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Acording to Wikipedia the Mass is seen as a sacrifice in the Lutheran Chruch, just like it is in the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

However, I think this is wrong, I'm pretty sure from Luther's "On The Babylonian captivity of the Church", that Luther did not view the mass as a sacrifice.

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In the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Philipp Melanchthon identifies two distinct meanings of the word "sacrifice," rejecting one (the Roman Catholic view) and accepting the other:

The proximate species of sacrifice are two, and there are no more. One is the propitiatory sacrifice, i.e., a work which makes satisfaction for guilt and punishment, i.e., one that reconciles God, or appeases God's wrath, or which merits the remission of sins for others. The other species is the eucharistic sacrifice, which does not merit the remission of sins or reconciliation, but is rendered by those who have been reconciled, in order that we may give thanks or return gratitude for the remission of sins that has been received, or for other benefits received. (XXIV §19)

Put another way – a "sacrifice" can be understood as a substitutionary sacrifice that reconciles people to God, or it can be a giving of thanks by those already reconciled to God. Lutherans reject the idea that the former idea is present in the Eucharist/Mass, but believe that the latter is an aspect of it. Of the first type, there has been only one:

There has been only one propitiatory sacrifice in the world, namely, the death of Christ (§22)

But the second type continues to be properly part of the Christian's life:

Now the rest are eucharistic sacrifices, which are called sacrifices of praise, Lev. 3:1f.; 7:11f.; Ps. 56:12f., namely, the preaching of the Gospel, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, the afflictions of saints, yea, all good works of saints. These sacrifices are not satisfactions for those making them, or applicable on behalf of others, so as to merit for these, ex opere operato, the remission of sins or reconciliation. (§25)

This understanding of "sacrifice" continues in Lutheranism today. John Mueller, summarizing the work of Francis Pieper, has little regard for the Catholic view of the sacrifice of the Mass:

Closely connected with the pernicious doctrine of transubstantiation are the papistic errors of the "sacrifice of the Mass," by which "Christ's body "is continually offered up in an unbloody manner for the sins of the living and the dead." (Christian Dogmatics, 511)

So we see that the word "sacrifice" may be used in the context of Lutheran Mass, but not in the same sense as Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would use it.

  • Would "offering" get at the idea better? – curiousdannii Aug 7 '18 at 12:25
  • @curiousdannii Perhaps, but there is biblical precedent for using "sacrifice" language... sacrifice of praise, spiritual sacrifice, etc. And Lutherans seem to be generally inclusive with language, not outright rejecting a word simply because it is commonly understood the "wrong" way, but rather insisting that their definition is preferable. – Nathaniel Aug 7 '18 at 14:36
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    Just experientially from growing up in a Lutheran church, I never have heard anyone call it the mass, always communion. – L1R Aug 7 '18 at 16:41
  • @Nathaniel Right, but those are all translations too. You may be right about them being inclusive. Reformed folk are as well with things like free will. I think it's probably unhelpful. – curiousdannii Aug 7 '18 at 21:49

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