Saturday, January 29, 2011

FW: Lose the Presence of Christ, Lose the Church

On Presence…


Feed: Gnesio
Posted on: Friday, January 28, 2011 5:48 PM
Author: driley
Subject: Lose the Presence of Christ, Lose the Church


If we do not take what Scripture says concerning the presence of Christ with complete seriousness, then we have a wrong understanding of Christ. Then we also have a wrong understanding of His Church. Then we have a mental construct of Christ in place of the real Christ and in place of the real Church in which Jesus Christ is really present according to both His divinity and His humanity we have a dream church, a mere community of spirits in which Christ is only spiritually present just as He was prior to His incarnation. Then the Church ceases to be what it has been in the world ever since the incarnation of Christ, His death and His resurrection, and the institution of the Supper, to wit, the place of God's love among men, a spiritual and bodily community in which we are in Christ and Christ is in us.

The reason why our fathers contended for the pure doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar is that they knew all of this. They recognized the consequences that an inadequate and false understanding of the Lord's Supper must have for the whole doctrine and life of the Church. We are not ashamed of their ardent struggle. For when she has followed the Reformer in taking with utmost seriousness the inextricably related questions of the faithful administration and the right understanding of this Sacrament, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has never been set on the enthronement of preferred opinions and confessional peculiarities. What is at stake for her is the supreme value for which the Church can and must wage her warfare, namely the absolute validity of the divine Word. In times past and present her struggle does not aim at securing a "Lutheran" Supper but a Biblical Lord's Supper and therefore the Biblical Church and the Christ of the Bible. In this process she has always acted on the assumption that Scripture's teaching on the Supper is not something yet to be discovered by future synods and theological conferences, but that it has already long since been found and can be seen by everyone who reads the New Testament in faith in Christ without ideological preconceptions.

Perhaps the Church of coming ages will be the first to understand what service the Church of the Lutheran Reformation has performed for the whole of Christendom by this untiring testimony in doctrine and life: the Sacrament can be rightly administered only where the Gospel is purely taught, and the proclamation of the Gospel can remain pure only where Christ's Sacrament is rightly celebrated. Just as continual celebration of the Sacrament must keep the Church's proclamation from ending up as mere doctrinaire theology, so likewise constant care for pure doctrine must protect the celebration of the Sacrament from sinking into cultic mysticism and magic. Word and Sacrament, Gospel and Lord's Supper, belong indissolubly together, because Christ the Lord is present in them and through them builds His Church on earth in divine omnipotence and love. This He does neither through the Word alone, nor through the Sacrament alone, but through both together.

- from Hermann Sasse, 'We Are Not Ashamed of Their Ardent Struggle'

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