Author Topic: Symbolic Body and Blood  (Read 3052 times)

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Offline Zoe

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Symbolic Body and Blood
« on: November 25, 2006, 04:43:00 PM »
Can someone provide some resources that explain (or perhaps explain it yourself) how the Protestant understanding of a symbolic Body and Blood came about?  Thanks.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2006, 12:34:15 AM »
Can someone provide some resources that explain (or perhaps explain it yourself) how the Protestant understanding of a symbolic Body and Blood came about?  Thanks.

Zoe,

I came from a Lutheran background where the understanding is that both the Body and the Blood of Christ are present underthe species of the bread and wine.  So, in effect, you ingest both bread/body and wine/blood.  This is sometimes called consubstantiation, though I know many Lutherans who view this term as inaccurate for what takes place. 

IMHO, I think what happened is that many of the reformers, especially Zwingli, wanted to view the Lord's Supper as a metaphor or as symbolic because they were under the impression that in the RC church the priest effected or caused the elements to actually become the Body and Blood.  What this does is that it makes the Lord's Supper more of a human work by reciting the "words of institution."  To a degree the reformers were correct; many in the RC church had come under this idea that the transformation was a human work, but their response was to keep it a human work and instead of making the elements actuallyteh Body and Blood, they, instead, became symbolicallythe Body and Blood.  It was an overcorrective measure to reform an abuse that had clearly infiltrated the RC church, but instead of reaching the Orthodox practice, they took two steps backwards.

The Lutherans kept a somewhat "middle" ground if you can call it that.  However, it is not uncommon for one to hear even in Lutheran churches that the elements represent not are the Body and Blood even when Luther's own Small Catechism specifically says so.

There may be some other forces at work that explained why the Eucharist became symbolic. I hope you get a more intelligent response than what I offered.

Scamandrius
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Offline Zoe

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2006, 05:36:57 AM »
From my understanding of Orthodox belief, obviously we believe the bread and wine to literally be the body and blood, but that it remains "tasting" (for lack of a better word, I guess) like bread and wine, because tasting flesh and blood would be rather horrifying.  Could you explain how this differs from the Lutheran teaching?  Or if my estimation of Orthodox belief is wrong (which it normally is), correct it?  Thanks for responding :)
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2006, 10:53:32 AM »
From my understanding of Orthodox belief, obviously we believe the bread and wine to literally be the body and blood, but that it remains "tasting" (for lack of a better word, I guess) like bread and wine, because tasting flesh and blood would be rather horrifying. 

In the Catholic Church we call these physical properties accidents---what is perceptible to the senses. It's an Aristotelian term adapted by Thomas Aquinas for Eucharistic theology. The substance, despite the appearance of the accidents, is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In Latin, substantia means "standing under." It and essentia (essence) are used to translate the Greek ousia.

It's interesting that the early Christians simply said they were eating Christ's Body and Blood with no elaboration, leading to some to believe (or pretend to believe) they were practicing cannibalism.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2006, 11:05:28 AM by lubeltri »

Offline Zoe

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2006, 07:08:52 PM »
Right, accidents and substance -- and this differs from the Lutheran teaching how?
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Offline Pravoslavbob

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2006, 09:42:36 PM »
Please check out this thread for some more views on this topic:


http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5161.30.html

BTW, I have since found that, even in the East, many seem to have forgotten the original meaning of the word "symbol", and that even in the time of Cabasilas, this may well have been true.


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« Last Edit: November 26, 2006, 09:47:11 PM by Pravoslavbob »
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Offline Simayan

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2006, 12:30:09 AM »
I thought it was just a mystery, and we weren't supposed to try and figure it out. (Yay for cop-outs!  :D)
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2006, 02:19:10 AM »
Right, accidents and substance -- and this differs from the Lutheran teaching how?

I'm not really in a position to speak for Lutheran Eucharistic theology. It seems to me to be very close to consubstantiation, but I know a good number of Lutherans who would dispute that.

