Martin Luther on Communion under Both Forms

Note: Throughout the month of October, leading up to the 500th anniversary of the legendary date of the outbreak of the Reformation on October 31, 1517, Pray Tell will publish writings of Martin Luther reflecting his beliefs on liturgy and sacraments at various points in his life.

From Luther’s Formula Missae (1523):

It remains to be considered whether both forms, as they call them, should be administered to the people. Here I say this: Now that the gospel has been instilled among us these two whole years, we have humored the weak in faith long enough. Hereafter we shall act according to the words of St. Paul, “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” [I Cor. 14:38]. For if after all this time they have not understood the gospel, it matters little whether they receive either form. If we continue to make allowance for their weakness, we only run the risk of confirming their obstinacy and of making rules contrary to the gospel. Wherefore, both forms may be requested and shall be offered in simple compliance with the institution of Christ. Those who refuse them will be left alone and receive nothing.

From “An Order of Mass and Communion For the Church at Wittenberg” 1523. LW 53: Liturgy and Hymns, J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, eds. Philadelphia, Fortress Press.
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2 comments

  1. “Now that the gospel has been instilled among us these two whole years, we have humored the weak in faith long enough.”

    So Luther thought that there was no gospel (in Germany) before 1521. He also seemed to have a high regard for the laos tou Theou. They weren’t jumping on his band wagon as quickly as he wanted?

    “Those who refuse them will be left alone and receive nothing.”

    Very pastoral.

  2. John,
    Luther said things at other points that show he didn’t believe that about before 1521. Many things he said were in contrast with or contradicted other things he said across the course of his life. He was given to exaggeration and hyperbole, and was a man of his time. I think you have to be aware of some of that before judging him from afar too easily.
    awr

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