Wednesday, November 25, 2009

William Robinson in "Religion and Life"

I just finished reading William Robinson's 1925 book, Religion and Life. I really appreciated this quotation and wanted to share it:

“Remember, the call to the Kingdom is a call to strenuous action, to dangerous living. The Church is to manifest the Kingdom to the world. If she is to do this she must apply her Master’s doctrine of the Kingdom to her life in the world. If she is prepared to take this course it will mean something for the rooting out of social evils which now abound everywhere—of selfishness in the industrial world, sexual evils, the drink curse, and war. How far is the Church prepared to stoop to remove these? To the Cross? The Church has the only weapon which can succeed—the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is God’s power to accomplish the world’s salvation. But the Gospel is based on the path of self-renunciation which leads to His Kingdom. Christianity has too often been presented as a system of ‘get,’ but it is largely a system of ‘give.’ Likewise it is not merely a matter of salvation: it is a matter of being saved to serve. We need not stand gazing into the heavens looking for a kingdom or a reign which is to bring personal aggrandizement or power of a worldly kind; for such will not come. For the present our way is here, our task is at the door, the way is that of self-denial. Christianity is founded on a theology—it is the Truth: it is a religion, and as such is realized in a life of communion—it is the Life: but it is also the Way—a life of service to humanity” (85-86).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Daily Show vs. Fox News

The Daily Show busts Sean Hannity and Fox News for falsifying evidence. Gotta love it!!!

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Conclusion to Wittgenstein Paper

Some in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, as noted above, view the Lord’s Supper as an ordinance, something to practice because of Christ’s command, and a memorial, a time to acknowledge Christ’s death for humanity. The Christian Churches need to give greater attention to the Eucharist as a “visible word.” This emphasis would help the Christian Churches move beyond an Enlightenment and particularly Protestant emphasis upon rational or verbal communication and come to appreciate the importance of “showing” or symbolic communication in worship.[1]

Also, the Christian Churches must come to a greater understanding that worship practices, like the Eucharist, inform our language and belief and have ethical implications. Worship forms Christians for ministry and calls people. For the story the church recites in worship “shapes the church, forms spirituality, and motivates the mission of the church.”[2] This formation shapes the church for authentic witness. While some fear exists about the “threat” of postmodernism, philosophers like Wittgenstein and some theologians indebted to him can help all Christians retrieve these emphases and embody an authentic witness.

[1] Webber, 99–114.

[2] Ibid., 93.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

An Embodied Apologetic

Paul’s emphasis upon Christians living a life consistent with the proclamation of the gospel, by having unity in the church, practicing hospitality and care for the poor, and breaking down social barriers is particularly important in a postmodern world. Robert Webber notes that in the modern period, both “conservative” and “liberal” Christian exegetes “approached the Bible through empirical methodology in search of truth.”[1] “Liberals” emphasized reason and biblical criticism, while "conservatives" emphasized the correctness and inerrancy of the Bible. Webber argues, “In this vicious circle the liberals tore the Bible to shreds with biblical criticism while the conservatives continually followed the liberals in trying to put the pieces back together with rational arguments,” which led conservatives to emphasize “evidential apologetics.”[2]

Figures like Wittgenstein are highly critical of the common rationalistic and evidentialist arguments for religious belief. Kerr notes of Wittgenstein’s Roman Catholic upbringing, “It must be said that, like many another, his faith in God seems to have been strained, if not undermined, by the rationalistic apologetics then common in Roman Catholic schools.”[3] A further example of his criticism of rational apologetics can be seen in this passage from Culture and Value:

"A proof of God’s existence ought really to be something by means of which one could convince oneself that God exists. But I think that what believers who have furnished such proofs have wanted to do is give their ‘belief’ an intellectual analysis and foundation, although they themselves would never have come to believe as a result of such proofs. Perhaps one could ‘convince someone that God exists’ by means of a certain kind of upbringing, by shaping his life in such and such a way."[4]

Based on this passage, Wittgenstein believed that while rational arguments might help a person give their faith a foundation, he did not believe these arguments could convince a non-believer of God’s existence.[5] Wittgenstein even cites the New Testament to argue against rational apologetics: “Anyone who reads the Epistles will find it said: not only that it is not reasonable, but that it is folly.”[6] In his lectures on religious belief, Wittgenstein instead concentrates on his “denial of the necessity to have reasons for religious belief.”[7]

