Memorials aren’t Zwinglian

Some high church Protestants over-react against Zwinglianism as an over-reaction against Rome.   They say, “See, we have a high view of the sacraments, too, even if we don’t impute archaic philosophical systems to it.”    Then we have a problem when the New Testament says “Do this in remembrance of me.”  That’s memorial (and not substance-!) language.

But I don’t think it is Zwinglian, either.   God always has at least two witnesses to his promises.  In our case it is Word and Oath.   The language of “signs” is appropriate, as Augustine understood, but it is far richer than Augustine could have imagined.  “Signs” aren’t merely “think on this as an aid to devotion,” but an objective testimony of God’s action in history.  When Joshua created the stone memorials of God’s work, they still functioned as signs of God’s promise even if no one were to subjectively appropriate them.

Jordan interestingly ties sacramental theology to the Trinitarian processions.

What, then, is the relation between the Second and Third Per-sons of God? If we say that the Spirit proceeds from the Fatheronly, then Word and Sacrament are independent, separate revela-
tions. Each stands alone. This has been the position of some East-ern Orthodox theologians.
If we say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, then the Sacrament is only a confirmation of the Word, and secondary to it. It is a supplement, which we can take or leave.
This is the unconscious view of most protestants.
If we say, rightly, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, and also from the Son, then the Sacrament is tied to the Word inseparably (proceeding from the Son), yet is also a separate line of testi-
mony (proceeding from the Father). Because the Spirit proceedsfrom the Son, the Sacrament should be done liturgically after the proclamation of the Word. Because the Spirit proceeds from the
Father, the Sacrament should be regarded as a distinct revelationof God, different in mode, but not in content, from the Word
(Sociology of the Church, 41).

2 comments on “Memorials aren’t Zwinglian

  1. Daniel Jones says:

    Sign is Being for Augustine. I’m not following you here.

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