Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Online worship: The Presence and Future of Zoom Eucharists?


For further examination of "Zoom Eucharists" (by which I mean, in this post, eucharistic services conducted online by a priest who presides over communion in his or her own home but congregants in their own homes consume bread and wine they have with them), a starting point could be this Tweet:

To which I replied, having read a very thoughtful opinion-come-report-of-what-I-did in the Church Times (17 April 2020):

I found myself especially thoughtful about this comment in reply to Scott Gunn's Tweet:

Let's be honest: our questions about Zoom Eucharists are NOT questions about the power of God, the presence of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are sovereign and can do what They-as-One will, present everywhere and unconstrained by walls or wires. The comment above about the word of Jesus being effective in the healing of a servant in a different location to the centurion asking for the healing to occur makes that point. Our Eastertide celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a celebration of Christ's presence  EVERYWHERE in the world.

Nor, to deal with another matter, are our questions about Zoom Eucharists concerned with whether people experience such consumption as a profound experience of communion with God and with one another across time and space. Discussion on the matter is not a questioning of the felt experience in this time of crisis.

Finally, in this Introduction, an observation: the question of Zoom Eucharists is not in the same category as the proverbial,

Was it a valid communion when in a POW camp they only had rice and water; and there wasn't a priest? 

POW camps are not permanent human experiences (thankfully). Technology is here to stay. Our determinations re Zoom Eucharists are not only for the moment of the crisis in which Lockdown shuts us out of our churches. Our determinations are about a new permanent reality of ecclesiastical life: we can for all sorts of reasons, not only when in crisis of compulsory Lockdown, use technology to enable worship together. If a Zoom Eucharist is valid during Lockdown it is also valid when (e.g.) the Diocesan youth worker says to the Bishop, why don't we have a eucharist with all the youth across the Diocese via Zoom and save the planet by not using our cars to meet in one central location?

So what are the questions we could be exploring about Zoom Eucharists? (Spoiler alert: this post is mostly about the questions and will not presume to get to many of the answers!)


In no particular order of priority.

What is "consecration" in the age of online services?

What is a congregation in respect of gathering together via online means?

If we accept the possibilty of consecration over the internet, does it make a difference if the service offered has been prerecorded, or must it be "live"?

What values have we assumed to date about the materiality of Holy Communion? (Thinking of taking for granted that we gather in one physical space, with a priest materially present,* with a Table on which are placed the bread and wine which the congregation will consume).

[*Would we accept a priest (say, too ill to be in church), consecrating via a screen in the church with the congregation viewing her or him? Mostly, I would think not.]

May we now question those values?

Are there workarounds?

There is some talk here and there (and in comments to a recent post below) about things such as (to name two "popular" options):

- viewers in their own homes consume bread and wine during a Zoom Eucharist but with no pretence that this is "consecrated"; rather, the consuming is "in remembrance of Jesus' death" so, a "communion-like" moment within the whole Zoom eucharist.

- (with or without a vicar somewhere at the other end of the internet) a household bubble celebrate an "agape meal" in which bread is broken and consumed, wine is consumed and (say) 1 Corinthians 11 and relevant verses from John 6 are read out.

But do such workarounds work? Are they in danger of blurring the boundaries between what is and what is not a Communion service?

Finally, what is the nature of communion? Is it, for example, an offering or a meal? (See further below)


I want to be very careful - I am sure you do too - not to limit the power of God or to circumscribe the presence of Christ; and especially I do not want to contribute to notions that a priest or bishop has some kind of control over the power of God or the presence of Christ.

I think that means that consideration of Zoom eucharists as "valid" possibilties for the present and future church must be a consideration that is genuinely open to new insight in a new world made possible by new discoveries - insight into the character both of God and of God's commitment to be present to us through the materiality of the bread and wine of Communion in such a world.

If we are not genuinely open to such consideration, we should be honest and declare this to be so. (It is an honourable position and most Anglicans I see writing on social media hold to it!)

And, to be clear, to be open to such consideration is NOT to pre-determine the outcome of such enquiry.

The fact is, of course, that the signs through these weeks of global Lockdown are that there are fasting Anglicans (yearning for eucharist but content to wait patiently), frustrated Anglicans (genuinely unable to understand why Zoom eucharists cannot take place with pragmatic support from Anglican hierarchies) and pragmatically, progressive Anglicans (who have already determined that Zoom eucharists are fine - this appears to be a determination followed in some Sydney parishes and, no doubt, elsewhere). In sum, Anglicans are not agreed on the matter of Zoom eucharists.

That is not only understandable - we haven't exactly had a synod set up a commission to report back to a synod to ask the house of bishops to consider the matter who refer it to the wider Communion for comment ... etc - it is actually the big problem here!

My conviction about eucharistic ministry is that it proceeds from the common mind of the church which, in Anglican terms, means the common mind as agreed synodically. (Hopefully with due theological work beforehand).

Sure, there are different views about the eucharist in the churches of the Communion but each province has a prayer book (or two) and each has a common commitment to say this (or these) words and not those words when celebrating Communion. To say nothing of common commitments re priests or bishops as presiders (with, I think, one exception). That is, we share a commitment to the eucharist being thus and so rather than something else (even if the "thus and so" is layered with diverse understandings).

So, the big problem with Zoom Eucharists is not whether or not one can consecrate Communion by this means and the effectiveness "zoom" through space and time to each and every participating bubble (household) or similar questions (which are important questions to be worked through).

