Blog 225: 4.17.25 - 4.17.28

Calvin identifies in the polemics of transubstantiation a fatal hermeneutical flaw: interpret the text to fit the theory rather than allow the theory to be governed (in this case, abandoned) by the text. Add to this a suspicion about Scripture's perspicuity (the Westminster Confession a century later would insist: "all things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them" [WCF 1:7]) and you have a recipe for what Calvin calls a "monster" (4.17.25).

Central to Calvin's view of the Supper, and not always sufficiently appreciated, is an insistence that Christ's body is in heaven - and therefore talk of Calvin's doctrine of the "real presence of Christ in the Supper" (an expression he did not and would not have used) even by sympathizers of Calvin, miss the point. Transubstantiation, with its view of the ubiquity of flesh, is an absurdity.