Wittgenstein would argue that evidence for a person’s belief is not just seen from their arguments or their participation in particular rituals. Wittgenstein argues, “It will show, not by reasoning or by appeal to ordinary grounds for belief, but rather by regulating for all in his life.”[8] Kallenberg argues, “Wittgenstein’s real position” is “religion does not involve doing deeds instead of speaking, but doing deeds in order to speak about religion.”[9]

More Christians are coming to critique modern evidential apologetics. Kenneson argues not only against rationalist apologetics, but against the modern belief in objective truth. Kenneson says, “Too often appeals to the objective truth of the gospel have served as a means for the church to evade its responsibility to live faithfully before the world.”[10] This was the case because “Christians insisted that the gospel was objectively true regardless of how we lived.”[11]

In a postmodern context, Webber argues “the church and its like in the world will become the new apologetic. People come to faith not because they see the logic of the argument, but because they have experienced a welcoming God in a hospitable and loving community.”[12] Thus, Webber argues for an incarnational view of the church which sees “Jesus present in the assembled people.”[13] Webber thus calls for the contemporary church, especially Protestants who have tended to emphasize the invisible church, to affirm the church as a visible community that is local and universal. This visible and incarnational church, as the body of Christ, continues the presence of Christ in the world, is a sign of God’s presence, and displays a new way of life made possible by Christ’s redemptive action.[14]

Living this embodied life, as Kenneson says, “gives our truth claims intelligibility and credibility” and moves the Christian faith from a modern form of gnosticism to an “embodied witness.”[15] While many Christians want to say the proposition “Jesus Christ is Lord of the universe” is objectively true, Kenneson urges Christians to reject “views from nowhere.” Kenneson argues, “To make such a claim intelligible, let alone true, one must have a concrete historical community who by their words and deeds narrate this story in a way that gives some substance to it.”[16] George Lindbeck illustrates this point in a famous passage from The Nature of Doctrine. Lindbeck argues that while “Christus est Dominus” is true when used in a way “consistent with what the pattern as a whole affirms of God’s being and will,” the proposition is false when used by a crusader “to authorize cleaving the skull of the infidel.”[17]

[1] Webber, 45.

[2] Ibid., 19.

[3] Kerr, 153.

[4] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, trans. Peter Winch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 85.

[5] Kerr, 155.

[6] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, ed. Cyril Barrett (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966), 58.

[7] Monk, 410. In this line of thought, Wittgenstein disagreed with both those who use rational arguments for religious belief and atheists like his teacher, Bertrand Russell, who “encouraged the idea that a philosophical justification for religious beliefs is necessary for those beliefs to be given any credence.” Wittgenstein argued, “Both the atheist, who scorns religion because he has found no evidence for its tenets, and the believer, who attempts to prove the existence of God, have fallen victim to the ‘other’ – to the idol-worship of scientific thinking. Religious beliefs are not analogous to scientific theories, and should not be accepted or rejected using the same evidential criteria” (410).

[8] Ibid., 54.

[9] Kallenberg, 112. Monk notes of Wittgenstein, “Though he had the greatest admiration for those who could achieve this balancing act” of religious belief, “Wittgenstein did not regard himself as one of them. He could not, for example, bring himself to believe in the literal truth of reported miracles” (464). Monk then notes, “The belief in God which he acknowledged to Morgan did not take the form of subscribing to the truth of any particular doctrine, but rather that of adopting a religious attitude to life. As he once put it to Drury: ‘I am not a religious man but I cannot help seeing everything from a religious point of view’” (464).

[10] Philip D. Kenneson, “There’s No Such Thing as Objective Truth and It’s a Good Thing, Too,” in Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World, ed. Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 166.

[11] Ibid., 166.

[12] Webber, Ancient-Future Faith, 72.

[13] Ibid., 73.

[14] Ibid., 74–83.

[15] Kenneson, 166.

[16] Ibid., 167.

