I plan on doing a longer post on why I came down on a Reformed understanding of the sacraments as opposed to a Lutheran one (and also why I am Reformed and not Lutheran, despite my tremendous love for Gustav and Chemnitz). Ironically, the phrasing of it came from a man with whom I normally disagree: Kim Riddlebarger. KR was discussing the ascension of Christ and he mentioned a conversation he had with a Lutheran friend of his:
Lutheran: Kim, so, is Jesus just going to drop down from heaven on a rope?
While seemingly incoherent, the Lutheran’s question was nothing short of brilliant. What he was implying was that the Reformed (correctly) teach that Jesus’s person (and body) are in heaven at the right hand of God the father (and hence, not in the bread and wine). The thing is, Acts 3 says just that: Jesus must remain in heaven until the time of refreshing.
We know from Chalcedon that Jesus can never be separated from his humanity post-incarnation. Further, Jesus’s humanity is en-hypostatized in the Person of the Logos. The Person of the Logos is at the right hand of the Father. Therefore, the humanity is not in a million bread-wine-altars (otherwise, we would have a million hypostases of the Logos; so who’s the Nestorian now? Sorry, couldn’t resist). This is what decided the Reformed faith for me.
Thus, we see a difficulty for Lutheranism, Orthodoxy, and Rome. The difficulty is compounded because if Orthodoxy says that the bread and wine are just bread and wine, which is correct, then on what grounds do they venerate/worship the elements? If it is just bread and wine, then this is idolatry by anyone’s definition. If it is the actual body and blood of Christ, then we are back to the difficulty mentioned above.