Which Churches Have the Lord’s Supper?
Which Churches Do Not?
Quotations From Martin Luther
In the same way I also say and confess that in the Sacrament of the Altar the true body and blood of Christ are orally eaten and drunk in the bread and wine, even if the priests who distribute them or those who receive them do not believe or otherwise misuse the sacrament. It does not rest on human belief or unbelief but on the Word and ordinance of God – unless they first change God’s Word and ordinance and misinterpret them, as the enemies of the sacrament do at the present time. They, indeed, have only bread and wine, for they do not also have the words and instituted ordinance of God but have perverted and changed it according to their own imagination. (“Confession concerning Christ’s Supper”; quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VII:32, The Book of Concord, edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000], p. 598)
“I take the case of a minister who is quite a scoundrel, and even an epicurean, and who believes that he administers nothing but bread and wine, although the entire church believes that it is body and blood. What should be done in this case? I answer: The mouth is deceived, but faith is not deceived. Nevertheless, if the minister should say the words [of institution] so that the church hears them, it is the unbelieving priest who is in peril and not the church which believes the words and receives what the words say and faith relies upon, so long as there is no public preaching against the sacrament, as there is today among the sacramentarians. For where a church is taught that there is only bread and where it may be that there are one, two, or three persons who believe, the people don’t receive the body of Christ. Only the mouth is deceived, but faith is not deceived. Faith doesn’t sin. But if only one person is unbelieving, this doesn’t take anything away from the sacrament. For Christ established the sacrament on himself and not on the person of the minister. It rests on the Word. Accordingly, when there is a confession of the Word, no matter what kind of knave the minister may be, this detracts not at all from the sacrament. The reason is that a scoundrel, too, swears by the name of the Lord, and it is the true name of the Lord, for unless it is the true name of the Lord he commits no sin. God’s name doesn’t become the devil’s name even when I sin, but I sin for the very reason that it is the true name of God. The pope also misuses the Word. One must assert the substance, and abuse doesn’t remove it. The sacramentarians get rid of the substance and have nothing but bread and wine.” (Table Talk #574, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967], pp. 100-01)
With their mouths they [the sacramentarian teachers] say, “Christ’s body and blood are truly present in the Sacrament.” When an unsuspecting person hears this, he thinks, of course, that they teach the same as we do, and he goes to the Sacrament and consequently receives nothing but bread and wine, for his teacher neither gives nor means anything more. The hidden gloss and understanding are just as before – that the true body and blood of Christ are truly present in the Sacrament, yet only spiritually and not bodily, and are received only in the heart by faith and not bodily with the mouth which receives only bread and wine, as before. ...our double-tongued sectarians...say: “Christ’s body and blood are truly in the Sacrament, but of course spiritually and not bodily.” They stay with their previous error, that there are only wine and bread in the Sacrament. ... When a faithful heart has knowledge of such wickedness and falsity in his pastor, or suspects him of it, what should he do? Do you really think that it is possible for his heart to be set at peace trusting such outrageously false words as: “Believe in the body, which Christ meant, and ask no further?” No, dear friend! He believed as much as that already before he came, even if he does not go to the Sacrament. The reason he comes and asks this question is because he wants to know whether he receives with his mouth only bread and wine. He does not ask what he should believe in his heart concerning Christ and his body, but only what is given to him by the hands [of the pastor]. ... Therefore, this is my honest advice, for which before God I am held accountable both to you in Frankfurt and wherever else: whoever has public knowledge that his pastor teaches Zwinglianly, he should avoid him and rather go without the Sacrament all his life long rather than receive it from him – yes, even be ready to die on this account and suffer everything before that. If his pastor is one of the double-tongued sort who mouths it out that in the Sacrament the body and blood of Christ are present and true, and yet who prompts an uneasiness that he is selling something in a sack and means something other than what the words say, you should go to him, be free to inquire of him, and have him say quite plainly what it is he gives out to you with his hands and what you receive with your mouth. What one believes or does not believe in the heart can wait for another time. One should put to him the straight question: “What is held here in hand and mouth?” (“An Open Letter to Those in Frankfurt on the Main,” Concordia Journal, Vol. 16, No. 4 , pp. 335-38)