Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sasse, 1977. Chapter 1, Part 3 - The Real Presence as Conversion (p. 17)

Chapter 1, Part 3 - The Real Presence as Conversion (p. 17)

The dogma of the Real Presence received much more discussion. Beginning with Paschasius Radbertus writing in 831 (p. 18) discussion about the nature of Christ’s presence began. While Radbertus suggested real physical presence of the very body and blood of Jesus as born of Mary, Ratramnus and others would affirm that the change was specifically to the post-resurrection body and blood. Ratramnus also affirmed that the elements remained bread and wine but became the “image” of the body and blood. There is some lack of clarity in the discussion, but it did serve, if not to define the doctrine, to start the process of definition.

In hindsight, Sasse says (p. 19), Ambrose seemed to advocate a physical change while Augustine had more of an inclination toward a symbolic change. Yet the idea Augustine had of a symbol’s change is not akin to Zwingli’s view. To the ancients, a symbol is “filled with reality” (p. 23).

Sasse points out (p. 25) that while we might like to leave the issue by saying that Christ is really present, the contention is whether he is really present in his body and blood. This is an area which Lutheran and Reformed churches do not agree on. The debate is important and stems from the 11th century and Berengar, who advocated a spiritual view of Christ’s presence. He rejected the bodily presence as a logical impossibility and was (p. 26) the first to interpret the “is” in the consecration as “signifies.” This drove the Church to define the Real Presence.

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