Friday, April 9, 2010

More Importantly

We have to ask, though, does anyone who affirms the Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Eucharist actually believe it's only a symbol? As if, there were something insufficient about being a symbol. As if, in being symbolic, the Supper was meaningless. (Is it even possible for a symbol to be meaningless?) Much more, how is Christ's Presence in the Supper less "Real" if we say he is so by means of his Spirit? Is the Spirit's presence unreal? Does the Spirit fail to really make Christ present among us? Can any Lutheran actually deny that symbolism is really present in the elements and circumstances of Communion? The way out, here, seems to lie in affirming the absolute symbol-laden quality of reality. Is the Presence Real or Symbolic? That is a false question. The correct view of the Supper must be that, in it, we have the Presence of a Real symbolism, symbolism that we can believe. In the Eucharist, with its manifold imagery drawn together, things are taking place before us that are so utterly real and foundational, that we can barely grasp at describing the mechanics of it, things which we lack a sufficient metaphysics to describe, things so real it requires faith to perceive it.

Calvinists and Lutherans alike believe that the "is" means "is." But only a robustly creational ontology, one that gives heed to the biblical view of the world can make since of what "is" even means. I tend to think both traditions have some helpful insight on how to sketch that out, but we all know that excommunicating Baptized Christians because they disagree about the meaning of the word "is" is treachery.

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