My Current Thinking on the Lord’s Supper

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Over the last year or so, a lot of my beliefs have been shifting significantly.  To cite one example, growing up in a conservative church, i never knew that there was a view other than the one i held, which i later learned was called the memorial view.  My beliefs on this matter have already shifted somewhat, and are still a bit in process.  So, here are my current musings on the Lord’s Supper, which i originally discussed here:

I think that since nearly all conservative evangelicals typically (over?)emphasize the sermon, the Eucharist is an afterthought.  It seems that most people don’t even think about what is happening at the Lord’s Table.  To me this is tragic.

My two cents on why many evangelicals downplay the Lord’s Supper is that most have a severely underdeveloped pneumatology.   Although this is changing the Holy Spirit is still, to paraphrase the great theologian Karl Barth’s (and maybe Picard’s) words: “the last theological frontier.”

How this fleshes out in the Eucharist is that since we often fail to realize the presence of Christ in the Holy Spirit many relegate Jesus back to the 1st century and “remember” Him in the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus doesn’t need to merely be remembered.  Jesus wants to connect with us here and now when we take the sacrament.  I know that i’m caricaturing the memorial view a bit, but i think that many fall into this trap of merely “remembering” what Jesus did for them, as opposed to being lifted into the presence of Christ here and now in the sacrament.

All that said, i’m not sure what category i best fit into.  I don’t know if i need to have absolute clarity on this matter: a little mystery seems okay at this point.  I do know that i’ve moved past a mere “memorial” view.  I think this is healthy.  It seems to me that to think about the Lord’s Supper in pneumatological (and thus Trinitarian) terms forces us to do so. 

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3 responses to “My Current Thinking on the Lord’s Supper

  1. I, too, am comfortable with mystery when it comes to the Lord’s Table. However, if we reject the memorial view and transubstantiation, then there ought to be some reason why beyond an incohate “it just doesn’t seem right.” (I’m not suggesting this is what you said.) This is why I feel some need to clarify what and why I believe on this matter, even if, at the end of the day, I think my view is a mysterious one.

  2. Chris,

    I agree with you in regards to think through these issues in order to achieve whatever clarity is possible. Here is the main “middle path’ between the memorial view and the RC view of transubstantiation:

    1.) The basic view is that Christ is really present in the sacraments of bread and wine. One view in this vein is the RC view of transubstantiation, while the other is the belief born out of Lutheranism called consubstantiation, which affirms the real presence of Christ while rejecting the transformation of the elements found in the RC view. Christ is “in, with, and under” the actual elements.

    I think that this is where i land at this point Chris. I think that this view makes sense, and is possibly required, by a properly developed doctrine of the Holy Spirit, one of the roles of which is to reveal Christ in our midst. This role must surely include the Lord’s Supper. How this works exactly, i’m not sure. Hence, the mystery in the midst of clarity.

    Thanks for the comment Chris.

  3. An excellent book on this topic is Given for You: ReclaimingCalvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper written by Keith Mathison. You may wish to read Calvin’s Short Treatise on the Lord’s Supper.

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