“This Is the Body Given for You”
The Development of Karlstadt's Eucharistic Theology
This chapter describes Andreas Karlstadt's understanding of the Lord's Supper as it was expressed in eight pamphlets published in 1524–1525. The earliest pamphlets reveal the influence of Ulrich Zwingli, Erasmus, and Cornelis Hoen on Karlstadt's thought, while the last four, written after Karlstadt's public break with Martin Luther, directly attack the latter's position. Karlstadt rejected Christ's corporeal presence in the elements, arguing instead that the Lord's Supper was only a remembrance and proposing a new interpretation of Christ's words, “this is my body,” to uphold that understanding. He also introduced several arguments based on other Scripture texts and on reason to oppose Christ's corporeal presence. Underlying his conflict with Luther was his spiritualist dualism, which led him to reject the ability of material things to convey any spiritual benefit.
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