Offline Papist

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2006, 11:32:52 AM »
Right, accidents and substance -- and this differs from the Lutheran teaching how?
Catholics believe that the bread and wine are actually Changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and thus, the Eucharist has no elements of bread or wine left. The Eucharist IS the Body, Blood, Soul, and Dinity of our Saviour, Jesus Christ himself under what LOOKS LIKE bread and wine. Lutherans, on the other hand believe that the Christ becomes present along side the bread and wine but that the bread and wine remains and is not changed into the body and blood of Christ. Catholics: The Eucharist IS JESUS. Lutherans: Jesus is present in the Eucharist but it is still bread and wine.
Now, the Eastern Orthodox do not delve too deeply into the mystery. They believe that some thing should just be left as mystery. However, I do think the EO position is more akin to the Catholic position than the Lutheran one because they do NOT believe that Eucharist is bread and wine with Christ present in it, but like Catholics, they literally refer to the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. They believe it to be Jesus, just as Catholics do.
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Offline pensateomnia

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2006, 01:14:21 PM »
Can someone provide some resources that explain (or perhaps explain it yourself) how the Protestant understanding of a symbolic Body and Blood came about?  Thanks.

It seems no one has answered the OP, so I shall attempt to do so.

Some Protestants, following Luther, believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms" of the bread and wine (i.e. there is a "Real Presence"). Others, following Calvin, believe that the gifts convey Christ in a spiritual manner. Calvin placed more emphasis on the personal faith of the partaker. Thus, if one partakes of the bread and wine with true Faith (i.e. if one is a member of the Elect), then one's heart is touched by the actual spiritual (not physical) presence of Christ. If one partakes without Faith (i.e. is not among the Elect), then one is condemned. (Duh!)

Many other Protestants, however, have inherited a lot of their theological tendencies from the Anabaptist tradition, most famously championed by Ulrich Zwingli. In this line of thinking, Baptism and the Eucharist are not "sacraments," but "ordinances" and/or "covenants." Christians should celebrate the Eucharist because Jesus commanded us to ("Do this in remembrance of me"), a command given to us so that we might remember/commemorate Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Thus, the Eucharist is merely a symbol of Jesus's death, which our Lord intended us to celebrate as a reminder of His sacrificial work -- not a means of actual "communion" with Him. Likewise, Baptism is a symbol of the pre-existing "covenant" between God and the converted believer, not a means of grace.

In other words, all "sacraments" are merely ceremonies that symbolize that the participant has heard the Gospel and pledged to obey its contents. Within such a theology, the natural emphasis thereby falls on the Bible, its preaching, and people’s "covenantal"/contractual response to that preaching.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2006, 01:31:11 PM by pensateomnia »
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Offline Zoe

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2006, 02:20:05 PM »
Great post!
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: Symbolic Body and Blood
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2006, 03:18:35 PM »
It seems no one has answered the OP, so I shall attempt to do so.

Some Protestants, following Luther, believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms" of the bread and wine (i.e. there is a "Real Presence"). Others, following Calvin, believe that the gifts convey Christ in a spiritual manner. Calvin placed more emphasis on the personal faith of the partaker. Thus, if one partakes of the bread and wine with true Faith (i.e. if one is a member of the Elect), then one's heart is touched by the actual spiritual (not physical) presence of Christ. If one partakes without Faith (i.e. is not among the Elect), then one is condemned. (Duh!)

Many other Protestants, however, have inherited a lot of their theological tendencies from the Anabaptist tradition, most famously championed by Ulrich Zwingli. In this line of thinking, Baptism and the Eucharist are not "sacraments," but "ordinances" and/or "covenants." Christians should celebrate the Eucharist because Jesus commanded us to ("Do this in remembrance of me"), a command given to us so that we might remember/commemorate Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Thus, the Eucharist is merely a symbol of Jesus's death, which our Lord intended us to celebrate as a reminder of His sacrificial work -- not a means of actual "communion" with Him. Likewise, Baptism is a symbol of the pre-existing "covenant" between God and the converted believer, not a means of grace.

In other words, all "sacraments" are merely ceremonies that symbolize that the participant has heard the Gospel and pledged to obey its contents. Within such a theology, the natural emphasis thereby falls on the Bible, its preaching, and people’s "covenantal"/contractual response to that preaching.

Excellent summary. I couldn't have done it better myself.