Friday, June 1, 2007

Contra Cascionum

On April 17, 2007, Rev. J. Cascione sent out the following notice through his Reclaim News list-serve:


"Also during the three days of death, although the natural union of body and soul had ceased, the personal union remained untouched, so that the body lying in the sepulcher was truly the body of the Son of God, and the soul, separated from the body, was the soul of the Son of God." Baier footnote, Pieper Vol. II page 100.

When Christ says, "Take, eat, this is my body given for you" He means the body that was crucified, dead, and buried, not the resurrected body. Paul also says about the Lord's Supper, "You do show the Lord's death until He comes." The Lord's Supper is not about the risen Christ, it is about the crucified Christ.

The Lord's Supper can't be a "New Testament" unless the Testator is dead.

We do not receive the whole Christ in the Lord's Supper; we receive His body and is blood. According to Baier, Christ's soul, is not present in the Lord's Supper. Therefore, the Lord's Supper can't possibly be the whole Christ. Also, the body is not the blood, and the blood is not the body or else the Cup following the bread is redundant.

This is, in a nutshell, the "Loeschmann heresy" to which I referred in my post on Koehler. Rev. Cascione has done a good deal to promote this teaching, but it is one Rev. A. Loeschmann of Texas who has made the loudest noise about it. I think the tag "Loeschmann heresy" was stuck on it by participants in an online discussion of which I am only dimly aware. I am also dimly aware that Rev. Loeschmann was going to defend his doctrine at a "Walther Conference" in St. Louis, which was canceled on short notice.

It has been a while since April 17, so it may seem odd that I am only issuing my response now. And it may also seem odd that I am responding without looking into the responses, if any, by other parties. But actually I drafted the following notes on or soon after April 17, and only just now came across them. So here is how I would respond to the "news" that Rev. Cascione reported about the Lord's Supper on April 17.


1. Cascione’s argument is based on a statement from Baier, quoted in footnote 92 in Pieper’s Dogmatics, Vol. II, p. 100.

  • Question: Is it significant that Cascione does not quote Luther?
  • Question: Is our theology of the 17th century dogmaticians or of Luther?

2. The "Christ In You" issue of GOOD NEWS Magazine quoted Luther saying we receive the whole Christ in Communion. Cascione libelously claimed GOOD NEWS “fabricated” this Luther quote, but there are many authentic quotes saying the same thing in the American Edition of Luther’s Works. [Again see my essay on Koehler.]

3. On the other hand, the Baier quote says nothing about the Lord’s Supper. I looked it up in Pieper. Baier is arguing that Jesus’ body belongs to the Son of God, even when it lay dead in the tomb. The issue is not the Sacrament, but the personal union of Christ’s divine and human natures.

4. Pieper does not use the Baier quote to prove anything about the Lord’s Supper. In the context of pp. 99-100, Pieper is refuting a false teaching about the union of the Christ’s divine and human natures. This false teaching says “the Son of God united the human nature with Himself by means of the soul”; i.e., Christ’s body is not directly united with His divine nature. Pieper, Baier, and Kronmayer (quoted in footnote 92) say this false teaching would mean Jesus’ death disrupted the personal union. Baier puts it in the clearest terms: even in the tomb, Christ’s body was the body of the Son of God. Death separated His body and soul, but it did not separate either body or soul from His divine nature.

5. This Baier quote actually supports the position that we receive Christ’s divine nature in the Sacrament. Even if we receive Jesus’ dead body and blood, but not His soul, we still receive the Son of God in the Lord’s Supper!

6. Since Baier insists the union of Christ’s body and His divine nature are not even dissolved by death, using Baier’s words to prove a separation in the Person of Christ is foreign to Baier’s thought.

7. Cascione says: “When Christ says, ‘Take eat, this is my body given for you’ He means the body that was crucified, dead, and buried, not the resurrected body.” This bold claim is not based on the Baier quote that goes before it. Where is the evidence to support this claim?

8. “This is my body given for you” does not imply “the dead body" as opposed to "the resurrected body.” To draw such an inference, without any relevant authority being cited, seems a novel interpretation of Christ’s Words, “This is my body.”

9. It is a serious thing to bind people’s conscience to a novel distinction for which there is no historical evidence or consensus. “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings” (Hebrews 13:9).

10. Cascione quotes Paul saying that in the Lord’s Supper, “You do show the Lord’s death until He comes.” This in no way supports Cascione's assertion that “This is my body” implies only the dead body in the tomb. To present Paul's words as evidence of Cascione’s interpretation of “This is my body” requires a wild leap from “proclaiming Jesus’ death” to eating only His dead body.

11. Cascione says: “The Lord’s Supper is not about the risen Christ, it is about the crucified Christ.” This repeats the same unfounded claim he made about the words “This is my body.” If Cascione intends this to be a conclusion based on the two preceding premises, he is begging the question (that is, one of his premises is identical with his conclusion). Perhaps, however, he is merely seeking to persuade by force of repetition.

