Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Receptionism on the Run


Who says this conversation has come to an end? My own involvement in the discussion is sometimes limited, but it seems to me that in the course of its ebb and flow, it has been developing right along. The number of comments now exceeds 200. I've been posting some audio files of sermons meanwhile, but that ought not discourage the continuation of this important topic.

Now, as Venkman has astutely pointed out, we have begun to surround and hem in the error of receptionism, which, I hasten to remind you, happens to have been a major impetus behind the building of a tabernacle here.

I have long suspected that there are many whose reason for consuming everything is so they would not have to face their own refusal to believe that the simple words of Jesus abide forever. They may not have monstrances, but they do seem to have hours of adoration, not of the Sacrament, but of Melanchthon and his eucharistic errors (q. v.).

Evidently they have deleted from Galatians St. Paul's warning, "though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Either that, or they believe the Book of Concord carries more weight than the apostles and angels. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the BoC is guilty of the Melancththonian error, but they do, though they call it a truth. But if I did interpret the BoC as they do, I would sooner reject it than the words of Christ.

Verbum Dei manet in aeternam.

16 comments:

Rob Lawson said...

Dr. Eckardt,
Just wondering if you ever read the copy of B.W. Teigen's book "The Lord's Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz" that my father sent you shortly after you were out here in CA to speak at our conference in Oct. 2007?
If you haven't, "The Reservation in Tradition" is dealt with on pages 125-133. Any comments?

Ryan said...

I've been thinking, and perhaps this has been mentioned already, but the LCMS tradition of receptionism may have contributed to some lax practice in the handling of the elements. So that a pastor may strongly believe it is the true body and blood of Christ received, but since its not there till reception nor after... the way we handle the set up and take down, handle the elements, or handle ourselves matter little.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Fr Lawson,

Honestly I don't remember the book; I wonder if I ever got it; I'll look around.

Ryan:

I like the way you think, and I think it's spot on. You may have your finger on the reason receptionism is such a popular view.

Rob Lawson said...

Fr Eckardt,
It's been a while, but if you remember, you left your cap out here and asked that I send it back. My Dad took it home with him and sent it to you along with the book. If you got the cap back, you got the book. They were in the same bag (so he says).

At any rate, if you can't find it, the book is available as a free download from Logia. I really would be interested in your comments on what Dr. Teigen has to say. All of chapter 5 is relevent to this discussion, but specifically pages 101-140 which deal with the Veneration of the elements, the Reliquiae, and Reservation of the elements.

From my own reading of Chemnitz's "Examen" and "The Lord's Supper" I think Teigen's conclusions (supported by a number of quotations) are spot on. They are, however, quite different from your own conclusions wrt these matters.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

You just solved a mystery. When I looked at the downloaded first page, it hit me. So that's the book I have sitting on my desk among other things I need to read, but didn't know where it came from. I'll get back to you.

Venkman said...

Reverend McCain typed: "Aside from the obviously bad understanding of what the controversy over receptionism was, and what it is not..." That to me seems to imply that there are differences even among receptionists, which many of us already knew. Some say that Christ's presence ceases as soon as the "last table" is served, others during the benediction, and others at the end of the closing hymn. However, there are just as many differences in opinion among the consecrationists as well. Some say that Christ's presence begins at the Sanctus, others the Lord's Prayer, others the Word's of Institution, others at the word "Take," "is," or "Me."

Father Fenton shows a link between receptionism and consecrationism when he states: "receptionism simply draws the medieval 'moment notion' tighter than what is sometimes called 'consecrationism.'"

I agree. There is a link, a similarity, but there is alos a HUGE difference. Receptionists are concerned with when the Real Presence ends. Consecrationists are concerned with when the Real Presence begins. This is why none of the differences among consecrationists will cause any real division among them. Consecrationists trust that if there are any consecrated elements left over among them, those elements will be treated with respect and eventually consumed. This is also why none of the differences among receptionists will cause any real division among them either. A receptionist is a receptionist is a receptionist. Do not be deceived! Whether the consecrated elements are consumed during the service, after the service, or thrown in the trash, receptionists are satisfied just as long as one confesses that Christ's presence has come to an end. They can sleep tight as long as they know that Jesus is back in heaven where He belongs.

Now if we really want to get into something interesting, let's go back to Father Fenton's post concerning the link between receptionism and consecrationism. I have stated a couple times throughout this thread that there seems to be a clear disconnect between the Second and Third Articles of the Creed in our practice. It is the Holy Spirit who brings you to Christ! Now the question is where is that Spirit to be found? Is He found in the Church? Is He found in the Word's of Instituion? Is He found in the epiklesis? Guys keep going on and on about how the tabernacle will only bring doubt because "How can you trust your pastor? He could be lying! You should only trust God's Word. Blah, blah, blah." If you really believe that than don't listen to a darn thing your pastor tells you. In fact, don't complain when your own parishoners don't listen to you either. But if you believe that your pastor has received the Spirit through the Church which Christ Himself has ordained to be His saving presence in this world of sin than by all means listen to him and take and eat!

