just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Lord's Supper


"...evangelicals have gone too far in the act of de-supernaturalizing the presence of Christ at bread and wine. While the early Church proclaimed an unexplained mysterious real presence, we evangelicals have practiced and explained, non-mysterious real absence."
-Robert Webber

"The eucharist is not an abstraction to debate, but a bond between Christ and the Church to be experienced."
-perhaps from Olive Wyon, The Altar Fire, SCM Press, London, 1954

Anabaptist leader, Pilgram Marpeck, held that the Eucharist "is to establish a meeting point within the world of the senses between the divine and the human." (Rempel, The Lord's Supper in Anabaptism, Waterloo, Ont; Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press, 1993). He claimed that "there is only one Supper in which outer and inner are together." (Rempel: 135) It was his belief that "we use the realm of nature to participate in the supernatural...." (Rempel 136)

In contrast to Marpeck, Zwingli (who was not an Anabaptist) saw "the sacraments as primarily human acts of obedience...[but this] seemed to Marpeck to be an answer from those who had not taken the question seriously. The question, which the incarnation itself posed, was how matter mediates spirit." (Rempel 154-155)

"...Mennonite piety has regularly focused much on decision and responsibility and less on grace and mystery." (Rempel: 163) But what we need to come to understand is "...the relationship of grace and faith, of the inner world of spirit and the outer world of matter." (Rempel: 163) Marpeck said that "through the unity of external and internal, we are given a communion with the body and blood of Christ, that is, a gracious encounter with God as he took flesh in Christ." (Rempel: 219)

"...the current emphasis is on the Supper as an act of remembrance and as a sign of community. In both cases, the focus has been on human actions." (Rempel: 224-5)

Dirk Philips "holds fast to the real presence of Christ in the breaking of the bread while distinguishing that claim from any association with the repetition of his sacrifice." (Rempel: 181)

"'Merely a symbol,' an earthbound gesture, say radical Protestants of the bread and the cup." (Rempel: back cover)

"Rempel issues a call for Anabaptist eucharistic theology to help correct later developments in the non-Lutheran Reformation which tend to downgrade the Lord's Supper to be merely a human act of remembrance. In the Eucharist, the church embodies the presence of Christ and is sustained by that meeting with God." (Rempel: back cover)