Saturday, January 26, 2013

Zwinglian arguments face the meat grinder of Luther

In this section of Martin Luther's great treatise against Zwingli and for Christ's presence in the Eucharist, Confession Concerning Christ's Supper, we get a particularly penetrating riff.
Let this suffice to show that our interpretation is not contrary to Scripture or the Creed, as this mad spirit deludes himself into believing.  Next he comes to the two principal points at which I have attacked most strongly, viz. that Christ is at the right hand of God, and that the flesh is of no avail, where he was to prove that these two propositions make it impossible for Christ's body to be present in the Supper.  I had called attention to these passages with capital letters, so they might not skip over them.  Now this dear spirit comes along with his figure, alloeosis, to make everything plain, and teaches us that in the Scriptures one nature in Christ is taken for the other, until he falls into the abyss and concludes that the passage, "The Word became flesh," John 1, must not be understood as it reads, but thus: "The flesh became Word," or "Man became God."  This is to give the lie to Scripture.
I cannot at this time attack all this spirit's errors.  But this I say: whoever will take a warning, let him beware of Zwingli and shun his books as the prince of hell's poison.  For the man is completely perverted and has entirely lost Christ.  Other sacramentarians settle on one error, but this man never publishes a book without spewing out new errors, more and more all the time.  But anyone who rejects this warning may go his way, just so he knows that I warned him, and my conscience is clear.
You must not believe or admit that this figure, alloeosis, is to be found in these passages, or that you can put one nature of Christ in place of the other.  The insane spirit dreamed this up in order to rob us of Christ, for he does not prove it to you nor can he do so.  And even if this error of his were true and right, it still would not prove that Christ's body cannot be present in the Supper.  I have pressed them to show conclusive grounds why these words, "This is my body," just as they read, are false, though Christ is in heaven.  For the power of God is not known to us, and He can find a way to make both true, viz. Christ in heaven and His body present in the Supper.  That was the principal question.  What I demanded, writing in capital letters, was that they should show how the two were contradictory.  But he is silent on this point, passes over it without one letter as if it did not concern him, and spouts meanwhile about his alloeosis.
When I proved that Christ's body is everywhere because the right hand of God is everywhere, I did so-as I quite openly explained at the time-in order to show at least one way how God could bring it about that Christ is in heaven and His body in the Supper at the same time, and that He reserved to His divine wisdom and power many more ways to accomplish the same result, because we do not know the limit or measure of His power.
Later, the Doctor goes into a discussion on various modes of existence, which you won't want to miss.


Fr. Jay Watson said...

Thanks for posting this wonderful exerpt from the good Doctor. I think I will read it to my class on the morrow --

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Seems fitting for parish catechesis. In fact, I think I'd like to start a book club, in which books of this sort are read.