Monday, December 7, 2009

Great pile of ceremonies

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 17 - The Lord's Supper; what it brings to us
38-46 - Miscellaneous points
41. Who is "worthy" to partake?
Rome says those in a state of grace, purged of all sin are worthy. This would leave everyone out. Or they say that examining ourselves to account for and confess all our sins makes us worthy [often the conservative Protestant view today!]. But this doesn't work "for consciences dismayed and defected and striken with the horror of their own sin."

42. Faith and love required, but not perfection
Rome deprives sinners of receiving benefit from the supper: assurance in conscience that we are God's. Worthiness is laying our sin before God and praying for His mercy to make us worthy. This is faith and love. We cannot expect perfect faith and love before partaking "for it is a sacrament ordained not for the perfect, but for the weak and feeble."

43. On the proper celebration of the Supper
It doesn't matter how the bread and wine are distributed, if the bread is leavened or unleavened, if the wine is red or white. Using unleavened bread is more of a novelty than helpful. The Supper should be administered "at least once a week." After prayers, a sermon, and the placing of elements on the table, the minister repeats the words of institution, recites the promises for us, fences the table from those unworthy, prays for the partaking to enrich us, and distributes. During this, "either psalms should be sung, or something be read." Afterward, an exhortation to faith, love and conduct, a prayer and song of thanks, and dismissal.

44. The Lord's Supper should be celebrated frequently
"that they might frequently return in memory to Christ's Passion." In the early church "it became the unvarying rule that no meeting of the church should take place without the Word, prayers, partaking of the Supper, and almsgiving."

45. Augustine bemoaned where the church was ONLY partaking once a week, instead of daily. Chrysostem said it was crazy to go to church but then not partake of the Supper: "I am unworthy, you say. Therefore, you were also not worthy of the communion of prayer..."

46. Partaking only once a year is an "invention of the devil." The guy who started this just wanted to get everyone to confess their faith all together and publicly once a year - a good idea. But now after they commune once they think "they have beautifully done their duty for the rest of the year, [and] go about unconcerned."

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