Irena Backus
University of Geneva
Leibniz saw the question of the eucharist as a crucial stumbling block to the agreement between Lutherans and Calvinists. Mandated together with Daniel Ernst Jablonsky to prepare working documents for the negotiations between Hanover and Brandenburg in 1697, Leibniz carefully read through the Calvinist Confessions of faith and the works of Calvin in their 1671 edition. He made an extensive collection of excerpts from the Confessions of faith and from Calvin's Institutes all intended to show that Calvinists admitted the substantial presence of Christ's body in the eucharist. (This collection of excerpts is analysed here for the first time and compared with another little-known document, the Unvorgreiffliches Bedencken). L. had argued previously in 1691/92 that, contrary to the assertions of Pellisson-Fontanier, his own conception of substance and of Christ's presence in the eucharist was completely different from Calvin's. However, by 1697, it was clear to Leibniz that Calvin's concept of substance, which was broadly speaking Aristotelian, was never defined clearly by the reformer, and could be made to coincide with Leibniz's own notion of substance as force rather than substance in its dimensional sense. At the same time L. dissociated Ubiquitarianism (doctrine characteristic of late sixteenth century Lutheranism, which defended the dimensional presence of Christ's body in heaven and in the eucharist, by arguing that Christ in his divine nature could cause his physical body to be present in several places at the same time) from Lutheranism. He also drove a wedge between the doctrines of Zwingli and Calvin. L. thus attempted to find religious union on a common ontology and he might well have succeeded if it were not for complex political circumstances, which ultimately caused the failure of the negotiations
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2011.599569
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