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Understanding Four Views on the Lord's Supper

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Use coupon code 3Views to get an extra 10% off the purchase of three or more individual Counterpoints modules when purchased at the same time.

See also the 16-Volume set that includes this module or the 11-Volume set of newly released Counterpoints modules.

Who should participate in the Lord’s Supper? How frequently should we observe it? What does this meal mean? What happens when we eat the bread and drink from the cup? What do Christians disagree about and what do they hold in common? These and other questions are explored in this thought-provoking book.

This volume in the Counterpoints: Church Life series allows four contributors to make a case for the following views:

  • Baptist view (memorialism)
  • Reformed view (spiritual presence)
  • Lutheran view (consubstantiation)
  • Roman Catholic view (transubstantiation)

All contributors use Scripture to present their views, and each responds to the others’ essays. This book helps readers arrive at their own conclusions. It includes resources such as a listing of statements on the Lord’s Supper from creeds and confessions, quotations from noted Christians, a resource listing of books on the Lord’s Supper, and discussion questions for each chapter to facilitate small group and classroom use.

The Counterpoints series provides a forum for comparison and critique of different views on issues important to Christians. Counterpoints books address two categories: Church Life and Bible and Theology. Complete your library with other books in the Counterpoints series.

Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper
• Series: Counterpoints - Church Life
Series Editor: Paul E. Engle
General Editor: John H. Armstrong
Contributors: Russell D. Moore, I. John Hesselink, David P. Scaer, Thomas A. Baima
Publisher: Zondervan (released 11/6/07)

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April 23, 2013  |  3:21 PM  |  Okay (3)
(I am writing this as a review of the Lutheran explanation of the Lutheran view of the Lord's Supper. As a Lutheran pastor there are several things the reader should be made aware of.)

1. Dr. Scaer notes that "Lutherans rarely use this term (Consubstantiation)." (p. 87) This sentence is an understatement. Confessional lutherans have always found the word, Consubstantiation offensive. In his "Creeds of Christendom" book, Schaff notes that Lutherans reject the term. (p. 229) Nevertheless, he unapologetically uses the term more than twenty times throughout his work to define the Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper. Abraham Calov best explains the Lutheran view of that word, Consubstantiation: "We maintain that the body and blood of Christ are present in the Supper; not, indeed, through μετουσια, or by substantial transmutation, as the Papists hold; nor by συνουσια, or consubstantiation, which the Calvinists calumnious ...
(I am writing this as a review of the Lutheran explanation of the Lutheran view of the Lord's Supper. As a Lutheran pastor there are several things the reader should be made aware of.)

1. Dr. Scaer notes that "Lutherans rarely use this term (Consubstantiation)." (p. 87) This sentence is an understatement. Confessional lutherans have always found the word, Consubstantiation offensive. In his "Creeds of Christendom" book, Schaff notes that Lutherans reject the term. (p. 229) Nevertheless, he unapologetically uses the term more than twenty times throughout his work to define the Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper. Abraham Calov best explains the Lutheran view of that word, Consubstantiation: "We maintain that the body and blood of Christ are present in the Supper; not, indeed, through μετουσια, or by substantial transmutation, as the Papists hold; nor by συνουσια, or consubstantiation, which the Calvinists calumniously charge upon us; nor by local inclusion, namely, impanation, as flesh is in a meat-pie and invination, as they are accustomed to charge against us; nor in the way of a descent from heaven and from the Right Hand of God, to be followed again by an ascent to heaven and to the Right Hand of God.” (Schmidt, p. 563) So, if you want to misrepresent the Lutheran view of the Lord's Supper, then, go ahead and use the word, Consubstantiation. And if you want to unnecessarily offend Lutherans, then make use of that word. It's difficult to read Russell Moore's response to the Lutheran view. He writes: "By contrast, the Lutheran view of consubstantiation is exegetically, historically, philosophically, and semantically far more complex." (p. 102.) If he knew much at all about the Lutheran understanding of the Lord's Supper he wouldn't boldly and bluntly call it what it is not.

2. Scaer writes: "Today the majority of Lutheran congregations in the United States have a weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper." (97) While usually throughout his section he makes generous use of footnotes, the reader notices that in this section there are no sources of proof. That's because he set forth as proof something that is unproven. Even within his own church body (LCMS) there is no proof that "most churches" celebrate the Lord's Supper on a weekly basis. While there has been a growing appreciation of more frequent communion within Lutheranism in the last 10 or 20 years, there is no proof that the majority of Lutheran churches practice weekly communion.

3. On p. 100 Scaer notes that Luther found the basis for the Lord's Supper in the passages which clearly speak about the Lord's Supper. Scaer, however, doesn't exactly follow in Luther's footsteps. Consider this section: "Just as in baptism water symbolizes creation, birth, and destruction, bread is reminiscent of what humans must produce in the sweat of their brow to survive in a world of sin (Gen. 3:19). It is a reminder of our fallen condition and the necessity of eating Christ’s body for salvation." (p. 93) While imaginative and interesting, these conclusions are not conclusions we find clearly expressed in God's word about the Lord's Supper. So also, Scaer goes out on a limb with connecting John 6 to the Lord's Supper. In Luther's, "Babylonian Captivity of the church," he wrote: "John 6 is to be entirely excluded from this discussion, since it does not refer in a single syllable to the sacrament. For not only was the sacrament not yet instituted, but the whole context plainly shows that Christ is speaking of faith in the Word made flesh, as I have said above." (LW 36:19)

Conclusion: I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The unnecessary inclusion of the word, Consubstantiation knocks it down a star. And Scaer's habit of occasionally going beyond what scripture can bear (and as a result, Lutheranism understands) knocks it down another star.

Pastor Steve Bauer
http://stevebauer.us