Lutherans and "Receptionism"

“Receptionism” generally refers to the belief that “the bread becomes Jesus in your mouth.” This belief appears to be contrary to the Lutheran confessions and is generally rejected by Lutherans, although I have seen it taught by Lutheran clergy and laity.

While Lutherans may not believe in receptionism as the term is commonly used, the confessional Lutheran doctrine is not far from it. The principle given in the Formula of Concord is nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum a Christo institutum. What this means is that, for Lutherans, the efficacy of the sacrament is limited to the “use of the sacrament,” which they define as the consecration, distribution and reception. Apart from these three things, there is no sacrament, and they condemn the Catholic belief that Christ’s presence persists:

[We condemn…] [t]he papistic transubstantiation, when it is taught that the consecrated or blessed bread and wine in the Holy Supper lose entirely their substance and essence, and are changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ in such a way that only the mere form of bread and wine is left, or accidentia sine subiecto (the accidents without the [subject]; under which form of the bread, which nevertheless is bread no longer, but according to their assertion has lost its natural essence, the body of Christ is present even apart from the administration of the Holy Supper, when the bread is enclosed in the pyx or is carried about for display and adoration. For nothing can be a sacrament without God’s command and the appointed use for which it is instituted in God’s Word, as was shown above.
-Solid Dexlaration of the Formula of Concord vii.108

So while Lutherans do not believe that the bread becomes Jesus in your mouth, they do believe that the presence of Christ terminates with the reception of the congregation. Obviously, this differs from the Catholic faith, which it explicitly rejects.

Any Lutheran/non-Lutheran comments or criticisms?

Not exactly. The Lutheran belief is that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. And it is so for the purposes of the sacrament - to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sin. The sacrament can be reserved, and often is in Lutheran churches for the purpose of its use later - for the sink and shut in, and other reasons.

Receptionism, as you mention, is the belief that Christ’s body and blood are only present when received. this is clearly rejected by the Augsburg Confession, which says:
*
Article X: Of the Lord’s Supper.*

1] Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present,* and are distributed **2] to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise. *

Jon

A previous post of mine, which continues to find relevance :smiley: (be sure to check out the additional links):

Please do us a favor - if you find a Lutheran teaching receptionism, please correct them!

As I said, Lutherans do not generally believe in receptionism, but they do not, according to what the confessions say, believe that the sacrament endures beyond the reception of the congregation. The Augsburg Confession of course does not state this, but only because it restricts itself to teaching the “real presence” and says nothing more. This does not mean that the Augsburg Confession is the only thing Lutherans have said about the Lord’s Supper.

I am curious that you say the Sacrament is reserved for communion of the sick. The Catholic practice of reservation and administration of the Blessed Sacrament to the sick is explicitly condemned by the the Formula of Concord. LCMS practice seems to confirm this belief. This is their directive for “private communion” (under which they classify communion of the sick).

Private Communion is the administration of Holy Communion to an individual or group of individuals who cannot attend the regular Eucharistic worship of the congregation. The poor health of those involved or a variety of extenuating circumstances may lead the pastor and congregation to provide these special Communion services. Such worship is to be a miniature of the congregational Communion service, with a devotion from God’s Word, confession and absolution, consecration, distribution, prayers, and benediction.
lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=421

The significant thing is that communion of the sick must be done by a pastor and within the context of a service. The elements must be consecrated again. This does not seem to communicate a “durationist” belief. The way Lutheran reservation has been explained to me is although the reserve the elements, they do no not believe that they remain the Body and Blood of Christ outside the context of the service.

I will read your earlier posts in a little bit, Steido.

As Jon points out “receptionism” is contrary to Lutheran sacramental theology. Luther was concerned that the faithful were not taking holy Communion but rather adoring Christ in a monstrance or tabernacle. Corpus Christi processions may occur in Lutheran churches on Holy Thursday and, of-course the holy Elements are reserved to take to the ill and shut-ins. But Lutheran pastors are urged to consume all the consecrated bread and wine at the altar or directly after Mass. The use of ambries and tabernacles are fairly common among Lutherans but mostly in parishes that have multiple week day services.

But the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue cautioned Lutherans to not place consecrated hosts with unconsecrated bread and to take every precaution to reverently dispose of the Elements.

That’s news to me!

We’re either to consume the remainder, store it reverently for the sick, or as the last resort use the piscina in the sacristy.

What you won’t find Lutherans doing is reserving the host for adoration as Catholics do - the Lutheran reasoning is that God hasn’t told us to do this with His body.

The link for the LCMS you provided is a comment on the duration of sacrament outside the sacramental act, as it doesn’t refer to “reconsecrating” the elements. Instead, it is meant to affirm that those receiving who cannot attend the divine service may not only receive His body and blood in the Eucharist, but also have available the opportunity to confess their sins and receive Holy Absolution, as well as other aspects of the liturgy.

