Originally published in 1959, this text from prolific author and theologian Hermann Sasse examines Luther’s assertion of the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Communion. Sasse explores the origin of the Eucharistic Dogma in the Medieval period, Luther’s foundation for his doctrine in Scripture, contention with other reformers, the ensuing conflicts, and much more.
“Transubstantiation, according to Luther, is an unnecessary philosophical theory to explain the miracle of the Real Presence, which defies such explanation. It must be rejected because Paul speaks of the consecrated bread as being bread. But Luther never put this error on the same level as withholding the cup from the laity, or the sacrifice of the mass. While these errors destroy the sacrament, transubstantiation is only a wrong attempt to explain the miracle of the Real Presence.” (Page 103)
“There is one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one is saved. In this church Jesus Christ Himself is priest (sacerdos) and sacrifice, whose body and blood are truly contained in the Sacrament of the Altar under the species of bread and wine, the bread having been transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood by divine power …’” (Page 19)
“It should not be overlooked, however, that Luther neither here nor in any other passage uses the word ‘consubstantiation’ and that the Lutheran Church has never accepted it.” (Pages 101–102)
“The consecrated bread is the body, the consecrated wine is the blood of Christ. How that is possible, no man on earth can say. What we know is that Christ Himself gave this explanation by saying: ‘This is my body.… This is my blood of the New Covenant.’ On the basis of these words of Christ, Luther believes in the Real Presence without trying to build up a theory comparable to the theories of impanation, transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or whatever the subtle minds of philosophers and theologians may have devised in order to answer the question: How could the Real Presence be possible?” (Page 104)