy and benefits on account of which really the Sacrament was instituted; which is also its most necessary part, that we may know what we should seek and obtain there. 21] Now this is plain and clear from the words just mentioned: This is My body and blood, given and shed for you, for the remission of sins22] Briefly that is as much as to say: For this reason we go to the Sacrament because there we receive such a treasure by and in which we obtain forgiveness of sins. Why so? Because the words stand here and give us this; for on this account He bids me eat and drink, that it may be my own and may benefit me, as a sure pledge and token, yea, the very same treasure that is appointed for me against my sins, death, and every calamity.

28] But here our wise spirits contort themselves with their great art and wisdom, crying out and bawling: How can bread and wine forgive sins or strengthen faith? Although they hear and know that we do not say this of bread and wine, because in itself bread is bread, but of such bread and wine as is the body and blood of Christ, and has the words attached to it. That, we say, is verily the treasure, and nothing else, through which such forgiveness is obtained. 29] Now the only way in which it is conveyed and appropriated to us is in the words (Given and shed for you). For herein you have both truths, that it is the body and blood of Christ, and that it is yours as a treasure and gift. 30] Now the body of Christ can never be an unfruitful, vain thing, that effects or profits nothing. Yet, however great is the treasure in itself, it must be comprehended in the Word and administered to us, else we should never be able to know or seek it.

31] Therefore also it is vain talk when they say that the body and blood of Christ are not given and shed for us in the Lord’s Supper, hence we could not have forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament. For although the work is accomplished and the forgiveness of sins acquired on the cross, yet it cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. For what would we otherwise know about it, that such a thing was accomplished or was to be given us if it were not presented by preaching or the oral Word? Whence do they know of it, or how can they apprehend and appropriate to themselves the forgiveness, except they lay hold of and believe the Scriptures and the Gospel? 32] But now the entire Gospel and the article of the Creed: I believe a holy Christian Church, the forgiveness of sin, etc., are by the Word embodied in this Sacrament and presented to us. Why, then, should we allow this treasure to be torn from the Sacrament when they must confess that these are the very words which we hear every where in the Gospel, and they cannot say that these words in the Sacrament are of no use, as little as they dare say that the entire Gospel or Word of God, apart from the Sacrament, is of no use?

So also the second Martin of the Reformation, Dr Chemnitz, writes in the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration:

52] For this reason, too, all three evangelists, Matt. 26:26Mark 14:22Luke 22:19, and St. Paul, who received the same [the institution of the Lord’s Supper] after the ascension of Christ [from Christ Himself], 1 Cor. 11:24, unanimously and with the same words and syllables repeat concerning the consecrated and distributed bread these distinct, clear, firm, and true words of Christ: This is My body, altogether in one way, without any interpretation [trope, figure] and change. Therefore there is no doubt that also concerning 53] the other part of the Sacrament these words of Luke and Paul: This cup is the new testament in My blood, can have no other meaning than that which St. Matthew and St. Mark give: This (namely, that which you orally drink out of the cup) is My blood of the new testament, whereby I establish, seal, and confirm with you men this My testament and new covenant, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

62] But this spiritual eating is nothing else than faith, namely, to hear God’s Word (wherein Christ, true God and man, is presented to us, together with all benefits which He has purchased for us by His flesh given into death for us, and by His blood shed for us, namely, God’s grace, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and eternal life), to receive it with faith and appropriate it to ourselves, and in all troubles and temptations firmly to rely, with sure confidence and trust, and to abide in the consolation that we have a gracious God, and eternal salvation on account of the Lord Jesus Christ. [He who hears these things related from the Word of God, and in faith receives and applies; them to himself, and relies entirely upon this consolation (that we have God reconciled and life eternal on account of the Mediator, Jesus Christ),–he, I say, who with true confidence rests in the Word of the Gospel in all troubles and temptations, spiritually eats the body of Christ and drinks His blood.]

79] Now, in the administration of the Holy Supper the words of institution are to be publicly spoken or sung before the congregation distinctly and clearly, and should in no way be omitted [and this for very many and the most important reasons. 80] First,] in order that obedience may be rendered to the command of Christ: This do [that therefore should not be omitted which Christ Himself did in the Holy Supper], 81] and [secondly] that the faith of the hearers concerning the nature and fruit of this Sacrament (concerning the presence of the body and blood of Christ, concerning the forgiveness of sins, and all benefits which have been purchased by the death and shedding of the blood of Christ, and are bestowed upon us in Christ’s testament) may be excited, strengthened, and confirmed by Christ’s Word, 82] and [besides] that the elements of bread and wine may be consecrated or blessed for this holy use, in order that the body and blood of Christ may therewith be administered to us to be eaten and to be drunk, as Paul declares [ 1 Cor. 10:16 ]: The cup of blessing which we bless, which indeed occurs in no other way than through the repetition and recitation of the words of institution.

If we are to ever walk together, the lack of catechesis in our churches must be corrected.

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Categories: Catechesis