Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The doctrine of the Lord's supper and the doctrine of the church

It can be confusing reading about the Lord's supper.

Confusing because we are taught by scripture that we eat the body of Christ, while at the same time the church is the body of Christ. How can both be true?

I think the easiest way to sort these statements out is to realize that we become the body of Christ because we eat the body of Christ.

Which brings us back to the question I've been pondering yesterday and today about Luther's explanation of the Supper.

If I put a rock under a cloth, the rock is hidden.

But if somehow the rock is in the cloth, with the cloth and under the cloth, then the rock is no longer hidden: it is invisible.

Describing the church as "invisible" is very popular in some Lutheran circles. In fact, there are folks who become angry when this is denied. Well, I'm one of those deniers. I think that describing the church as invisible -- something taught in neither the Bible nor the confessions -- is wrong, plain and simple. I'll deal with that more later, but let me suggest that maybe this less than precise way of explaining the Lord's supper has led us to the doctrine of an invisible church.

The Body of Christ is hidden from our eyes in the Supper, but it is not invisible. It's real, glorified, and not some ghost (cf. Luke 24.37-39).

1 comment:

Pastor David said...

I like the line of thought you have here, and the analogy with the rock and the cloth in comparison with the Body as the Church and the Body in the meal.

You reasoning here suggests the following to me - which makes me think that perhaps we are both getting at the same idea.

To borrow some of ML's language, perhaps we could say that in the mean we have the corpus absconditus, the hidden body under (or in with and under) the elements, while the Church is to become and be the corpus revelatus, the body as revealed to the world.