Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Schaff's Church History: Calvin Appealed to Melanchthon's Version of the Augsburg Confession

It is a continual battle to correct the disinformation perpetuated by Anglo-papists and various other dissimulators who wish to use the internet to push unsubstantiated propaganda to further their dishonest agendas. However, the most recent disinformation was an article posted at VirtueOnline suggesting that John Calvin actually believed in "real presence" and agreed with Luther. The evidence for this is allegedly the fact that Calvin signed the Augsburg Confession. (See Novak).

But did John Calvin sign the Augsburg Confession, meaning that he agreed with Luther's view of the eucharist and that the body and blood of Christ are present in, with and under the bread? Absolutely not. However, it is true that Calvin did sign a second revision of the Augsburg Confession done by Philip Melanchthon which changed the doctrine to a lower view.

Although, Calvin did concede to the doctrine of "real presence" his argument concerned the "mode" of the presence of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament. Calvin emphasized that the "mode" is in the sacrament and not in the bread or the wine in a "substantial" way. In other words, the bread and the wine are not the "true" body and blood of Christ nor is the substance of His body and blood in the sacramental elements or with them in any way. (See § 132. The Eucharistic Controversies. Calvin and Westphal.)

It is conceded that Calvin did indeed appeal to the Augsburg Confession of 1540 during the eucharistic controversy with Westphal but it is a version of the Confession that is not as strongly worded as the version of 1530 under Luther. When Westphal decided in 1552 to begin to push the high Lutheran view of the eucharist again Calvin felt compelled to argue against him in an attempt to unify Lutherans and the Reformed. The historical evidence clearly shows in the correspondence between Calvin and Melanchthon that Calvin was able to persuade Melanchthon to soften the high Lutheran view in the second version of the Augsburg Confession which Calvin approved of:

During the progress of this controversy both parties frequently appealed to the Augsburg Confession and to Melanchthon. They were both right and both wrong; for there are two editions of the Confession, representing the earlier and the later theories of its author on the Lord's Supper. The original Augsburg Confession of 1530, in the tenth article, teaches Luther's doctrine of the real presence so clearly and strongly that even the Roman opponents did not object to it. But from the time of the Wittenberg Concordia in 1536, or even earlier, Melanchthon began to change his view on the real presence as well as his view on predestination and free-will; in the former he approached Calvin, in the latter he departed from him. He embodied the former change in the Altered Confession of 1540, without official authority, yet in good faith, as the author of the document, and in the conviction that he represented public sentiment, since Luther himself had moderated his opposition to the Swiss by assenting to the Wittenberg Concordia. The altered edition was made the basis of negotiations with the Romanists at the Colloquies of Worms and Ratisbon in 1541, and at the later Colloquies in 1546 and 1557. It was printed (with the title and preface of the Invariata) in the first collection of the symbolical books of the Lutheran Church (Corpus Doctrinae Philippicum) in 1559; it was expressly approved by the Lutheran princes at the Convention of Naumburg in 1561, after Melanchthon's death, as an improved modification and authentic interpretation of the Confession, and was adhered to by the Melanchthonians and the Reformed even after the adoption of the Book of Concord (1580).

The text in the two editions is as follows:—

Ed. 1530.

"De Coena Domini docent, quod corpus et sanguis Christi vere adsint [the German text adds: unter der Gestalt des Brots und Weins], et distribuantur vescentibus in Coena Domini, et improbant secus docentes." [In the German text: "Derhalben wird auch die Gegenlehre verworfen."]

Ed. 1540.

"De Coena Domini docent, quod cum pane et vino vere exhibeantur corpus et sanguis Christi vescentibus in Coena Domini."

Ed. 1530.

"Concerning the Lord's Supper, they teach that the body and blood of Christ are truly present [under the form of bread and wine], and are distributed to those that eat in the Lord's Supper. And they disapprove of those who teach otherwise." [In the German text: "Wherefore also the opposite doctrine is rejected."]

Ed. 1540.

"Concerning the Lord's Supper, they teach that with bread and wine are truly exhibited the body and blood of Christ to those who eat in the Lord's Supper."

[Disapproval of dissenting views is omitted.]

It is to this revised edition of the document, and to its still living author, that Calvin confidently appealed. [Schaff].

While Calvin did subscribe to a version of "real presence" that "presence" was not the mode of substantial presence in the bread or the wine as the Anglo-papists have tried to twist the words to mean. Clearly, Calvin's view of the real partaking and real presence are by the union of the believer with Christ by faith and so the spiritual or real presence takes place in the believer's heart as he participates in the Lord's Supper. Hence, Calvin is always careful to say that the real presence is in the Supper or sacrament and not in the bread or wine:

"In regard to the Confession of Augsburg," he says in his Last Admonition to Westphal, "my answer is, that, as it was published at Ratisbon (1541), it does not contain a word contrary to our doctrine. If there is any ambiguity in its meaning, there cannot be a more competent interpreter than its author, to whom, as his due, all pious and learned men will readily pay this honor. To him I boldly appeal; and thus Westphal with his vile garrulity lies prostrate .... If Joachim wishes once for all to rid himself of all trouble and put an end to controversy, let him extract one word in his favor from Philip's [Melanchthon] lips. The means of access are open, and the journey is not so very laborious, to visit one of whose consent he boasts so loftily, and with whom he may thus have familiar intercourse. If I shall be found to have used Philip's name rashly, there is no stamp of ignominy to which I am not willing to submit." [Schaff].

I will concede that Schaff is a secondary source. However, I am limited in my access to primary source materials for Calvin and Melanchthon. It should be obvious to all, given the weight of Schaff's scholarship in most circles, that the Anglo-papist version of "real presence" as being consubstantial with or in the bread and wine is clearly rejected by Calvin during the eucharistic controversies of 1552. Calvin rejected the high Lutheran view of Westphal, who opposed Calvin's view that the mode of the presence of the body and blood of Christ is spiritual union of the believer through faith and not a presence of substance either in transubstantiation or in consubstantiation.

Sincerely in Christ,


The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

No comments:

Support Reasonable Christian Ministries with your generous donation.