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Session 2 Anglican Eucharistic Theology Some Philosophical Reflections - both secular and religious.

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1 Session 2 Anglican Eucharistic Theology Some Philosophical Reflections - both secular and religious

2 The Problem of Universals A perennial problem in philosophy and highly relevant to any study of Anglican eucharistic theology and sacramental theology per se - particularly concerning signs and what and how they signify Concerns the relationship between particular signs or symbols and whether or not they convey the reality they signify Those who argue signs convey the signified reality are realists and those who disagree are nominalists - both positions found in throughout the AET - with realism dominating

3 The voices of the AET Macquarrie and Temple as realists argue for a ‘sacramental universe’ where signs are linked in a real way with what they signify - signs of bread and wine linked in real way with Christ’s body and blood - signs convey what they signify in a real way in the present - e.g. real presence, anamnesis Jensen and Zahl as nominalists argue that there is no real link between the signs and what they signify and that signs function only as named (hence nominalism) reminders or pledges of Christ’s completed actions in the past

4 David Ford Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge Argues that ‘the question of how or whether one maintains some sort of realism... is central to much current theological debate’ (1992: 209).

5 Realism and Nominalism This lecture is proposing that the philosophical notions of realism and nominalism are useful for analysing the assumptions underling AET Both secular and religious philosophers contribute This helps us to avoid the problems of hermeneutic idealism and to acknowledge the multiformity of AET and work towards a discourse that has integrity

6 A secular philosopher helps Professor David Armstrong (born 1926) was Challis Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University His work helps to provide a philosophical framework for analysing the AET Anglican scholars complement this work

7 The Problem of Universals Armstrong argues that ‘the problem of universals is the problem of how numerically different particulars can nonetheless be identical in nature, all of the same type’ (1995: 41) This is an ancient problem going back at least to Plato but taken up as useful by many Christian theologians (e.g. Augustine, Aquinas, Macquarrie, Williams) Aquinas for example spoke of two different particulars having same essence, property or substance - identical in nature, although numerically distinct - led to transubstantiation

8 Reformation Swing There was a swing against this realism in the Reformation era Theologians adopted a more nominalist approach separating sign and signified Zwingli for example argued that ‘the sign and the thing signified cannot be one and the same’ (On the Lord’s Supper, 188) Sign could not in Zwingli’s view share the same essence, substance or nature as the thing they signified - Cranmer agreed but many other Anglicans have not

9 David Armstrong Realist analysis argues that two different things or particulars can be of the same type (essence, substance, nature) ‘Same’ needs very careful consideration ‘Same’ can mean ‘identical’ in a strict sense even though the two things in a different place - e.g. bread becomes flesh - generally rejected ‘Same can also mean a ‘loose’ identity such that the nature of the signified is present in the sign - e.g. the nature of Christ is present in the Eucharist and the elements - realism

10 Moderate and Immoderate Realism Armstrong makes the useful distinction between ‘moderate’ and ‘immoderate’ realism Moderate realism implies a sharing of nature, substance or essence between sign and signified without sign and signified being strictly identical Immoderate realism implies a realism where sign and signified have a strict identity

11 ‘Miracle of Bolsena’ Raphael painted this picture in 1512 It depicts a priest celebrating the Eucharist and realising that the bread had become real human flesh and the wine a cup of real human blood Immoderate realism

12 Immoderate Realism Medieval art frequently depicted immoderate realist scenes Christ’s physical, fleshy body and blood on altar This was a corruption - Aquinas specifically rejects this type of thinking and opts for moderate realism

13 Moderate Realism Signs become an instance of or instantiate the signified but not in a fleshy manner - e.g. Aquinas and transubstantiation and many Anglican theologians who speak of ‘real presence’ or ‘the sacramental principle’ Armstrong helps again by arguing that ‘it is an intelligible possibility that there should be two particulars with exactly the same nature’ (1995: 42)

14 Some Examples of Moderate Realism in AET

15 The 39 Articles 1571 Article XXV describes sacraments as ‘effectual signs of grace’ whereby God ‘doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him’ Article XXVIII: ‘The Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith’ - NB Body of Christ not given by faith but present independently of faith

16 BCP Catechism 1604 Questions about sacraments added in 1604 Sacrament is ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof’ - both a means and a pledge Eucharist ‘for continual remembrance of the sacrifice and death of Christ, and of the benefits we receive thereby’ ‘The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper’

17 Lancelot Andrewes ‘For Christ in the Sacrament is not altogether unlike Christ in the cratch [cradle]. To the cratch we may well liken the husk or outward symbols of it. Outwardly it seems little worth, but it is rich of contents, as was the crib this day with Christ in it.... Yet in them we find Christ... which very food our signs represent and present unto us’ (Works, I, 35)

18 William Forbes Bishop of Edinburgh ‘In the supper, moreover, by the wonderful power of the Holy Ghost we invisibly communicate with the substance of the body [and blood] of Christ, of which we are made partakers no otherwise than if we visibly ate and drank his flesh and blood’ (Forbes: II, 421)

19 Rowan Williams - Born 1950 In Tokens of Trust says of the words ‘This is my body’ and ‘This is my blood’ that we should ‘hear it as Jesus saying of the bread, ‘This too is my body; this is as much a carrier of my life and my identity as my literal flesh and blood’ (116)

20 Williams continues ‘The force of the Gospel text... seems to be more to do with a kind of extension of the reality of Jesus’ presence to the bread and wine. They too bear and communicate the life of Jesus, who and what he is. By eating these, the believer receives what the literal flesh and blood have within them, the radiant action and power of God the Son, the life that makes him who he is’ (116) The incarnation is an instantiation of this sort of realist analysis

21 David Ford In an important article called ‘What happens in the Eucharist?’ he argues for a distinction between what he calls ‘relational realism’ and ‘non-relational realism’ Relational = immoderate Non-relational = moderate

22 David Ford Puts a case for non-relational (moderate) realism where the bread and wine instantiates Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist as an identity of nature (loose) Denies a relational (immoderate) realism which would be fleshy or carnal Like Armstrong, Ford suggests that Christ’s nature is strictly identical in both instantiations of bread/wine and body/blood but the particulars are not strictly identical - even though both sets of particulars instantiate same universal, that is the nature, essence or substance of Christ

23 Not all agree! Of course there are many within Christian and Anglican tradition who do not agree with this analysis - e.g. nominalists Sameness of type (e.g. associating bread/wine with body/body) is in this analysis dependent on semantic and propositional statements of naming in an enquiring mind Catherine Pickstock calls this ‘a textual calculus of the real’ (1998: 3) where such a world depends on the enquiring mind alone and is ‘disposed to treat words as capital’ (1998: 10)

24 The Role of Philosophy Philosophy assists in theological reflection This is so in areas such as sacramental theology and eucharistic theology in particular This certainly seems to be true for the AET

25 In our next lecture We will explore some case studies of both realist and nominalist analysis in the Anglican eucharistic tradition Knowing that there are different philosophical assumptions within the AET helps us to hear what people are saying and in so doing gives the discourse more integrity It promotes dialogue and helps to prevent the exclusiveness of hermeneutic idealism while at the same time allowing us to value our tradition, interests and commitments


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