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)

It is useful and good that arrogant, godless blasphemers be so cut off that they should not join in partaking of the holy sacrament, for one should not “throw to the dogs what is holy, nor pearls before swine” [Matt. 7:6]. Now the fanatics believe [according to their publicly-confessed faith] that nothing but bread and wine are present, hence it is surely so [in their churches]. They have as they believe, and so they eat nothing but bread and wine, and partake of the Lord’s body neither spiritually nor physically. It is very good and useful that our possession should not be scattered among the unworthy but kept holy and pure among the humble alone. (“That These Words of Christ, ‘This is My Body,’ etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 37 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961], pp. 131-32)

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 [1990], pp. 335-38)

Thus I again confess here before God and all the world that I believe and do not doubt, and shall also with the help and grace of my dear Lord Jesus Christ adhere to this confession until the last day, that where mass is celebrated according to Christ’s ordinance, be it among us Lutherans or under the papacy or in Greece or in India, even if it is also only under one kind – which is nonetheless wrong and an abuse – as is the case under the papacy at Easter and otherwise during the year when they provide the sacrament for the people, nevertheless, under the form of bread, the true body of Christ, given for us on the cross, [and] under the form of wine, the true blood of Christ, shed for us, are present; furthermore, it is not a spiritual or imagined body and blood but the genuine natural body and blood derived from the holy, virginal, true, human body of Mary, conceived without a human body by the Holy Spirit alone. This body and blood of Christ are even now sitting at the right hand of God in majesty, in the divine person called Jesus Christ, who is a genuine, true, eternal God with the Father of whom he was born from eternity, etc. This body and this blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, not only the holy and worthy but also sinners and the unworthy truly administer and receive bodily, although invisibly, with their hands, their mouths, the chalice, paten, corporal, and whatever they use for this purpose when it is administered and received in the mass. This is my faith; this I know, and no one shall wrest it from me. ...God’s word and work cannot be hindered or altered at all by our abuse or sin, if only his ordinance is kept. But where his ordinance is altered, that is of course a different matter. ...the papists, if they adhere to the ordinance of Christ, undoubtedly have in the sacrament the true and real body and blood of Christ. If it is under one kind, then it is the body of Christ. If it is under both kinds, then it is both body and blood according to the utterance and ordinance of the words of Christ. Now if they (without impairing the ordinance of Christ) sell, present, abuse, or administer or receive it unworthily, this neither adds nor takes away anything from the sacrament. God remains God even in hell. Christ remains godly even among those who crucified him. A gulden remains a gulden even in the hand of a thief and robber, if only it is itself a true gulden struck according to the king’s or prince’s mint regulations. (“A Letter of Dr. Martin Luther concerning his Book on the Private Mass,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 38 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], pp. 224-25)

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