Luther's View of the Lord's Supper

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Puritan Board Junior
Do any of you know of a good resource to differentiate Luther's view on the Lord Supper as opposed to the reformed view? I'm trying to work through Luthers view, but it sounds a lot like the reformed view. But, I have been told previously that it is different.


Puritanboard Clerk
Hodge is good on this. Forget which volume it was. Also, knowing where Luther and the Reformed disagree on Christology answers the question from a different angle.


Puritan Board Freshman
I have recently been attending a Lutheran church and their beliefs of the Lord's Supper is one think that has been tripping me up. For the best understanding, read the Lutheran confessions in the Book Of Concord and the confessions of the Reformed theology churches (Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed). Each document has a section on the Lord's Supper. I've been reading those sections for the last weeks on this very subject. I will try to give a summary below.

Are you asking specifically about Luther's view or the Lutheran view? In the Book of Concord Luther wrote the Smalcald Articles, The Small Catechism, and The Large Catechism. Melancthon wrote the Aubsberg Confession and the Defense Of The Augsberg Confession. About 60 years later other Lutherans wrote The Epitome of the Formula of Concord, and The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.

The Westminster Confession Of Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Westminster Longer Catechism have explanations closest to the Lutheran view.

  • Both (Lutheran and Presbyterian) quote the same verses.
  • Both have words of instition (reading the same verses) which bring about the union between the physical elements and the spiritual body and blood of Christ that they represent.
  • Both say that the elements are a means of grace where the benefits can only be accepted through faith.
  • Lutherans place heavy emphasis on "this is" and state that Jesus' words are so obvious and clear that it means the "true" body and blood, and "real presence". By this do do not mean physical presence but spiritual.
  • Reformed place a heavy emphasis on discerning the Lord's body for yourself, meaning calling to remembrance all that Christ has done for you.
The last two seem to be where Lutherans and the Reformed are talking past each other. Lutherans think "real presence" is so obvious that they declare it a mystery (without explanation) and the Epitome even goes as far as declaring that they reject any who think the rest of Scripture should be searched for additional meaning.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Both the Westminster Stds (Presbyterian) and the Three Forms of Unity (Reformed) make clear our distinct affirmations regarding the Lord's Supper, which the Lutherans hold differently.

Yes, there are formal similarities between Reformed and Lutheran sacramental views. But the Lutherans made the mode of partaking the Lord's body and blood a make-or-break issue--not only spiritual, but also corporeal. They absolutely insisted upon it.

The following link (to the Saxon Visitation Articles, 1592) describes the Lutheran test designed to exclude distinctive Reformed interpretations of various doctrinal points. As appended to the 1580 Book of Concord for 225yrs (and thereafter for another 200yrs among those who rejected the Prussian Union), they represent the "hard-line."

"Sacramentarians" is a Gnesio (i.e. genuine) Lutheran term for those who opposed their view, which they regard as alone legitimate, and truly sacramental; which general grouping can be broken down into "gross" or "crass" (inclined to memorialism), and "crafty" (basically the Calvinist view).

Besides a corporeal partaking (along with a spiritual), Lutherans affirm the ubiquity of the human nature of Christ (given the manner in which they apprehend the communication of attributes between Christ's two natures); as well as actual (real, true) faithless partaking of Christ in the Supper by the unworthy. The Reformed certainly believe there is unworthy, damning participation in the Lord's Supper (eating and drinking condemnation); but we say there is no such thing as a faithless partaking of Christ himself.

That's not an exhaustive discussion of the issues; but it gives you something to begin with.

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Do any of you know of a good resource to differentiate Luther's view on the Lord Supper as opposed to the reformed view? I'm trying to work through Luthers view, but it sounds a lot like the reformed view. But, I have been told previously that it is different.
Chapter 6 of Cooper's The Great Divide: A Lutheran Evaluation of Reformed Theology discusses Luther's view and his disagreement with Zwingli, as well as Calvin's attempt to bridge the divide between the two men.

