Thoughts on the Eucharist

As a person who grew up Southern Baptist, I held a memorial view of the Eucharist. It is called “The Lord’s Supper” in the SBC. I have since left the church, not really for doctrinal reasons at the time, but more for geographical reasons. Moving into the reformed camp a bit stronger, I have also adjusted my view of the Eucharist. I called it a “high symbolism” at the time, but now I am beginning to understand the direction that I was going.

From everything that I can read in Scripture and from other sources that have helped to clarify what I believe, I have moved to a more Presbyterian view of Communion. I do not believe in the Catholic view of transubstantiation and I do not believe in the Lutheran view of consubstantiation. I am now leaning very strongly toward a Calvinistic view of the Eucharist, not because I am Calvinist in my beliefs regarding election, but because this just seems to make theological sense to me.

It seems relatively obvious from the way I read things in the New Testament, that when Jesus said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood,” he was not simply using a metaphor or even a “high metaphor” as I would call it. The bottom line is that it is either symbolic or it is not. I tend to believe that it is not symbolic. That imagery is beautiful, even as mere symbolism, but it does not seem to be meant as mere symbolism. This is a much better view:

“Following a phrase of Augustine, the Calvinist view is that ‘no one bears away from this Sacrament more than is gathered with the vessel of faith’. ‘The flesh and blood of Christ are no less truly given to the unworthy than to God’s elect believers’, Calvin said, ‘but those who partake by faith receive benefit from Christ, and the unbelieving are condemned by partaking. By faith (not a mere mental apprehension), and in the Holy Spirit, the partaker beholds God incarnate, and in the same sense touches him with hands, so that by eating and drinking of bread and wine Christ’s actual presence penetrates to the heart of the believer more nearly than food swallowed with the mouth can enter in.’

Calvin specifically rejected adoration of the Eucharistic bread and wine as “idolatry”, however. The elements may be disposed of without ceremony; they are unchanged, and as such the meal directs attention toward Christ’s bodily resurrection and return.” [Italics and bold type mine]

Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

David M.

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3 responses to “

  1. state of grace

    Doing a search I came across an old post of yours called “God of Chocolate” from 2004.

    Being a Unitarian Universalist, I was delighted to read such a gracious and poetic service chosen to represent us.

    I respect your religious beliefs, as well as your offense to mine. I harbor no resentment to the post.

    Interestingly enough, I have looked into Ashland for a religious studies degree. I haven’t contacted anyone there yet. I am thinking perhaps if you represent the mindset there, I shouldn’t seek spiritual enlightenment at that facility? Is it for fundamentalist Christians only?

    I would appreciate your insight.
    Peace be in your heart,

    Zen

  2. Zen,

    Ashland Theological Seminary is an evangelical seminary. Most likely, as a unitarian universalist, you would not even be accepted into the school. If you were, I can guarrantee you that you would not feel welcome for very long.

    However, I am always available to talk about anything you like. I love great conversation about theology and religion. Email me anytime.

    David M.

  3. state of grace

    Dave,

    It’s been a while since I visited here. I am thinking now of going back for a BA in religious studies. I really think that would be a much broader view of theology than a masters at any seminary around here. I already have one BA, so I wouldn’t have to take much other than my religion courses.

    How goes your Ashland experience.

    Zen

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