The following text You will find in:

"LOGIA - A Journal of Lutheran Theology"

(Volume V, Number 4, p. 54-56.)


Jürgen Diestelmann, ACTIO SACRAMENTALIS, Die Verwaltung des Heiligen Abendmahles nach den Prinzipien Martin Luthers in der Zeit bis zur Konkordienformel.

Mit einem Quellenanhang und mehreren Registern Verlag der Luth. Buchhandlung Harms, Groß Oesingen, 436 Seiten. - DM 65,- ISBN 3-86147-003-9.
Preliminary Remarks: Since 1954 I have been engaged in studying the doctrine of consecration of the Lord's Supper by Luther (See note 1) and the Lutheran Theology in the sixteenth century. At this opportunity I was able to collect quite a lot of archive materal, hitherto hardly known. During my increasing activity as anactive pastor I was unable to utilize the material. However when becoming a pensioner I could continue and finish this substantial work just in time for the "Luther-Jahr 1996," when the book ActioSacramentalis was issued. (See note 2)
1. "Sic ergo definiemus tempus vel actionem sacramentalem, ut incipiat ab initio orationis dominicae, et duret donec omnes communicaverint, calicem ebiberint, particulas comederint, populus dimissus et ab altari discessum sit" (See Note 3) With these words Luther gave in 1543 - in a letter addressed to the Eislebian Pastor Simon Wolferinus (See Note 4) -a definition of the actio sacramentalis, the action that Christ instituted "in the night he was betrayed" (1 Cor 11:23) as the Lord's Supper.
2. There is a definition of the actio sacramentalis in the Formula of Concord too: "und heißet allhie usus oder actio, das ist Gebrauch oder Handlung, fürnehmblich nicht den Glauben, auch nicht allein die mündliche Nießung, sondern die ganze äußerliche, sichtbare, von Christo geordnete Handlung des Abendmahls, die Consecration oder Wort der Einsetzung, die Austeilung und Empfahung oder mündliche Nießung des gesegneten Brots und Weins, Leibs und Bluts Christi" (See Note 5)
3. Both definitions refer to the formula "Nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum a Christo institutum" bzw. "extra actionem divinitus institutam" (See Note 6) In the Formula of Concord it is marked as a"useful rule and guide" (nützliche Regel und Richtschnur). Therefore it is constituted as an important norm for the doctrine of the Lord's Supper.
4. Bjarne W Teigen in 1991 has examined the importance of this so-called "Nihil Rule," (See Mote 7) which is particularly mentioned in the Formula of Concord (SD VII, 73), because misunderstandings anddissensions had arisen among some teachers of the Augsburg Confession ("Meinungsverschiedenheiten zwischen einigen Lehrern des Augsburgischen Bekenntnisses") (See Note 8) on this common rule. In his essay he emphasizes: "It is the thesis of this paper that one can determine quite precisely what the Fathers of the Formula meant in SD VII, 73-90" Also E. F Peters (See Note 9) had been engaged inexplaining this rule and added various references in a dissertation.
5. There was a space of three decades between the definitions under 1 und 2 mentioned, in which various dissensions of the above-mentioned sort were going on. The best-known is the so-called Saligersche Streit expressly demonstrated by Wiggers (See Note 10) 150 years ago. In recent years the dispute was particularly demonstrated by Jobst Schöne (See Note 11) in the light of recently discovered printed items. Most of the researchers used mainly these two representations. Only Tom G. A. Hardt (See Note 12) used more sources than Wiggers and Schöne. I myself was able to present in Actio Sacra-mentalis some more handwritten sources too, partly from the possession of Flacius und Wigand. In this way some errors and misjudgements about the Saligersche Streit could be corrected.
6. Further diversities of opinion are for example the case of Tileman Crage, Superintendent in the town of Hildesheim 1553-1557. He lost this office, having a dispute with the rest of the pastors and the Town Council about the Sacrament of the Altar and other matters. Immediately before the Saligersche Streit the so-called Danziger Streit took place. All these quarrels were concentrated in confusions regarding the importance of the consecration within the actio sacramentalis and its consequences, arising from the different opinions on the "Nihil Rule".
