Thursday, November 26, 2015


This is how David Steinmetz explains how Zwingli understood the resurrected Christ to be at the right hand of the Father in heaven. David Steinmetz in his “Luther in Context” (2nd ed.) pp78,79:

“If the humanity of Christ continues to be finite, even after the resurrection, then the “right hand of God” must be a place where this finite humanity can be found. One should quickly add that Zwingli has no idea where the “right hand of God” is located and does not speculate about it. It is sufficient for him that the finite humanity of Christ is not found in the space and time in which we inhabit. However, if the finite humanity of Christ is at the right hand of God, it cannot be in the eucharistic elements. Christ stands at the right hand of God to intercede for the Church. But if he is there, he cannot be here. It is not possible for a finite body to be in two places at the same time. Finitude implies and demands a single location.

Christ, however, promised his continual presence with the church (Matthew 28:20) and not merely his continual intercession on its behalf (Hebrews 7:25). In part, Zwingli explains this presence by an appeal to the Johannine promise of another comforter (John 14:16), the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of the Son as well as of the Father. In part, he explains this presence by an appeal to a doctrine which later Lutherans call derisively the extra-Calvinisticum. The extra-Calvinisticum rests on a sharp distinction between the two natures of Christ. While the human nature remains finite in the hypostatic union, the divine nature remains in that same union infinite and unbounded. Christ can be present with the Church in the power of his divine nature. Indeed, it is the presence of Christ by his Spirit and in the power of his divine nature which transforms a congregation of individuals believers into the Eucharistic body of Christ. The divine nature which is present is hypostatically united to a finite human nature which must be absent. Both the presence of the divine nature and the absence of the human nature are soteriologically essential to the being and well-being of the Church.


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.”