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Anglican Eucharistic Theology Session 1: The Integrity of the Discourse?

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1 Anglican Eucharistic Theology Session 1: The Integrity of the Discourse?

2 Anglican Eucharistic Theology Anglican eucharistic theology has a long, complex and serious history which did not begin at the time of the English Reformation - several Reformations in fact are found Anglican eucharistic theology draws on biblical, theological and philosophical traditions dating from the earliest Christian times until the present In the time we have available we can explore some of these traditions and their impact on AET

3 The Discourse of Anglican Eucharistic Theology Rowan Williams asks an important question, that is: ‘What makes us say of any discourse that it has or that it lacks “integrity”?’ (2000: 3) For Williams a discourse lacks integrity when it ‘steps back from the risks of conversation’ (4) that is, not allowing critical and reflective subject to subject conversation and dialogue

4 Does the discourse of the AET lack integrity? At times it may when it functions as a closed and predetermined or exclusive discourse so typical of church parties - both Catholic and Evangelical Integrity is lacking when the discourse presents ‘to the hearer a set of positions and arguments other than those that are finally determinative of its workings’ (3)

5 Hermeneutic Idealism Habermas notes the presence of ‘hermeneutic idealism’ which is interpreted as: ‘Conceptualising of reality that is totally dependent on one’s own (or one’s ‘communal groups’) beliefs, values and interpretations, whilst at the same time remaining blind to their causes, backgrounds and those wider connections that would contextualise them and help those holding them to see that they are in fact just one set of beliefs, values and interpretations in a sea of related and unrelated sets’ (Lovat and Douglas, 2007)

6 It is contended therefore where hermeneutic idealism remains the focus of the AET the integrity of the discourse is threatened where more critical methods of approaching the AET are used the integrity of the AET is enhanced where conversation is encouraged the integrity of the discourse can be recovered

7 Philosophical Assumptions I want to suggest that when we are prepared to engage in the discourse of the AET we limit hermeneutic idealism We do this by critically reflecting on the tradition and the multiformity of the AET both in terms of its expression and the philosophical assumptions which underlie it This will be a major part of our task today For more detail see Douglas and Lovat (2010)

8 Some Examples of these philosophical assumptions

9 William Temple Spoke of true reality realising “its various forms through embodying itself in things - or through the creation of things for this purpose of the Divine Will” (Christus Veritas, 1924: 11) Reality embodied in things - a sacramental universe

10 George Herbert Suggested God was seen in natural things ‘Teach me my God and King in all things thee to see’ (Works of George Herbert, 1994: 171)

11 John Macquarrie ‘Perhaps the goal of all sacramentality and sacramental theology is to make the things of this world so transparent that in them and through them we know God’s presence and activity in over very midst, and so experience his grace’ (A Guide to the Sacraments, 1997: 1)

12 Lancelot Andrewes Spoke of sacraments as ‘conduits of grace’ ‘Grace and truth now proceeding not from the Word alone, but even from the flesh thereto united; the fountain of the Word flowing into the cistern of His flesh, and from thence deriving down to us this grace and truth’ (Works, I, 100).

13 These Anglican thinkers speak to us of what philosophers call realism

14 Realism argues Signs represent and present the Signified For many within the discourse of the AET this thinking has been important Signs are seen to represent and present what they signify The incarnation is a supreme example of this Philosophers call this realism Realism well represented in the AET

15 But there is another philosophical stream in AET which philosophers call nominalism

16 William Perkins c ‘We hold and teach that Christ’s body and blood are truly present with the bread and wine, being signs in the sacrament: but how? Not in the manner of place or coexistence: but by sacramental relation on this manner.’

17 William Perkins ‘When a word is uttered, the sound comes to the ear; and at the same instant, the thing signified comes to the mind; and thus by relation the word and the thing spoken of, are both present together. Even so at the Lord’s table bread and wine must not be considered barely, as substances or creatures, but as outward signs in relation to the body and blood of Christ’ (Works, I, 590) Sign and signified are linked in enquiring mind only through language - philosopher call this nominalism

18 Benjamin Hoadly ‘The very essence of this Institution [the Eucharist] being Remembrance of a past transaction, and this Remembrance necessarily excluding the Corporal presence’ (A Plain Account, 1735: 54) Eucharist was a means of ‘publicly acknowledging Him to be their Master, and themselves to be His disciples’ (58) Eucharist figurative only as ‘a token or pledge to assure us of what it calls to our remembrance’ (131)

19 Charles Ryle ‘It was ordained ‘for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby’. The bread which in the Lord’s Supper is broken, given, and eaten, is meant to remind us of Christ’s body given on the cross for our sins. The wine which is poured out and received, is meant to remind us of Christ’s blood shed on the cross for our sins. He that eats that bread and drinks that wine is reminded, in the most striking and forcible manner, of the benefits Christ has obtained for his soul, and of the death of Christ as the hinge and turning point on which all those benefits depend.’ (Practical Religion, 1878: )

20 William Griffith Thomas ‘The idea of a “sign” is not that of a channel or pipe, but that of a seal, or pledge, or guarantee’. (The Catholic Faith, 1904/1966: 104)

21 Robert Doyle - Born 1947 ‘Christ does not work in the world by way of sacraments or signs, but... works directly, by his word’ (Lay Administration, 1998: 2) For Doyle the Eucharist is a sign of Christ’s promises and not the means of his grace

22 Peter Jensen Born 1943 Eucharist is ‘a sort of perpetual wake’ which functions as ‘a perpetual and effective reminder of the sheer stature of Jesus Christ’ (Come to the Supper of the Lord’s Table to share a meal, 2002: 1 and 2) ‘The Supper is not above the word, or even on parity with the word’ (The Gospel and Mission, 2003)

23 Nominalism argues that Signs do not present the Signified For a significant group within the discourse of the AET this thinking has been important Signs are pictures, pledges or tokens of what they represent but do not present what they signify Philosophers call this nominalism - the relation functions in the enquiring mind only as a naming process but not in any real way as a vehicle or means of grace such that Christ is really present

24 The Integrity of the Discourse If the discourse of the AET has integrity then we need to recognise the multiformity of the philosophical assumptions underlying it If hermeneutic idealism rules in the views of Church parties then integrity is threatened by closed, predetermined and exclusive discourse As Williams argues integrity depends on conversation and dialogue in the discourse of the AET which is critical, reflective, unfinished, open and allows for correction This of course does not mean we have to surrender the authenticity of our tradition - merely acknowledge others and expect the same from them!

25 In the next session We will do some more philosophy If you want some more to read: More case studies available in depth at:


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