7. The main root and crucial point in all these diversities had shown in 1543 already when Simon Wolferinus, pastor of St. Andreas at Eisleben, took side with Melanchthon's theses, which had been strictly repudiated by Luther in two letters. Melanchthon had interpreted the "Nihil Rule" in another way: Luther wanted it to be referred to customs only "relative ad extra," for example, when the sacrament would be kept longer than the actio sacramentalis for use in processions. Melanchthon, however, used this rule in order to define limitations within the Real presence, even within the actio sacramentalis.
8. It became obvious that Melanchthon could not even speak of a consecration of the bread and wine by the sacrament-administering pastor, as he was of the opinion that the order of consecration lies in the words "take bread and eat ... and drink ..." On the other side, Luther saw the order of institution in the action,which is described by the words "Do this ..." And even towards Karlstadt (and later on) Luther had stressed the creativity of the words of Christ spoken by the consecrating pastor. For Luther it was beyond any doubt: The bread consecrated is Christ's body, while for Melanchthon only the words spoken during the establishment by Jesus promised that his body and blood were received. Luther used the "Nihil Rule" as description of the action established and ordered by the Lord. Within this actio the Verba Testamenti, spoken by the pastor, create the Real Presence, ending with the sumptio by the communicants. Melanchthon, on the other side, takes the Nihil Rule as a description of duration of the Real presence, so that for him it ends with the end of the actio sacramentalis.
9. From this divergence of opinions, consequences arise in adminstrating the Sacrament. For example, Luther demands (a) that only as much bread and wine should be consecrated as will be required within the acto sacramentalis, and (b) nothing should remain beyond it, as in this case there might arise endless, indissoluble discussions about the end of the Real presence. For Melanchthon, however, the sumptio of the reliqua Sacramenti is rather a question of piety. Further consequences followed, regarding the valuation of the doctrine of transsubstantiation, the possibility of the adoration of the Sacrament etc.
10. Luther rejected the conceptions of Wolferinus (and therefore of Melanchthon too) as Zwinglianismus. Also he called the young chaplain Adam Besserer a Zwinglianer for he had roused public diasapproval through a careless administration of the sacrament. Besserer had to undergo disciplinary proceedings, and in the same manner others who did so too. This shows that the administration of the sacrament according to Luther's doctrine was a matter of fact in the churches of the Wittenberg Reformation.
11. On the other side, Melanchthon's authority as Präceptor Germaniae after Luther's death, his being considered as trustee of he Wittenberg reformation, and his conception of the "Nihil-Rule" were spreading. Johann Hachenburg, pastor at St. Michael in Erfurt, as a genuine Lutheran demonstrated in his two books this development and complained of it strenuously. Melanchthon called him Esel zu Erfurt (donkey at Erfurt)-and also he called Joachim Mörlin and other opponents to the "Zwinglianism" Zänker und Friedenstörer (quarrelers and peace-disturbers).
12. The Saligersche Streit comprises three periods:
a. the Lübecker Dispute of 1568 on the question of Nachkonsekration (reconsecration),
b. the Rostocker Dispute of 1569, leading to Saliger's dismissal by the so-called Abschied by the Mecklenburg Dukes, and
c. the Lübecker Dispute of 1574, fought by the town surgeon Lambert Fredeland, not by Saliger himself. The result was that the pastors of Lübeck and Rostock tended to Melanchthon's opinion of the actio sacramentalis as the whole Abschied. Saliger upheld Luther's consecration doctrine, despite some exaggerations, so his dismissal was an injustice.
13. The Braunschweig town-superintendent Martin Chemnitz, being just at that time engaged in establishing the Formula of Concord, managed to reconcile the pastors of Lübeck and Lambert Fredeland and to acknowledge Luther's doctrine of the Consecration in the so-called Reconciliatio of 1574. He even added one part of the Abschied of the Mecklenburg Dukes into the Formula of Concord, but adjusted with his improvements into Luther's opinion of the consecration. So Luther's doctrine ofthe consecration is saved obligatorily in this Formula.


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