09 June, 2009

What did Zwingli, Calvin and Luther teach on the Eucharist

There can be no doubt from history, Scripture and the writings of the fathers that the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was a universal belief from the earliest Church. From the beginning the Eucharist was the focus of all Christian worship where the corporeal Christ is present according to His words, ”this is my body, this is my blood”.

Even though many attribute Luther as the first Reformer, Luther was actually teaching a very similar theology to Jan Huss who preceded Luther by a century although Luther claimed not to know of the teaching of Huss. But even among his contemporaries Ulrich Zwingli was teaching reform in Zurich in 1522. His doctrine was the most radical of any of the Reformers when He forbade the corporeal Christ from worship as he showed to have no reverence for the orthodoxy of the Church and based his disbelief on his doubts that God could perform such a miracle and doubted the need to be present at the cross as Christ commanded at the Last Supper in celebrating the sacrifice of the Mass. He totally rejected the ancient liturgy of the Church out of his desire to align with the secular authorities of the princes rather than the authority of the Church. Having priests ordained in apostolic succession being necessary for the Sacraments and especially the Eucharist would make it impossible to separate completely from the Church so it was necessary to deny Christ’s presence and reject the liturgy of the mass that allowed the corporeal Christ to be present in worship. Jean Calvin about this same time labored to form a Salvationist doctrine that eliminated the need for the orthodoxy of the Church creating a coherent alternative to Luther’s form of state Catholicism and changing the Gospel, faith and practice of the orthodoxy of Catholicism. Essentially, Zwingli and Calvin accomplished a syncretic blend of Secular Humanism and Christianity creating a church devoid of even some of the essentials of faith and practice taught by Christ and the apostles. It was a departure from orthodoxy towards a religion where God serves man rather than man serving God, and reducing Christ to just a man who did not perform His miracle of the Eucharist and is really not present with His Church as He promised. His flesh does not profit us with eternal life as Jesus taught in John 6 but it is our carnal beliefs that we can trust instead of the faith we receive from His Spirit. These Reformed teachings are the doctrines of men and oppose the teaching of Christ, the apostles and the Church.

This having been said, I do not deny that Protestants have some truth. Certainly Christ is present in protestant worship in a Spiritual sense but He taught that we are to receive Him in His corporeal sense as well. He went further to teach us that it is necessary for us to participate in the Mass and actually receive His Body and Blood to have eternal life. Think about the teaching of St. Paul where he said that we must discern the Body of our Lord before receiving His body and Blood. If it is not real, how can we discern something that only is symbolic or a representation of His Body? If it is not real, does not the penalty of death or of sickness become severe and senseless? It is my opinion, based on Scripture alone, that recognizing the real corporeal presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the mark of the true Church and that it is His Body and Blood that bestows upon us the grace to endure to final salvation to eternal life.

In Christ,
Fr. Joseph

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