[17] George A. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1984.), 64.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Eucharist and Ethics

The church also witnesses to the story of God in its lifestyle. This story proclaimed by the church in the Eucharist must be understood “in close proximity to a particular Christian community, one whose form of life shows the sense of its language.”[1] As Fergus Kerr says, “Whether I mean the same by saying ‘I believe in God’ as other people do when they say the same thing will come out at various places in our lives: our practices, aspirations, hopes, virtues, and so on. It will show in the rest of what we do whether we have faith in God.”[2] Paul emphasizes a similar point in 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 and throughout 1 Corinthians that Christians must live in a way that is consistent with the proclamation of the church. As Hauerwas and Wells say in pointing out the importance of the connection between worship and ethics, “The liturgy offers ethics a series of ordered practices that shape the character and assumptions of Christians, and suggests habits and models that inform every aspect of corporate life.”[3]

One of the primary reasons that Paul writes 1 Corinthians is to confront divisions in the church. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose” (NRSV). Paul then proceeds to critique those who are forming parties around certain figures—like Paul, Apollos, or Cephas. In 3:1–4, Paul indicates that the divisions stem from jealousy and quarreling.

Paul continues to discuss the divisions within the Corinthian church in chapter 11. Paul says in 11:18–19 that “divisions” (σχίσματα) and “factions” (αἱρέσεις) have developed among them when “you come together as a church.” John Zizioulas notes, “A careful study of 1 Cor. 11 reveals that the term ἐκκλησίᾳ is used in a dynamic sense: ‘when you come together into, i.e. when you become, ἐκκλησίᾳ’ (v. 18).”[4] The divisions within chapter 11, however, appear to be different from those in 1:10–17 and 3:1–4.[5] Paul describes the factions during the Corinthian church gatherings by saying in verses 20–22, “When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!”

It appears within this passage, that the Lord’s Supper either occurred during the common agape meal[6] or that the Lord’s Supper and the agape meal were defined synonymously by Paul.[7] Either way, Paul is addressing abuses within the context of a common meal. Richard B. Hays notes of the conflict, “The problem that Paul is addressing in Corinth is not (overtly) a problem of sacramental theology; rather, it is a problem of social relations within the community.”[8] In particular, when the community comes together to eat, the “haves” bring greater amounts of food and wine, while the “have-nots” go hungry. Paul believed, “For the rich to ‘humiliate those who have nothing’ was to ‘despise the church of God’ (v. 22).”[9]

The rich treated the meal “like a private dinner party, perhaps a banquet followed by a drinking party (convivium).”[10] Paul shows concern about the disorderliness and inequality of the meals. Neither of these characteristics was atypical in Greco-Roman banquets. Larger dining rooms could only hold nine to twenty people. Normal practice was to allow those with higher social standing to eat within the dining room, or triclinium, and for those with lower social standing to eat elsewhere; possibly in the atrium. The closer one sat to the host, the higher one’s social standing. After the banquet ended, the wives and children would leave and the men would have a convivia. Convivia often gave hosts and those of high social standing an opportunity to demonstrate their wealth and included debauchery and entertainment such as dancing girls and possibly prostitutes.[11] So in light of the Greco-Roman context, while the practice of the Corinthians seems problematic to modern readers, “the Corinthians probably understood their actions as entirely normal.”[12]

While banquets and drinking parties in the Greco-Roman world generally favored the rich, during the feast of Saturnalia the rich would treat the poor and slaves well. Lucian gives a protocol of the feast of Saturnalia by saying, “Tell them to invite the poor to dinner, take in four or five at a time, not as they do nowadays, though, but in a more democratic fashion, all having an equal share, no one stuffing himself with dainties with the servant standing waiting for him to eat himself to exhaustion.”[13] Paul wanted the agape to function more like the feast of Saturnalia—a democratic and egalitarian meal. For as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:17, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

That people were treated as equals during worship was important to Paul since some people viewed Christian gatherings as the meeting of a collegium or association. One responsibility of an association was to provide for the poor within their ranks. Despite the practice of caring for the poor, association banquets often functioned as an opportunity to demonstrate one’s social status.[14] So, while Paul wants the church to follow associations in providing for the poor, he wants the common meal to reflect the church’s convictions by not making the meal a time for debauchery or a time to boast about one’s social status. For in the ancient world, “what went on at meals most revealed the character of the diners, and was supposed to most mirror the values that this particular group upheld.”[15] So, since the church community transcended socio-economic barriers, the Lord’s Supper should “symbolize the unity of the community through equitable sharing of food at the meal.”[16]

