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Gottesdienst Online: Luther and Chemnitz vs. Walther and Pieper: Sorry, but, no contest

Here’s a theological tribute to Primer Martinus et Alter Martinus from the Rev’d Dr. D. Richard Stuckwisch…

It is certainly clear enough, and really beyond any reasonable doubt, that Luther and Chemnitz were “consecrationists.” That is to say, they consistently taught and confessed that, by and with and at the speaking of the Verba, the bread becomes and is the Body of Christ, and the wine becomes and is the Blood of Christ. It is the Word and work of the Lord Jesus that does this and gives this. As Herman Sasse, Tom Hardt, Bjarne Teigen, Scott Murray, John Stephenson, et al. have pointed out, this “consecrationist” theology of Luther and Chemnitz flows from and with the doctrine of justification and the authority of the Word of God. It is not only what I was taught, or at least understood, from my seminary professors, but what I have always understood and believed from the Words of Christ Jesus, my Lord. And, as it is the clear teaching of Luther and Chemnitz, it is likewise clear that “consecrationism” is the teaching of the Formula of Concord, which was authored chiefly by Martin Chemnitz (echoing much of what he wrote in his Examination of the Council of Trent), and which explicitly cites Dr. Luther as the foremost interpreter of the Augsburg Confession.

It is also clear and straightforwardly obvious, that Walther and Pieper, following the 17th-century Lutheran scholastics, were “receptionists.” That is to say, they taught that the Body and Blood of Christ were present only in and with the actual eating and drinking, and neither before nor after nor apart from that eating and drinking. This “receptionist” teaching follows from the emphases of Melanchthon, which stood in tension with Luther’s emphases while both men were still alive, but which developed and sharpened in Melanchthon, in his students and beyond, in the years following Luther’s death. Resulting controversies over a right understanding of the axiom, that “nothing has the character of a Sacrament outside of its intended use,” were addressed by the Formula of Concord. However, in spite of the Formula’s clarification, and in spite of Luther’s and Chemnitz’s understanding and explanation of the axiom in question, subsequent generations of Lutheran scholars adopted and taught a “receptionist” interpretation of the axiom, and, therefore, of the Sacrament. This view was fostered and solidified by a reliance on Aristotelian philosophy, or, rather, on a misunderstanding and misuse of Aristotle’s “four causes.” Walther and Pieper followed the Lutheran scholastics in this vein, and read back into Luther and Chemnitz and the Formula of Concord that “receptionist” view, which came to predominate.

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Source: Gottesdienst Online: Luther and Chemnitz vs. Walther and Pieper: Sorry, but, no contest

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