Within the history of Lutheranism, as a result of the concern of the Lutheran Reformers that the sacrament be used for its intended purpose - to eat and drink - there has been discussion, even dispute regarding the duration of His presence in the sacrament. Since Christ leaves no direction regarding this, the proper Lutheran practice has always been to err on the side of caution. Many parishes make sure that all of the reliquae is consumed at the end of the sacramental act. Others do reserve the reliquae, though what remains in the chalice is usually disposed of, either by pouring on the ground, or in a piscine, but never down the drain.

Jon

And even Eucharistic Adoration has two schools of thought within Lutheranism. Luther was not opposed to Adoration, though he opposed the Corpus Christi Procession, while Melanchthon was opposed to adoration.
And while the "Philippists "became the majority on the issue of Adoration, there are some Lutherans who do practice it.

Jon

We didn’t (or shouldn’t) need cautioning on this. Luther was known to have been quite bent out of shape when one pastor actually did store them together. The teaching within the Reformers was that this was wrong.

Jon

Just have to change something just to be different…huh?:slight_smile:

I would qualify your statement that Lutheran parishes do, in fact, reserve the Sacrament though often in the sacristy. The parish I was assigned to as a seminarian [not during vicarage] was across the street from a large hospital. We routinely took a small ciborium from the parish tabernacle in order to commune all the Lutherans patients. The pastor and chaplain couldn’t possibly celebrate private Communions for each patient. And doesn’t the Augsburg Confession warn against privates masses anyway? Several local parishes [both ELCA and LCMS] have either an ambry or tabernacle including every church I have been a member of since I was a kid. But my Synod and the local LCMS district are considered to be part of the biretta belt :smiley:

Here are some LCMS churches with tabernacles:
stjohnray.com/#!gallery

Interesting! Thanks for the insight.

My primary consideration is the meaning of the Formula of Concord. For now, it seems to clearly side with the belief that Christ’s presence ceases outside of the service. Now, of course I understand that this was a subject of much debate in Lutheran circles from the beginning of Lutheranism, but there seems to be one position that found it’s way into the Book of Concord.

Although some have mentioned the practice of reserving consecrated elements for the communion of the sick by Lutherans, isn’t this squarely against Luther’s teaching that all the consecrated elements must be consumed during the Supper? Moreover, the FOC explicitly condemns the proposition that “the body of Christ is present… when the bread is enclosed in the pyx.” But even the LCMS’s practice does not seem to communicate a belief that the presence of Christ endures in reserved elements since, again, they hold that reconsecration is necessary. And finally, that Lutherans are directed to show reverence to the consecrated elements after the service does not imply a belief in Christ’s presence since the FOC likens the duration of the sacrament to the duration of baptismal water, which anyone would agree is not a sacrament outside the immediate rite of baptism. The reserved consecrated elements need only be venerated on account of their association with the Holy Supper, not because they remain Christ’s body and blood. After all, we show reverence to church buildings, but we do not think that these are God and show them the adoration due to God alone.

Does anyone have a differing take on the Formula of Concord? To me, it appears to clearly teach that the duration of the sacrament is only from the words of institution to the end of the reception of the congregation within a single service. One of Steido’s posts linked to an article that addressed the FOC, but it appeared to agree with my interpretation. Ultimately, isn’t it what the FOC teaches what matters rather than the opinions Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz etc.? Don’t confessional Lutherans they ascribe to a “quia” (as opposed to “quatenus”) view of the confessions, meaning that whatever the confessions teach is binding on the faithful because it teaches only the truth of Scripture without errori?

It should go without saying that we ought to adore Christ’s body, following the example of the Apostle Thomas. For those Lutherans who believe that Christ remains present in the consecrated elements after the service, do you give the same adoration to the reserved elements that you would if Christ were “locally present?”

I believe that private adoration of the consecrated Host falls under the “personal devotion” label for Lutherans. There is much practice that is allowed on an individual level that is not done as a congregation.

=QNDNNDQDCE;11580954]My primary consideration is the meaning of the Formula of Concord. For now, it seems to clearly side with the belief that Christ’s presence ceases outside of the service. Now, of course I understand that this was a subject of much debate in Lutheran circles from the beginning of Lutheranism, but there seems to be one position that found it’s way into the Book of Concord.

Not the service, but the sacramental act. That can be continued in terms of the reception of the sacrament by the sick and shut-ins. Certainly, Christ makes no comment regarding the reliquae. Scripture does not tell us if any was left after the Last Spper, and if it was, what was done with it. So, the reverent Lutheran ought to be mindful that what is consecrated is the body and blood of Christ, and should assume that to be the case (or perhaps could be the case) after the sacramental act.

