Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sasse, 1977. The Medieval Origin of the Eucharistic Dogma


Sasse sets out to analyze Luther’s view of the real presence of Christ in communion. He does this because of the Lutheran confession that both Gospel and Sacrament deliver forgiveness. To a greater or lesser extent Lutherans have attempted to recapture the vitality of communion. Sasse begins his analysis by drawing a picture of the Medieval background, then discussing Luther’s development of the doctrine and finally visiting the life of Lutherans since the 16th century.

The chapters in this book are often broken into substantial segments. In making blog posts I will favor smaller units.

Chapter 1, “The Medieval Background” pp. 10-61

Part 1 - The Medieval Origin of the Eucharistic Dogma (p. 10).

From the earliest days, Christians have celebrated the Eucharist. It did not become a matter of official dogma or contention for a very long time. On p. 10 in a footnote Sasse reminds us that doctrines are regularly reflected in practice within the liturgy before they are defined as dogmas. The dogmatic definitions arise when there are times of dispute. The first record of controversy appears in the 8th century, when it was implied (Nicaea II, 787, Sasse p. 11) that the elements in communion were not images or symbols, therefore were not potentially icons. This view of Real Presence was retained in the East, affirming that Jesus is bodily present. The view remained as well in the West without dogmatic statement until the 11th century, when Real Presence was firmly established.

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