But see, along with Jiffy Jars and trashernacles we also have unordained men consecrating. And I don't really hear any receptionists crying foul on that issue either. I don't exactly know how, but I do believe there is a connection there. And it has something to do with the link (or lack there of) between the Second and Third Articles of the Creed.

-Venkman

Rob Lawson said...

(Pastor?)Venkmen,
You opine that some consecrationists say that Christ's presence begins at the Sanctus, others the Lord's Prayer, others the Word's of Institution, others at the word "Take," "is," or "Me." Is that a fact? I know lots of consecrationists, having come out of the ELS where this battle was explicitely fought over the course of about 20 years (one of the products of that controversy was Dr. Teigen's excellent book). I don't know of any consecrationists who think that the real presence begins before the Verba have been recited. Every consecrationist I know (admittedly, I know a lot of them, but I don't know them all) agrees with the Formula which quotes Chrysostom in article VII, par. 76: "The words are spoken by the mouth of the priest, but when he says, 'This is my body,' the elements that have been presented in the Supper are consecrated by God's power and grace through the Word." Consecrationists agree with FC VII, par. 82: "Third, it is done (i.e., the Word of Institution are spoken or sung) so that the elements of bread and wine are sanctified and consecrated in this holy practice, whereby Christ's body and blood are offered to us to eat and to drink, as Paul says [1 Cor. 10:16], 'The cup of blessing that we bless ...' This of course takes place in no other way than through the repetition and recitation of the Words of Institution."

Furthermore, Consecrationism and receptionism are not "linked" on any level. They are completely different animals. If anything, receptionism is linked with that view which says that the real presence occurs at any time during the entire liturgical action of the communion liturgy. Receptionism confines the "moment" of the presence to the reception, because only at that moment has the minimal liturgical action been completed. The other view (I don't know what to call it exactly) obsesses about the integrity of the entire communion liturgy - that all the actions from preface to sanctus, to Lord's Prayer & Verba be there. That's because the real presence could come to the elements at any time during the communion liturgy. When it comes, we know not. Both obsess about liturgical action as such.

Consecrationism is concerned with "the moment" only insofar as it maintains that, within the sacramental usus, it is the Word of Christ (the Verba) alone that effects the real presence, not any preceding or subsequent action. Only when Christ says, "This is My Body," is this bread His Body. The same thing for the wine. Consecrationism says that the real presence comes to the elements immediately (note: not "instantaniously") upon recitation of the Verba. Why? Because when Christ speaks, His Word is effective. Consecrationism is concerned with the effectiveness of the Word of Christ, not with liturgical action.

Concerning your last two paragraphs, I thought Lutherans taught that the Holy Spirit works through the Word, period (see AC V). Thus, wrt to the Eucharist, as the FC says: "Indeed, in the administration of the Holy Supper the Words of Institution are to be clearly and plainly spoken or sung publicly in the congregation, and in no case are they to be omitted." And that for all three reasons subsequently listed: 1. In obedience to Christ's command; 2. As a preaching of the Gospel; and 3. In order to actually consecrate the elements. Isn't this so? Where do our confessions say that in the case of shut-ins the Pastor may recite the Verba only for reasons #1 & #2?

Venkman said...

Rob,
I wouldn't say receptionism and consecrationism are two different animals. They both come from the same source: medieval scholasticism. Now although they are the same animal, I wouldn't say that they are the same breed. One is a scrawny, little, Paris Hilton Chiwawa and the other is a loyal and faithful German Shepherd. If you're a police officer, you know which one you want standing by your side while on duty. Receptionists will not find fault with other receptionists just as consecrationists will not find fault with other consecrationists. That's not a bad thing. Within their groups they get along very well. However, I do believe that the two groups cannot successfully cohabitate alongside one another. They are just two different. You ever tried breeding a Chiwawa with a German Shepherd? Maybe it's possible, but it is also very, very, very, very, very hard.

Yes, within the course of Christendom some have held that the Real Presence begins before the Verba has been recited.

And yes, the Holy Spirit works through the Word, but can that Word be separated from Christ's Church? "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, My Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church he daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers." I think a tabernacle might even confess this better than my own practice of consuming all the elements during the service! Furthermore, the Verba is spoken at Baptist churches as well, yet we don't say they have the Body and Blood. Why? Because I'm a Christian, not a magician. The Verba isn't an incantation. Where the Spirit is there is Christ.