The big problem with Zoom Eucharists is what we will agree on.

Will it be our current agreement (which within ACANZP, and, for the most part, as far as I can see, in the AngComm is "No") or a new agreement?


(1) How do we respond to the immense value Anglicans place on the materiality of spirituality?

Whatever we make of Zoom Eucharists, Agape meals, they represent a strong desire for spiritual nurture through material means of consuming bread and wine. Whether for Pandemic or other reasons, when our present understanding of the eucharist means consumption is prohibited, is that the end of the road for the desire for more than "Spiritual Communion"?

(2) What is the nature of a eucharistic service?

Is it worship of God more than nurture of you and me? If so, we are "offering" something to God (Anglicans would carefully say, "a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving") and on such a theological understanding, what the priest does (with the people's support) is more important than what the people receive.

(Of course, in the internet age, these questions lead to other questions such as, In a global Lockdown, why is every priest making such an offering? Just one priest (Pope? Patriarch" ABC?) could offer on behalf of us all, tuning in around the world!)

(Incidentally, on an "offering" approach to eucharist, a prerecorded eucharist is, I suggest, fine: the offering has been made, perhaps two days before viewing, and the viewing then becomes an affirmation and appreciation for that offering being made.)

Or, (my own bias) is a eucharistic service a sacred meal which like all meals requires its participants to be in the same location as the food?

One of my appreciations during Lockdown has been the technology (Zoom, actually) which makes family get togethers possible. Especially good for a couple with four children living in cities not our own! But, much as I have appreciated these occasions, none has been the same as if our children were home and we make a meal together and consume it around one family table.

I actually have a similar appreciation for online worship: I have participated (or "participated") in some wonderful occasions over the past seven weeks. But at no point have I been tempted to think that this virtual approach is better than the "real presence" of being in each other's company as one congregation in one building.


We could observe an irony. Many discussions of eucharist, pre COVID-19, turn on questions of the "real presence" (or "real absence") of Christ, in/under the bread and the wine or sort of, somehow nearby. But, taking up an observation near the beginning of this post, discussion of Zoom Eucharist should not be anxious about the presence of Christ in many homes at once. The anxiety of such discussion is about the nature of the "presence" of the congregation!

UPDATE: For a very helpful post on an Agape Meal (as a legitimate means by which Christians at home (and via Zoom) might share food and drink with prayer, praise and proclamation, without recourse to a priest, head to Liturgy here.


Some posts - read by me, there are many other posts - on popular sites are worth drawing attention to re the online church in general and online eucharist in particular:

Ian Paul at Psephizo: here and here.

Bosco Peters at Liturgy: here (with links at the bottom of the post to four previous posts).

Doug Chaplin at Liturgica: here (especially raising the question of the eucharist as "offering").

Bowman Walton, here on ADU.

Also in the background to this post are various Twitter exchanges with @MalcolmFrench, @Liturgy, @TrevsDev.


  1. Thank you, Bishop Peter, for your extensive explanation of what we as a Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand have to consider - in the present crisis of communication under the COVID 19 conditions - about the feasibility/possibility of clergy celebrating the Eucharist in their own homes and whether, or not, other people in their own homes might receive any spiritual benefit from sharing, vicariously, in such a form of service of Holy Communion.

    It does seem that, in the U.K., various bishops have given different instructions to their diocesan clergy on this important question. For instance, my friend Fr. David Biggs, priest-in-charge of the Brighton Chapel Royal (now an Anglo-Catholic parish church) has been given explicit permission to Celebrate the Mass on his own from his own home in the parish on Sundays, which is podcast to parishioners and is available to anyone with a link on Face Book. In that parish, no permission has been officially given to encourage parishioners to provide their own bread and wine in the belief that the prayer of consecration by the Vicar will in some way 'consecrate' these elements. (In an Anglo-Catholic parish this would be discouraged)

    I know, however, of one specific person in the U.K. who has publicly stated that (she) watches a Eucharistic podcast while at the same time offers her own bread and wine, in the belief that God will meet her personal need to receive the Body and Blood of Christ therein'
    (My own take on this is that, if a person has this particular need, believing that God will provide through what (she) can offer; then this would be an act of 'Spiritual Communion' with an iconic touch).

    There are 2 schools of thought in my own Anglo-Catholic tradition:

    1. Clergy ought to empathize with their parishioners in neither Celebrating nor partaking of, the Sacred Elements of the Eucharist during the present emergency.

    2. Clergy ought to Celebrate the Eucharist (alone or accompanied) with the direct intention for the spiritual well-being of (a) their own congregations. (b) the wider world and (b) in concert with the Whole Church both temporal and eternal.

    I. myself, as a priest who celebrated the Eucharist daily in my Auckland parish (always with others present in one of my 4 parish churches), have been able to Celebrate Mass at home with Diana, my wife, on Sundays - feeling that, as a priest, this is not only my duty but also my joy and privilege at this time of emergency. We do, also look in on a Celebration of the Eucharist provided somewhere or other, when we share a podcast of the Liturgy of Word and Sacrament - a distinctive privilege that I, as a priest, am only too aware of.