As Jacob hinted and Rev. Buchanan noted, the significant dividing point concerns exactly what is communicated between the divine and human natures. Cooper's words in the book linked above, reflect the issue:

"In Lutheran sacramental theology, the Eucharist is God’s downward movement toward creation, bringing the spiritual to the earthly. The Reformed position denies this by proposing that the nature of participation is man’s ascent to God, rather than God’s descent to man. Finally, this reading is based on a false Christology which negates the communication of omnipresence to the human nature of Christ."

Luther viewed Zwingli’s denial of the communicatio idiomatum (the communication of attributes) as a profound Christological error and accused him of Nestorianism. Cooper goes on to state, "Luther argued that the human nature of Christ is omnipresent through the communication of the attributes of his divine nature."

After the Colloquy of Marburg to discuss their theological differences, per Cooper, "Luther famously rejected a handshake from Zwingli, giving the message that fellowship was not possible between the two parties due to their different approaches to the sacrament."

Captain Picard

Puritan Board Freshman
Rev. Buchanan, thank you for the enlightening share of the '592 Saxon Articles.

I've been mulling over Article II for some time, and I can't shake something that feels off, about it. Anti-Chalcedonian even. Wondered if you had any insight on that. Obviously it's there to preserve Ubiquity, but the language of II.2 feels almost...monophysite despite the language of II.1.


Puritanboard Clerk
Also, knowing where Luther and the Reformed disagree on Christology answers the question from a different angle.
So instead of teasing us with how much you know, would you please elaborate?

If the properties of the divine nature of Christ are communicated to the human nature, then by extension Jesus' flesh and blood is really there/present in the bread and wine.

Lutherans believe in a sacramental union between the blood of Christ and the wine. Reformed believe in a sacramental union between the sign and the thing signified (promises of the covenant).

Read Richard Muller's Dictionary of Latin and Greek theological terms.

Also read the Book of Concord on this topic and Christology. It's very clear and informative. But if you also what an early Luther view, read his Three Treatises (which is actually my favorite Luther work).


Puritan Board Freshman
Highlighting added...
As Jacob hinted and Rev. Buchanan noted, the significant dividing point concerns exactly what is communicated between the divine and human natures. Cooper's words in the book linked above, reflect the issue:

"In Lutheran sacramental theology, the Eucharist is God’s downward movement toward creation, bringing the spiritual to the earthly. The Reformed position denies this by proposing that the nature of participation is man’s ascent to God, rather than God’s descent to man. Finally, this reading is based on a false Christology which negates the communication of omnipresence to the human nature of Christ."
Some background... I have been attending Lutheran Sunday school taught by the pastor. (It is difficult to find sound reformed theology churches in my area.) Lutherans call every denomination, outside of their own, which came out of the Reformation "Reformed". They do not automatically make a distinction between "reformed theology", which are us Calvinists, and the Arminians. Only when I brought up the difference in class was the distinction acknowledged.

Lutherans heavily stress "God's downward movement toward creation" and the inability of "man's ascent to God". We Calvinists believe the same thing. Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Arminians, etc do not believe this. But note in the above quote that this latter position is called "the Reformed position". They even go as far as claiming that when our altars are inscribed with "do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24) that this means "man's ascent to God" not "God's downward movement toward creation".

As Rev. Buchanan points out, Lutherans believe their understanding of the Lord's Supper separates them from all other denominations. The conservative branch of the Lutherans in the U.S. (Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod) holds closed communion to prevent people who do not hold to their doctrine of the "true" body and blood and the "real presence" from making a spiritual mistake.


Puritan Board Freshman
Are you asking specifically about Luther's view or the Lutheran view?

Luthers view
This is an important distinction. For example, the 1592 Saxon Visitation Articles mentioned by Rev. Buchanan were not written by Luther, but by later Lutherans. Those articles are not part of the "confessions" section of the Book Of Concord. In the confessions section, those written by Luther on the Lord's Supper are:

The last one is the fullest and longest explanation of the Lord's Supper provided by Luther in the Book Of Concord.