Although some have mentioned the practice of reserving consecrated elements for the communion of the sick by Lutherans, isn’t this squarely against Luther’s teaching that all the consecrated elements must be consumed during the Supper?

I’m not sure that is what Luther taught. As I said, Luther was not opposed to Eucharistic Adoration.

Moreover, the FOC explicitly condemns the proposition that “the body of Christ is present… when the bread is enclosed in the pyx.” But even the LCMS’s practice does not seem to communicate a belief that the presence of Christ endures in reserved elements since, again, they hold that reconsecration is necessary.

I haven’t read anything that says “re-consecration” is necessary. The quote from the LCMS that you provided provides that the church is obligated to make available to those unable to attend Mass the things that are important - Confession/Absolution, the hearing of the word, the Lord’s Supper. In that context, and to prevent any doubt in the recipient, the liturgy of the sacrament, including the words of institution are read again. Those items once consecrated need no further consecration.

And finally, that Lutherans are directed to show reverence to the consecrated elements after the service does not imply a belief in Christ’s presence since the FOC likens the duration of the sacrament to the duration of baptismal water, which anyone would agree is not a sacrament outside the immediate rite of baptism. The reserved consecrated elements need only be venerated on account of their association with the Holy Supper, not because they remain Christ’s body and blood. After all, we show reverence to church buildings, but we do not think that these are God and show them the adoration due to God alone.

I think the point is it may or may not continue to be His body and blood. Christ does not give us direction on this in His testament.

Does anyone have a differing take on the Formula of Concord? To me, it appears to clearly teach that the duration of the sacrament is only from the words of institution to the end of the reception of the congregation within a single service. One of Steido’s posts linked to an article that addressed the FOC, but it appeared to agree with my interpretation. Ultimately, isn’t it what the FOC teaches what matters rather than the opinions Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz etc.? Don’t confessional Lutherans they ascribe to a “quia” (as opposed to “quatenus”) view of the confessions, meaning that whatever the confessions teach is binding on the faithful because it teaches only the truth of Scripture without errori?

Sure, in terms of doctrine. I don’t think I’m violating any tenant of that subscription.

It should go without saying that we ought to adore Christ’s body, following the example of the Apostle Thomas. For those Lutherans who believe that Christ remains present in the consecrated elements after the service, do you give the same adoration to the reserved elements that you would if Christ were “locally present?”

Yes.

Jon

From a total “outsiders” perspective (I don’t hold to a somatic RP) I understand the Lutheran take on this, as Jesus said, take eat, take drink… not keep and adore, or store, display, etc… Would it not be the whole act of blessing, breaking the bread, sharing a communal meal as the congregation is the body of Christ, eating and drinking that would be important?

Jon hits the nail on the head in post #15. As I’ve had it explained to me by two Lutheran pastors, the duration of the sacrament is for as long as the sacramental act endures (which ends with the consumption or proper disposal of all His Body and Blood); it is not necessarily constricted to an individual Divine Service.

The misunderstanding comes, I think, from the simple fact that Lutheranism does not answer the question of “What about leftovers?” because, in Lutheran thought, there aren’t any. When/if consecrated elements are reserved for the sick or shut-ins, the ‘Sacramental Act’ is considered to still be taking place.

I once had a book called “Summary of Christian Doctrine” by Edward Koehler that is explicitly receptionist in its eucharistic theology. Unfortunately I don’t have the book any longer to quote the relevant passages, but I remember him saying that it was only the body and blood at the moment of eating and drinking, not before or after.

Whoa. It would be regrettable if CPH indeed printed something that even resembled receptionism, particularly when Luther, Chemnitz, Bugenhagen (and all respected Lutheran theologians straight down the line) have been quite clear that the Body and Blood are present at the consecration of the elements - well before they are received.

We do not make Christ’s body out of the bread as this spirit falsely charges us with teaching. Nor do we say that this body comes into existence out of the bread. We say that His body, which long ago was made and came into existence, is present when we say “This is my body.” For Christ commands us to say not, “Let this become my body,” or “Make my body there,” but “This is my body.”
(LW 37, 187)

Ack!

I did find this quote

*"A Summary of Christian Doctrine by
Edward Koehler (Professor at
Concordia, River Forest} 1952 Edition

“We have no Biblical ground to assume
that the bread is the body of Christ
before we eat it. Contrary to Roman
Catholic opinion, bread and wine,
though consecrated, are not the body
and blood of Christ, if they be not
eaten and drunk, or if the bread fall
on the floor or the wine is spilled.”*

To think that Luther once took an axe to an alter to properly dispose of some spilled Blood!

Grab the torches and pitchforks, there’s a heretic in our midst that needs be dealt with!

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