    We are all experiencing a time of deprivation of our common human togetherness which is a pre-eminent feature of the Eucharistic gathering together. In old age, I know the value of participation in both the Liturgy of the Eucharist and feeding on the Elements (at the moment for us in Bread only) - something that I, personally have access to by virtue of my ordination. I do, however, believe that, where this sharing is not possible, God can provide some spiritual nourishment in the current situation of a podcast Eucharist - for those whose INTENTION is to receive the Body and Blood of Christ - even when the basic Elements are not physically available (e.g.: Theilard du Chardin, on an occasion in the desert with neither bread nor wine; asking Christ to "Be my Bread and Wine for today" then felt he had received Sacramental grace).

    If tuning in to a Service of Holy Communion with the local parish priest will help parishioners to enter into an act of Spiritual Communion; then perhaps this is the very least the Church can do.
    A Service of The Word, alone, may not be sufficient to provide the spiritual nourishment that a normal Sunday Eucharist worshipper wants and needs in a time of national crisis.

    My prayer and hope is that this time of separation may soon be over - when we will be able to join together in Common Worship in church.

  2. I lean towards an exceptional circumstances clause. In most circumstances I think the actual gathering of people for communion, in groups large or small is the go to option. Where this is not possible, where circumstances dictate the needs of God's people can only be met by bending the normal modus operandi, then my view is the need is more important than the usually adhered to means. A bit like David and his men eating the Bread of the Presence usually preserved for Priests.

  3. Hi Jean,
    I love the way we can bring the stories of Scripture into discussions such as this:
    - the centurion’s servant’s healing in the main post;
    - David and the “Shewbread” in your comment.
    I think where we would need some agreement across the church is whether this is an “exceptional” circumstance.
    On the one hand it obviously is exceptional: we can’t have services in the usual way [not exceptional in itself] but we can have them in a new way [that combined with not being able to have services in the usual way is exceptional];
    On the other hand, (as I note in the post above) it is not necessarily going to be exceptional as we continue with our increasingly familiar technology.

  4. In our church we are waiting until we can gather again together before celebrating the Eucharist.

    Not sure quite what that will mean at level 2, when it is unlikely that our main services can gather together because of the "over 100" rule. We will find out tomorrow when the Level 2 guidelines come out if that rule is still the thing or whether it may be even stricter (perhaps limiting groups to under 50 or 30 or something).

    At level 2 smaller meetings in peoples homes will hopefully be permitted, which almost brings us back to New Testament days - so maybe there will be "breaking of bread" under that type of condition, but not sure how this would go in terms of consecrating of bread and wine.

  5. Perhaps exceptional is the wrong word although at least a change from unprecedented 😊. No doubt David and his men were also not exceptional in the sense of being the only ones to ever be hungry. I tend to see it as if there is a need, and a way bread spiritually or physically is available, then why not partake? In terms of online ability and the ensuing discussions to be had regarding communion post physical separation, my preference would be close to yours Peter, to stick with in person communion where humanly possible - excuse the pun.

  6. Dear Agony Aunt,

    The most horrible thing happened at our Passover Seder this year. We accidentally ate Jesus!

    I sent my son from the kitchen with a tray of food to carry to the table, as I was still busy with the lamb. But he set it down in front of the tv, where my channel-surfing daughter-- always the inquisitive one!-- was watching the pope at mass.

    Well, while I was checking to be sure that the lamb was done, the pope on tv turned my seder into Jesus. All the way from Rome! I had no idea that he could do that. My Catholic friends don't talk about religion because they know I'm Jewish, and the store where I bought my tv did not say a word about it. But they should have.

    So finally the lamb is done, and I bring that in. Then I turn off the tv and carry in the tray still sitting in front of it. My husband starts the seder, reading from his family's old haggadah. It's the one they used when he was a boy.

  7. Now my daughter has always resented that in that haggadah her brother has official questions to ask and she doesn't. So maybe that's why she had to ask-- in front of my in laws! how embarrassing!-- whether we were goyim now that we had just eaten Jesus. I thought that this was ridiculous, and I said so. "Where did you get that crazy idea?"

    But she was serious. And oy vey she was right! Her best friend goes to church, and in her confirmation class, the lady priest-- when did that start?-- told her that even she could turn bread and wine into Jesus through a tv, a laptop, even a phone, and if you eat that Jesus you belong to him and his church for ever.

    I had no idea all these screens were so dangerous! I carry one in my purse.

    My in-laws were furious. My father in law is shouting at my poor daughter, "After centuries of shameful pogroms and forced conversions, they now have the nerve to invade our homes!"

    My husband sort of whined that we don't need to believe that priests do magic just because the goyim do. Nut he's an atheist, and sometimes he just doesn't understand religion.

    Jesus is theirs. They know when he is around and when he is not. Nobody warns us Jews about that.

    And it's the same God. If you start disbelieving what the priests think just because they are goy, soon you won't believe the rabbis either. I love my husband, but it's not good what he said.

    I called the rabbi's wife. She's a nice woman, but sometimes does not get the point of what I am trying to ask her. She just said, "Next year, turn off the tv first." But what if we did eat Jesus, then what? She said not to worry.

    But I was already worried: eating Jesus could get you in a lot of trouble! (Although since I was a girl I have always liked the Virgin Mary. So compassionate. I hope she didn't stay a virgin, because that would not be fair. But I never mention that.)

    So I called the lady priest on the phone, and asked her whether I ate Jesus. She said not to worry. She said I only ate Jesus if I had faith that it was him. But of course I have faith that it was Jesus if it actually is Jesus! She wasn't getting it either. Who makes these people experts?

    I said, "if you put your bread and wine in front of the tv and the pope blessed it would you think it was Jesus if you ate it?" She thought about it a minute and said yes. "Well then, so do I. What is a Jew who accidentally ate Jesus to do?" She told me to call the rabbi. I said it's his wife who has the practical answers, and I had already talked to her. She laughed, and we hung up.

    So Agony Aunt, I do not know what to think. The trouble with religious experts is that they all expect you to believe that other people's religions are completely false to keep things tidy and simple for them. That way they spend fewer years in school but still make plenty of money.

    For my husband, that works because he believes all the religions are false anyway. So to him, a religious expert believes almost as little as he does, and it's only religious believers who may be dangerous. But when you step outside, there is only one sky over one earth.

    I am a rabbi's granddaughter who believes the Tanakh. And that is at least half of Christianity-- more if you count the pages in their Bibles. So I can't just assume that what a Christian says about God is wrong simply because she is not Jewish. And my dear grandfather, God rest his soul, understood many things in the Bible about Jesus that the lady priest would not know unless somebody told her that Jesus was actually Jewish and pointed those things out to her. Which seems not to happen.

    So Agony Aunt, I turn to you because you seem to get along with everybody, have a knack for practical wisdom, and do not claim to be an expert for any one religion and against all the rest. I ate Jesus. What should I do?


    Jewish in Christchurch

    PS-- That's just the name of the town.


  8. Th Agony Aunt replies:

    I love lamb and would welcome an invite to your next feast!

    I think the dilemma you raise is better answered by luminaries not currently employed on this blog. Have you thought of raising this matter with (say) some retired fheologians with time on their hands? Benedict XVI and ++Rowan Williams spring to mind from the Christian side of things.

    What I would observe from my much lowlife position of insight is that you have highlighted the importance of one of my favourite Anglican doctrines, Receptionism, by which I mean in this conversation, and to use your own dilemma’s words, we eat Jesus when we have faith in Jesus (not only our own individual faith, which may not be clearly present in, e.g. the youngest of children, or the increasingly senile older communicant, but the faith of the congregation in which the eucharist is celebrated).

    It does seem pretty clear from your anguished narrative of the meal concerned that no one had faith in Jesus. (Incidentally, it really is a good idea to turn the TV off when you have a family meal. Though my wife and I have a doctrine of Exceptionalism, by which I mean, when the children have left home, it is ok to sit down on a couch to eat dinner while watching the news of how NZ is (to quote one of our politicians) “beating the crap” out of Coronavirus and the news of how the USA is, well, not so much.)

    Receptionism is not as popular as it should be in my view (and, of course, if I were the Autocrat, it would be compulsory teaching in all Anglican seminaries). But even I note that those who disavow Receptionism cannot eradicate it as efficiently as they like. For example, the Catholic Church, is keen on the objective transformation of the bread and wine into, well, again, to use your narrative, Jesus, but even then, only those who share that understanding of the eucharist are welcome to receive Jesus. Really, that means those receiving Jesus in the eucharist have some faith at work in them.

    And for those - both Catholic and Anglican - who believe that the objectivity of the sacrament of baptism is not dependent on faith being present ... well I have noticed that they never borrow a water tanker, bless the water and slowly make their way around the neighbourhood sprinkling everyone in the name of the Trinity. No, even the most ex opera operato (is that the phrase? I always get a bit confused with these Latin tags) adherents wait for parents tp present a child for baptism which - I assume - means we think something needs to motivate the request for baptism. And I think that is faith!

    However I am not saying that Jesus was not present at your recent Seder. Clearly something is bringing Jesus into your consciousness. Or, better, Someone - I think it is Jesus - is nudging you to consider whether the Messiah has come and asking whether you would like to meet him and eat with him.

  9. Obviously 'Jewish in Christchurch' is neither Christian nor a partaker of the Eucharist. In Christianity, any believer who is used to consuming the Eucharist knows (or ought to know) the spiritual value of receiving what Jesus led us to believe (and the Church Catholic has enshrined in its liturgical Eucharistic rituals) is a sharing in his 'Body and Blood' in the consecrated elements: Cf. "This IS my Body; this IS my Blood"-Jesus-"DO THIS to remember me".

    The only theological problem for a Christian is whether, or not, an onlooker in a podcast though not physically receiving Holy Communion - is able to gain a spiritual benefit. (Spiritual Communion).

    The Eucharist is for members of the Body of Christ to celebrate 'in Communio'. Hopefully, God is honored, the Communicants are fed (either physically or spiritually - or both - ) and their prayers for the world are effective for its salvation; in concert with the prayer of the Christ they proclaim; "In Him; Through Him; and With Him' (Redemption has already been secured by Christ)!

    (I can't wait to join my sisters and brothers in Eucharistic unity).

  10. Obviously Ron in Christchurch didn't get the joke. Oi vey.

    (By the way, Receptionism does NOT mean that the bread and wine *become the body and blood of Christ, as Catholics believe, even for those who have faith. Article XXVIII explicitly denies this: '"The Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.")


  11. James, you seem a wee bit behind the times. The 39 Artifacts have long been outmoded.




  13. Ron, the Thirty Nine Articles remains the standard of doctrine of the Church of England and most other Anglican Churches. The Church of England's Common Worship, for example, states explicitly that The Book of Common Prayer (1662) is the doctrinal statement of the Church of England, and (you may know) the BCP contains the Thirty-Nine Articles. The fact that some Anglicans don't know, understand or believe them doesn't change anything. They have never formally been repudiated, even though the religion of many Anglicans and Episcopalians has withered on the vine - as it has in New Zealand. I once overheard an American Bishop - Doug Theuner, Gene Robinson's predecessor - lamenting how Bishop Richard Holloway of Edinburgh was saying embarrassing things in public which showed how little Holloway - once a sturdy Anglo-Catholic - now believed. And that was before Holloway finally came out as an atheist. Poor Richard Holloway. He came to believe less and less until he was no longer a Christian. A salutary warning, don't you think? How sad to see Anglo-Catholicism become an empty shell of itself. I fear Newman was right about the 'via media'.

  14. Dear James,am I right in thinking that your affiliation is with the Sydney (gafcon) version of Anglicanism rather than that of Aotearoa/NZ. We, here, have progressed beyond the old_time 39-articular religion. We even have our own Prayer Book now. SJC has moved beyond Moore College in Sydney. We even have women clergy, believing them to be capable of celebrating the Eucharist and preaching to the flock of Christ. BLESSINGS.

  15. Gentlemen,
    Let's speak properly and reverently of the Thirty-Nine Articles.
    They are not "artifacts" but statements of faith, made in good faith, about the faith as understood in a time when distinction between Roman Catholicism, Zwingliism, Lutheranism etc were important as our English forbears carved out their distinctive ecclesial faith.

    Sure, Ron, there have been debates and developments since then, and the Articles do not have equal status - in a formal, constitutional sense - across the provinces of the Anglican Communion, but if we are debating the nitty gritty of what Anglicans believe, then the 39A should have a treasured and important status, not least because they remind us of why there was an Anglican church carved out distinctively from the Church of Rome.

    If, 500 years later, we have a rapprochement with Rome both relationally and theologically, it is worth asking what barriers remain to full communion. I suggest there remain some theological barriers, and those barriers have definition on the one hand in the Roman Catechism and on the other hand in the Thirty Nine Articles.

  16. Thanks Bowman for the precision of that Wikipedia definition of Receptionism.

    Clearly where it differs from my own, then it is incorrect :)

  17. Thank you, Bishop Peter, for your comment on the originating provenance of the 39As. One factor, however, for this provenance - especially in the accompanying declaration that 'The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction here in England' - could possibly have had more to do with King Henry VIII's need for an expeditious divorce, than any other, more serious aspect of soterial theology. Furthermore both Anglicans and Roman Catholics, through our recent history of ecumenical relationships with ARCIC (in which our very own Archbishop David Moxon was once a key player), we have even come to substantial agreement on the theology of the Eucharist! It is also worth noting that Both our Churches are moving towards the goal of Church Unity, which Christ, himself, enjoined on his disciples and to which I, personally, earnestly look forward.

  18. The Wikipedia article says exactly what I said and have always believed. The bread and wine are not the Body and Blood of Christ but rather *effectual signs* whereby the Body and Blood are received in a spiritual and "heavenly" manner. The bread and wine do not *become* the body and blood of Christ because their substance does not change. But just as water becomes the *effectual sign* through which the Holy Spirit is received *by faith* in baptism, so too in holy communion, Christ is received by faith. Dix was wrong to think of this as Zwinglianism. It is more nearly John Calvin's understanding which Cranmer endorsed. The structure of the BCP service makes this clear.

  19. You are most welcome, Peter.

    I myself have some quibbles with the wikipedian understanding of the history of the matter-- Henri de Lubac was right about eucharistic doctrine after Berengar of Tours-- but the article seemed likely to be interesting here.


  20. Bishop Peter, with your indulgence, may I post this article showing today's Message from Pope Francis in an online blog. It speaks of the problems of rule-bound faith understandings which could apply to us ALL: (Hoping you and Theresa are happy in your bubble)

    "FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2020

    “Another thing that hinders going forward in knowledge of Jesus, in belonging to Jesus, is rigidity: rigidity of heart. Rigidity too in the interpretation of the Law… Fidelity is always a gift to God; rigidity is a security for myself. I remember once going to a parish and a lady — a good lady — approached me and said: “Father, I need advice . . . “– “Tell me . . .” “Last week, Saturday, not yesterday, the other Saturday, we went as a family to a marriage; it was with Mass. It was Saturday afternoon, and we thought that with this Mass we had fulfilled the Sunday precept. But then, going back home, I thought that the Readings of that Mass were not those of Sunday. And I realized that I was in mortal sin because I didn’t go on Sunday as I had gone on Saturday, but to a Mass that wasn’t valid, because the Readings weren’t right.” Such rigidity . . . and that lady belonged to an Ecclesial Movement — rigidity. This moves us away from Jesus’ wisdom, it takes away one’s freedom… We are “sheep” following all these things: riches, sloth, rigidity, worldliness, clericalism, formality, ideologies, and ways of life. Freedom is lacking. And Jesus can’t be followed without freedom. However, sometimes freedom goes beyond, and one slips. Yes, it’s true. It’s true. We can slip going in freedom. However, it’s worse to slip before going, with these things that hinder to begin to go. May the Lord illumine us to see within us if there is freedom to pass by the door that is Jesus and to go beyond, to become flock, to become sheep of His flock.”

    Pope Francis "

  21. A not for James who said this in his comment on 7 May:

    "(By the way, Receptionism does NOT mean that the bread and wine *become the body and blood of Christ, as Catholics believe, even for those who have faith. Article XXVIII explicitly denies this: '"The Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten, in the Supper, only after and heavenly and spiritual manner.")

    In direct contrast to this statement, our NZ Prayer Book has this to say, in the epiclesis for the first Eucharistic Liturgy (page 423):

    "Send your Holy Spirit, that these gifts of bread and wine which we receive may be to us the body and blood of Christ. And that we, filled with the Spirit's grace and power, may be renewed for the service of your kingdom".

    Now I'm aware, James, that you may never use this particular form for the prayer of consecration, but it is in our N.Z. Prayer Book - as I have had to point out to others who deny the presence of the epiclesis in our written liturgies. The majority of the world's Christians recognize the grace of the epiclesis, which is God's work not our own. (one reason why the 39As are no longer adhered to by those of us claiming to be part of the Church Universal).

  22. At theological colleges in Cockaigne, they have yearly pillow fights over the 10-42-39 articles on the playing fields. Alumni, faculty, students, and staff copy and exhibit their favourite articles and arguments on pillow cases, then carry them to their chosen ends of the field. To avoid overmuch clarity, the teams do not have colours, and thurifers smoke the field with a thick and fragrant fog. Once all the combatants are thoroughly incensed, the two teams rush at each other swinging their pillows with a great righteousness of spirit. When all the pillows have lost their feathers, the year's disputation has come to a close. All go inside for an especially good banquet. By tradition, both sides claim to have won. And in their ways, they both have.


  23. Dear Ron
    Those cited words from NZPB are brilliantly ambiguous and thus can be said fervently by an evangelical or an Anglo-Catholic!

  24. Yes, Bishop. This is what one may call a discrete form of receptionism (typically Anglican), that'# a good reason for my remaining an Anglican in good standing. Agape!

  25. "The majority of the world's Christians recognize the grace of the epiclesis"

    Actually there isn't an epiclesis in the Roman Ordo Missae.
    It's very strong on 'offering a sacrifice' language but there is no epiclesis. Look for yourself. The majority of the world's Christians are Roman Catholics - at least on paper - most church-going (when possible) Christians in Brazil are evangelicals.

    And the NZ Anglican Communion service has used ambiguous language ('may be to us') since 1970, long before the current prayer book. Whether one thinks ambiguity is a theological or a political virtue is another question. The BCP 1662 Holy Communion Service is careful to avoid ambiguity and nowhere identifies the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ, rather they are *effectual signs* of these, through which the spiritual realities are received. The idea is very similar to the use of water in baptism: the effectual sign o the Holy Spirit. The verb 'be' of course is not the same as 'become', a word which signifies a change in nature or function, such as the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, in which the bread and wine are said to CHANGE in their substance (substantia). The qualifier 'to us', of course, moves the meaning back in a faith-receptionist direction: 'to us - but not to them'.
    Whether all of these liturgical formulae are correct biblical theology that correctly reflects the beliefs and practices of the Apostolic Churches is of course another question. Anglicans know that liturgies are human documents, not inspired Scriptures. (The Orthodox take a different view on that, as per usual.)

  26. During level 4 lockdown, I’ve had great fun listening to Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper (Image Books, reprint with study guide, 2016) while exercising my “essential worker” function as a farm owner-operator (amidst looming drought, just to add yet another component!), driving on near empty roads. I’d already digested his subsequent tome, Jesus and the Last Supper (Eerdmans, 2015), and so was looking forward to this earlier, slightly more popular rendering.

    I have not been disappointed! It reframes pretty well most of the debates conducted down the centuries. And when added to my own take as now written up in God’s Address—Living with the Triune God: A Scripture Workbook in the Style of Manuduction to Accompany The Lion, the Dove, & the Lamb (Wipf & Stock, rev. ed. 2019), I can only say the following in relation to Peter’s main concerns (here and earlier), and subsequent comments.

    1. Take a plate;
    2. Place a piece of bread on it/rice cracker if gluten intolerant;
    3. Take a glass/goblet/cup;
    4. Pour some wine into it - NOT grape juice!
    5. Turn on recorded Liturgy via device (or live-stream ...);
    6. Lift (slightly; don’t want the natives to get too excited!) plate at appropriate time, as indicated via Zoom or whatever;
    7. Lift vessel similarly;
    8. Pass elements to anyone worshipping with you (if applicable) and consume at appropriate time (together with others on the Zoom multi-frame gathering, if applicable).


    And if the Holy Spirit via the epiclesis cannot cope with this – then it’s all over anyway ...! Nor frankly is it a matter of “agreement”: the Body Broken for a broken body already belies that option ...

    For, au fin, the eschatological nature of the Eucharist (looking backwards and forwards in the middle of the Last Days) ensures any specific use of matter in Jesus’ Name is duly embraced by the promises of, say, John 13-17, as well as other appropriate NT passages from the Synoptics and 1 Cor 10-14, let alone Rev 19-22.

    BTW, James; you should enjoy what I have to say in Part Three of God’s Address re the epiclesis, notably the diagram, and then the elaborations in both an appendix, “A Way of ‘Reading’ the Sacrament of the Eucharist”, and chapter 8 of my The Lion, the Dove, & the Lamb: An Exploration into the Nature of the Christian God as Trinity (W&S, rev. ed. 2018).

    Fin! With apologies to those in Cockaigne ... and elsewhere, materially, or in cyberspace.

  27. Welcome back, Bryden. Stay safe.


  28. James your questioning the valuation of the ontological difference between the words be and become seems rather pedantic. Orthodox Christians would dispute your understanding of the use of the Eucharistic epiclesis.

  29. Hey, I didn't write that prayer! I am well familiar with the Anglican practice of textual ambiguity. I don't know about you, Ron, but I'm a linguist by background and profession (which is the primary reason, in another thread, why I find N T Wright's interpretation of 'dikaiosune theou' and the DIK-lexeme unconvincing). As for 'be' and 'become', these words overlap in meaning (e.g. in koine and classical Greek, the aorist participle 'genomenos' from gignomai is used to mean 'having been' because einai doesn't have an aorist ptcp) but the words are not synonyms. 'to become' means 'to begin a new state of existence' which 'be' need not imply:
    'May he be to us a great President' does not mean the same as 'May be become for us a great President'. And that is why I think the word 'be' was used in NZ tests from 1970 on: 'become' unambiguously denotes a change in nature, whereas 'be' can mean what you want it to. Anglican ambiguity again (and oddly reminiscent of a former US President - not a great one, in my opinion, but who was well trained by the subtle doctors of George Washington University - discoursing on the meaning of 'is').
    As for the Roman Ordo Missae, have you checked it yet as I encouraged you to do?
    There is no epiclesis in it - and there never has been.
    Look it up and tell me what you think, Better than that, tell Francis.

  30. Hello Recent Commenters

    James/Ron: James is right (as I happened to learn recently and to my surprise). Until recently the one form of the Roman Mass had no epiclesis. There are now other forms and on the assumption that those forms are said regularly across the world, Ron’s claim about the majority of Christians supporting epiclesis is correct. I assume, with my recent discovery, that the BCP’s lack of an epiclesis is as much driven by what was not common experience in Western Christianity in the 16th century as by any considerations that “epiclesis” is not clear evidenced in Scripture. (To be clear, I am comfortable with epiclesis, with the whole act of communion being an act in which we acknowledge Father, Son and Holy Spirit being present etc.)On the distinction between “be” and “become”, Ron, this is not pedantry and is an important theological distinction because Anglicans are committed to “be” (since we formally eschew Transubstantiation) and not to “become” (which would undermine that eschewal).

    Bowman: thank you for the reminder that larger Eucharistic issues are at stake than (say) Transubstantiation v Receptionism. The larger shift is from a belief that the church is corporately involved in Eucharistic worship (so my individual belief about, say, Transubstantiation. Or Receptionism, does not matter, because my eternal salvation does not depend on my personal penchant in that regard). De Lubac;s point about that shift (roughly, from the first millennium to the second), it strikes me, is a point about the importance of 1 Corinthians 10 in the biblical theology of the eucharist.

    Bryden: You may be right (as always!) but if decisions are to be “good to the Holy Spirit and to US” rather than to individual theologians, is it not appropriate to wait - yes, patiently through this present crisis - for the mind of “us” to be expressed synodically? (And, yes, we might find ourselves divided on the matter, like a certain other matter, but even then, if we were to be permitted to participate in Zoom eucharist according to conscience, should not that permission be granted because we collectively discern it to be a good thing?)

  31. Hi Peter, Bryden, et al.

    The Jews had the Promised Land; their Messiah gave his disciples the analogous Body. Henri de Lubac was right that this Body in the first millennium had a relatively corporate soteriology, and hence a robust ecclesiology, but that these were lost in the West when its focus shifted to individual soteriology in the high middle ages. Despite intriguing moves here and there, neither side of the Reformation wholly retrieved what had been lost several centuries before it.

    Thus Oliver O'Donovan observes, as many have and anyone can, that the 39A lacks an explicit ecclesiological bridge from the individualist soteriology of the original 10A to the several matters of church order in survivals of the 42A. Criticisms of the 39A can usually be reduced ultimately to concerns about the effects of that gap; defenses of the 39A have often boiled down to fears that only some dreadful new romanism could fill it.

    Nor is this gap an Anglican distinctive. These quarrels have also broken out in other Protestant traditions. Some Lutheran churches could and did retain their pre-Reformation episcopal ethos and succession; others could not and often wonder how doing so squares with the laicism that they see in their shared confessions. Among the Reformed, the most notable quarrel until recently was one in which individualist old Princeton attacked a richly ecclesial Mercersburg theology that was arguably more rigorously argued than the contemporary Oxford Movement. Lately, some small confessional churches here up yonder have opined that the ecclesiologies of the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision are heresy.

    Rome, of course, had the same gap. Hence the Second Vatican Council was largely a controversial attempt-- guided to a degree by de Lubac himself-- to fill it.

    Controversy inevitably arose because that council was also an engagement with the world that several centuries of increasingly secular individualism had wrought. Those minding the gap and those boarding the train often read different meanings in the same synodical documents.

    Nevertheless, Peter Leithart (echoing Mercersburg) laments that Protestants have no mechanism by which to make the analogous move on their own side, while Carl Trueman (echoing old Princeton) seems glad that this is so. Independently of denominational churches, Thomas C Oden's paleo-orthodoxy, William Abraham's Canonical Theism, and a small industry of Protestant and even evangelical *ressourcement* publishing propose diverse moves to fill the gap.

    But in ecumenical dialogues, the Orthodox representatives, cited in the oft-reprinted Jenson article that we cite from time to time, doubt that Rome did quite fill the gap with an adequate pneumatology. As you know, I, with malice toward none and charity for all, share those doubts.

