Monday, January 17, 2011

Quotes from Calvin's Commentary on I Corinthians 11:23-29:
"The Lord's Supper"

...But that participation in the body of Christ, which, I affirm, is presented to us in the Supper, does not require a local presence, nor the descent of Christ, nor infinite extension, nor anything of that nature, for the Supper being a heavenly action, there is no absurdity in saying, that Christ, while remaining in heaven, is received by us. For as to his communicating himself to us, that is effected through the secret virtue of his Holy Spirit, which can not merely bring together, but join in one, things that are separated by distance of place, and far remote.

But, in order that we may be capable of this participation, we must rise heavenward. Here, therefore, faith must be our resource, when all the bodily senses have failed. When I speak of faith, I do not mean any sort of opinion, resting on human contrivances, as many, boasting of faith on all occasions, run grievously wild on this point. What then? You see bread — nothing more — but you learn that it is a symbol of Christ’s body. Do not doubt that the Lord accomplishes what his words intimate — that the body, which thou dost not at all behold, is given to thee, as a spiritual repast. It seems incredible, that we should be nourished by Christ’s flesh, which is at so great a distance from us. Let us bear in mind, that it is a secret and wonderful work of the Holy Spirit, which it were criminal to measure by the standard of our understanding. In the meantime, however, drive away gross imaginations, which would keep thee from looking beyond the bread. Leave to Christ the true nature of flesh, and do not, by a mistaken apprehension, extend his body over heaven and earth: do not divide him into different parts by thy fancies, and do not adore him in this place and that, according to thy carnal apprehension. Allow him to remain in his heavenly glory, and aspire thou thither, that he may thence communicate himself to thee. These few things will satisfy those that are sound and modest. As for the curious, I would have them look somewhere else for the means of satisfying their appetite...

...Do this in remembrance of me. Hence the Supper is a memorial,(μνημόσυνον) appointed as a help to our weakness; for if we were sufficiently mindful of the death of Christ, this help would be unnecessary. This is common to all sacraments, for they are helps to our weakness. What is the nature of that remembrance which Christ would have us cherish with regard to him, we shall hear presently. As to the inference, however, which some draw from this — that Christ is not present in the Supper, because a remembrance applies to something that is absent; the answer is easy — that Christ is absent from it in the sense in which the Supper is a commemoration. For Christ is not visibly present, and is not beheld with our eyes, as the symbols are which excite our remembrance by representing him. In short, in order that he may be present with us, he does not change his place, but communicates to us from heaven the virtue of his flesh, as though it were present...

...Until he come As we always need a help of this kind, so long as we are in this world, Paul intimates that this commemoration has been given us in charge, until Christ come to judgment. For as he is not present with us in a visible form, it is necessary for us to have some symbol of his presence, by which our minds may exercise themselves.

The reader is encouraged to check out the context of these quotes by reading Calvin's complete commentary on this section of I Corinthians 11:23-29 at the CCEL library.

Side Note Regarding Zwingli:

Thomas Davis points out that Zwingli was killed at a realitively young age (47). As such, it is not clear how Zwingli's theology may have changed and matured if he had lived as long as Luther (62) or Calvin (54).
"Rather then a bare and simple memorialism, it appears that in Zwingli, Paul's admonition to "discern the body" took Zwingli along the path of theological development, one cut short, perhaps, by his untimely death at the Battle of Kappel." This Is My Body: The Presence of Christ in Reformation Thought; (page 159),

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Are Evangelicals missing something, or is it just me?

I just got back from a visit to one of our local Christian book stores. To put the following in context, you need to know that I live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan USA area of the world which is home to several Christian publishing companies and probably has more Christian bookstores per capita then 99.99% of the rest of the world.

While at the bookstore, I found the commentary I was looking for and then started browsing. I thought as long as I was browsing, I'd see what books might be there that dealt with the theology and meaning of of the Lord's Supper. After all, this was the same store where previously I had found Thomas Davis' This Is My Body: The Presence of Christ in Reformation Thought.

It was pretty sparse. I could only find one other book dealing explicitly with the Lord's Supper; A Holy Meal by Gordon T. Smith.

I browsed through the theological section and the "Christian Living" section, and that one book was it. There were several books on baptism, one book by a Reformed padeobaptist pastor arguing in favor of allowing baptized, but not yet confirmed children access to the Communion Table, but other then the Gordon Smith book, nothing dealing with a Biblical theology of the Lord's Table.

I could not help but wonder as I saw all the other titles on the shelf dealing with all sorts of, and sundry issues in the Christan life, "How much of this stuff would be impacted if we as Evangelicals had a more Biblical theological understanding of the Lord's Supper?"

Where is the book that gives a definitive Evangelical Biblical theology of the Lord's Supper? And it would be well if it was something that has been written recently enough to have taken advantage of the Evangelical theological and Biblical scholarship of the last fifty or so years. (Dead Puritans need not apply, though whoever writes this should not ignore the contributions of the Reformers and the Puritans.) If you know of such a definitive, more recent work as described, please let me know.

If such a work does not exist, it would be well if some Evangelical theologian/Bible scholar with the qualifications and time to do so, would produce such a work. That's my humble opinion. I really think we may be missing something...


~ The Billy Goat ~

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Billy Goat Log: January 9, 2011

  • The church we attend is inter-generational. We have a pretty good balance from youngsters on up through the grey haired seniors. So it is we see the normal ebb and flow of life in the life of the congregation; births, weddings, funerals, and etc. This past week was the occasion of several deaths in the Church family.

    We knew Sue was not long for this world. Cancer had taken its toll on her body, and chemo was no longer effective. My wife and I went to see her this past Monday. She knew we were there, but it was hard for her to talk, and the morphine to control pain made her drowsy. Friday we got word she was now with Jesus.

    I'm glad we got to know Sue and her husband over the past eight years we've been at our church. I'm glad she got to hold her grandchildren in her arms before leaving this world. I'm glad my last spoken words to her were, "Jesus still loves you..."


  • I had to get a new mobile phone. The old one totally died. It was about three years old so it didn't have many bells and whistles. The new one has the camera and some text and e-mail capabilities the old did not. Of course I had to check out all those fancy new features. It's like having a new toy.

  • The Detroit Lions finished the regular NFL season with a string of wins. The roar is starting to come back... I remember the last time the Lions were in a playoff game many, many years ago. Maybe next year...

  • Back in September I posted a study on The Lord's Table. I recently had opportunity to present a more developed and expanded version of that material in an adult Sunday school class. I want to do some further work on that and sometime in the future publish that revision here. It has been of particular interest to me to read John Calvin's Commentary on the 1 Corinthians 10 & 11 passages that deal with the Lord's Table.

  • Over the Christmas break we took the oldest grandson to see The Voyage of the Dawntreader in 3D. If you are a stickler about a movie following closely to the book, you will find this version of the Dawntreader a disappointment. That said, I thought the movie did retain the basic essence of Lewis' original story, and the technical things such as graphics and etc, were well done. Somethings were left out that I would have like to have seen included. Some things were included that I thought could have been left out. Overall it was passasble though not outstanding; three stars out of five.

  • "With nearly 230 million total speakers, Bangla (Bengali) is one of the most spoken languages, ranking sixth in the world. The predominent religion among the Bangla people is Islam 89.5%, followed by Hindu 9.6%, and "other" 0.9% (2004, CIA Factbook). That less then 1% "other" includes Christianity."

    Bangla Ministries Worldwide (Facebook)
    Bangla Ministries Worldwide