n Koers : Bulletin for Christian Scholarship = Koers : Bulletin vir Christelike Wetenskap - Calvin's concept of and the Formulary of the GKSA on the Lord's Supper : research article




Calvin's concept of and the Formulary of the GKSA on the Lord's Supper

Dutch humanists provided Zwingli with a symbolic concept of the Lord's Supper by which the bread and wine symbolise the body and blood of Christ on Calvary. These symbolic concepts of body and blood should be commemorated (in memoriam) and believed to receive atonement from sin. The Formulary and formula for administering the sacrament in the GKSA were inherited from the Netherlands and contain phrases originally used by Calvin. It is widely claimed and assumed that the contents of the Formulary corresponds with concepts derived from Calvin. Calvin's commentaries on relevant passages and concepts expressed in his Institutes and Tracts differ radically and entirely from the trend and content of the Formulary and formula of administration used in the GKSA. Calvin does not isolate the death of Christ from resurrection. He does not dwell upon communion with something Christ did for us in the past. He accepts the sacrifice (blood) to ratify a covenant (new testament) by which the household of God is established. The bread and cup signify Christ, and are regarded as God's spiritual nourishment for his household. The living Christ in heaven is present in the Holy Spirit at the Lord's health-giving table. The symbols of bread and cup remain what they are but through faith change to represent Christ. Calvin's concept of communion and unity is irreconcilable with the concept of a sacramental meal of commemoration (Zwingli). The concept of communion corresponds with early Christian and even Roman and Lutheran traditions. Faith in atonement belongs to commencement of salvation (viz. baptism and the Formulary of the GKSA on the Lord's Supper). Being nourished with Christ through faith belongs to the consummation of salvation (viz. communion).


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