Sunday, January 20, 2013

Selnecker & the Flesh of Christ

The practice of eucharistic adoration (expressing one's worship physically by kneeling in the presence of the Sacrament) is foreign to many Lutherans.  That is unfortunate, all the moreso because it is, in fact, a healthy part of Lutherans' own tradition.  Among many other things, it is good christology, which I would like to show now with the words of a sixteenth century divine.

One of the delights in rereading The Two Natures in Christ is that it provides the occasion also to read the preface that Nicolaus Selnecker wrote for it.  Of course, Chemnitz brilliantly expands upon the themes discussed in this preface, and should be read often, but I would like simply to highlight here a point Selnecker makes regarding the suitability of worshipping the flesh of Christ.  Read this and ponder anew that the Lutheran confession of the Christian faith, while endlessly rich from a theological point of view, is decidedly far more than mere theory, it is far from merely academic; rather, it manifests itself in the real world.  We live it.  Nothing could be more vital, lively, and relevant to our pilgrimage in this life. 
Indeed, He is, by His very essence, omnipotence itself.  He receives this divine and omnipotent power according to His human nature in, with, and through which He performs the work of our redemption and salvation and is present with us, guides, rules, protects, heals, and saves us.
In this brief summary the statements of Scripture can be understood: the Son of Man has received eternal power, has been anointed above all His brothers, has been given all authority, all power, and all strength, or all omnipotence and rule in heaven, on earth, or anywhere; has received the name which is above every name; His flesh is life-giving and worthy of adoration (for nothing is life-giving and worthy of adoration which does not have the praise, the name, and the substance of the eternal omnipotence); the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin; the Seed of the woman crushes the head of the serpent; in the seed of Abraham the people are saved; Christ is made higher than the heavens and sits as Lord at the right hand of God in the council of the Trinity; and He has received all judgment and many other gifts.  Each one of these statements refers to the assumed and exalted human nature of Christ, to which are given and communicated these divine gifts and properties so that in, with, and through it they shine forth, reveal themselves, and accomplish their work, and they do so in no other way.  Those who deny or contradict these matters in the least degree do not have God...But since the flesh or human nature of Christ is not simply in one place according to its natural characteristics, but through the union is personally elevated in the Logos to the infinite, uncircumscribed, and eternal right hand of the omnipotent God, we believe, know, and confess that Christ, God and man, is everywhere and complete and...indissolubly so.  Furthermore, never and nowhere is He separated from either the divine or the human nature (although no creature understands how this takes place).  He is to be sought, found, or apprehended nowhere else than where He has promised in His Word that He wills to be, and for the reasons which He Himself has given, that is, in the church, in the Supper, and in our hearts.

As often as we eat Christ's flesh and drink His blood in the eucharist, we remember and proclaim His life-giving death.  And when we do, we have the joyous opportunity to worship and adore His flesh and blood, truly present on the altar.  We worship Him in song, in prayer, in the disposition of our hearts, and it is also our privilege do so quite literally, ie., on our knees.

No comments: