His predestinarian friends brought out the difference in God’s relation to the good and the evil more clearly. Thus Ratramnus says that God was the author (auctor) as well as the ruler (ordinator) of good thoughts and deeds, but only the ruler, not the author, of the bad. He foreordained the punishment of sin, not sin itself (poenam, not peccatum). He directs the course of sin, and overrules it for good. He used the evil counsel of Judas as a means to bring about the crucifixion and through it the redemption. Lupus says that God foreknew and permitted Adam’s fall, and foreordained its consequences, but not the fall itself. Magister Florus also speaks of a praedestinatio gemina, yet with the emphatic distinction, that God predestinated the elect both to good works and to salvation, but the reprobate only to punishment, not to sin. He was at first ill-informed of the teaching of Gottschalk, as if he had denied the meritum damnationis. Remigius censured the "temerity" and "untimely loquacity" of Gottschalk, but defended him against the inhuman treatment, and approved of all his propositions except the unqualified denial of freedom to do good after the fall, unless he meant by it that no one could use his freedom without the grace of God. He subjected the four chapters of Hincmar to a severe criticism. On the question whether God will have all men to be saved without or with restriction, and whether Christ died for all men or only for the elect, he himself held the particularistic view, but was willing to allow freedom of opinion, since the church had not decided that question, and the Bible admitted of different interpretations. 685
The Synod of Valence, which met at the request of the Emperor Lothaire in 855, endorsed, in opposition to Hincmar and the four chapters of the Synod of Chiersy, the main positions of the Augustinian system as understood by Remigius, who presided.6 It affirms a two-fold predestination ("praedestinationem electorum ad vitam et praedestinationem impiorum ad mortem"), but with such qualifications and distinctions as seemed to be necessary to save the holiness of God and the moral responsibility of man. The Synod of Langres in the province of Lyons, convened by Charles the Bald in 859, repeated the doctrinal canons of Valence, but omitted the censure of the four chapters of Chiersy, which Charles the Bald had subscribed, and thus prepared the way for a compromise.
We may briefly state the system of the Augustinian school in the following propositions:
(1) All men are sinners, and justly condemned in consequence of Adam’s fall.
(2) Man in the natural state has no freedom of choice, but is a slave of sin. (This, however, was qualified by Remigius and the Synod of Valence in the direction of Semi-Pelagianism.)
(3) God out of free grace elected from eternity and unalterably a part of mankind to holiness and salvation, and is the author of all their good deeds; while he leaves the rest in his inscrutable counsel to their merited damnation.
(4) God has unalterably predestinated the impenitent and persistent sinner to everlasting punishment, but not to sin, which is the guilt of man and condemned by God.
(5) Christ died only for the elect.
Gottschalk is also charged by his opponents with slighting the church and the sacraments, and confining the effect of baptism and the eucharist to the elect. This would be consistent with his theory. He is said to have agreed with his friend Ratramnus in rejecting the doctrine of transubstantiation. Augustin certainly did not teach transubstantiation, but he checked the logical tendency of Predestinarianism by the Catholic doctrine of baptismal regeneration, and of the visible historical church as the mediatrix of salvation. 687
II. The doctrine of a Conditional and Single Predestination.
Rabanus and Hincmar, who agreed in theology as well as in unchristian conduct towards Gottschalk, claimed to be Augustinians, but were at heart Semi-Pelagians, and struck a middle course, retaining the Augustinian premises, but avoiding the logical consequences. Foreknowledge (praescientia) is a necessary attribute of the omniscient mind of God, and differs from foreordination or predestination (praedestinatio), which is an attribute of his omnipotent will. The former may exist without the latter, but not the latter without the former. Foreknowledge is absolute, and embraces all things and all men, good and bad; foreordination is conditioned by foreknowledge, and refers only to what is good. God foreknew sin from eternity, but did not predestinate it; and so he foreknew the sinners, but did not predestinate them to sin or death; they are simply praesciti, not praedestinati. There is therefore no double predestination, but only one predestination which coincides with election to eternal life. The fall of Adam with its consequences falls under the idea of divine permission. God sincerely intends to save all men without distinction, and Christ shed his blood for all; if any are lost, they have to blame themselves.
Hincmar secured the confirmation of his views by the Synod of Chiersy, held in presence of the Emperor, Charles the Bald, 853, It adopted four propositions:8
(1) God Almighty made man free from sin, endowed him with reason and the liberty of choice, and placed him in Paradise. Man, by the abuse of this liberty, sinned, and the whole race became a mass of perdition. Out of this massa perditionis God elected those whom he by grace predestinated unto life eternal; others he left by a just judgment in the mass of perdition, foreknowing that they would perish, but not foreordaining them to perdition, though he foreordained eternal punishment for them.9 This is Augustinian, but weakened in the last clause.
(2) We lost the freedom of will through the fall of the first man, and regained it again through Christ. This chapter, however, is so vaguely worded that it may be understood in a Semi-Pelagian as well as in an Augustinian sense. 690
(3) God Almighty would have all men without exception to be saved, although not all are actually saved. Salvation is a free gift of grace; perdition is the desert of those who persist in sin.
(4) Jesus Christ died for all men past, present and future, though not all are redeemed by the mystery of his passion, owing to their unbelief.
The last two propositions are not Augustinian, but catholic, and are the connecting link between the catholic orthodoxy and the Semi-Pelagian heresy.
Hincmar defended these propositions against the objections of Remigius and the Synod of Valence, in two books on Predestination and Free Will (between 856 and 863). The first is lost, the second is preserved. It is very prolix and repetitious, and marks no real progress. He made several historical blunders, and quoted freely from the pseudo-Augustinian Hypomnesticon, which he thought presented Augustin’s later and better views.
The two parties came to a sort of agreement at the National Synod of France held at Toucy, near Toul, in October, 860, in presence of the Emperor, Charles the Bald, King Lothaire II., and Charles of Provence, and the bishops of fourteen ecclesiastical provinces.1 Hincmar was the leading man, and composed the synodical letter. He still maintained his four propositions, but cleared himself of the suspicion of Semi-Pelagianism. The first part of the synodical letter, addressed to all the faithful, gives a summary of Christian doctrine, and asserts that nothing can happen in heaven and earth without the will or permission of God; that he would have all men to be saved and none lost; that he did not deprive man after the fall of free will, but heals and supports it by grace; that Christ died on the cross for all men; that in the end all the predestinated who are now scattered in the massa perditionis, will be gathered into the fulness of the eternal church in heaven.
Here ended the controversy. It was a defeat of predestinarianism in its rigorous form and a substantial victory of Semi-Augustinianism, which is almost identical with Semi-Pelagianism except that it gives greater prominence to divine grace.
Practically, even this difference disappeared. The mediaeval church needed the doctrine of free will and of universal call, as a basis for maintaining the moral responsibility, the guilt and merit of man, and as a support to the sacerdotal and sacramental mediation of salvation; while the strict predestinarian system, which unalterably determines the eternal fate of every soul by a pre-temporal or ante-mundane decree, seemed in its logical consequences to neutralize the appeal to the conscience of the sinner, to cut off the powerful inducement of merit and reward, to limit the efficacy of the sacraments to the elect, and to weaken the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
But while churchly and sacerdotal Semi-Augustinianism or covert Semi-Pelagianism triumphed in France, where Hincmar had the last word in the controversy, it was not oecumenically sanctioned. Pope Nicolas, who was dissatisfied with Hincmar on hierarchical grounds, had some sympathy with Gottschalk, and is reported to have approved the Augustinian canons of the Synods of Valence and Langres in regard to a "two-fold predestination" and the limitation of the atonement. 692
Thus the door was left open within the Catholic church itself for a revival of strict Augustinianism, and this took place on a grand scale in the sixteenth century.
The Gottschalk controversy was first made the subject of historical investigation and critical discussion in the seventeenth century, but was disturbed by the doctrinal antagonism between Jansenists (Jansen, Mauguin) and Jesuits (Sirmond, Cellot). The Calvinistic historians (Ussher, Hottinger) sided with Gottschalk and the Jansenists. The controversy has been more calmly and impartially considered by the Protestant historians of the nineteenth century, but with a slight difference as to the limits and the result of the controversy; some representing it merely as a conflict between a stricter and a milder type of Augustinianism (Neander, Kurtz), others as a conflict between Augustinianism and a revived and triumphant Semi-Pelagianism (Baur, Weizsäcker). The former view is more correct. Semi-Pelagianism was condemned by the Synod of Orange (Arausio), 529; again by the Synod of Valence in the same year, and by Pope Boniface II., 530, and has ever since figured in the Roman catalogue of heresies. The Catholic Church cannot sanction what she has once condemned.
Both parties in the contest of the ninth century (leaving the isolated Scotus Erigena out of view) appealed to Augustin as the highest patristic authority in the Latin church. Both agreed in the Augustinian anthropology and soteriology, i.e. in the doctrine of a universal fall in Adam, and a partial redemption through Christ; both maintained that some men are saved by free grace, that others are lost by their own guilt; and both confined the possibility of salvation to the present life and to the limits of the visible church (which leads logically to the horrible and incredible conclusion that the overwhelming majority of the human race, including all unbaptized infants, are eternally lost). But the Augustinian party went back to absolute predestination, as the ultima ratio of God’s difference of dealing with the saved and the lost, or the elect and the reprobate; while the Semi-Augustinian party sought the difference rather in the merits or demerits of men, and maintained along-side with a conditional predestination the universal benevolence of God and the universal offer of saving grace (which, however, is merely assumed, and not at all apparent in this present life). The Augustinian scheme is more theological and logical, the Semi-Augustinian more churchly and practical. Absolute predestinarianism starts from the almighty power of God, but is checked by the moral sense and kept within the limits of infralapsarianism, which exempts the holy God from any agency in the fall of the race, and fastens the guilt of sin upon man. Relative predestinarianism emphasizes the responsibility and salvability of all men, but recognizes also their perfect dependence upon divine grace for actual salvation. The solution of the problem must be found in the central idea of the holy love of God, which is the key-note of all his attributes and works.
The practical difference between the catholic Semi-Augustinianism and the heterodox Semi-Pelagianism is, as already remarked, very small. They are twin-sisters; they virtually ignore predestination, and lay the main stress on the efficacy of the sacramental system of the historical church, as the necessary agency for regeneration and salvation.
The Lutheran system, as developed in the Formula of Concord, is the evangelical counterpart of the Catholic Semi-Augustinianism. It retains also its sacramental feature (baptismal regeneration and the eucharistic presence), but cuts the root of human merit by the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
Calvinism is a revival of Augustinianism, but without its sacramental and sacerdotal checks.
Arminianism, as developed in the Reformed church of Holland and among the Wesleyan Methodists, and held extensively in the Church of England, is an evangelical counterpart of Semi-Pelagianism, and differs from Lutheranism by teaching a conditional election and freedom of the will sufficient to accept as well as to reject the universal offer of saving grace.
§ 123. The Doctrine of Scotus Erigena.
A complete ed. of the works of Scotus Erigena by H. J. Floss, 1853, in Migne’s "P. L.," Tom. 122. The book De Praedestinatione in col. 355–440. Comp. the monographs on S. E. by Hjort (1823), Staudenmaier (1834), Taillandier (1843), Christlieb (1860, and his art. in Herzog2 XIII. 788 sqq.), Hermens (1861), Huber (1861); the respective sections in Schröckh, Neander, Baur (on the Trinity), Dorner (on Christology); and in the Histories of Philosophy by Ritter, Erdmann, and Ueberweg. Also Reuter: Gesch. der relig. Aufklärung im Mittelalter (1875), I. 51–64 (a discussion of Erigena’s views on the relation of authority and reason).
At the request of Hincmar, who was very anxious to secure learned aid, but mistook his man, John Scotus Erigena wrote a book on Predestination (in 850), and dedicated it to Hincmar and his friend Pardulus, Bishop of Laon. This most remarkable of Scotch-Irishmen was a profound scholar and philosopher, but so far ahead of his age as to be a wonder and an enigma. He shone and disappeared like a brilliant meteor. We do not know whether he was murdered by his pupils in Malmsbury (if he ever was called to England), or died a natural death in France (which is more likely). He escaped the usual fate of heretics by the transcendental character of his speculations and by the protection of Charles the Bald, with whom he was on such familiar terms that he could answer his saucy question at the dinner-table: "What is the difference between a Scot and a sot?" with the quick-witted reply: "The table, your Majesty." His system of thought was an anachronism, and too remote from the spirit of his times to be properly understood and appreciated. He was a Christian Neo-Platonist, a forerunner of Scholasticism and Mysticism and in some respects of Spinoza, Schleiermacher, and Hegel. With him church authority resolves itself into reason, theology into philosophy, and true philosophy is identical with true religion. Philosophy is, so to say, religion unveiled and raised from the cloudy region of popular belief to the clear ether of pure thought.3
From this alpine region of speculation he viewed the problem of predestination and free will. He paid due attention to the Scriptures and the fathers. He often quotes St. Augustin, and calls him, notwithstanding his dissent, "the most acute inquirer and asserter of truth."4 But where church authority contradicts reason, its language must be understood figuratively, and, if necessary, in the opposite sense. 695 He charges Gottschalk with the heresy of denying both divine grace and human freedom, since he derived alike the crimes which lead to damnation, and the virtues which lead to eternal life, from a necessary and compulsory predestination. Strictly speaking, there is in God neither before nor after, neither past nor future; 696and hence neither fore-knowledge nor fore-ordination, except in an anthropopathic sense. He rejects a double predestination, because it would carry a contradiction into God. There is only one predestination, the predestination of the righteous, and this is identical with foreknowledge. 697 For in God knowledge and will are inseparable, and constitute his very being. The distinction arises from the limitation of the human mind and from ignorance of Greek; for prooravw means both praevideo and praedestino. There is no such thing as predestination to sin and punishment; for sin is nothing real at all, but simply a negation, an abuse of free will; 698and punishment is simply the inner displeasure of the sinner at the failure of his bad aims. If several fathers call sinners praedestinati, they mean the reverse, as Christ called Judas amice instead of inimice, and as lucus is called a non lucendo. Sin lies outside of God, and does not exist for him at all; he does not even foreknow it, much less foreordain it; for knowing and being are identical with him. 699 But God has ordered that sin punishes itself; he has established immutable laws, which the sinner cannot escape. Free will is the very essence of man, and was not lost by the fall; only the power and energy of will are impaired. But Erigena vindicates to man freedom in the same sense in which he vindicates it to God, and identifies it with moral necessity. His pantheistic principles lead him logically to universal restoration. 700
This appears more clearly from his remarkable work, De Divisione Naturae, where he develops his system. The leading idea is the initial and final harmony of God and the universe, as unfolding itself under four aspects: 1) Natura creatrix non creata, i.e. God as the creative and uncreated beginning of all that exists; 2) Natura creatrix creata, i.e. the ideal world or the divine prototypes of all things; 3) Natura creata non creans, i.e. the created, but uncreative world of time and sense, as the reflex and actualization of the ideal world; 4) Natura nec creata nec creans, i.e. God as the end of all creation, which, after the defeat of all opposition, must return to him in an ajpokatavstasi" tw'n pavntwn. "The first and the last form," he says, "are one, and can be understood only of God, who is the beginning and the end of all things."
The tendency of this speculative and mystical pantheism of Erigena was checked by the practical influence of the Christian theism which entered into his education and personal experience, so that we may say with a historian who is always just and charitable: "We are unwilling to doubt, that he poured out many a devout and earnest prayer to a redeeming God for his inward illumination, and that he diligently sought for it in the sacred Scripture, though his conceptual apprehension of the divine Being seems to exclude such a relation of man to God, as prayer presupposes."1
Hincmar had reason to disown such a dangerous champion, and complained of the Scotch "porridge."2 John Scotus was violently assailed by Archbishop Wenilo of Sens, who denounced nineteen propositions of his book (which consists of nineteen chapters) as heretical, and by Bishop Prudentius, who increased the number to seventy-seven. He was charged with Pelagianism and Origenism, and censured for substituting philosophy for theology, and sophistical subtleties for sound arguments from Scripture and tradition. Remigius thought him insane. Florus Magister likewise wrote against him, and rejected as blasphemous the doctrine that sin and evil were nonentities, and therefore could not be the subjects of divine foreknowledge and foreordination. The Synod of Valence (855) rejected his nineteen syllogisms as absurdities, and his whole book as a "commentum diaboli potius quam argumentum fidei." His most important work, which gives his whole system, was also condemned by a provincial Synod of Sens, and afterwards by Pope Honorius III. in 1225, who characterized it as a book "teeming with the vermin of heretical depravity," and ordered all copies to be burned. But, fortunately, a few copies survived for the study of later ages.
§ 124. The Eucharistic Controversies. Literature.
The general Lit. on the history of the doctrine of the Eucharist, see in vol. I., § 55, p. 472, and II. 241.
Add the following Roman Catholic works on the general Subject: Card. Jo. de Lugo (d. 1660): Tractatus de venerabili Eucharistiae Sacramento, in Migne’s "Cursus Theol. Completus," XXIII. Card. Wiseman: Lectures on the Real Presence. Lond., 1836 and l842. Oswald: Die dogmat. Lehre von den heil. Sacramenten der katholischen Kirche. Münster, 3rd ed., 1870, vol. I. 375–427.
On the Protestant side: T. K. Meier: Versuch einer Gesch. der Transsubstantiationslehre. Heilbronn, 1832. Ebrard: Das Dogma v. heil. Abendmahl und seine Gesch. Frankf. a. M., 1845 and ’46, 2 vols. Steitz: Arts. on Radbert, Ratramnus, and Transubstantiation in Herzog. Schaff: Transubstantiation in "Rel. Encycl." III. 2385.
Special Lit. on the eucharistic controversies in the ninth and eleventh centuries.
I. Controversy between Ratramnus and Paschasius Radbertus.
(1) Paschasius Radbertus: Liber de Corpore et Sanguine Domini, dedicated to Marinus, abbot of New Corbie, 831, second ed., 844, presented to Charles the Bald; first genuine ed. by Nic. Mameranus, Colon. 1550; best ed. by Martene and Durand in "Veter. Script. et Monum. amplissima Collectio," IX. 367.—Comm. in Matth. (26:26); Epistola ad Fridegardum, and treatise De Partu Virginis. See S. Pasch. Radb.: Opera omnia in Tom. 120 of Migne’s "Patrol. Lat.," Par. 1852.
Haimo: Tract. de Corp. et Sang. Dom. (a fragment of a Com. on 1 Cor.), in D’Achery, "Spicil." I. 42, and in Migne, "P. L.," Tom. 118, col. 815–817. Hincmar: Ep. ad Carol. Calv. de cavendis vitiis et virtutibus exercendis, c. 9. In Migne, T. 125, col. 915 sqq.
(2) Ratramnus: De Corpore et Sanguine Domini liber ad Carolum Calvum Reg. Colon., 1532 (under the name of Bertram), often publ. by Reformed divines in the original and in translations (from 1532 to 1717 at Zürich, Geneva, London, Oxford, Amsterdam), and by Jac. Boileau, Par., 1712, with a vindication of the catholic orthodoxy of Ratramnus. See Ratramni Opera in Migne," P. L.," Tom. 121, col. 10–346.
Rabanus Maurus: Poenitentiale, cap. 33. Migne," P. L." Tom. 110, col. 492, 493. Walafrid Strabo: De Rebus Eccls., c. 16, 17. See extracts in Gieseler, II. 80–82.
(3) Discussions of historians: Natalis Alexander, H. Eccl. IX. and X., Dissert. X. and XIII. Neander, IV. 458–475, Germ. ed., or III. 495–501, Engl. transl., Bost. ed. Gieseler, II. 79–84, N. Y. ed. Baur: Vorlesungen über Dogmengesch. II. 161–175.
II. Controversy between Berengar and Lanfranc.
(1) LANFRANCUS: De Eucharistiae Sacramento contra Berengarium lib., Basil,. 1528, often publ., also in "Bibl. PP. Lugd.," XVIII. 763, and in Migne," Patrol. Lat.," Tom. 150 (1854), col. 407–442.
(2) Berengarius: De Sacra Coena adv. Lanfrancum liber posterior, first publ. by A. F. & F. Th. Vischer. Berol., 1834 (from the MS. in Wolfenbüttel, now in Göttingen. Comp. Lessing: Berengarius Turon. oder Ankündigung eines wichtigen Werkes desselben. Braunschweig, 1770). H. Sudendorf: Berengarius Turonensis oder eine Sammlung ihn betreffender Briefe. Hamburg and Gotha, 1850. Contains twenty-two new documents, and a full list of the older sources.
(3) Neander: III. 502–530 (E. Tr. Bost. ed.; or IV. 476–534 Germ. ed.). Gieseler: II. 163–173 (E. Tr. N. York ed.). Baur: II. 175–198. Hardwick: Middle Age, 169–173 (third ed. by Stubbs). Milman: III. 258 sqq. Robertson: II. 609 sqq. (small ed., IV. 351–367). Jacobi: Berengar, in Herzog2 II. 305–311. Reuter: Gesch. der relig. Aufklärung im Mittelalter (1875), I. 91 sqq. Hefele: IV. 740 sqq. (ed. 1879).
§ 125. The Two Theories of the Lord’s Supper.
The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper became the subject of two controversies in the Western church, especially in France. The first took place in the middle of the ninth century between Paschasius Radbertus and Ratramnus, the other in the middle of the eleventh century between Berengar and Lanfranc. In the second, Pope Hildebrand was implicated, as mediator between Berengar and the orthodox party.
In both cases the conflict was between a materialistic and a spiritualistic conception of the sacrament and its effect. The one was based on a literal, the other on a figurative interpretation of the words of institution, and of the mysterious discourse in the sixth chapter of St. John. The contending parties agreed in the belief that Christ is present in the eucharist as the bread of life to believers; but they differed widely in their conception of the mode of that presence: the one held that Christ was literally and corporeally present and communicated to all communicants through the mouth; the other, that he was spiritually present and spiritually communicated to believers through faith. The transubstantiationists (if we may coin this term) believed that the eucharistic body of Christ was identical with his historical body, and was miraculously created by the priestly consecration of the elements in every sacrifice of the mass; their opponents denied this identity, and regarded the eucharistic body as a symbolical exhibition of his real body once sacrificed on the cross and now glorified in heaven, yet present to the believer with its life-giving virtue and saving power.
We find both these views among the ancient fathers. The realistic and mystical view fell in more easily with the excessive supernaturalism and superstitious piety of the middle age, and triumphed at last both in the Greek and Latin churches; for there is no material difference between them on this dogma. 703 The spiritual theory was backed by the all-powerful authority of St. Augustin in the West, and ably advocated by Ratramnus and Berengar, but had to give way to the prevailing belief in transubstantiation until, in the sixteenth century, the controversy was revived by the Reformers, and resulted in the establishment of three theories: 1) the Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, re-asserted by the Council of Trent; 2) the Lutheran theory of the real presence in the elements, retaining their substance; 704and 3) the Reformed (Calvinistic) theory of a spiritual real or dynamic presence for believers. In the Roman church (and herein the Greek church fully agrees with her), the doctrine of transubstantiation is closely connected with the doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass, which forms the centre of worship.
It is humiliating to reflect that the, commemorative feast of Christ’s dying love, which should be the closest bond of union between believers, innocently gave rise to the most violent controversies. But the same was the case with the still more important doctrine of Christ’s Person. Fortunately, the spiritual benefit of the sacrament does not depend upon any particular human theory of the mode of Christ’s presence, who is ever ready to bless all who love him.
§ 126. The Theory of Paschasius Radbertus.
Paschasius Radbertus (from 800 to about 865), a learned, devout and superstitious monk, and afterwards abbot of Corbie or Corvey in France 705is the first who clearly taught the doctrine of transubstantiation as then believed by many, and afterwards adopted by the Roman Catholic church. He wrote a book "on the Body and Blood of the Lord," composed for his disciple Placidus of New Corbie in the year 831, and afterwards reedited it in a more popular form, and dedicated it to the Emperor Charles the Bald, as a Christmas gift (844). He did not employ the term transubstantiation, which came not into use till two centuries later; but he taught the thing, namely, that "the substance of bread and wine is effectually changed (efficaciter interius commutatur) into the flesh and blood of Christ," so that after the priestly consecration there is "nothing else in the eucharist but the flesh and blood of Christ," although "the figure of bread and wine remain" to the senses of sight, touch, and taste. The change is brought about by a miracle of the Holy Spirit, who created the body of Christ in the womb of the Virgin without cohabitation, and who by the same almighty power creates from day to day, wherever the mass is celebrated, the same body and blood out of the substance of bread and wine. He emphasizes the identity of the eucharistic body with the body which was born of the Virgin, suffered on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven; yet on the other hand he represents the sacramental eating and drinking as a spiritual process by faith. 706 He therefore combines the sensuous and spiritual conceptions. 707 He assumes that the soul of the believer communes with Christ, and that his body receives an imperishable principle of life which culminates at last in the resurrection. He thus understood, like several of the ancient fathers, the words of our Saviour: "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:54).
He supports his doctrine by the words of institution in their literal sense, and by the sixth chapter of John. He appealed also to marvellous stories of the visible appearances of the body and blood of Christ for the removal of doubts or the satisfaction of the pious desire of saints. The bread on the altar, he reports, was often seen in the shape of a lamb or a little child, and when the priest stretched out his hand to break the bread, an angel descended from heaven with a knife, slaughtered the lamb or the child, and let his blood run into a cup! 708
Such stories were readily believed by the people, and helped to strengthen the doctrine of transubstantiation; as the stories of the appearances of departed souls from purgatory confirmed the belief in purgatory.
The book of Radbert created a great sensation in the West, which was not yet prepared to accept the doctrine of transubstantiation without a vigorous struggle. Radbert himself admits that some of his contemporaries believed only in a spiritual communion of the soul with Christ, and substituted the mere virtue of his body and blood for the real body and blood, i.e., as he thinks, the figure for the verity, the shadow for the substance.9
His opponents appealed chiefly to St. Augustin, who made a distinction between the historical and the eucharistic body of Christ, and between a false material and a true spiritual fruition of his body and blood. In a letter to the monk Frudegard, who quoted several passages of Augustin, Radbert tried to explain them in his sense. For no divine of the Latin church dared openly to contradict the authority of the great African teacher.
§ 127. The Theory of Ratramnus.
The chief opponent of transubstantiation was Ratramnus,0a contemporary monk at Corbie, and a man of considerable literary reputation. He was the first to give the symbolical theory a scientific expression. At the request of King Charles the Bald he wrote a eucharistic tract against Radbert, his superior, but did not name him. 711 He answered two questions, whether the consecrated elements are called body and blood of Christ after a sacramental manner (in mysterio), or in the literal sense; and whether the eucharistic body is identical with the historical body which died and rose again. He denied this identity which Radbert had strongly asserted; and herein lies the gist of the difference. He concluded that the elements remain in reality as well as for the sensual perception what they were before the consecration, and that they are the body and blood of Christ only in a spiritual sense to the faith of believers. 712 He calls the consecrated bread and wine figures and pledges of the body and blood of Christ. They are visible tokens of the Lord’s death, that, remembering his passion, we may become partakers of its effect. He appealed to the discourse in the sixth chapter of John, as well as Radbert; but, like Augustin, his chief authority, he found the key to the whole chapter in John 6:63, which points from the letter to the spirit and from the carnal to the spiritual understanding. 713 The souls of believers are nourished in the communion by the Word of God (the Logos), which dwells in the natural body of Christ, and which dwells after an invisible manner in the sacrament. Unbelievers cannot receive Christ, as they lack the spiritual organ. He refers to the analogy of baptism, which is justly called a fount of life. Viewed by the senses, it is simply a fluid element; but by the consecration of the priest the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit is added to it, so that what properly is corruptible water becomes figuratively or in mystery a healing virtue. 714
It is consistent with this view that Ratramnus regarded the sacrifice of the mass not as an actual (though unbloody) repetition, but only as a commemorative celebration of Christ’s sacrifice whereby Christians are assured of their redemption. When we shall behold Christ face to face, we shall no longer need such instruments of remembrance.
John Scotus Erigena is also reported to have written a book against Radbert at the request of Charles the Bald. Hincmar of Rheims mentions among his errors this, that in the sacrament of the altar the true body and blood of Christ were not present, but only a memorial of them.5 The report may have arisen from a confusion, since the tract of Ratramnus was at a later period ascribed to Scotus Erigena. 716 But he expresses his view incidentally in other writings from which it appears that he agreed with Ratramnus and regarded the eucharist only as a typical representation of a spiritual communion with Christ. 717 In his book De Divisione Naturae, he teaches a mystic ubiquity of Christ’s glorified humanity or its elevation above the limitations of space. Neander infers from this that he held the eucharistic bread and wine to be simply symbols of the deified, omnipresent humanity of Christ which communicates itself, in a real manner, to believing soul. 718 At all events the hypothesis of ubiquity excludes a miraculous change of the elements, and gives the real presence a christo-pantheistic aspect. The Lutheran divines used this hypothesis in a modified form (multipresence, or multivolipresence, dependent on the will of Christ) as a dogmatic support for their doctrine of the real presence.
Among the divines of the Carolingian age who held the Augustinian view and rejected that of Radbert, as an error, were Rabanus Maurus, Walafrid Strabo, Christian Druthmar, and Florus Magister. They recognized only a dynamic and spiritual, not a visible and corporeal presence, of the body of Christ, in the sacrament. 719
On the other hand, the theory of Radbert was accepted by Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims, Bishop Haimo of Halberstadt, and other leading ecclesiastics. It became more and more popular during the dark post-Carolingian period. Bishop Ratherius of Verona (about 950), who, however, repelled all curious questions about the mode of the change, and even the learned and liberal-minded Gerbert (afterwards Pope Sylvester II., from 999 to 1003), defended the miraculous transformation of the eucharistic elements by the priestly consecration. It is characteristic of the grossly sensuous character of the theology of the tenth century that the chief point of dispute was the revolting and indecent question whether the consecrated elements pass from the communicant in the ordinary way of nature. The opponents of transubstantiation affirmed this, the advocates indignantly denied it, and fastened upon the former the new heretical name of "Stercorianists." Gerbert called stercorianism a diabolical blasphemy, and invented the theory that the eucharistic body and blood of Christ do not pass in noxios et superfluos humores, but are preserved in the flesh for the final resurrection.0
Radbertus was canonized, and his memory, is celebrated since 1073, on the 26th of April in the diocese of Soissons.1 The book of Ratramnus, under the supposed authorship of Scotus Erigena, was twice condemned in the Berengar controversy (1050 and 1059), and put in the Tridentine Index of prohibited books . 722
In connection with this subject is the subordinate controversy on the delicate question whether Christ, admitting his supernatural conception, was born in the natural way like other children, or miraculously (clauso utero). This question troubled the pious curiosity of some nuns of Vesona (?), and reached the convent of Corbie. Paschasius Radbertus, following the lead of St. Ambrose and St. Jerome, defended the theory that the holy Virgin remained virgo in partu and post partum, and used in proof some poetic passages on the hortus conclusus and fons signatus in Cant. 4:12, and the porta clausa Domini in Ezek. 44:2. The whole incarnation is supernatural, and as the conception so the birth of Christ was miraculous. He was not subject to the laws of nature, and entered the world "sine dolore et sine gemitu et sine ulla corruptione carnis." See Radbert’s tract De Partu Virginis in his Opera, ed. Migne, col. 1365–1386.
Ratramnus, in his book De eo quod Christus ex Virgine natus est (in D’Achery, "Spicilegium," I., and in Migne, Tom. 121, col. 82–102), likewise taught the perpetual virginity of Mary, but assumed that Christ came into the world in the natural way ("naturaliter per aulam virgineam" or "per virginalis januam vulvae"). The conception in utero implies the birth ex utero. But he does not controvert or name Radbert, and uses the same Scripture passages for his view. He refers also to the analogy of Christ’s passing through the closed doors on the day of the resurrection. He quotes from Augustin, Jerome, Pope Gregory, and Bede in support of his view. He opposes only the monstrous opinion that Christ broke from the womb through some unknown channel ("monstruose de secreto ventris incerto tramite luminis in auras exisse, quod non est nasci, sed erumpi." Cap. 1, col. 83). Such an opinion, he thinks, leads to the docetic heresy, and to the conclusion that "nec vere natus Christus, nec vere genuit Maria."
§ 128. The Berengar Controversy.
While the doctrine of a corporeal presence and participation of Christ in the eucharist made steady progress in the public opinion of Western Christendom in close connection with the rising power of the priesthood, the doctrine of a spiritual presence and participation by faith was re-asserted by way of reaction in the middle of the eleventh century for a short period, but condemned by ecclesiastical authority. This condemnation decided the victory of transubstantiation.
Let us first review the external history of the controversy, which runs into the next period (till 1079).
Berengar (c. 1000–1088), a pupil of Fulbert of Chartres (d. 1029), was canon and director of the cathedral school in Tours, his native city, afterwards archdeacon of Angers, and highly esteemed as a man of rare learning and piety before his eucharistic views became known.3 He was an able dialectician and a popular teacher. He may be ranked among the forerunners of a Christian rationalism, who dared to criticize church authority and aimed to reconcile the claims of reason and faith. 724 But he had not the courage of a martyr, and twice recanted from fear of death. Nor did he carry out his principle. He seems to have been in full accord with catholic orthodoxy except on the point of the sacrament. He was ascetic in his habits and shared the prevailing respect for monastic life, but saw clearly its danger. "The hermit," he says with as much beauty as truth, in an Exhortatory Discourse to hermits who had asked his advice, "is alone in his cell, but sin loiters about the door with enticing words and seeks admittance. I am thy beloved—says she—whom thou didst court in the world. I was with thee at the table, slept with thee on thy couch; without me, thou didst nothing. How darest thou think of forsaking me? I have followed thy every step; and dost thou expect to hide away from me in thy cell? I was with thee in the world, when thou didst eat flesh and drink wine; and shall be with thee in the wilderness, where thou livest only on bread and water. Purple and silk are not the only colors seen in hell,—the monk’s cowl is also to be found there. Thou hermit hast something of mine. The nature of the flesh, which thou wearest about thee, is my sister, begotten with me, brought up with me. So long as the flesh is flesh, so long shall I be in thy flesh. Dost thou subdue thy flesh by abstinence?—thou becomest proud; and lo! sin is there. Art thou overcome by the flesh, and dost thou yield to lust? sin is there. Perhaps thou hast none of the mere human sins, I mean such as proceed from sense; beware then of devilish sins. Pride is a sin which belongs in common to evil spirits and to hermits." 725
By continued biblical and patristic studies Berengar came between the years 1040 and 1045 to the conclusion that the eucharistic doctrine of Paschasius Radbertus was a vulgar superstition contrary to the Scriptures, to the fathers, and to reason. He divulged his view among his many pupils in France and Germany, and created a great sensation. Eusebius Bruno, bishop of Angers, to whose diocese he belonged, and Frollant, bishop of Senlis, took his part, but the majority was against him. Adelmann, his former fellow-student, then arch-deacon at Lüttich (Liège), afterwards bishop of Bresci, remonstrated with him in two letters of warning (1046 and 1048).
The controversy was fairly opened by Berengar himself in a letter to Lanfranc of Bec, his former fellow-student (1049). He respectfully, yet in a tone of intellectual superiority, perhaps with some feeling of jealousy of the rising fame of Bec, expressed his surprise that Lanfranc, as he had been informed by Ingelram of Chartres, should agree with Paschasius Radbertus and condemn John Scotus (confounded with Ratramnus) as heretical; this showed an ignorance of Scripture and involved a condemnation of Ambrose (?), Jerome, and Augustin, not to speak of others. The letter was sent to Rome, where Lanfranc then sojourned, and caused, with his co-operation, the first condemnation of Berengar by a Roman Synod held under Pope Leo IX. in April, 1050, and attended mostly by Italian bishops. At the same time he was summoned before another Synod which was held at Vercelli in September of the same year; and as he did not appear,6he was condemned a second time without a hearing, and the book of Ratramnus on the eucharist was burned. "If we are still in the figure," asked one member indignantly (probably Peter Damiani), "when shall we have the thing?" A Synod of Paris in October, 1050 or 1051, is said to have confirmed this judgment and threatened Berengar and his friends with the severest punishment, even death; but it is uncertain whether such a Synod was held. 727
After a short interval of silence, he was tried before a Synod of Tours in 1054 under Leo IX.,8but escaped condemnation through the aid of Hildebrand who presided as papal representative, listened calmly to his arguments and was perfectly satisfied with his admission that the consecrated bread and wine are (in a spiritual sense) the body and blood of Christ. 729 At the same time he was invited by Hildebrand to accompany him to Rome for a final settlement.
Confiding in this powerful advocate, Berengar appeared before a Lateran council held in 1059, under Nicolas II., but was bitterly disappointed. The assembled one hundred and thirteen bishops, whom he compares to "wild beasts," would not listen to his notion of a spiritual communion, and insisted on a sensuous participation of the body and blood of Christ. The violent and bigoted Cardinal Humbert, in the name of the Synod, forced on him a formula of recantation which cuts off all spiritual interpretation and teaches a literal mastication of Christ’s body. 730 Berengar was weak enough from fear of death to accept this confession on his knees, and to throw his books into the fire. 731 "Human wickedness," he says, "extorted from human weakness a different confession, but a change of conviction can be effected only by the agency of Almighty God." He would rather trust to the mercy of God than the charity of his enemies, and found comfort in the pardon granted to Aaron and to St. Peter.
As soon as he returned to France, he defended his real conviction more boldly than ever. He spoke of Pope Leo IX. and Nicolas II. in language as severe as Luther used five centuries later. 732 Lanfranc attacked him in his book on the eucharist, and Berengar replied very sharply in his chief work on the Lord’s Supper (between 1063 and 1069.) 733 His friends gradually withdrew, and the wrath of his enemies grew so intense that he was nearly killed at a synod in Poitiers (1075 or 1076).
Hildebrand who in the mean time had ascended the papal throne as Gregory VlI., summoned Berengar once more to Rome in 1078, hoping to give him peace, as he had done at Tours in 1054. He made several attempts to protect him against the fanaticism of his enemies. But they demanded absolute recantation or death. A Lateran Council in February, 1079, required Berengar to sign a formula which affirmed the conversion of substance in terms that cut off all sophistical escape. 734 He imprudently appealed to his private interviews with Gregory, but the pope could no longer protect him without risking his own reputation for orthodoxy, and ordered him to confess his error. Berengar submitted. "Confounded by the sudden madness of the pope," he says, "and because God in punishment for my sins did not give me a steadfast heart, I threw myself on the ground and confessed with impious voice that I had erred, fearing the pope would instantly pronounce against me the sentence of excommunication, and that, as a necessary consequence, the populace would hurry me to the worst of deaths." The pope, however, remained so far true to him that he gave him two letters of recommendation, one to the bishops of Tours and Angers, and one to all the faithful, in which he threatened all with the anathema who should do him any harm in person or estate, or call him a heretic. 735
Berengar returned to France with a desponding heart and gave up the hopeless contest. He was now an old man and spent the rest of his life in strict ascetic seclusion on the island of St. Côme (Cosmas) near Tours, where he died in peace 1088. Many believed that he did penance for his heresy, and his friends held an annual celebration of his memory on his grave. But what he really regretted was his cowardly treason to the truth as he held it. This is evident from the report of his trial at Rome which he drew up after his return.6 It concludes with a prayer to God for forgiveness, and to the Christian reader for the exercise of charity. "Pray for me that these tears may procure me the compassion of the Almighty."
His doctrine was misrepresented by Lanfranc and the older historians, as denying the real presence. 737 But since the discovery of the sources it is admitted also by Roman Catholics that, while he emphatically rejected transubstantiation, he held to a spiritual real presence and participation of Christ in the eucharist.
This explains also the conduct of Gregory VII., which is all the more remarkable, as he was in every other respect the most strenuous champion of the Roman church and the papal power. This great pope was more an ecclesiastic than a theologian. He was willing to allow a certain freedom on the mysterious mode of the eucharistic presence and the precise nature of the change in the elements, which at that time had not yet been authoritatively defined as a change of substance. He therefore protected Berengar, with diplomatic caution, as long and as far as he could without endangering his great reforms and incurring himself the suspicion of heresy. 738 The latest known writing of Berengar is a letter on the death of Gregory (1085), in which he speaks of the pope with regard, expresses a conviction of his salvation, and excuses his conduct towards himself.
Berengar was a strange compound of moral courage and physical cowardice. Had he died a martyr, his doctrine would have gained strength; but by his repeated recantations he injured his own cause and promoted the victory of transubstantiation.
Notes. Hildebrand and Berengar.
Sudendorf’s Berengarius Turonensis (1850) is, next to the discovery and publication of Berengar’s De Sacra Coena (1834), the most important contribution to the literature on this chapter. 739 Dr. Sudendorf does not enter into the eucharistic controversy, and refers to the account of Stäudlin and Neander as sufficient; but he gives 1) a complete chronological list of the Berengar literature, including all the notices by friends and foes (p. 7–68); 2) an account of Gaufried Martell, Count of Anjou, stepfather of the then-ruling Empress Agnes of Germany, and the most zealous and powerful protector of Berengar (p. 69–87); and 3) twenty-two letters bearing on Berengar, with notes (p. 88–233). These letters were here published for the first time from manuscripts of the royal library at Hanover, contained in a folio volume entitled: "Codex epistolaris Imperatorum, Regum, Pontificum, Episcoporum." They throw no new light on the eucharistic doctrine of Berengar; but three of them give us interesting information on his relation to Hildebrand.
1. A letter of Count Gaufried of Anjou (d. 1060) to Cardinal Hildebrand, written in March, 1059, shortly before the Lateran Synod (April, 1059), which condemned Berengar (p. 128 and 215). The Count calls here, with surprising boldness and confidence, on the mighty Cardinal to protect Berengar at the approaching Synod of Rome, under the impression that he thoroughly agreed with him, and had concealed his real opinion at Tours. He begins thus: "To the venerable son of the church of the Romans, H.[ildebrand]. Count Gauf. Bear thyself not unworthy of so great a mother. B.[erengar] has gone to Rome according to thy wishes and letters of invitation. Now is the time for thee to act with Christian magnanimity (nunc magnanimitate christiana tibi agendum est), lest Berengar have the same experience with thee as at Tours , when thou camest to us as delegate of apostolic authority. He expected thy advent as that of an angel. Thou wast there to give life to souls that were dead, and to kill souls that should live .... Thou didst behave thyself like that person of whom it is written [John 19:38]: ’He was himself a disciple of Jesus, but secretly from fear of the Jews.’ Thou resemblest him who said [Luke 23:22]: ’I find no cause of death in him,’ but did not set him free because he feared Caesar. Thou hast even done less than Pilate, who called Jesus to him and was not ashamed to bear witness: I find no guilt in him .. . To thee applies the sentence of the gospel [Luke 9:26]: ’Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall I be ashamed before my heavenly Father.’ To thee applies the word of the Lord [Luke 11:52]: ’Woe unto you, for ye took away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and hindered those that were entering.’... Now the opportune time has come. Thou hast Berengar present with the pope. If thou again keepest silence on the error of those fools, it is clear that thou formerly didst not from good reasons wait for the proper time, but from weakness and fear didst not dare to defend the cause of the innocent. Should it come to this, which God forbid, we would be wholly disappointed in our great hope placed on thee; but thou wouldst commit a monstrous injustice to thyself, yea even to God. By thee the Orient with all its perverseness would be introduced into the Occident; instead of illuminating our darkness, thou wouldest turn our light into darkness according to the best of thy ability. All those who excel in erudition and judge the case according to the Scriptures, bore testimony that Berengar has the right view according to the Scriptures .... That popular delusion [of transubstantiation] leads to pernicious heresy. The resurrection of the body, of which Paul says that the corruptible must put on the incorruptible, cannot stand, if we contend that the body of Christ is in a sensuous manner broken by the priest and torn with the teeth (sensualiter sacerdotum manibus frangi, dentibus atteri). Thou boastest of thy Rome that she was never conquered in faith and military glory. Thou wilt put to shame that glory, if, at this time when God has elevated thee above all others at the papal see, that false doctrine, that nursery of the most certain heresy, by thy dissimulation and silence should raise its head. Leave not thine honor to others, by retiring to the corner of disgraceful silence."
2. A letter of Berengar to Pope Gregory VII. from the year 1077, in which he addresses him as "pater optime," and assures him of his profound reverence and love (p. 182 and 230). He thanks him for a letter of protection he had written to his legate, Bishop Hugo of Die (afterwards Archbishop of Lyons), but begs him to excuse him for not attending a French council of his enemies, to which he had been summoned. He expresses the hope of a personal conference with the pope (opportunitatem vivendi praesentiam tuam et audiendi), and concludes with the request to continue his patronage. "Vel [i.e. Valeat] Christianitas tua, pater optime, longo parvitati meae tempore dignum sede apostolica patrocinium impensura." The result of this correspondence is unknown. Berengar’s hope of seeing and hearing the pope was fulfilled in 1078, when he was summoned to the Council in Rome; but the result, as we have seen, was his condemnation by the Council with the pope’s consent.
3. A letter of Berengar to Archbishop Joscelin of Bordeaux, written in a charitable Christian spirit after May 25, 1085, when Gregory VII. died (p. 196 and 231). It begins thus: "The unexpected death of our G. [regory] causes me no little disturbance (G. nostri me non parum mors inopinato [a] perturbat)." The nostri sounds rather too familiar in view of Gregory’s conduct in 1079, but must be understood of the personal sympathy shown him before and after in the last commendatory letters. B. then goes on to express confidence in the pope’s salvation, and forgives him his defection, which he strangely compares with the separation of Barnabas from Paul. "Sed, quantum mihi videor novisse hominem, de salute hominis certum constat, quicquid illi prejudicent, qui, secundum dominicam sententiam [Matt. 23:24], culicem culantes, camelum sorbent. In Christo lesu, inquit Apostolus [Gal. 6:15], neque circumcisio est aliquid, neque preputium, sed nova creatura. Quod illum fuisse, quantum illum noveram, de misericordia presumo divina. Discessit a Paulo Barnabas [Acts 15:39, 40], ut non cum illo secundum exteriorem commaneret hominem, nec minus tamen secundum interiorem hominem Barnabas in libro vitae permansit." In remembrance of Gregory’s conduct in forcing him at the Roman Council in 1079 to swear to a formula against his conviction, he asserts that the power of the keys which Christ gave to Peter (Matt. 16:19) is limited. The binding must not be arbitrary and unjust. The Lord speaks through the prophet to the priests (per prophetam ad prelatos): "I will curse your blessings (Mal. 2:2: maledicam benedictionibus vestris)." From this it follows necessarily that He also blesses their curses (Ex quo necessarium constat, quod etiam benedicat maledictionibus talium). Hence the Psalmist says (Ps. 109:28): "Let them curse, but bless thou." The blessed Augustin, in his book on the Words of the Lord, says: "Justice solves the bonds of injustice;" and the blessed Gregory [I.] says [Homil. XXVI.]: "He forfeits the power to bind and to loose, who uses it not for the benefit of his subjects, but according to his arbitrary will (ipsa hac ligandi atque solvendi potestate se privat, qui hanc non pro subditorum moribus, sed pro suae voluntatis motibus exercet)." Berengar thus turns the first Gregory against the seventh Gregory.
Hildebrand’s real opinion on the eucharistic presence can only be inferred from his conduct during the controversy. He sincerely protected Berengar against violence and persecution even after his final condemnation; but the public opinion of the church in 1059 and again in 1079 expressed itself so strongly in favor of a substantial or essential change of the eucharistic elements, that he was forced to yield. Personally, he favored a certain freedom of opinion on the mode of the change, provided only the change itself was admitted, as was expressly done by Berengar. Only a few days before the Council of 1078 the pope sought the opinion of the Virgin Mary through an esteemed monk, and received as an answer that nothing more should be held or required on the reaI presence than what was found in the Holy Scriptures, namely, that the bread after consecration was the true body of Christ. So Berengar reports; see Mansi, XIX. 766; Gieseler, II. 172; Neander, III. 519. (The charge of Ebrard that the pope acted hypocritically and treacherously towards B., is contradicted by facts).
The same view of a change of the elements in a manner inexplicable and therefore indefinable, is expressed in a fragment of a commentary on Matthew by a certain "Magister Hildebrand," published by Peter Allix (in Determinatio Ioannis praedicatoris de, modo existendi Corp. Christi in sacramento altaris. Lond., 1686)." In this fragment," says Neander, III. 511, "after an investigation of the different ways in which the conversio of the bread into the body of Christ may be conceived, the conclusion is arrived at, that nothing can be decided with certainty on this point; that the conversio therefore is the only essential part of the doctrine, namely, that bread and wine become body and blood of Christ, and that with regard to the way in which that conversion takes place, men should not seek to inquire. This coincides with the view which evidently lies at the basis of the cardinal’s proceedings. But whether the author was this Hildebrand, must ever remain a very doubtful question, since it is not probable, that if a man whose life constitutes an epoch in history wrote a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, it should have been so entirely forgotten." Sudendorf, however (p. 186), ascribes the fragment to Pope Hildebrand.
§ 129. Berengar’s Theory of the Lord’s Supper.
The chief source is Berengar’s second book against Lanfranc, already quoted. His first book is lost with the exception of a few fragments in Lanfranc’s reply.
Berengar attacked the doctrine of transubstantiation, and used against it nearly every argument: it is not only above reason, but against reason and against the testimony of the senses; it involves a contradiction between subject and predicate, and between substance and its qualities, which are inseparable; it is inconsistent with the fact of Christ’s ascension and presence in heaven; it virtually assumes either a multiplication or an omnipresence of his body, which contradicts the necessary limitations of corporeality. 740 There can be only one body of Christ, and only one sacrifice of Christ. The stories of the appearances of blood on the altar, be treated with scorn, from which some of his enemies inferred that he denied all miracles. He called the doctrine of transubstantiation an absurdity (ineptio) and an insane folly of the populace (vecordia vulgi).
To this notion of a corporeal or material presence on the altar, he opposed the idea of a spiritual or dynamic presence and participation. His positive view agrees essentially with that of Ratramnus; but he went beyond him, as Calvin went beyond Zwingli. He endeavors to save the spiritual reality without the carnal form. He distinguishes, with St. Augustin and Ratramnus, between the historical and the eucharistic body of Christ, and between the visible symbol or sacramentum and the thing symbolized or the res sacramenti. He maintains that we cannot literally eat and drink Christ’s body and blood, but that nevertheless we may have real spiritual Communion by faith with the flesh, that is, with the glorified humanity of Christ in heaven. His theory is substantially the same as that of Calvin. 741 The salient points are these:
1) The elements remain in substance as well as in appearance, after the consecration, although they acquire a new significance. Hence the predicate in the words of institution must be taken figuratively, as in many other passages, where Christ is called the lion, the lamb, the door, the vine, the corner-stone, the rock, etc. 742 The discourse in the sixth chapter of John is likewise figurative, and does not refer to the sacrament at all, but to the believing reception of Christ’s death. 743
2) Nevertheless bread and wine are not empty, symbols, but in some sense the body and blood of Christ which they represent. They are converted by being consecrated; for whatever is consecrated is lifted to a higher sphere and transformed. They do not lose their substance after consecration; but they lose their emptiness, and become efficacious to the believer. So water in baptism remains water, but becomes the vehicle of regeneration. Wherever the sacramentum is, there is also the res sacramenti.
3) Christ is spiritually present and is spiritually received by faith. Without faith we can have no real communion with him, nor share in his benefits. "The true body of Christ," he says in a letter to Adelmann," is placed on the altar, but spiritually to the inner man and to those only who are members of Christ, for spiritual manducation. This the fathers teach openly, and distinguish between the body and blood of Christ and the sacramental signs of the body and blood. The pious receive both, the sacramental sign (sacramentum) visibly, the sacramental substance (rem sacramenti) invisibly; while the ungodly receive only the sacramental sign to their own judgment."
4) The communion in the Lord’s Supper is a communion with the whole undivided person of Christ, and not with flesh and blood as separate elements. As the whole body of Christ was sacrificed in death, so we receive the whole body in a spiritual manner; and as Christ’s body is now glorified in heaven, we must spiritually ascend to heaven."4
Here again is a strong point of contact with Calvin, who likewise taught such an elevation of the soul to heaven as a necessary condition of true communion with the life-giving power of Christ’s humanity. He meant, of course, no locomotion, but the sursum corda, which is necessary in every act of prayer. It is the Holy, Spirit who lifts us up to Christ on the wings of faith, and brings him down to us, and thus unites heaven and earth.
A view quite similar to that of Berengar seems to have obtained about that time in the Anglo-Saxon Church, if we are to judge from the Homilies of Aelfric, which enjoyed great authority and popularity.5
§ 130. Lanfranc and the Triumph of Transubstantiation.
The chief opponent of Berengar was his former friend, Lanfranc, a native of Pavia (b. 1005), prior of the Convent of Bet in Normandy (1045), afterwards archbishop of Canterbury (1070–1089), and in both positions the predecessor of the more distinguished Anselm.6 He was, next to Berengar, the greatest dialectician of his age, but used dialectics only in support of church authority and tradition, and thus prepared the way for orthodox scholasticism. He assailed Berengar in a treatise of twenty-three chapters on the eucharist, written after 1063, in epistolary form, and advocated the doctrine of transubstantiation (without using the term) with its consequences. 747 He describes the change as a miraculous and incomprehensible change of the substance of bread and wine into the very body and blood of Christ. 748 He also teaches (what Radbert had not done expressly) that even unworthy communicants (indigne sumentes) receive the same sacramental substance as believers, though with opposite effect. 749
Among the less distinguished writers on the Eucharist must be mentioned Adelmann, Durandus, and Guitmund, who defended the catholic doctrine against Berengar. Guitmund (a pupil of Lanfranc, and archbishop of Aversa in Apulia) reports that the Berengarians differed, some holding only a symbolical presence, others (with Berengar) a real, but latent presence, or a sort of impanation, but all denied a change of substance. This change he regards as the main thing which nourishes piety. "What can be more salutary," he asks," than such a faith? Purely receiving into itself the pure and simple Christ alone, in the consciousness of possessing so glorious a gift, it guards with the greater vigilance against sin; it glows with a more earnest longing after all righteousness; it strives every day to escape from the world ... and to embrace in unclouded vision the fountain of life itself."0
From this time on, transubstantiation may be regarded as a dogma of the Latin church. It was defended by the orthodox schoolmen, and oecumenically sanctioned under Pope Innocent III. in 1215.
With the triumph of transubstantiation is closely connected the withdrawal of the communion cup from the laity, which gradually spread in the twelfth century,1 and the adoration of the presence of Christ in the consecrated elements, which dates from the eleventh century, was enjoined by Honorius III. in 1217, and gave rise to the Corpus Christi festival appointed by Urban IV., in 1264. The withdrawal of the cup had its origin partly in considerations of expediency, but chiefly in the superstitious solicitude to guard against profanation by spilling the blood of Christ. The schoolmen defended the practice by the doctrine that the whole Christ is present in either kind. 752 It strengthened the power of the priesthood at the expense of the rights of the laity and in plain violation of the command of Christ: "Drink ye all of it" (Matt. 26:27).
The doctrine of transubstantiation is the most characteristic tenet of the Catholic Church of the middle age, and its modern successor, the Roman Church. It reflects a magical supernaturalism which puts the severest tax upon the intellect, and requires it to contradict the unanimous testimony of our senses of sight, touch and taste. It furnishes the doctrinal basis for the daily sacrifice of the mass and the power of the priesthood with its awful claim to create and to offer the very body and blood of the Saviour of the world. For if the self-same body of Christ which suffered on the cross, is truly present and eaten in the eucharist, it must also be the self-same sacrifice of Calvary which is repeated in the mass; and a true sacrifice requires a true priest, who offers it on the altar. Priest, sacrifice, and altar form an inseparable trio; a literal conception of one requires a literal conception of the other two, and a spiritual conception of one necessarily leads to a spiritual conception of all.
A few additional remarks must conclude this subject, so that we need not return to it in the next volume.
1. The scholastic terms transsubstantiatio, transsubstantiare (in Greek metousivwsi", Engl. transubstantiation, Germ. Wesensverwand-lung), signify a change of one substance into another, and were introduced in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The phrase substantialiter converti was used by the Roman Synod of 1079 (see p. 559). Transsubstantiatio occurs first in Peter Damiani (d. 1072) in his Expos. can. Missae (published by Angelo Mai in "Script. Vet. Nova Coll." VI. 215), and then in the sermons of Hildebert, archbishop of Tours (d. 1134); the verb transsubstantiare first in Stephanus, Bishop of Autun (1113–1129), Tract. de Sacr. Altaris, c. 14 ("panem, quem accepi, in corpus meum transsubstantiavi"), and then officially in the fourth Lateran Council, 1215. See Gieseler, II. ii. 434 sq. (fourth Germ. ed.). Similar terms, as mutatio, transmutatio, transformatio, conversio, transitio, had been in use before. The corresponding Greek noun metousivwsi" was formally accepted by the Oriental Church in the Orthodox Confession of Peter Mogilas, 1643, and later documents, yet with the remark that the word is not to be taken as a definition of the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ. See Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, II. 382, 427, 431, 495, 497 sq. Similar expressions, such as metabolhv, metabavllein, metapoiei'n, had been employed by the Greek fathers, especially by Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and John of Damascus. The last is the chief authority quoted in the Russian Catechism (see Schaff, l.c. II. 498).
All these terms attempt to explain the inexplicable and to rationalize the irrational—the contradiction between substance and accidents, between reality and appearance. Transubstantiation is devotion turned into rhetoric, and rhetoric turned into irrational logic.
2. The doctrine of transubstantiation was first strongly expressed in the confessions of two Roman Synods of 1059 and 1079, which Berengar was forced to accept against his conscience; see p. 557 and 559. It was oecumenically sanctioned for the whole Latin church by the fourth Lateran Council under Pope Innocent III., a.d. 1215, in the creed of the Synod, cap. 1: "Corpus et sanguis [Christi] in sacramento altaris sub speciebus panis et vini veraciter continentur, TRANSSUBSTAN-TIATIS PANE IN CORPUS ET VINO IN SANGUINEM, POTESTATE DIVINA, ut ad perficiendum mysterium unitatis accipiamus ipsi de suo, quod accepit ipse de nostro. Et hoc utique sacramentum nemo potest conficere, nisi sacerdos, qui fuerit rite ordinatus secundum claves Ecclesiae, quas ipse concessit Apostolis et eorum successoribus lesus Christus."
The Council of Trent, in the thirteenth session, 1551, reaffirmed the doctrine against the Protestants in these words: "that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord (conversionem fieri totius substantiae panis in substantiam corporis Christi Domini), and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood; which conversion is by the holy Catholic Church suitably and properly called Transubstantiation." The same synod sanctioned the adoration of the sacrament (i.e. Christ on the altar under the figure of the elements), and anathematizes those who deny this doctrine and practice. See Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, II. 130–139.
3. Thomas Aquinas, the prince of scholastic divines, has given the clearest poetic expression to the dogma of transubstantiation in the following stanzas of his famous hymn, "Lauda Sion Salvatorem," for the Corpus Christi Festival:
"Dogma datur Christianis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sanguinem.
Quod non capis, quod non
Animosa firmat fides
Praeter rerum ordinem.
"Hear what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending,
Leaps to things not understood.
"Sub diversis speciebus,
Signis tantum et non rebus,
Latent res eximiae.
Caro cibus, sanguis potus,
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utraque specie.
Here, in outward signs, are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things, are all we see:
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine:
Yet is Christ, in either sign,
All entire, confess’d to be.
"A sumente non concisus,
Non confractus, non divisus,
Sumit unus, sumunt mille,
Quantum isti, tantum ille,
Nec sumitus consumitur.
They, too, who of Him partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break,
But entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the self-same meat,
Nor the less for others leave.
"Sumunt boni, sumunt mali,
Sorte tamen inaequali
Vitae vel interitus.
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide, paris sumptionis
Quam sit dispar exitus."
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food;
But with ends how opposite!
Here ’tis life, and there tis death;
The same yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite."
See the Thes. Hymnol. of Daniel, II. 97–100, who calls St. Thomas "summus laudator venerabilis sacramenti," and quotes the interesting, but opposite judgments of Möhler and Luther. The translation is by Edward Caswall (Hymns and Poems, 2nd ed., 1873, and previously in Lyra Catholica, Lond., 1849, p. 238). The translation of the last two stanzas is not as felicitous as that of the other two. The following version preserves the double rhyme of the original:
"Eaten, but without incision,"
"Here alike the good and evil,
Broken, but without division,
High and low in social level,
Each the whole of Christ receives:
Take the Feast for woe or weal:
Thousands take what each is taking,
Wonder! from the self-same eating,
Each one breaks what all are breaking,
Good and bad their bliss are meeting
None a lessened body leaves.
Or their doom herein they seal."
4. The doctrine of transubstantiation has always been regarded by Protestants as one of the fundamental errors and grossest superstitions of Romanism. But we must not forget the underlying truth which gives tenacity to error. A doctrine cannot be wholly false, which has been believed for centuries not only by the Greek and Latin churches alike, but as regards the chief point, namely, the real presence of the very body and blood of Christ—also by the Lutheran and a considerable portion of the Anglican communions, and which still nourishes the piety of innumerable guests at the Lord’s table. The mysterious discourse of our Saviour in the synagogue of Capernaum after the miraculous feeding of the multitude, expresses the great truth which is materialized and carnalized in transubstantiation. Christ is in the deepest spiritual sense the bread of life from heaven which gives nourishment to believers, and in the holy communion we receive the actual benefit of his broken body and shed blood, which are truly present in their power; for his sacrifice, though offered but once, is of perpetual force to all who accept it in faith. The literal miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is spiritually carried on in the vital union of Christ and the believer, and culminates in the sacramental feast. Our Lord thus explains the symbolic significance of that miracle in the strongest language; but he expressly excludes the carnal, Capernaitic conception, and furnishes the key for the true understanding, in the sentence: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life" (John 6:63).