Monday, September 3, 2012

The Lutheran Doctrine of Holy Communion

Here is another article I have written giving a historical overview of the 16th century Eucharistic debates and a defense of Luther's position. The Medicine of Immortality: The Lutheran Doctrine of Holy Communion


David Gray said...

I have read from different sources that Luther read two of Calvin's works, one of which was his treatise on the Lord's Supper, which resulted in positive comment from Luther. Luther, unlike someone like Westphal, could see that Zwingli and Calvin were in radically different places even if he thought Calvin wrong in certain respects. The difference between feeding on Christ and not feeding on Christ is larger than the difference between different understandings of how we feed on Christ. Calvin also said his understanding of the Lord's Supper was identical to that of Melancthon and that if Melancthon told him that he was deviating then he would amend his position accordingly.

Jordan Cooper said...

I read that in Schaff but have never seen it referred to elsewhere. Could you point me to another source that documents that Luther had read Calvin?

Martin Yee said...

Hi Jordan,

Great piece of work. Not sure if you have read about the Wilno Colloqium of 1585 which was a robust discussion between Reformed and Lutheran on this. On June 14, 1585, Duke Krzysztof Radziwiłł(1547–1603), Palatine of Wilno
(Vilnius) and Hetman of Lithuania, convoked an important meeting of theologians representing the
Lutheran and Reformed Churches in Lithuania to discuss the theological understanding of the
Lord’s Supper, which had become an occasion of disagreement and an obstacle to further
collaboration between them. There is a paper written by Darius Petkunas on it which is very interesting.


David Gray said...

>>Could you point me to another source that documents that Luther had read Calvin?

I've been thinking it was in Matheson's book "Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper." It took me awhile but the reference is on page 71 and the reference to Luther reading and liking Calvin's "Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of our Lord" is drawn from a volume by W. Nuenhuis entitled "Ecclesia Reformata: Studies on the Reformation." Mathison also has a reference to a letter to Calvin in which Melancthon tells Calvin of Luther's good will towards him. This is referenced from Ecumenical Intention by Tylenda.

The Nuenhuis book is worth tracking down, I managed to get a copy a couple of years ago. The best essay is on Calvin's relationship with the Augsburg Confession.

When Calvin first ministered in Strasbourg the Augsburg Confession was accepted and Calvin ministered under its authority. This is the original AC, not the second edition. When one reformed minister queried Calvin on whether he could sign the AC Calvin's response was "I fail to see why you hesitate to sign the Augsburg Confession." Of course the AC was not and really is not a Lutheran confession. It is a catholic confession.

Regarding Melancthon Calvin stated "If he declares that I deviate in the smallest from his idea, I will immediately submit."

Nuenhuis has more and is worth investigating.

David Gray said...

OK, I pulled out the Nijenhuis and here's what he has on Luther. "The reformer in Wittenberg approved of Calvin's treatise on the eucharist written in 1541 and called the author a "good spirit" of whom it had to be tolerated that, for the time being, his views on the eucharist differed from those of the Germans." This reference is drawn from a volume by A.L. Herminjard.

Jordan Cooper said...

Thanks for doing the research on that issue. I will definitely have to look deeper into it.