Hi, I was listening to a video where Dr. William Lane Craig was explaining the differences between what Catholics and Protestant (specifically lutherans) views on the eucharist. During the video he mentioned in the Council of Trent that it declared Christ’s body and blood were fully present in both elements. He then mentioned that the laity was instructed to only take part in the bread but not the wine (both bread and wine were reserved for the priests and those of holy orders).
I was wondering if anyone knew if this was a correct statement by Dr. Craig and if it was, why was this so? I realize that the laity may partake in both elements today but I was wondering if there was some historical reason or if it was theological. Thanks and God bless.
The reason Trent clarified the teaching and enforced that discipline is because people were going around at that time saying that people had to receive both species in order to fully receive Communion.
But that is not true. Christ is present fully and entirely in every fragment of both species.
The Church was correcting an error of sacramental theology. The practice of only allowing people to receive one species made it quite clear to everyone that Jesus was fully present in either species. At present, that is no longer a popular heresy and so the Church changed the discipline. There is no longer the same need to emphasize that point.
This concept is called concomitance. It was taught at the Council of Trent but does not originate at Trent. Trent was merely asserting Catholic belief against Protestant criticisms (e.g. Martin Luther who, in the Smalcald Articles, rejects both the doctrine of concomitance and the lawfulness of administering the sacrament under only one species). From the Council of Trent:
And this faith has ever been in the Church of God, that, immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord, and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine; but the Body indeed under the species of bread, and the Blood under the species of wine, by the force of the words; but the body itself under the species of wine, and the blood under the species of bread, and the soul under both, by the force of that natural connexion and concomitancy whereby the parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account of the admirable hypostatical union thereof with His body and soul. Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species; likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under the parts thereof. history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct13.html
The idea is not that the laity cannot receive both species, but that receiving either, one nevertheless receives the full Christ, “body, blood, soul and divinity.” Therefore, the Church may, for pastoral reasons, choose only to administer the species of bread to the congregation. This was the custom for a long time and is still the practice in many churches to this day, though I do not know the percentage. The reverse is sometimes true too. I see those with gluten intolerance take only the Sacred Blood. They are not receiving half of Christ, but the whole Christ.
That said, I would not rely on Craig for information about Catholicism. There was another thread a while back about Craig’s talks on Catholic beliefs of the Eucharist where it was showed that he was distorting Catholic teaching.
Awesome, I read through that and affirm all the quotes from Craig. Do you know of any books with ECF quotes on the eucharist? It’d be cool if someone just had a complete compilation of quotes from ECF on the subject and cited each quote.
It should be noted that in many dioceses around the world, the chalice is still not distributed to the laity. This is at the discretion of the bishop or even the parish pastor. Most of the parishes I have regularly attended in my life did NOT distribute the chalice.
You affirm all the quotes from Craig? Is that so? Do you mean that you agree with everything Craig said an that all his statements are accurate and without error? If so, that would seem rather presumptuous coming from someone who, as of the creation of this thread, was not even aware of the Catholic doctrine of concomitance. I sincerely hope that I have misunderstood you.
No. This is a summary on norms for distributing and receiving Holy Communion from the USCCB.
So, far from denying concomitance, it explicitly affirms the teaching of the Council of Trent and permits the Eucharist to be distributed under both kinds only according to the prudent judgment of the bishops. If communion under one kind were in any way regarded as an incomplete or invalid sacrament, as Martin Luther alleged, then they would not permit communion under one kind in any circumstances.
I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate, Q. It’s my understanding that Luther’s objection was not as to whether only the Wine becomes the Blood or only the Bread becomes the Body, but rather whether we were following Christ’s command to: “Take eat” and “Take drink.”
The questions of “Does the Body exist with the Wine?” or “Does the Blood exist with the Bread?” are doesn’t exist to Lutherans, who seek simply to follow the practice instituted by Christ - to participate with both.
Maybe I ought to revise what I said. When I said he rejected the doctrine of concomitance, I did not mean necessarily that he personally rejected the theory as a possibility, but rather that he rejected it’s certainty. This is what he said in the Smalcald Articles.
Part III, Article VI. Of the Sacrament of the Altar.
1] Of the Sacrament of the Altar we hold that bread and wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ, and are given and received not only by the godly, but also by wicked Christians.
2] And that not only one form is to be given. [For] we do not need that high art [specious wisdom] which is to teach us that under the one form there is as much as under both, as the sophists and the Council of Constance teach. 3] For even if it were true that there is as much under one as under both, yet the one form only is not the entire ordinance and institution [made] ordained and commanded by Christ. 4] And we especially condemn and in God’s name execrate those who not only omit both forms but also quite autocratically [tyrannically] prohibit, condemn, and blaspheme them as heresy, and so exalt themselves against and above Christ, our Lord and God [opposing and placing themselves ahead of Christ], etc.
5] As regards transubstantiation, we care nothing about the sophistical subtlety by which they teach that bread and wine leave or lose their own natural substance, and that there remain only the appearance and color of bread, and not true bread. For it is in perfect agreement with Holy Scriptures that there is, and remains, bread, as Paul himself calls it, 1 Cor. 10:16: The bread which we break. And 1 Cor. 11:28: Let him so eat of that bread.
He rejects the Catholic teaching of concomitance as mere sophistry, particular as a justification to administer communion under only one kind. If we read his language here in light of the section on the papacy, it would seem that he regards communion under one kind as a practice of the Antichrist. Nevertheless, Martin Luther himself may have seen concomitance as a possibility, but one that cannot be known and therefore cannot be taught. At least he thought the opinion could be tolerated. I don’t know if there are any sources that indicate what his own personal opinion was.