As Bonnie Thurston points out, Christians must understand the common meal that Paul discusses in light of the ministry of Jesus. For just as Paul calls on the Corinthian church to break down social barriers during the Lord’s Supper, Christ willingly ate with people from different social backgrounds, such as tax collectors, prostitutes, and Samaritans. By his willingness to share table fellowship with people from different backgrounds, “Jesus was showing in dramatic form that all people are acceptable to God” and demonstrated “his love.”[17] Thurston follows saying, “In a setting in which symbolic action meant far more than it does in our world, acceptance of outcasts at table fellowship was of great significance.”[18]

Since the Corinthian Christians did not act in accordance with the character of Christ, Paul distinguishes between the Lord’s Supper (κυριακὸν δεῖπνον) and their meal (ἴδιον δεῖπνον). Abraham Mahlerbe says, “The error, as Paul sees it, is that they continue to regard it as their own. Therefore he repeats the words of institution (11:23ff.) to confirm that it should be regarded as the Lord’s meal, to be partaken of by all.”[19]

Reflecting on the practices of the early church, Robert Song says, “Communion is fundamentally participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, before it is the fellowship of the Church: it is through Christ’s death that we are reconciled to God, and thence we find reconciliation with one another (cf. Ephesians 2:13–14).”[20] Without recognizing Christ’s death and resurrection and his place as host of the Eucharist, Christians foolishly believe that they themselves show hospitality around the table. The church instead responds to Christ’s hospitality at the table and allows Christ’s hospitality and care to “flow from the joint and mutual acknowledgment that all are dependant upon grace—rich as well as poor, poor as well as rich.”[21]

Since the Eucharist serves as a time when the church proclaims the message of Christ to the world, Paul maintains the importance of the Lord’s Supper as a meal that breaks down social barriers and gives glory to God. For this reason, Paul proceeds to explain what it means to eat the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner by saying in verses 27–29, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” So, for Paul, to discern the body does not only means to discern the loaf on the table or Christ’s crucified body. For Paul, to eat the meal in an unworthy manner is to eat in such a way that brings about division in the body. When Paul calls on the Corinthians to “examine yourselves” and to “discern the body,” he is asking them to discern how their actions at the table effect the “body of Christ” (1 Cor 12:12–31). Because some have not discerned the body before eating, “the eucharist has become the vehicle of dominical judgment.”[22] Paul even says, “many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (11:30). As McCabe says, “A church which celebrates the Eucharist while ignoring what we should nowadays call ‘the fundamental option for the poor’ is ‘eating and drinking judgment upon herself’, as Aquinas thought; it is using the language of God to tell a lie.”[23] To prevent further issues at the table, Paul gives the Corinthians final advice concerning the Lord’s Supper: “So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation” (11:33–34a).[24]

[1] Kallenberg, 117.

[2] Kerr, 153.

[3] Hauerwas and Wells, “Christian Ethics as Informed Prayer,” 7.

[4] John Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press), 148.

[5] Hays, 193.

[6] E. Glenn Hinson, The Evangelization of the Roman Empire: Identity and Adaptability (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1981), 99; Tom Lawson, “The Eucharist in the Second Century,” The Lord’s Supper: Historical Writings on Its Meaning to the Body of Christ, eds., Charles R. Gresham and Tom Lawson (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993), 169; Ben Witherington, Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007), 48; and Everett Ferguson, Early Christians Speak: Faith and Life in the First Three Centuries, 3rd ed. (Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 1999), 127.

[7] Hays, 193 and John Mark Hicks, Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord’s Supper (Abilene, TX: Leafwood, 2002), 132.

[8] Hays, 193–194.

[9] Geoffrey Wainwright, Eucharist and Eschatology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 81.

[10] Ben Witherington, Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 241.

[11] Ibid., 241–242; Witherington, Making a Meal of It, 34–37; and Hays, 196.

[12] Hays, 196.

[13] As cited in Witherington, Conflict in Corinth, 242.

[14] Ibid., 242–244.

[15] Witherinton, Making a Meal of It, 35.

[16] Hays, 197.

