Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Eucharistic spectrum

In an introductory tract to Anglicanism I once read, the author stated that both memorialism and transubstantiation are outside of the scope of acceptable Anglican belief. At the time, this grated, because although I had found myself in Anglican Church for pragmatic reasons, my theology still essentially came from the Council of Trent. And indeed I continued to believe in the real absence of bread and wine in the Sacrament well in to my candidacy for Reception into the Anglican Communion.

Now I think I would grant the point. Anglicanism embraces the influence of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason (though differences abound about the nature of the interaction of the three). Memorialism or Zwinglianism is certainly against Tradition, as surely even Calvin would agree. But also, perhaps surprisingly (I would say ironically, but I am suspicious of my judgment of its use given my membership in my generation), it is unbiblical. Jesus tells us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Those words did have idiomatic meanings then - to revile and condemn someone, akin to "chewing them out" today. Are we to condemn Jesus? It can't be explained away by a purely symbolic exegesis.

Transubstantiation runs into difficulty with reason. I don't think it's fair to compare it to memorialism, because I believe that in this case the problems are not insoluble. But in order for transubstantiation to work, it needs to be adapted so as not to assume Aristotelian physics as a premise. Outside of such groups as the Palmarians (who believe in the Real Presence of Our Lady in the Blessed Sacrament), surely no one believes that a chemical analysis (while blasphemous) would not show the chemical properties of bread and wine? Indeed, say what you will about Luther, his Eucharistic theology of the horseshoe in the fire is entirely Catholic: the fire and the metal are both present yet as one. So too do the Body and Blood of Christ coexist incarnationally with the bread and wine we give back to God.

1 comment:

Davis said...

Your horse-show in the fire is an excellent analogy.