Saturday, March 07, 2009

Receptionism on the Run, II

Perhaps I ought simply to relent.

Perhaps I should say,

"The authors of the Solid Declaration Article VII 87 went into some detail to point out the abuse of consecrated bread and wine in adoration. I wonder if they would as silent as our theologans (sic) are today toward the practice of left over consecrated wine settled in plastic cups setting (sic) in parish sacristies in garbage bags waiting to go to the dumpster. Does the Synod defend this practice?"

And then perhaps I should answer:

"First, to clarify the point of the Formula of Concord, Article VII, paragraph 87, we do well to include paragraph 86 (and interested readers will benefit from going back farther than than, at least to paragraph 83). The primary point is that consecrated elements are not to be separated or diverted from the rest of the 'usus' or 'actio' that includes 'distribution and reception or oral eating' that Christ commanded when instituting the sacrament.

"The so-called 'nihil' rule or principle is being presented, namely, that no action or emphasis (nihil= "nothing") that is beyond the sacramental practice (consecration, distribution, reception) is to be regarded as part of the sacrament.

"'Left-over consecrated wine' that remains in used vessels and to be discarded is thus wine that is beyond the sacramental practice. It is not going to be received or orally drunk by the communicant. It no longer has the nature of the sacrament and is comparable to elements that were being misused by the medieval Catholic Church as stated in paragraph 87. (We do note an important difference, of course: having left-over elements is not a sinful departure from Christ's institution, but simply an inevitable outcome of valid sacramental practice). We really do not know how much bread and wine were left over in the Upper Room when Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, nor do we know how it was disposed of. Scripture is silent on this. It is beyond the sacramental focus.

"So, to put it plainly, the left-over wine is considered and treated differently than during the sacramental practice because we are now beyond the sacramental practice. It would be unnecessary speculation to say much more about the nature or qualities of such left-overs. Our theologians . . . do not normally say much about the disposal of left-overs (sometimes called the reliqua or reliquae) for that reason."

Would that be acceptable? Examine the quotation, which comes from our friends at the Wisconsin Synod, and you might be able to see some rather glaring deficiencies for yourself. For starters, take note of how the Confessions seem to have become a norma normans here.

In other words, to return to the original notion: No. Perhaps not. I still see no reason to relent on the question.


Dr Matthew Phillips said...

I've read through your blogs and the comments on eucharistic doctrine and practice. As a medieval religious historian, I know quite a bit about these issues.

I am not a receptionist. I don't like plastic cups or retaining and improperly disposing of consecrated elements. However, I do not think purposely retaining consecrated elements is a good idea either.

I have still have not read an appropriate answer on why we would not follow Christ's explicit instructions to eat and drink.

All things are permissible but not all are beneficial. Perhaps you are correct and we should retain consecrated elements in fancy receptacles to serve to shut ins or the sick (viaticum). However, it hurts the conscience of your Lutheran brother. I am weak in faith please concern yourself with my conscience. This is not a historic practice in the Lutheran church nor the Missouri Synod.

Anonymous said...

But a historic church practice in the LCMS is to throw it in the trash and use plastic jiggers depending on how you judge historic church practices these days. And as we all know the only historic practice that matters for our church is the practice of the past fifty years, or if you are an evil conservative the practice of the past five hundred years, but NEVER EVER any practice beyond that. That would just be craziness! That would just be silly and sectarian. Everyone knows the catholic church officially begain in 1530.

Oh and for the record, for all our Rome bashing they ARE consuming all the elements as was discussed. They ARE following Christ's explicit instructions to eat and to drink. What about our church?

But yes, I agree. Clearly the tabernacle (a fancy receptacle) is more offensive than a trash can. One is Roman and the other Lutheran. And with that said, now my consience is troubled as well.

Dr Matthew Phillips said...


First, I'm not sure how you aimed this statement at me. I stated plainly that I DID NOT approve of the practice of irreverently disposing of Christ's Body and Blood in and with the bread and wine. I did not say anything about one thing (tabernacle) being more offensive than another (trash can). It does not follow that one wrong (a trash can or reuse for that matter) should be replaced by another (purposely retaining them for later use.)

Did the Lutheran reformers not reject purposeful retention and adoration outside of the divine service? Perhaps I am wrong and Luther, Chemnitz, et al. practiced the viaticum. I would ask you or anyone else to provide the evidence. It's possible I have misunderstood the Formula and Luther's letter cited therein.

The catholic church practiced communion in one kind for centuries before 1530. Should we also practice that?

Monasticism is actually one of the oldest institutions in the church. It began in the 3rd century. Why did we reject that institution?

Why not a monstrance? They existed at least as early as the 13th century. Probably much earlier.

How about prayers to saints? That practice certainly existed in the church catholic for centuries before 1530.

Although you rightly pointed out our sad practice in regard to the Lord's Supper (trash can,etc) you did NOT give an answer as to why we should just not simply follow our Lord's explicit instructions to eat and drink (not retain for another day).

Second, I willingly identify myself. I have nothing to hide and directed my comments to Rev. Dr. Eckhardt. I respect him and his opinion, even if we may disagree on this matter.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've missed it in the discussions but how does the "doctrine of Ubiquity," time and space relate to the discussion?
Though I don't think the idea of Ubiquity was a litmus test for the early Lutherans, it was clearly held by Luther.
As I understand it, the whole Christ after/at the Ascension fills all time and space. The Verba are therefore the declaration that his promise is attached to this bread and this wine.
Seems to do away with the "scholastic" ideas of receptionism and consecrationism to me.
Thanks for lively discussion!
Dan Pharr

Dr Matthew Phillips said...

I believe that Christ's words effect what they say. Receptionism is NOT what the Bible, Luther, Chemnitz or the Formula teach. However, Christ also teaches us to eat and drink (not keep and reuse, retain and adore, or throw away.) If I had to choose one of these I'd say retain for later use. I just want to be convinced by Scripture, the Confessions and evidence from post-Reformation liturgical practice. It may be adiaphora to retain as a viaticum. However, we must be very careful not to adore outside of the Lord's Supper (that is explicitly condemned by Luther and all the Reformers.)

My added concern was that we should NOT needlessly provoke disputes and debates over these matters when we essentially agree. It just seems to me that following the Lord's instructions in the words of institution (eat and drink) would solve these issues. Many LCMS congregations simply do whatever they want (ie contemporary worship, using heterdox books, open communion) without concern for how it affects their sister congregations. We should not make the same mistake in what appears to me to be a questionable practice (ie. tabernacle). Everything is permissible but not beneficial.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Fraser Pearce said...


I'm coming into this extended discussion rather late.

Just a question for any one our there who may know:

What is the Scriptural evidence for anything, once consecrated, ceasing to be consecrated?

This is not a rhetorical question, so if any one can help me I'd appreciate it!