[17] Bonnie Thurston, Spiritual Life in the Early Church: The Witness of Acts and Ephesians (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 49.

[18] Ibid., 49.

[19] Abraham Mahlerbe, Social Aspects of Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), 82.

[20] Robert Song, “Sharing Communion: Hunger, Food, and Genetically Modified Foods,” in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, eds. Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 391–392.

[21] Ibid., 392.

[22] Wainwright, 82.

[23] McCabe, 140.

[24] See Hays, 200–201; Hicks, 123;

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Eucharist as Proclamation in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For the church, the primary way to display its form of life, to “show” the message of the gospel, is in the Eucharist. The Eucharist as a place of “showing” is emphasized by Paul in the words of institution in 1 Corinthians 11:23–26. That Paul says, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,” shows that the words of institution are a part of the tradition of the church from Christ, even at his time.[1] With Paul’s line of argument, “To have received the tradition from the church is to have received it from Christ.”[2]

The text proceeds to say in verses 23–25, “the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” Partaking of a loaf and drinking from a cup “in remembrance” of Christ is mentioned in two of the four accounts of the words of institution: 1 Corinthians and Luke.

Some debate exists concerning the meaning of the Greek term is ἀνάμνησις (anamnesis), often translated “remembrance” in English. Some Christians believe ananmesis implies that the Eucharist is nothing but a memorial of the past. For example, Alexander Campbell viewed the Lord’s Supper as “commemorative and restitutive in character, i.e. as something New Testament believers did weekly to keep Christ’s sacrificial death before them and therefore what Christians should do today if they want to be like them and want to be united.”[3] Robert Louis Wilken, however, notes that for early Christians, liturgical acts like the Eucharist did not only pertain to the past. Wilken says, “In the Eucharist the life-giving events of Christ’s death and Resurrection escape the restrictions of time and become what the early church called mysteries, ritual actions by which Christ’s saving work is represented under the veil of the consecrated bread and wine.”[4] Wilken thus translates anamnesis “recall by making present.”[5]

Jasper and Cuming also note, “Anamnesis . . . has overtones of ‘proclamation’ which the English does not suggest.”[6] They argue the idea of anamnesis as proclamation stems from Jewish usage of the term.[7] As William Robinson points out, the word anamnesis is used in the Septuagint translation of Exodus 12:14,[8] which says, “This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.” Robinson says, “Even after the lapse of all these years, the modern Orthodox Jew keeps this day, not simply as calling to mind the trials of his people in Egypt, but as sharing with them that slavery and that release.”[9] Thus the story of the Passover is “re-enacted” in the present.[10] For this reason, later Eucharistic prayers include a special section called the anamnesis which “proclaims the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ.”[11] So, the Eucharist is, as Stephen Long and Tripp York call it, a “living memorial.”[12]

In verse 26, Paul adds, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (NRSV). This passage is unique among the four accounts of the Last Supper in the New Testament. Jasper and Cuming argue that in this verse Paul emphasizes the proclamatory aspect of anamnesis.[13] Paul says that the proclamation of Christ’s death not only occurs during the preaching before the meal, but that as the community partakes of the bread and wine, they proclaim “the death of Jesus ‘for us’ and the community’s common participation in the benefits of that death.”[14]

Paul uses the same verb translated “proclaim” in 11:26, καταγγέλλω, that he uses in 1 Corinthians 9:14, which says, “In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” καταγγέλλω is also used in Acts 4:2, where the Sadducees are annoyed with Peter and John for “proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead.” Also, in Acts 13:5, Paul and Barnabas, “proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.” Anthony Thiselton notes that καταγγέλλω can also mean “to perform a declarative speech-act openly.”[15] So, in the Eucharist, the entire church, not just the person or persons officiating, visibly preach the gospel and their sharing in the body of Christ in the meal (cf. 1 Cor 10:16–17). So while preaching is a “verbum visible,” figures like St. Augustine and Calvin call the Eucharist a “verbum visible,”[16] or what Herbert McCabe calls, “the creative language of God.”[17] For this reason, the King James Version of 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

