Blog 232: 4.18.8 - 4.18.13

Private Communion (or Masses): Calvin is against them. True, he is against the Mass "period"; but mutatis mutandis he is against private celebrations of the Lord's Supper for the same reason: the Supper is meant to define the communion of the body, not its separation and individuality. As for the Mass itself: Calvin is subject to the antics of historic revisionists as much as we are in our time. Citing detached, non-contextualized sentences from the church Fathers is a game anybody can play, but the Mass is (largely) an invention of the medieval period and cannot be supported entirely from antiquity. The Reformation (Calvin's argument, we recall, in his prefatory remarks to the French King) is not (as Roman Catholics asserted) something "new," but rather, ancient and historic.

Calvin is at his redemptive-historical best here: before Calvary, Christ was represented by way of a blood-shedding ritual on an altar; after Calvary, he is represented by a blood-less feast at a table. Some of the church Fathers applied an analogical interpretation to the word "sacrifice" in the New Testament, concluding what the gospel disallows - a denial of the once-for-all nature of the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.

Gospel, justification and grace are at issue in the re-sacrificing of Christ in the mass as commonly understand - which amounts to a damning indictment of the ritual.