A little more history. Melancthon did not agree with every theological point Luther held. The later Lutheran documents have even more differences. You can spot this as you read the different documents. Melancthon's Defense Of The Augsberg Confession was a defense against the Roman Catholic theology of the day. The Epitome, Solid Declaration, Saxon Visitation Articles, etc. were all written 60 years after Luther's and Melancthon's confessions and catechisms (after Luther was dead) by Lutherans. Many of these were written to counter Calvinist theology which had entered the Lutheran Church.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Lutherans heavily stress "God's downward movement toward creation" and the inability of "man's ascent to God". We Calvinists believe the same thing. Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Arminians, etc do not believe this. But note in the above quote that this latter position is called "the Reformed position".

This statement has it own quota of inaccuracies. Part of the mistake has to do with the Lutherans' particular black-and-white way of drawing the lines. Part of it has to do with an apparent lack of awareness of the true Reformed position. So let me try to offer some clarity.

There are times when, in order to be biblical we need to be finely balanced. There are other times when black-and-white and "simple" is as balanced as one needs. Not everyone who isn't a Lutheran is properly known as Reformed. That's imbalanced, and a caricature, just as bad as if we slapped a Romanist label on the Lutheran. Lumping outsiders together makes for excitable preaching-to-the-choir, but no good growth comes from ignorance.

It's simple to say that God makes all movement, downward, from heaven to earth. That sounds very monergistic. There's an important truth embedded in the idea, and it is more true than false to emphasize God's initiative, and man's utter inability to make any God-ward moves until he draws us, until he creates faith in us and puts his Spirit in us.

But we have another "lumping" problem here. We've passed an important tipping point from the fine balance necessary, when we say something like "ONLY Pelagians, etc., EVER talk about ascending heavenward." It is unquestionably true that these and like synergists, decisional regenerationists, and false religion of every stripe, tries to put spiritual efforts into the mix of finding favor with God. They are trying to gain heaven in the completely wrong way; theirs is a "theology of glory," and not "the theology of the cross." The way to glory is the hidden way of the cross--this is Luther's theology; and it is true Reformed theology.

But to NEVER speak of a true and proper ascent is just to IGNORE important things the Bible does say about our movements as Christians. It isn't our fault if our Lutheran brethren, in their attempt to cut off the heretics, have focused on the one side to the exclusion of other, relevant biblical data.


There is nothing Pelagian, modern-evangelical, or otherwise about the following.

1) Israel is forbidden to come near Sinai, where God has come down to them. Moses, the mediator, he bridges the distance for the people, the distance from the top of the mountain to the base of it. He comes down to the people with the covenant (favor) documents. Man definitely cannot ascend to heaven, as if to get favor. Just remember, there is also a meeting with God and 70+ sub-mediators part-way up the mountain, by invitation only.

2) Furthermore, already as part of the Old Covenant, God has a further lesson for the people--one besides the "inapproachable" mountain top, and the need for a mediator (and mediators). Moses is sent down with plans for a Tabernacle, where God will dwell "in the midst" of the people. Jehovah will make himself VASTLY more accessible to Israel than he appeared at first to them.

3) The Tabernacle, and later the Temple, were "copies of the heavenlies." While heaven comes down to man (of necessity, since he cannot ascend of himself), a trip to the Tabernacle is a symbolic trip to the house of God's abode, which is actually in heaven. In other words, God made it possible for man to come to him, by coming himself to man. There's a ton of symbolism here, culminating in Jesus, God's Son and the Son of God, Emmanuel, who "tabernacled among us," who identified HIMSELF as the antitype of the Temple. It is by the Mediator that all saints (not merely a few representatives) are able to come, and have that invitation to come into the holy of holies

4) But the symbolism wasn't complete in the Tabernacle. Important developments came with the installation of the Temple. Jerusalem is identified as the "highest of all the mountains" of the whole earth. Not literally, in terms of elevation over sea level; but spiritually. Why? Because it was the place where heaven touched the earth. Not yet really heaven, but more permanent than the Tabernacle, united with Israel's Davidic throne, this was a greater copy of the heavenlies. It was ELEVATED on a mountain top. And the people made pilgrimages over and over to meet with God there.

We have a record of songs they sang as they went along. They're called "Psalms of Ascent," Pss.120-134.

5) Heb.12:18-29 (with echoes in Eph.2:6 and Col.3:1), building on the earlier Tabernacle imagery the author used, explains that now, in Jesus Christ, we have access to the REAL THING. "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels," etc. We don't claim to come to the gate of heaven on our own power. It is the Spirit, not our own efforts, by which we are brought up, by whom we ascend in faith to God. He summons us; he invites and commands it. And he makes it possible. Its a mystery; we don't claim to understand all that's going on; but it is what we're told IS going on.

No, we aren't in heaven yet. Our Lord's Day Sabbath-keeping is a foretaste of heaven, not dwelling there. And it is a visit that can only take place by faith, not by sight. We actually got rid of all the "glitz" of Medieval worship mainly to abolish the earthly-glory-distractions all that smells-and-bells stuff imposes as a RE-VEILING what was once torn out from top to bottom. Those things aren't "aids" to worship; but the opposite, in this Spirit-age.

There's a Lutheran book on worship out there, drawing on Heb.12, titled: Heaven On Earth. As already emphasized, they make a big deal about how God comes to us, as he must, in order to bless us. But what is the direction of travel in Heb.12? Who is traveling in Heb.12? If I wrote the book, I might title it: Practically In Heaven.

Now that we've moved beyond the Temple (not only in the sense of abolishing the lone mount of worship), as the Temple moved beyond the Tabernacle, how are we to understand the Ascent of the psalmist? Should we say that we ascend NO MORE? Or that we ascend FURTHER now? Clearly, in Christ it is the latter.


I don't get any idea of ascent from the Lutheran approach. They seem allergic to it (like most discussion of election). So fixated are they on criticizing the Reformed, so adamant are they that worship is about God coming to us in Jesus Christ, that I am left wondering where in worship (if?) they see the work of Jesus aiming to bring us to the Father? Yes, the forgiveness of our sins (God coming to us) makes bringing us to the Father possible. Is the realization of that event deferred until our funerals? Until the end of time?

Lutherans say of our Supper, that we claim to feed on Christ* (*but don't really). We might say the same about their assertions about participating on Sunday in the heavenly worship--but "not really." They say we are talking nonsense. We're being absurd. The Bible gives absolutely no support to the position we espouse (I've heard it practically verbatim). Heaven is on earth, to them. Jesus is on earth, in/with/under the sacrament.

My advice is: just try to understand their criticism. When they criticize the frenzy of typical evangelicals and charismatics (as both streams blend their "enthusiasms"), we can say "AMEN!" But we do not need to accept their criticism uncritically, when they lump our views with the rest.
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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I agree. I used Cooper as it helps to understand how Lutherans view Reformed thinking, not to suggest that they have their understanding of the Reformed view correct. Cooper's response to Calvin's perspective on the Supper, under the title of "exegesis" of the same, is but an optimistic view of what one would consider exegesis (see extract of that section below). The book is worth a read at least to understand how Lutheran's interpret our doctrinal positions.