As can be seen in verse 26, the visible proclamation of the Eucharist connects together the past death of Christ (τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου) with the present proclamation of the church (καταγγέλλετε). Thiselton thus argues that Paul connects the Christian community’s proclamation in the Eucharist with the recital that takes place in the Passover Haggadah. Thiselton says, “Yet like those who recite the Haggadah of the Passover on the understanding that ‘in every generation a man must so regard himself as he came forth himself out of Egypt’ (m. Pesahim 10:5), it also witnesses to the participant’s self-involving appropriation of the cross both for redemption and lifestyle as those who share Christ’s death in order to share Christ’s life.”[18]

Paul also connects the past death of Christ and the present proclamation of the church with the future return of the Lord (ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ). As Wilken says, “Liturgy is always in the present tense. The past becomes a present presence that opens a new future.”[19] Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells similarly point out the connection of past, present, and future in worship by saying, “Worship does indeed commemorate the past because it sees the past as the theater of God’s definitive and self-revelatory actions in the world. But worship also anticipates the future, particularly through the Eucharist, in which Christians share a meal that anticipates the heavenly banquet.”[20] So as J.B. Rotherham says, “The apostle saw this whole gospel thus shining forth in and through the Supper.”[21]

Thus, the church is a community “bound together by a form of life that embodies the story of God,”[22] the story which flows from creation to the eschaton. The church then recites the story in its worship, especially the Eucharist.[23] For the Eucharist to properly communicate, for it to inform the life of a community, it must be a common practice. As Wittgenstein says, “a person goes by a signpost only in so far as there is an established usage, a custom.”[24]

[1]Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC, ed. I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 866.

[2] M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The People’s New Testament Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 533.

[3] Byron Lambert, “Have We Understood the Lord’s Supper?,” in The Lord’s Supper: Historical Writings on Its Meaning to the Body of Christ, eds. Charles R. Gresham and Tom Lawson (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993), 200.

[4] Robert Louis Wilken, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 34.

[5] Ibid., 34.

[6] R.C.D. Jasper and G.J. Cuming, Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed, 3rd ed. (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1990), ix.

[7] Ibid., 14–15.

[8] William Robinson, “The Meaning of Anamnesis,” in The Lord’s Supper: Historical Writings on Its Meaning to the Body of Christ, eds. Charles R. Gresham and Tom Lawson (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993), 230.

[9] Ibid., 231.

[10] Ibid., 231.

[11] Jasper and Cuming, 14–15.

[12] D. Stephen Long and Tripp York, “Remembering: Offering Our Gifts,” in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, eds. Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 342.

[13] Jasper and Cuming, 15. While the text of 1 Corinthians seems to indicate that verse 26 is a comment by Paul or a tradition passed down to him alongside the words of Jesus (Jasper and Cuming call it the “Pauline comment”), some of the Eastern Eucharistic prayers, such as The Liturgy of St. Mark, The Egyptian Anaphora of St. Basil, The Deir Balyzeh Papyrus, The Liturgy of St. James, The Apostolic Constitutions, The Byzantine Liturgy of St. Basil, The Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles, and one western text, Ambrose’s On the Sacraments, reword the comment to be in the first person (55–56, 65, 71, 80, 90, 110, 119, 126, 144, 146). For example, The Egyptian Anaphora of St. Basil says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim my death until I come” (56).

[14] Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed., James Luther Mays (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1989), 200.

[15] Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 887.

[16] Robinson, “The Meaning of Anamnesis,” 232. Lambert similarly says, “The Supper is a symbol and motion and has missionary power. It arouses curiosity and provokes the reply of the gospel. It proclaims a death, a resurrection, a continuing Presence, and a triumphant return” (209).

[17] Herbert McCabe, “The Eucharist as Language,” Modern Language 15, no. 2 (Apr 1999): 132.

[18] Ibid., 887. Emphasis original.

[19] Wilken, 35.

[20] Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells, “Christian Ethics as Informed Prayer,” in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, ed. Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 7.

[21] J.B. Rotherham, “Let us Keep the Feast: The General Character of the Institution,” in The Lord’s Supper: Historical Writings on Its Meaning to the Body of Christ, eds. Charles R. Gresham and Tom Lawson (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993), 20.

[22] Kallenberg, 148. Wilken notes similarly that in the early church, “The liturgy provided a kind of grammar of Christian speech, a key to how the words of the Bible are to be used” (43).

[23] Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 93, 97.

[24] Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 198.