Thursday, November 26, 2015
DID LUTHER REALLY CONSIDER THE EUCHARIST A TESTAMENT?
I am not convinced but this is what David Steinmetz wrote in his “Luther in Context” (2nd ed.) p77:
“Luther is afraid that Zwingli’s rejection of manducatio infidelium has had the subtle effect of transforming faith into a work and has undermined the utterly gracious character of the gifts which God gives the Church through the sacraments. For Luther, the Lord’s Supper is a testament, a one-sided covenant in which God both sets the terms by which he will be gracious to the Church and fulfils those terms himself. The condition for putting the testament into effect is the death of the testator, not the faith of the beneficiary. A sacrament is constituted by God’s will, testament and promise. The promise creates faith because the death of the testator has rendered it effective. Faith grasps the effective promise; it does not make the promise effective. Christ gives himself to men and women in the eucharist whether they believe it or not. Otherwise faith would be a work, a sacrifice, something offered to God in order to induce him to be gracious. Unless one affirms that even unbelievers eat the body and blood of Christ, one will lapse into a new form of works-righteousness, all the more insidious because it marches under the banner of faith alone. “The cup of blessing which we bless” is “the blood of Christ.” It does not merely signify the blood of Christ, and it does not wait on the faith of the recipient to become what it is.”