The dispute about whether the body of Christ alone is present under the bread by virtue of the words, etc., is to be settled the same way. Judge for yourself whether there is any need to involve the ignorant multitude in these hair-splittings, when otherwise they can be guided by the sound and safe faith that under the bread there is the body of Him who is true God and true man. What is the use of wearying our- selves with the question how blood, humanity, Deity, hair, bones and skin are present by concomitance, for these things we do not need to know. These things neither teach nor increase faith, but only sow doubts and dissensions. Faith wishes to know nothing more than that under the bread is present the body, tinder the wine the blood of the Christ who lives and reigns. It holds fast to this simple truth and despises curious questions. en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Luther%27s_correspondence_and_other_contemporary_letters_1521-1530.djvu/130
This attitude is retained in the LCMS today, which still prohibits communion under one kind, even when it would be of clear pastoral benefit.
In the oft-cited pastoral circumstance of an alcoholic communicant, the counsel of foregoing Communion for a period of time or the action of diluting the wine with water (perhaps done at the Lord’s Supper itself) are preferable. In the extreme situation where even greatly diluted wine may lead to severe temptation, no fully satisfactory answer, in the opinion of the CTCR, can be formulated. The counsel of completely foregoing Communion is clearly unsatisfactory. In this situation, too, the actions of diluting the wine with water or intinction would be preferable. The substitution of grape juice raises the question of whether the Lord’s instruction is being heeded. Luther’s openness to Communion in one kinds is difficult in view of confessional texts which strongly urge the Biblical paradigm of both kinds, though the Confessions do not address the extreme situation.
A similar pastoral problem is posed by those rare instances where a severe physical reaction is caused by the elements (as, for example, when the recipient is concurrently taking certain medications, or is simply allergic to one or the other of the elements). The pastor, in such cases, will surely stress the Gospel’s power and total effectiveness in the individual’s life and patiently seek a practical solution that both honors Christ’s word and satisfies the desire to partake in the Lord’s Supper. lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=421
What about those cases where a person cannot receive alcohol? In obedience to our Lord’s command, we have agreed as a Synod to use wine and that in those cases where alcohol cannot be used, the pastor should seek a solution that is both pastoral and honors our Lord’s institution (e.g., dipping the bread in the wine slightly, or using a minute amount of wine). sidlcms.sharepoint.com/Documents/CommunionPractices.pdf
For my opinion, it seems far more tyrannical to prohibit those who are unable to consume bread or wine from the sacrament entirely if it is true that receiving one, one receives the whole sacrament and not an illegitimate half-sacrament. Further, it seems to me that there is a great difference between regarding the Eucharist as the whole Christ (body, blood, soul and divinity) under the sacramental veils of bread and wine, and, on the other hand, the view that the bread is flesh alone and the wine is blood alone.
That’s more in line with what I understand. The proper way to read Lutheran Confessions, generally, is to consider it with the thought “Ought this to be binding on the conscience?” That way, we don’t inadvertently draw a conclusion about Lutheran belief where Lutheranism is actually satisfied with mystery or simple command. In this case, the Lutheran reply is “No,” since Christ gave clear command to both drink and eat.
If human reason were the only authority at work here, I’d agree with you. But when our Authority instituted this particular means of Grace, He used very particular and unmistakable words. So I’d return to the original question: what was Christ’s command? Are we following that command if we oblige ourselves to do “close enough” ?
I do want to highlight that LCMS thought and practice agrees with you quite clearly that, “The counsel of completely foregoing Communion is clearly unsatisfactory.” That is why several pastoral solutions are suggested, none of which alter Christ’s command.
And this is what we do not know from Scripture. Rome claims it knows Christ’s mind on the subject through its self-proclaimed ability to speak in His absence (well enough, I can’t argue with that sort of belief). Lutherans prefer to leave it at what we know from Christ, neither adding nor subtracting: “Take eat, take drink.” That strict adherence to Christ’s command is why Luther can simultaneously oppose Rome’s practice of pastorally reserving one kind or the other without denying that such an approach may be correct. We won’t know for sure until we’ve ‘met Peter at the Gate,’ I suppose. And we won’t much care once we’re there. Just as how we needn’t worry about whether we’ve received “the full sacrament” if we simply do as Christ commanded.
The dispute would be whether, as you suppose, that Christ’s commands “Take ye, and eat,” and later, “Drink ye all of this” meant that one must do both or do neither. Is that actually stated in Scripture? There are reasons to abstain from both, whether on account of sin, the ecclesiastical law or simply out of propriety. While these two commands are part of the same ceremony, namely, the mass, they are distinct commands and it does not follow and it does not follow that abstaining from one, the other must be abstained from as well. If a man cannot healthfully eat the bread because of allergies or drink from the cup because it could be a near occasion of sin, it does not follow that he must necessarily abstain from the other if he is able to take it. Such an interpretation is never given in Scripture.
On the other hand, it seems to me that the LCMS teaches many things that are never stated in Scripture. For example that infants are not to be admitted to communion. What Scriptural warrant is there for that? The LCMS justifies this by saying that infants cannot “examine themselves” (nonsensical because, infants, being innocent, have no reason to examine themselves, not to mention that the same reasoning would eliminate the practice of infant baptism, which the LCMS practices nonetheless). Is the LCMS then denying Jesus’ clear command: “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such?” I would say that such an argument has an exceedingly firmer grounding in Scripture than the Lutheran argument against communion under one kind.
Lutherans may hold that Catholic practice contravenes the words of Christ or is established on insufficient Scriptural testimony. They may also say that we cannot know whether the doctrine of concomitance is true. Luckily as Catholics we can know it is true, because we do believe in the authoritative teaching of the Church, and that her teaching is true.