An Exegetical and Theological Response to Calvin (footnotes have been embedded in place)

While Zwingli’s pure symbolism might remain easily dismissible, Calvin’s doctrine of the Eucharist contains a level of theological sophistication and logical rigor that merits serious attention. Rather than dismissing the Supper as an ordinance, or only a memorial meal, Calvin fought for an elevated view of the sacrament while essentially retaining the Swiss criticism of the Lutheran approach to the Lord’s Supper. The two primary theological differences in the Lutheran and Calvinist divide over the Eucharist are the question of the omnipresence of Christ’s human nature and the meaning of the words of institution. {AMR note: Cooper's discussion of the meaning of the words of institution follow this entire quoted portion but has been omitted to not run afoul of fair-use copyright issues.}

Before beginning a defense of Luther’s approach to the Eucharist, some common misconceptions of Lutheran sacramental theology should be corrected. First, it is often the contention of various critics of Luther that the Lutheran church teaches the doctrine of consubstantiation. [317- “This presence of the body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine has been generally expressed by non-Lutherans by the word consubstantiation, as distinguished from the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation” (Hodge, Systematic Theology 3: 672).]

This argument has been proposed since the Reformation and continues to be leveled against Lutheran theology today. The word “consubstantiation” in itself is not necessarily problematic, and a few Lutheran dogmaticians have used it. However, most Lutherans have rejected using the term due to possible misunderstandings of Lutheran Eucharistic theology. This misunderstanding arises from the fact that there was a medieval Eucharistic doctrine of consubstantiation which differs from that of Luther. This view, called “consubstantiation” along with “impanation,” asserts that the physical body and blood of Christ are implanted into or alongside the sacramental elements. [318- Pieper rejects the terms “localis inclusio, impanatio, consubstantantiatio” (Pieper, Christian Dogmatics 3: 362) as a misrepresentation of the Lutheran view.]

Though affirming, along with Luther, both the real sacramental presence of Christ and that the earthly elements remain, consubstantiation’s explanation of the nature of Christ’s presence was rejected by the Lutheran Reformation. The Lutheran church has never tried to explain how the whole Jesus is present in bread and wine, but that he is. The words “in, with, and under” commonly used in Lutheran theology are an imprecise means by which the church professes its belief that in some manner, Christ is present.

Another charge which is often leveled against the Lutheran church is that it teaches the necessary or local omnipresence of the body of Christ. If Christ’s human nature had omnipresence through itself, that would negate his true humanity. [319- Though Horton acknowledges the distinction of different modes of presence, he contends, “Although the intention of the Lutheran view is to affirm the closest possible union of God and humanity in Christ, the idea that the divine attributes can be predicates not merely of the person but of the human nature of Christ threatens his genuine humanity” (Christian Faith, 478).]

Lutherans have rejected the contention of Menno Simons [320- See George, Theology of the Reformers, 280– 85.] that Christ had a heavenly human nature differentiated from ordinary humanity. Thus, Christ’s humanity is not of itself omnipresent. However, due to the unified person of Christ, the attributes of the divine nature are communicated to the human nature. Whatever attributes of divinity are attributed to humanity are given as gift through communication rather than by nature.

There are different modes of presence which can be spoken of. The body of Christ was on earth before the ascension in a local manner, which is different from the manner in which he is present subsequently in the church. [321- These distinctions are primarily taken from Chemnitz, Two Natures in Christ.]

Jesus testifies that though he would ascend, his presence with the church is continuous in a manner different from his local earthly ministry. He states, “And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28: 20). The Lutheran divines viewed this statement as a confession by Jesus that there are two modes of presence. One would be lost through the ascension (the local), while another presence would carry the church (the sacramental). It is the contention of the Reformed that this continuous presence is through the divine nature alone, while Christ’s human nature has only one mode of presence. However, this is not exegetically or logically defensible in light of this text. The Jesus standing before his disciples was a human Jesus; he was the one whom they had followed the past three years and with whom they had eaten and fellowshipped. It is thus implausible that the disciples would have understood this statement as a reference only to Christ’s divine nature. The subject of the sentence is the person of Christ, not a nature.

If the Reformed contention is correct that the divine nature of Christ is omnipresent while his human nature remains locally fixed, the incarnation is incomplete. In the Calvinistic scenario, the majority of Christ’s personhood is without a human nature. [322- This is often labeled the extracalvinisticum (Horton, Christian Faith, 478).]

