I've pointed this out in the past but never realized the "Reformers" recognized this problem. When they changed Christ's ancient teaching of the pillar and foundation of the truth, they recognized that many of their disciples stopped celebrating the Lord's Supper.The proof given consists of statements from Luther's Large Catechism (bolded emphasis from the CARM post):
In conclusion, since we have now the true understanding and doctrine of the Sacrament, there is indeed need of some admonition and exhortation, that men may not let so great a treasure which is daily administered and distributed among Christians pass by unheeded, that is, that those who would be Christians make ready to receive this venerable Sacrament often. 40] For we see that men seem weary and lazy with respect to it; and there is a great multitude of such as hear the Gospel, and, because the nonsense of the Pope has been abolished, and we are freed from his laws and coercion, go one, two, three years, or even longer without the Sacrament, as though they were such strong Christians that they have no need of it; 41] and some allow themselves to be prevented and deterred by the pretense that we have taught that no one should approach it except those who feel hunger and thirst, which urge them to it. Some pretend that it is a matter of liberty and not necessary, and that it is sufficient to believe without it; and thus for the most part they go so far that they become quite brutish, and finally despise both the Sacrament and the Word of God.First, from a personal contemporary perspective, I belong to a Protestant church in which the sacrament of Holy Communion is taken quite seriously and is well-attended by the congregation. The sacrament is observed typically once a month, though in two stages. The week before the celebration, part of the service is dedicated to preparing for the upcoming Lord's Supper and parishioners are exhorted to continue prayerfully preparing during the week. In other words, however unimportant this Roman detractor thinks all of Protestantism regards the sacraments, my experience does not support any such contention; and by extension, all those churches that are in solidarity with my church share a similar seriousness in regard to Holy Communion.
From a historical perspective, I would direct this Roman defender to Steven E. Ozment, The Reformation in the Cities: The appeal of Protestantism to Sixteenth-Century Germany and Switzerland (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975). He should particularly read chapter 2: Lay Religious Attitudes on the Eve of the Reformation. On page 17, Ozment describes historians that spoke against a lively religious piety in the late Middle Ages. For instance, one French scholar saw in a particular French region "only external, formalized religiosity among laymen." He notes a lack of enthusiasm in the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist (p.18). After noting the irregularity of those faithfully going to confession, he states, "Irregularity is also found to mark lay reception of the Eucharist, despite large numbers of participants at Easter and other festive occasions, when attendance was much more diligently enforced" (p. 19). Ozment then states:
"A study of piety in late medieval Germany has reported very similar results. There, even the threat of force did not prevent many from staying away from Easter communion as well as 'voluntary' communion during the year. In 1480 in the diocese of Eichstätt, fewer than one hundred persons are recorded to have received communion at times other than Easter" (p.19).Roman Catholic historian Joseph Lortz notes similarly:
Within the whole system the reception of holy communion played a very small part. Universally the power of this opus operatum above all others fell into the background of the spiritual economy. In general, people received only the strictly obligatory Easter communion after the likewise obligatory two confessions. (Communion was obligatory, moreover, on pain of imprisonment and corporeal punishment.) And even then there was relatively great neglect of this minimum. There were repeated admonitions from synods that this once yearly communion must not be neglected. But these admonitions were in vain. [Joseph Lortz, The Reformation in Germany Volume 1 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968), p. 123].But perhaps the best response to this Roman defender was offered by another CARM participant:
Hebrews 10: "24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
So, who had "changed Christ's ancient teaching of the pillar and foundation of truth" when the epistle to the Hebrews was written? Interesting that the apostles encountered similar behavior even before the great and powerful Oz, oops, I meant the great and powerful, all-authority Roman Church came into existence.This CARM contributor makes a good point, a good biblical point. There were those people even during the lifetime of the Apostles and the writing of the New Testament that "gave up" the blessing of meeting together as a church. And of course, there's Paul's description of the abuses during the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11). It's no surprise to me that the writer to the Hebrews and Paul both exhorted the early church on basic points of fellowship and sacraments, nor am I surprised Luther did the same. If the apostles needed to exhort the church, why would we assume those that came after the apostles would not need to as well?