Friday, July 18, 2008

Together at last


I wish I had a large, quality print of the above colloquy at Marburg between Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther. As a way of educating our members and visitors I have been placing portraits of various Reformation figures in the main hall of our church.

This practice began when a new member of our church donated a print of a modern rendering of John Calvin. I began having other prints framed, the famous picture of the Westminster Assembly was the second to be placed, right near the coffee table. Most recently I put up three portraits over the drinking fountains- Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Knox.

I find the placement of Luther and Zwingli side by side a bit of an irony. I am sure they are enjoying great fellowship in Glory, however while on earth they had a bitter dispute. Schaff puts it this way:

"A dispute between Zwingli and Luther (and his German contemporaries) curtailed any attempt at unifying the parties. The parties managed to agree on 15 points of essential reform doctrine. There was only one point of dispute between the camps. The dispute revolved around the understanding of the Lord’s Supper. The Swiss did not agree with Luther’s doctrine of consubstantiation; they viewed the act of honoring the Lord’s Supper as a more symbolic act, not a literal changing of the substance of the elements. Some sources say that Luther harshly disagreed with the Swiss and called a halt to further fellowship, amid Zwingli’s great disappointment and attempt to unify the two camps in spite of this one doctrinal difference."

Of course, neither were exactly right on the matter they debated, see Calvin for that! Here we are some 500 years later and Luther and Zwingli grace "Reformation Hall" of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Together at last!

3 comments:

Rick Calohan said...

Leaving church last Sunday I notice the prints, and I was correct as I pointed out to Dorothy, as we paused and looked from left to right there was Knox, Zwingli, and Luther. Perhaps it is my Scotch-Irish heritage, and being a Presbyterian I lean towards Knox, although he did not write as much as Calvin or Luther, he did transform a nation, and was instrumental in the English version of the Geneva Bible. He came to the Reform Faith while as a Catholic Priest by reading the Bible and Calvin’s Institutes. His Zeal that even when held a captive slave on a galley ship he threw overboard an image or statue of the Virgin Mary rather than kiss it. Courage he stood up to Mary, Queen of Scots. Four words sum up in John Knox: Knowledge, Faith, Zeal, and Courage. “O God, give me Scotland, or I die”—John Knox

Jim said...

[1] Calvin apparently signed the Augsburg Confession, agreeing with it as interpreted by Melanchthon.

[2] Surprisingly, it seems to me that Schaff gets the source of disagreement wrong. In the quotation you reproduced, he writes that the Swiss did not believe in "a literal changing of the substance of the elements."

And, of course, Lutherans don't as well. The significant distinction between the Roman view and the Lutheran view is that Rome holds that "the substance of the elements" changes. That's transubstantiation. Lutherans deny that the wine and the bread are changed at all. They continue in their entirety.

So Lutherans receive unexceptionally what Paul teaches in 1 Co 11.26, that in receiving the Supper, we truly eat "bread." The substance of the bread is unchanged.

The thing is, we do not affirm that we receive only bread in the eating. Christ's true body and blood is in, with, and under the substance of the bread and wine. So we receive his body and blood along with the bread and wine.

[3] Also sort of odd is Schaff's statement that the disagreement was over "the act of honoring the Lord’s Supper as a mere symbolic act."

I don't understand what he means by that. The disagreement wasn't at all over whether "honoring" the Lord Supper was symbolic or not. Rather, it was whether the elements of the Supper themselves are symbolic or not.

Frontier Forest said...

Speaking of heated debates! While Cheri and I were truly honored to be guests at a dear friend’s house in Angel Fire, it seems God had another providential meeting planned long before we arrived. Since Cheri and I were the only confessing believers in Christ, on two separate evenings, long into the very early hours of the morn, did we fervently debated the truths and claims of Christ as Lord and Savior! There was one agnostic, one searching Buddhist, and two devout New Ager’s. (Come to think of it, is there any such thing as a devout New Ager?”) As the debate grew from opinions to a very heated discussions, centered on inerrant Bible truths verses interpretations, and judgmental relativism, Ephesians 4:15 became my main thought! And believe me, as Cheri and I continued to defend TRUTH, Isaiah 55:11 also was part on my every captive thoughts. Thinking back, I can feel how the Lord has allowed me to “Grow in Him”! In times past, I would have been the one getting angry and saying quick and harsh words! Today, I am truly humbled knowing Christ was glorified and lifted up! Also, Thank the Lord, for quickening my mind the powerful teaching Pastor Tony gave on James 1:19-20. For truly, two long nights this verse was proven! “So then my beloved brethren, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath. For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Sadly, only one of the four really seemed opened to the Gospel. So on Monday I went to Mardel’s and bought the “searching Buddhist,” (who is also a very liberal journalist, like Strobel was) a copy of Lee Strobel’s “A Case for Christ,” a “Gospel of John” and another book on inductive study of the Book of John. I also included a letter that I pray will encourage her. My remarks to her were:
Dear XXXX,

I hope you receive these books and my thoughts in the love they are intended. When I heard you share that you had been searching, reading books about other religions, I immediately thought about a very special person. Lee Strobel is a man, in your own field of expertise, that I want to introduce to you. I have included his very first book that quickly became top 10 on NY Best Sellers list, “A Case for Christ”.

Also I have included the “Gospel of John.” Of all the books in the Bible, this one is the most easy to understand and gives the readers a particular focus on the life of Christ, His miracles, His simple teachings and how he made powerful witnesses out of His 12, ordinary men.
With an open mind I would only ask you to do this; Each time you pick up the Gospel of John, just ask God this simple question. “God, if Jesus is Your Son, and if You want me to come into a personal relationship with Him, then let Your Word speak to my heart and open my mind to Your understanding. Give me Your peace, show me what You want me to become.”

There were many seeds planted during these long hours. And I covet to pray for all those who did hear the truth, spoken in love.