12. Cascione says: “The Lord’s Supper can’t be a ‘New Testament’ unless the Testator is dead." This is another bold and unproven claim. It is one thing to say “unless the Testator has died” and another to say “unless He is dead.”

13. In Romans 6, Paul argues that by Baptism, we have been buried in Christ’s death and resurrected with Him; so having died, we are set free from legal obligations (like being a slave of sin) that remain in force until death. So if “having died” sets us free, even though we are alive again, then why must the Testator remain dead for His Testament to be valid? Would His resurrection then make it invalid?

14. This conjures a strange world-view in which Christ’s body remains eternally dead and entombed, in some kind of time warp, and so Communion applies to that body in preference to the body that was raised.

  • Question: How many Christs are there now? Is He dead, alive, or both?
  • Question: Which Christ was speaking when He said “This is My body”—a living Christ or a dead Christ?
  • Question: If “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), can we receive one Christ (or at least, His dead body) when another Christ lives?

15. This also invalidates the teaching of Luther’s Great Confession, as quoted in the Formula of Concord, Article VII. Luther and the FC argue that our teaching on the Sacrament is grounded on (a) the indivisible union of the two natures in Christ, (b) the ascension and glorification of Christ’s human nature; (c) God’s infallible Word; (d) the modes of presence that are known to God, including Christ’s exalted human nature. If the Lord’s Supper contains only the dead body and blood of Jesus, how can Luther and the Formula make His glorified (raised, ascended) state of Christ’s human nature a “ground” of our teaching on the Supper?

16. If the strength of the Lutheran teaching on the Supper is that it refuses to divide the Person of Christ (vs. the Sacramentarians, who say only Christ’s Divine Nature comes to us in the Supper), what can we say of Cascione’s teaching, in which only a part of Christ’s human nature comes to us in the Supper?

17. Cascione says: “We do not receive the whole Christ in the Lord’s Supper; we receive His body and blood.” This is another wild leap, from “This is my body . . . my blood” to “We do not receive the whole Christ.”

18. Can Christ’s Person be divided or not? Luther and the Formula say No, and stress this specifically in their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. Cascione’s teaching that “we do not receive the whole Christ,” but only “His body and blood,” essentially says Yes.

19. Cascione says: “According to Baier, Christ’s soul is not present in the Lord’s Supper.” Another wild leap! We have already established that Baier says nothing about the Lord’s Supper. Who is fabricating evidence now?

20. Cascione may not intend for this to be a leap, but the case he has so far built does not bridge the gap between “the absence of Christ’s soul in the tomb” to “the absence of Christ’s soul in the Supper.” Cascione assumes the body and blood in the Supper are specifically and solely the dead body and blood that lay in the tomb; nowhere has he shown evidence for this interpretation.

21. Even supposing (for the sake of argument) that the Sacrament contains only Jesus’ body, but not his soul, the context of the Pieper-Baier citation indicates that we receive the Son of God with His body and blood. Again, is Christ now divided?

22. Cascione says: “Therefore, the Lord’s Supper cannot possibly be the whole Christ.” Keep re-reading the Formula of Concord, Article VII, until this penetrates your skull: It was the Sacramentarians who based their teaching about the Supper on what might not be possible for God. Lutheranism, instead, “grounds” its teaching about the Supper on the variety of ways the glorified and indivisible Person of Christ can be present.

23. Cascione’s “therefore” seems to mean that what he has said up to this point is evidence leading to a firm conclusion. However, as we have seen, his case is full of unsupported leaps and quotes that are irrelevant or even (in the case of Baier) damaging to his position when read in their context.

24. Much of Cascione’s “argument” consists of stating practically the same thing over and over. If this “conclusion” is practically identical to one or more of the premises, then Cascione is either arguing in a circle or begging the question. “If A, then A” may be a valid argument, but it does nothing to prove the truth of proposition A. Perhaps Cascione is simply operating on the belief that if you repeat something often enough, it becomes true.

26. Cascione concludes: “Also, the body is not the blood, and the blood is not the body or else the Cup following the bread is redundant.” This reveals a "straw man" Cascione seems to be attacking. He is apparently concerned that saying the Supper contains the whole Christ implies that the bread involves all of Christ (including His blood), so one need not receive the Cup. Actually, the Roman Catholic argument on this was that the body contains blood, so you can get the whole Sacrament in one kind. [EDIT: David Scaer points out where this Catholic argument falls down: a sacrifice was complete when the blood had been removed from the body.]

27. Cascione seems to suggest that the teaching “We receive the whole Christ in the Sacrament” necessarily, or even most likely, leads to this Roman Catholic abuse. If that is his root concern, then this is the point that needs to be discussed and settled in a brotherly manner, before anyone starts circulating a new dogma.

UPDATE: I previously posted a hymn on this topic. If you find the above polemic too dry and negative, I think you may find the hymn approaches the same subject from a more positive, devotional point of view.

No comments: