(Modus Concordiae) (Nagyenyed, Hungary and Transylvania, 1564)
1. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, our beloved sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ!
2. When the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, just before the last struggle that He was to endure, prayed His last intercession to the eternal Father for the sake of His church, there was nothing greater or better for Him to ask for than that we might all be one in Him and in the Father (John 17:21).
3. Although we firmly believe that this intercession was not and cannot be unsuccessful, because He is our High Priest, as the letter to the Hebrews testifies, who was listened to in order to be revered, we do not cease to hope that finally it will come to pass that the Lord, having mercy on us, will establish true and permanent unity among us.
4. The benignancy of our majestic and merciful Prince, János Zsigmond (Johannes Sigismundus de Transylvania), inspired by God, has contributed to this in great effect, taking the Word of God and the concern of the church upon himself in such a measure that he would not consider any other duties for himself than, as far as it is within his power, peace, and salutary agreement in truth would be established.
5. He considers this much more necessary for the church than our right and left hands; thus by his royal authority he commands and wishes to lay aside all our intentions for conflict, seeking the truth from all quarters; for the will of our Royal Highness is in accord with the command of God.
6. Because this is so, we owe and offer due obedience to his Royal Highness.
7. Since the royal command leaves us, being accused of guilt, to begin negotiations with restrained moderation, we deemed it appropriate to first present the following terms of agreement.
8. We recommend, therefore, these terms not as ones fabricated by us just now, but as ones which have been received from the doctors of the church of profound wisdom, who ensured always with great diligence that the unhappy rivalries among the doctors of the church would finally be settled and harmonized in accordance with the Word of God.
9. We ask you to acknowledge our honest and good will, examining this whole cause properly and diligently for the glory of the Son of God and the building up of the holy church, if you are able at least to attempt in spite of the vehemence caused by human prejudices; and then respond to us according to the standard of prophetic and apostolic knowledge, and as the importance of time and this holy synod requires.
10. We state before anything else that the abominable name of Sacramentalist does not apply to us at all, by which our church has been partially dishonored in the heat of the debate, when the true basis of the conflict has not yet been examined.
11. Those who regard the sacraments only as sheer and empty symbols, considering them just the signs and stamps of external community, may rightly be mocked; but we cannot be denigrated by the same title by any right, nor do we have anything to do with it: we who steadfastly teach and state that the sacraments are proofs and pledges of God’s grace towards us, as well as the surest seals of the promises that strengthen our faith more and more.
12. While stating all these aforementioned points, we teach the double benefit of the sacraments:
13. First, they preserve our conscience before God; and second, they witness to our spirituality before the world; and these we believe you do not deny, nor those which follow.
14. We confess that as God is truthful and faithful; by the power of the Holy Spirit, God fulfills what is signified by external signs: God, therefore, does not offer us mere symbols, but the effect of truth is attached to them as well.
15. The power of the Holy Spirit’s grace, on the other hand, is not locked in external signs, since they neither serve everyone without distinction, nor in an equal way, nor does their result become manifest in the same way: rather, God uses sacraments freely as God wishes, in order to serve as instruments of salvation for the elect, at the same time not serving others at all, for their own peril.
16. Finally, sacraments do not serve at all unless received by faith, which is a special gift of the Holy Spirit, and does not depend on earthly elements, but on the heavenly work of the same Holy Spirit; and external aids are ordered to them only because of the limitations of our apprehension.
17. As far as the Lord’s Supper is concerned, it is obvious that under the symbols of bread and wine the communion of the body and blood of Jesus Christ is partaken of; and we are not only reminded of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross, but also that the holy covenant is sanctified and sealed with us, according to which His death becomes lifefor us; when engrafted to His body, we are indeed nurtured by Him in the same way as this food and drink nourishes our body.
18. It is also obvious that Jesus Christ fulfills truly and effectively, that which is required by the similarity of faith and the signified matter; therefore, the imparting of His body and blood is indeed offered to us in the Lord’s Supper; or (which is the same) under bread and wine, we are offered a pledge that imparts sharing in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
19. Everyone who is sensible and serene and who has proper discernment and calm temperament acknowledges, however, that the debate is about the way of consumption; because we confess openly and honestly that Jesus Christ is ours, and all the goods He possesses He will share with us in the future as well; and He gave His body for our salvation not only once, when it was sacrificed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, but He gives it every day for our nourishment, so that when He lives in us, we would live with the plenitude of His benefits; we teach furthermore that He is enlivening, because He breathes His life into us, in the same way as we receive vivacity from the matter of bread.
20. The debate, therefore, originates from this source— that the way of consumption is understood differently.
21. Our interpretation is the following: we consume the body of Christ because it is spiritual nourishment for the soul; we call it nourishment in a sense that the Holy Spirit breathes His life in us by His perceptible power, so that it would be common in us, as the sap flows from the root of the tree to the branches, or as vivacity reaches the members of the body from the head.
22. There is neither sophism in this interpretation, nor obscure, ambiguous, nor crooked talk.
23. Some, who are discontented with this candid simplicity, would like to consume the body of Christ with their bodily mouths; but this is based neither on the authority of the Holy Scripture, nor on the example of the early church; it is amazing, therefore, that people of mediocre discernment and qualification debate so stubbornly about this improper innovation.
24. We do not deny in the least what the Holy Scripture teaches: that the body of Christ is indeed food and His blood is indeed drink, because we consume it as well, and consider it sufficient for life in purity.
25. We also confess that in the Lord’s Supper this communion truly happens.
26. Whosoever urges more than this, crosses the boundaries of truth.
27. Insisting upon the word “substance” when it comes to sacraments is not compatible with common sense, since the Holy Scripture itself sets the specific forms of language concerning them; and from it follows that the words “this is my body” must be interpreted in a sacramental way.
28. Furthermore, the bread which we break, according to the eternal sense of the Holy Scripture, is communion in the body of Christ; because God is eternally similar to Himself, and God always spoke of the sacraments in the same way.
29. Some suspect a couple of dangers in this, but it is easy to face their scruples: since the sacramental word says “is” (“hoc est corpus meum”—“this is my body”), they try to distort truth by image; but we must take into consideration that we understand figure not as a mere image, but according to grammar as signifier of function; in order to prevent anyone from assuming the bread to be simply the body of Christ, as Jesus Christ Himself is called the Son of God.
30. The name “body,” therefore, applies figuratively to the bread:
31. Although not that figuratively as if Jesus Christ would manifest the pure and mere image of His body; because reality is not expelled by image; rather the difference is signified between sign and signified matter, which does not contradict their connection; but we must avoid word- splitting, as it is desirable and befitting in negotiations.
32. There is nothing odious in this way of teaching, or anything which might be interpreted in a wrong way; and this understanding has always been approved by common usage.
33. It is especially necessary to avert the obstacle concerning the immeasurability of the body, because if we are not clear that it is finite and dwells in heaven, there is no way to settle our conflict.
34. What seems unbelievable for some is easy to dispel: what is united with God is not ubiquitous.
35. Even though there are two natures in the one person of the mediator, both keep their different characteristics, since unification is not the same as unity.
36. About that matter there used to be no debate.
37. There has been a wide consensus that Jesus Christ, the mediator, Son of God, and our head, ascended to heaven, and was accepted into heavenly glory; so it is obvious that He is distanced from us as far as His body is concerned; but He fills heaven and earth with His divine clemency and the spiritual power of His grace.
38. Affirming all these points, let us come to the ways of expression in which some got tangled up out of obscurity: that we would be given the “body” of Christ under or with the bread; since not the substantial unification of the body of Christ is signified with the perishable food, rather sacramental connection; and there is no debate that for spiritual persons the inseparable connection between sign and signified matter consists of the promise itself, by which God does not expose anything fraudulently, but signifies what God fulfills truly and really.
39. Furthermore, it is in vain that two kinds of body are debated.
40. Even though Jesus Christ’s condition changed in His body when He was accepted into divine glory, and He was freed from all that was earthly, mortal and transient; still we have to affirm that we must not consider any other body as life-giving or food for us without doubt, only that which was crucified for the forgiveness of our sins, as the words demonstrate it as well.
41. Thus the same body, which the Son of God offered as a sacrifice to the Father, He gives to us daily in the Lord’s Supper, for our spiritual nourishment.
42. We must affirm now again what has already been stated about the way of consumption.
43. It is not necessary that the body itself descend from heaven for our nourishment, since in order to overcome obstacles and to avert the distance of places, the power of the Holy Spirit is sufficient.
44. We cannot deny, however, that the way of consumption is incomprehensible to the human intellect, since naturally neither the body is the life of the soul, nor does it exercise its power on us from heaven.
45. It was not in vain that Paul called this communion a great mystery, which makes us body from the body of Christ, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones.
46. We acknowledge, therefore, that in the Lord’s Supper there is such a miracle, which surpasses both the boundaries of nature and our ways of thinking.
47. The life of Jesus Christ is shared with us and His body is offered for our nourishment; thus all innovations, which are in contradiction with our understanding explained above, should be expelled: such as those about the ubiquity of the body, the secret enclosure of the body in the symbol, or its substantial presence on earth.
48. When we are dealing with these, there is doubt even about the word “substance,” and the shortest way in which to dispose of it seems to be to stop fantasizing vainly about consuming the body, as if it was similar to bodily food, which reaches our stomach when eaten.
49. When we expel this nonsense, there is no reason to deny that we are nourished spiritually by the body of Christ, since we indeed get unified with Him in one body through faith, thus becoming one with Him.
50. It follows from it that we are connected to Him in a spiritual communion, the same way as personal vivacity flows from the head to the members of the body.
51. We must affirm, therefore, the interpretation that we are personally unified with Jesus Christ, not as if some bodily compound or the conjured body of Christ from heaven would penetrate us, or as if we ate it with our mouth: but because the body of Christ will not enliven our soul by its power and effect in the same way as the body is nourished by the matters of bread and wine.
52. Apart from this, another debated article of faith was about the word “spiritual,” which some abhorred, because they assumed that it means something imaginary or useless.
53. We need, therefore, to help here with our interpretation.
54. Spiritual or pneumatic consumption is in opposition to bodily eating; we understand bodily eating according to which some think that Jesus Christ Himself as a person flows into us when we eat the bread.
55. We affirm, contrary to this, that in the Lord’s Supper the body of Christ is given to us spiritually; because the secret power of the Holy Spirit performs that those who are separated from each other by the volume of space, be unified with one another, furthermore that from heaven life would come upon us from the body of Christ; whose enlivening power and force can rightly be called something originating from the substance; but we must understand it prudently and rightly, that is even though the body of Christ remains in heaven, nevertheless upon us who wander on earth, life surges and flows from His substance.
56. They also vainly accuse us of confusing unwittingly two kinds of consumption: but we deny ignoring unwittingly that which they fabricated about sacramental consumption for themselves, and of which they are reluctant to admit that it was the consumption of the matter of body without use and grace.
57. But there is nothing like this depicted in the Holy Scripture or affirmed in the witness of the early church; because indeed the truth and matter of the sacraments is not only the application of the benefits of Jesus Christ, but it is Jesus Christ Himself, with His death and resurrection.
58. Those are not appropriate interpreters, therefore, who affirm on the one hand that Jesus Christ does not possess any gifts or power of His soul, but on the other hand connect Him with spiritual gifts and the use of consumption.
59. But these cannot be separated from His Holy Spirit without defamation, in the same way as He cannot be separated from Himself.
60. Neither do the words of Paul prove their truth, “Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord,” (1 Cor. 11:27) because in it guilt does not pertain to consumption, and we neither read it anywhere nor is it according to common sense that it would be for damnation that anyone consumed Christ; but in fact those are damned who despise Him.
61. Let us affirm, therefore, about this article of faith that godless people consume the body of Christ only in a sacramental way: not without reality, but only as a sacrament; sacramento tenus (“merely a sacrament”), as Augustine says.
62. This interpretation solves the question of what it means to consume the body of Christ by faith in the Lord’s Supper.
63. For others the word “faith” is suspicious, as if it distorted truth and meaning.
64. But it is much better to accept it, since we cannot be connected to Jesus Christ in any other way, only if our mind rises from this world.
65. Faith, therefore, is the rope connecting us to Jesus Christ, which raises us upwards, whose anchor lies in heaven, in order to search for Jesus Christ there in God’s glory, rather than sinking Him under the fabrications of our intellect; and thus the conflict we touched upon can be settled in the best possible way, whether only believers consume Christ, or those without exception who are given the symbols of bread and wine.
66. Our proposed solution is right and clear: Jesus Christ gives His body and blood universally to everyone; but because the infidels close the door of His love, they do not consume what is offered to them; but from this we cannot draw the conclusions that when they despise what is given to them, they would either humiliate the grace of Jesus Christ, or reduce anything from the effect of the sacrament; since just their ingratitude does not alter its nature.
67. Neither is bread desecrated, when it is made a foretaste or pledge by Jesus Christ, as if it was not any different from ordinary bread; but it indeed proves the communion in the body and blood of Christ.
Signed by the elders of the churches of Hungary and Transylvania,
who agree in faith and in the spiritual consumption of the body of Christ.
(Translated by Szabolcs NAGYPÁL)Vulla feugiam, veraesed magnim