Sunday, September 11, 2005

John Calvin and the Lord's Supper
Calvin had a high view of the Eucharist/Lord's Supper. I think most Calvinists today would be shocked by Calvin's views in that area. He did disagree with both transubstantiation (Roman Catholic view) and consubstantiation (Luther’s view- Note: I don't think our Lutheran brethren like this term but I don't know another way y put it.) but he was light years away from the views held by modern evangelical Protestants including many Reformed Christians.

Below are a few of Calvin’s many statements on whether we truly partake of Christ in the Supper. What I quote here is only PART of what he says, he does make important qualifications also. This is an interesting Subject that I hope more Reformed Christians will look into. Before I give the quotes let me recommend a book Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper by Keith Mathison. (BTW-- R.C. Sproul recommends this book and wrote the preface to it.)

These quotes are taken from another good book that I highly recommend: John Calvin’s Treatises On the Sacraments.
I distinctly affirm that those who receive the promise by faith, become truly partakers of Christ, and are fed by his flesh. Therefore, the eating of Christ is something else than the receiving of the promise, if indeed he admits that the cause differs from its effect.I deny not, indeed, that those who exclude the substance of vivifying flesh and blood from the communion defraud themselves of the use of the Supper. (265)

I am said to defame those who hold that the true flesh of Christ is distributed in the Supper: as if I did not uniformly declare, in distinct terms, that nourishment from the true flesh of Christ is set before us in the Supper. (267-268)

If any sincerely and distinctly teach that the flesh of Christ is set before us to be eaten by us, I, too, am of the number. (268)

But although the true body of Christ is eaten in the Supper, this is no ground for holding, as they do, that spiritual interpretation is excluded. This interpretation would define the mode, and show the two things to be perfectly reconcilable, viz., that the same body which was once offered as a victim is given to us, and yet is not eaten in a carnal manner. Certainly in the age of Augustine and Jerome no man doubted that the body of Christ was one. (439)

John Calvin's reputation is often far from the reality. Many of his followers would be horrified by his views on both baptism and the Eucharist. He did not agree with Rome on these two things, but he is light years removed from the Zwinglian like views of modern Evagelicals (even most Calvinists).

I am reading a lot of Calvin, and I am often surprised by what I find. I thought I would share some of those "found" items here. I hope none reading this will simply dismiss Calvin on these things. I encourage you to read Mathison's book. It was after reading Mathison that I HAD to get Calvin’s Treatises On the Sacraments.

Coram Deo,