Littlejohn on Vermigli on the Eucharist

Brad Littlejohn, the leading proponent of Richard Hooker today, gave a good paper defending the Protestant view of the Eucharist.  I highlight the key points here.

Click to access Hillsdale-sacraments-paper-2.2.pdf

Key argument 1:  We are so accustomed to hearing that the Reformation debate was over whether or not Christ’s body and blood were present in the Eucharist that we really need to pause to wrap our heads around this: the central debate, the issue for which many were to pay with their lives, was whether bread and wine were present in the Eucharist.

1.1.  If the Eucharist is parallel with the Incarnation, then the bread and wine need to be really present, otherwise we have docetism.

1.2.1. If Christ’s present, per transubstantiation, replaces the bread and wine, then the modern advocates of “Incarnationalism” are actually guilty of the very thing they accuse Reformed when they say we don’t have an “enchanted” view of creation.

2. How can a body, Christ’s, which is a quantum, be present yet not by way of quantity?  If they say he is present by quantity, then given multiple masses, he has multiple bodies.

3. The mode of Christ’s presence is the Holy Spirit. Christ is really present.




One thought on “Littlejohn on Vermigli on the Eucharist

  1. Good paper. In general, this is a pretty good take-down of attacks on Reformed theology, but Littlejohn tips his hand a bit in this statement (the statement that actually raises the whole host of problems):

    “Since Christ is not presented to us in material form, we must receive him not with the organ of the mouth but with the organ of faith, which is able to discern his presence mystically offered to us, and as our spirit receives his Spirit, we experience the union of our souls and bodies with His. ”

    Why this juxtaposition? I think it’s on this point that Luther fumed against the Reformed and insisted upon the ‘manducatio impiorum’. Eating with the mouth is eating with faith: faith is not a faculty that can be juxtaposed. Sure, the soul is the recipient of divine grace, but so is the body. Irenaeus’ remarks on the eucharist reflect this far better: the grace of the eucharist marks the body with grace, the promise of resurrection.

    The divine-social rite of the Eucharist is objectively occurring, like a wedding, whether someone bumbled in and didn’t know where he was. Luther was wrong in his theology, but he did understand something disturbing about how some Reformed carried on this debate.

    Liked by 1 person

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