As for the consecration taking place outside of the liturgy, point me to one of our hymnals or agendas where this is the case, where the Verba stands on its own. In fact, even in the case of emergency baptism LSB places the baptism within a brief service (although I don't know about the other hymnals or agendas).

And you ask, where do our confessions say that in the case of shut-ins the pastor may recite the Verba only for reasons #1 & #2? Well, where in Scripture or our Confessions does it state that in the case of shut-ins the pastor CAN'T recite the Verba only for reasons #1 & #2?

That's exactly the problem I have with receptionism! (Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not claiming you are a receptionist.) Receptionism often goes far, far beyond anything even written in the Formula. This "three stages" business is just too big of a leap for me to follow.

-Venkman

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Fr Fenton's reference to a medieval 'moment notion' fails to take into account the scholastic (over)emphasis on that moment due to its (over)emphasis on the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ. The "unbloody sacrifice" notion is a concise way of saying that the separation of Christ's body from his blood which recurs in the double consecration in effect re-sacrifices him, or at least re-presents his sacrifice in the Mass. For this reason there is even today a prevailing view in the Roman churches that witnessing the Mass is more beneficial than receiving the Sacrament.

We who are not encumbered with that excess (I say 'excess' because there is a grain of truth in it) also cannot be lumped with receptionists as Fr Fenton has done.

For us the moment of consecration is really better stated as a connection between Christ's word and the Sacrament, as Fr Lawson has rightly noted.

On the other hand I also find dubious the claim that all three reasons for repeating the verba must be in force in the carrying of the Sacrament to the sick. Were that the case, even Chemnitz could be chided for allowing the reservation of the elements. More importantly, as I have indicated earlier, we must be careful not to raise the Formula of Concord to the level of a norma normans, which requiring all three reasons comes close to doing.

Venkman said...

Father Eckardt,

Of course there is a connection between Christ's Word and the Sacrament, but when has the Verba ever stood on its own? Should the Sacrament ever be separated from the church's Mass? Perhaps this is precisely what makes us both feel so uncomfortable about mini-Masses being celebrated on hospital trays and coffee tables.

Just because someone states that there is a link between receptionism and consecrationism does not mean that the two are identical. As for me, I am definately more comfortable with one as opposed to the other.

-Venkman

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Venkman: "Should the Sacrament ever be separated from the church's Mass?" That, incidentally, is a loaded question, which could cut both ways.

The Sacrament should not be separated from the church, certainly, but arguably it is separated from the Mass when it is reserved for shut-ins. I have no problem with that, of course.

But the fact that the Sacrament and the Church are inseparable does not mean that a "consecrationist" fails to recognize this. It's a straw man.

Venkman said...

Ok, perhaps I need to rephrase the question. Should the Sacrament ever be separated from the church's altar? Giving shut-ins that which is publically consecrated at Sunday's Mass seems to connect those shut-ins much better to the liturgical life of the church. Hence, the Verba is important, but does not stand alone as an isolated event.

I don't believe most consecrationists view the church and Sacrament as separate, but I do believe there is that danger. Again, why do we have unordained men consecrating? The arguement is always that the Word was spoken.

Rob Lawson said...

Venkman (I don't know your first name),
What "some have held within the course of Christendom" wrt to the presence coming to the elements before the Verba is not the confession of the Lutheran Church. The Formula of Concord is. No doubt various theologians within the first 1500 years of church history held different opinions. What Lutheran has ever held this opinion?

How does a tabernacle confess the 3rd article of the creed better than consuming the reliquiae? I'm not following you.

You'll get no argument from me in favor of liturgyless communion services - not even at the nursing home. This, however, is not because any words (or actions) other than the recitation of the Verba effect the real presence.

The temptation of receptionism is indeed to go far, far beyond the intent of the nihil rule. It seems to me, however, that the temptation here is not to go far enough. The FC is crystal clear. These aren't statements in need of interpretation. The Words are to be recited not only as a preaching of the Gospel but also to consecrate the elements. That is why Christ said, "Do this."

Fr Eckardt,
Dubious is the claim that Chemnitz allowed for the reservation of the elements to commune the sick, as if this were a practice just as good or better than consuming the reliquiae and consecrating fresh elements in front of the communicants.

Just because he didn't condemn the ancients for their practice, and could even praise it under certain unique circumstances, doesn't mean that he considered it the practice in best accord with the Mandatum Dei. It's pretty clear from the Examen that he didn't.

Rob

Anonymous said...

"Venkman (I don't know your first name),"

...DOCTOR Peter Venkman!

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

. . . who ya gonna call?

Venkman said...

*bangs his fingers on the piano*

"They hate this. That's right boys. It's Dr. Venkman!*