A Dialogue on Eucharist and Symbol

Anchorite:  Show me where in the first 9 centuries someone held to your view of the Supper.

Covenant:  Does Ratramnus count?

Anchorite:  No, he is a Westerner.  Show me someone else who held that the Supper was merely a symbol?

Covenant:  Who says I believe that?

Anchorite:  OrthoBridge says you do.

Covenant:  Sadly, I am aware of that.  Even worse, neither he nor his Reformed interlocutor knows what Calvin said.

Anchorite:  Well, here is what he said:

Something similar to Socrates’ Cave can be seen in Protestantism’s emphasis on the profound gap that separates us from God.  It is grounded in ontology (God’s infinity) and morality (God’s infinite goodness and man’s utter depravity).  The moral gap is resolved by Christ’s atoning death on the cross for our sins.  The ontological gap is bridged primarily by the divinely inspired Scriptures and faith in Christ.

Covenant:  Yikes, that’s bad.  The ontological gap is not bridged by Scriptures.  Saying it “bridges” it is misleading.  The ontological gap is always there, but there is an analogical, sacramental union between sign and thing signified.  Orthodoxy simultaneously holds to both univocal and equivocal models:  it is equivocal on their gloss when I approach the bible for I can never know what the words really mean, but it is univocal when they approach the supper because the bread is Jesus’s DNA.  I would critique the Orthodox for not knowing what this is, but Federal Vision guys don’t know either. Orthodox philosophy stayed in the dark ages after Nicea II, so it is not surprising that they don’t have a category for analogical union.

Anchorite:  See how he refutes you here:

However, this is at odds with the first century Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem which has a twofold epiclesis: upon the congregation and upon the Eucharistic elements.

Covenant:  Did I miss something?  How is throwing a counter quote at me a refutation?

Anchorite:  Well, you all are Johnny Come Latelys:

One striking aspect of the Reformed worship tradition is the omission of the epiclesis.  The epiclesis — the calling down of the Holy Spirit on the bread and the wine — is key to the Orthodox understanding of the Eucharist.  The denial of the local presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist along with the omission of the epiclesis points to the Reformed tradition break from the liturgical theology of the ancient church.

Covenant:  Maybe we omit the epiclesis because we don’t need it.  We aren’t magicians.  We aren’t “changing” anything, so we don’t need a magical incantation.

Anchorite:  It is evidence of a gnostic attitude to history.  It seems that for many Protestants history doesn’t matter, that all we need is the Bible and faith in Christ.

Covenant:  If that is so, then why does the Westminster Confession speak of ministerial authorities?

Anchorite:  Many Protestants honor the early church fathers for combating the heresies of Gnosticism, Arianism, Sabellianism, and accept the early orthodox definitions of Christology and the Trinity but then show no respect to the way the early church worshiped.

Covenant:  That’s because God says people who worship the Queen of Heaven and pictures “hate him.” I agree with their conclusions but I don’t see why I am eternally bound to hold to substance metaphysics and sometimes bad exegesis (see the glosses on Proverbs 8).

Anchorite:  If the Reformed Christians are right on this, then the whole premise of II Timothy 2:2 must be called into question and so also the promise of the Spirit’s guidance in John 14:25-26 and 16:12-15.

Covenant:  No, we just don’t believe asserting the consequent is a good logical argument.  It does not follow that because you do something, and you claim “tradition,” that the apostles meant the same thing you do.

I will concede that Calvin had a Platonic streak in him. I find it hilarious that the Orthodox try to critique him on this point.  You guys think Yeshua is actually hyper-ousia, you have an ontology of “overcoming embodiment,” and you hold to chain of being–but no, Calvin is wrong because he is Platonic.

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