Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Real Body and Real Blood


Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, ye are become of the same body and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood.. Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood? (Catechism, Cyril of Jerusalem, CA 340 AD)


It is an unfortunate reality that many in the Christian world have lost touch with the sacramental nature of our redemption. This alienation began with the protestant reformation’s overreaction to the real presence of Christ in the sacraments. With exception of Luther, all the most influential reformers stammered on this issue. It was Luther alone who bravely stood at the colloquy of Marburg and stated that those who rejected the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist were of another spirit. Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, and even Cramner in his 1552 book of common prayer’s black rubric sided with the protestant anti-historical position. Nevertheless, this issue would not be let go by the Anglicans, it continued to be a point of disagreement, and today the non presence view has finally lost its sway. Today it is almost unanimous amongst all Anglicans that there is a real presence in the Eucharist.

Why have some, and why do some persons still resist this clear teaching of scripture? What good is there to loose by embracing the real presence? I propose that there are three reasons folks resist this doctrine.

First, if one were to embrace the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, this then would mean that it is partaking in the Eucharist would be good and desirable for salvation, just as the knowledge of Christ from the word is good and necessary. This would imply that one would no more gather for worship without a sermon than without the Eucharist. In short, it would mean a complete cultural transformation of worship.

Second, if one were to embrace the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, this then would mean that the reformation over reacted and the ancient church was right. Humble pie is never tasty.

However, I believe the third is the most powerful reason. If one were to embrace the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, this then would mean that our whole view of reality would be challenged. The realm of God would be among us in a way that is tangible; God would be in us as we are in Him. All of this would mean that theology would have to be completely rethought and reassessed, and no one wants to do that. Nevertheless if this is not embraced then those who most affirm the literal meaning of scripture are forced to deny it clear and unambiguous meaning.

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