Why a Good Host Doesn’t Use the Word Host

Here is a letter – surprise, surprise – that wasn’t relegated to the trash can by its receipts. The The Lutheran Witness published it in the October 2017 issue.

August 3, 2017 A.D.

RE: “Holy Things for Holy People”, August 2017 Witness

Dear Editor:

In this very short, informative, and accurate article about receiving the Body of Christ, four times the author refers to the “Host.”

According to Catholic scholar Martin Mosebach’s book on Roman Catholic liturgy The Heresy of Formlessness “Host” means “sacrificial gift” (179). According to Oxford History of Worship it comes from the Latin hostia and means “victim or sacrifice” (849), According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church’s Host refers to “A sacrificial victim, and so the consecrated Bread in the Eucharist, regarded as the Sacrifice of the Body of Christ” (670). The Lutheran Cyclopedia entry for Host simply says, “Wafer, or bread, of the Lord’s Supper (see Grace, Means of, IV). I found nothing more at this location.

Let’s keep sacrificial terminology away from Lutheran sacramental theology except when speaking of a sacrifice of praise.

Pastor Paul Harris

Austin, Texas

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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