Where one encounters Christ, other than at the right hand of the Father in heaven, one encounters deity rather than the incarnate God. It is the Lutheran contention that if Jesus was truly incarnated, all of Jesus was incarnate; thus wherever he is, there is both his human and divine nature. As Paul states, “For in him was all the fullness of God pleased to dwell” (Col 1: 10). This assumes a robust incarnational theology in which Christ’s deity is not to be encountered apart from his humanity. It is not part of God, but the fullness of God, which is incarnated. This is further demonstrated by Paul’s statement in Ephesians 4, “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph 4: 10). According to Paul, Christ’s ascension involves not only a departure of Christ, but an arrival, a filling of the earth which takes place through the ascension. Some have argued that this refers to Christ’s influence through the church or the sending of the Holy Spirit rather than a filling by Christ’s person. Matthew Henry argues that Christ’s filling refers to “all the members of his church, with gifts and graces suitable to their several conditions and stations.” [323- Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Eph 4: 10– 16.]

This, however, ignores the context of Paul’s statement. Paul is speaking specifically about Christ’s person rather than his influence or Trinitarian relations. Because Christ’s person and location are the topic of this thought, it is most likely that it refers to a filling of all things by Christ. One could object that this refers only to Christ’s divine nature rather than the human. However, this is not sensible if one accepts the classically defined attributes of divinity. If this were Paul’s point, then he would be promoting the idea that Christ lacked omnipresence according to his divine nature prior to the ascension. Unless one is willing to adopt an extreme form of kenoticism, [324- The belief that Christ divested himself of his divinity in the incarnation] this is untenable.

The doctrine of Christ’s omnipresence is part of a larger belief in the communication of Christ’s divine attributes to his human nature. For the Lutheran tradition, the human nature receives several attributes of divinity in time. [325- Hoenecke, Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics 3: 79– 102.]

The Reformed and broader Protestant tradition has rejected this definition of the communicatio idiomatum. Thus the Lutheran reformers developed a system by which different aspects of the communicatio could be discussed. This occurred through a division of three genera of modes of attribution between natures. [326- The numbering of the genera of the communicatio idiomatum differs within the various schools of the scholastic tradition. Earlier writers called the genus apotelesmaticum the second genus, whereas the later scholastics called it the third. Some of the later scholastics added a fourth genus relating specifically to Christ’s presence in the Supper. On this, see Schmid, Doctrinal Theology, 313– 37.]

The first class is the genus idiomaticum. This means that what is attributed to one nature can be attributed to the whole person. Thus one can say “the Son of God died” without having to clarify by saying, “the human nature of Christ died.” The second genus will be treated below. The third class is the genus apotelesmaticum. This is an affirmation that whatever work Christ performs for the salvation of mankind is performed by both natures. One nature does not perform without the other. The Reformed could confess these two aspects of the communicatio idiomatum, at least in some sense; however, the second genus divided, and continues to divide, the two Reformation traditions. [327- Pieper’s defense of Lutheran Christology remains unsurpassed; see Pieper, Christian Dogmatics 3: 85– 330.]

The divisive issue during the Reformation was the genus maiestaticum. This refers to the communication of divine attributes to Jesus’ human nature. According to the second genus, the majesty of divinity is communicated to the human nature. This is demonstrated by the fact that Christ is said many times in Scripture to gain attributes of deity in time. Unless one adopts a Hegelian model of divinity wherein divine attributes develop through a cosmic process, one must admit the impossibility of these texts’ referring to the divine nature since Christ’s divine nature already had these attributes prior to the incarnation. Thus, they must have been given in time to Christ’s human nature. For example, in Philippians 2: 9, Paul speaks of Christ gaining a name that is above every name by his death on the cross rather than possessing it by nature. [328- “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2: 9– 11).]

