Tag Archives: communion

Crisis at Marburg

The Reformation gave the church a renewed confidence in the authority of the Scriptures. However, the Reformation also shows us that the interpretation of God’s Word requires diligent study, a hunger for truth, a love for our fellow believers, and humility. Here is why…

Veracity

"This is my Body... This is my Blood." Matthew 26:26-27. Literal or symbolic interpretation? “This is my Body… This is my Blood.” Matthew 26:26-28. Literal or symbolic interpretation?

Zwingli, with tears in his eyes, extended the hand of fellowship, but Martin Luther steadfastly refused: “Yours is a different spirit from ours“. Luther walked out.  The split was final. The unity of the Protestant Reformation movement was in tatters.

Marburg, Germany. 1529. Martin Luther’s attempt to reform the Roman Catholic church and restore confidence in the Bible “alone” was in full swing. Years earlier, he had nailed his famous 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door, protesting abuses within the church. Four hundred miles away, in Zurich, Switzerland, a young renegade priest, Huldrich Zwingli, was beginning to do the same thing Luther had started in Germany. Both Luther and Zwingli felt that the Church of Rome had lost its way. Christianity needed to return to the Holy Scriptures as the pure…

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The “Breaking of the Bread” … or Whatever You Call It

“This is my Body… This is my Blood.”

One Sunday of every month, and after the sermon, two ministers from my church, stand in front of a decorative wooden table, and instruct the congregation to receive the elements, in remembrance of Christ’s death upon the cross. But what to call this ceremony remains a subject of some debate.

At the first Pentecost, following the Resurrection, that signaled the birth of the church, we read that:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”(Acts 2:32 ESV)

Many Christians still speak of “the breaking of (the) bread” to express what goes on at that table, though by association, it also includes the partaking of wine, or grape juice, as is done in my church.1 A long standing debate in the church at large, over what this means, invites rigorous discussion among believers. Does the bread and wine/juice merely symbolize the presence of Christ, as a memorial, or do they somehow point to a real, even physical(??), presence of the Lord Jesus, at that very moment?

We have explored some of the details of this controversy some time ago on Veracity. But for the moment, I have a simpler question: What do we call the whole thing, with the bread and the wine or juice, to begin with?

One of most original terms was the Greek “eucharist,” meaning “thanksgiving.” The terminology of “eucharist” goes back to the late 1st century, or early 2nd century worship manual of the early church, the Didache, to reference this most sacred meal. The term has biblical precedence behind it:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”(1 Corinthians 11:23-24 ESV)

Nevertheless, a number of terms have arisen since then to describe the sacred meal, not just “eucharist.” So, what is the best terminology? Eucharist? The Divine Liturgy? The Blessed Sacrament? The Mass? What else? Continue reading


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