Jesus was exalted because of his obedience. Jesus speaks similarly in John 3: 35 by confessing that he had been given all things by the Father. Parallel expressions are found in Matthew 11: 27 and Luke 10: 22. If Jesus has truly been given all things, then he must be, according to his whole person, omnipotent. This cannot refer to his divine nature unless one resorts to some type of subordinationism. As American Lutheran theologian Charles Krauth says, “Christ, then, has received according to one nature, to wit, the human, what He intrinsically possessed in the other, to wit, in the divine, or, as it has been expressed, Whatever Christ has in the one nature by essence, He partakes of in the other by grace— and this is the doctrine of our Church.” [329- Krauth, Conservative Reformation, 503.]

These are attributes, not of humanity, but of deity. They must have been communicated to the human nature. Jesus confessed before his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28: 18). The man Jesus said this to his disciples. There is no reason to believe this refers to his divine nature alone.

Scripture also teaches the communication of Christ’s omniscience to his human nature. John writes, “He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (John 2: 25). This statement assumes that Jesus was able to gain knowledge of people’s thoughts, even as a man. Jesus also demonstrates supernatural knowledge in his encounter with Nathanael wherein he testifies having knowledge of Nathanael’s whereabouts even though absent from the scene. [330- John 1: 48.]

The testimony of Scripture regarding the communication of divine honor along with divine omniscience confirms the Lutheran understanding of the communicatio idiomatum and places the omnipresence of Christ’s human nature in an exegetically supportable theological context.

The doctrine of the communication of attributes is not only a Reformation teaching but can be found in several church fathers. For example, Athanasius writes, “Whatever the scripture declares that Christ had received in time, it affirms with reference to his humanity, not with reference to his deity.” [331- 331. As cited in the catalogue of testimonies in McCain, Concordia, 509.]

This also is in accord with Cyril of Alexiandria’s concept of a divinization of Christ’s human nature. [332- There is a great discussion of this topic in Ivan V. Popov, “The Idea of Deification in the Early Eastern Church,” in Kharlamov, Theosis, 42– 82.] The authors of the Book of Concord compiled a catalog of patristic testimonies regarding the doctrine of the communication of attributes.

Src: Cooper, Jordan (2015-09-13). The Great Divide: A Lutheran Evaluation of Reformed Theology, Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Luther struggled with casting off all his Romanism, but at the same time knew he had to make distinctions around the Supper. He couldn't get around hoc est corpus meum, this is my body.

Luther believed that the elements did not change accidentally (i.e. in their accidens) in the supper as the Romanists did. But he also did not believe Zwingli's memorial view. He rested, for a time, on thinking that the real presence of Christ was "with" and "around" the elements, but not changing IN the element as with transubstantiation.

If memory serves me, he did write with Calvin some long time after his debates with Zwingli/Oecolampadius on the supper. Previously, he just couldn't change his mind, but I recall him, somewhere in is works, saying he agreed with the way Calvin explained the supper. But that was a later Luther, not earlier.

Keep in mind, though, Lutheranism is more acutely Melancthonian than Lutheran.


Puritan Board Junior
Brothers, I want to thank you for all of your input. The has really helped to me understand how Luther's view is distinct from the Reformed view. You have greatly aided my Sunday School preparation this week.

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Puritanboard Commissioner
Bruce is a marvel and a treasure on the PB. In addition to his insightful commentary, consider Understanding Four Views on the Lord's Supper, by John H Armstrong (Zondervan, 2009). As in the other volumes in the series, it offers a unique way of accessing differences by a point-counterpoint approach.

• Baptist view (memorialism)

• Reformed view (real spiritual presence)

• Lutheran view (real bodily presence)

• Roman Catholic view (transubstantiation)

The Lutheran chapter is written by the longest serving living Lutheran dogmatician, David Scaer. David P. Scaer is chairman of the department of systematic theology at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He serves as editor of Concordia Theological Quarterly and previously served as the academic dean at Concordia Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Dorothy, and their five children live in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
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