  32. So to a few matters on the thread.

    The 39A

    The more one dislikes the gap in the 39A, the more one needs them to explain what that gap is. They are in that ironic way most indispensible to Anglican identity for those whose Promised Land --> Body ecclesiology sets a high bar for authority that the 39A do not meet. "We are Anglicans in that the Western gap in our ecclesial life is an effect of the 39A."

    Of course, there are some who cherish that gap precisely for the flimsy ecclesiology that results from it. Understandably then, these have few if any reservations about the Body's disintegration into denominations per se, and are content to take the 39A as a mere denominational standard. Nothing absolute, but just authoritative enough to be binding.

    Those two tendencies swing pillows at each other in Cockaigne and wherever else the gap is found.


    The Epiclesis

    Thus saith the wikipedians--

    The insight missing from their fact-gathering is that anxiety to know exactly when the elements get consecrated is a fidget of the gap, and so to think of the Eastern epiclesis as a Latin consecration of the elements Jesus <-- Eucharist is somewhat forced.

    In line with the early doctrine of the Lord's three bodies Jesus --> Eucharist --> Body, the eucharist was celebrated to transform the congregation into the local Body of the place, Eucharist --> Body. The epiclesis makes sense in that context. So too does the famous absence of an epiclesis in the early Roman rite. And so too does the use of the epiclesis in recent Prayerbooks (eg BCP 1979 TEC) that are intentionally retrieving the emphases of the M1.**

    As the West began to refocus on the individual in the M2, the communion became especially important as a mediation of the benefits of the Cross to particular sinners. This motivated the new questions, which Latins tended to ask, when and how do the elements become the Lord's first Body, Jesus <-- Eucharist? These questions understandably dominated debates about the eucharist among the Reformers and Rome. Only paranthetically were interesting things said (especially by Calvin) about Eucharist --> Body.

    In Orthodoxy, the elements are blessed a few times in the usual Sunday liturgies. The best Eastern authorities*** do not ask-- some provocatively say that they do not know-- which of these is the magic moment about which "Latins" keep asking. Alexander Schememann's books, For The Life Of The World and The Eucharist are the usual seminary readings on this very important non-question.

    ** Of course, TEC BCPs have always had an epiclesis. This was required long ago by the Scottish Episcopal Church as a condition for consecrating the first bishops for America.

    ***The wikipedians cite the recently sainted Nicholas Cabasilus who asked whether the Roman ordo has some equivalent to the epiclesis-- his circle was unusually interested in the Latin Question in late Byzantium-- but this probably reflects the perennial Orthodox doubts about Western pneumatology. His own theology of the believer's communion is a mystagogy in the venerable tradition of St Maximus the Confessor.

  33. Consecration for Individuals not Present

    In the terms set above, Zoom eucharists are being discussed as communion for sinners, Jesus <-- Eucharist, rather than as eucharist transforming congregations into the local Body in a place, Eucharist --> Body.

    That is, nobody is arguing that the Holy Spirit better transforms congregations when the rite is streamed. Yet at the same time, nobody is making a case that communion for the remission of sins is especially urgent for several weeks of lockdown. Perhaps either argument could be made, but so far as I have noticed neither has been.

    By default, it seems, the discussion is stuck in Henri de Lubac's shift to the individualism that caused Oliver O'Donovan's gap.

    (1) Wherever C20 liturgical reform has restored the missing Eucharist --> Body to worship, any pressure for a liturgy startlingly individualised to a remote phone screen seems to have missed the whole point.

    (2) Who is making decisions about this? How will that shape the life of churches after the plague passes?

    Here up yonder and there down under these two thoughts could open rather different discussions.


  34. Two things Peter (et al):

    1. Spoken like a bishop - but alas, the likes of Acts 15 is mostly impossible after 2000 years, despite both the liturgical renewal movement of the 20th C and the examples of goodly biblical scholarship via Brevard Childs and/or Brant Pitre. Any appreciation of the ecumenical movement should conclude that. For anyone’s celebration is always someone else’s fast, somewhere; and C-19 merely revealed it to be so. I’ve encountered just far too many Divine Liturgies/Masses/Holy Communions/Eucharists/Lord’s Suppers/Breaking of Breads/Agapes now to only conclude that Phil 3:10-11 is the absolute norm - here also!

    2. As with the doctrine of the Trinity, so with the epiclesis: the biblical substantiation of either is fairly easy to uncover. Firstly, there’s the key linkage between the Pauline koinōnia (e.g. 1 Cor 10:16, 2 Cor 13:13/14) and the Johannine menein (e.g. Jn 6:56, 15:1ff // BCP!). Then, there’s the fact that the Pascha ‘celebrates’/“proclaims” the Hour of Glory: it’s not for nothing that Jn 6 is followed immediately by the vital John 7 and the Feast of Tabernacles (with FG’s continuing literary theme of the NT transcending, while fulfilling, the OT, step by step; so Jn 2-12, 13-20); just so, Jn 7:37-39. And of course 1 Cor 5:7-8, 11:26. Lastly, as Marion Hatchett explained to me way back in August 1977, the Great Thanksgiving Prayer quickly evolved into its basic and necessary trinitarian structure: firstly, unto God the Father - for creation and the economy of salvation (akin to certain key Psalms); then Jesus, the Son’s, rationale for the rite - the Institution Narrative (akin to many a Jewish pattern of prayer, as pointed out by even the likes of Eric Mascall); and lastly, for God the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the gathering and their use of the elements - to realise (sic!) all that’s duly promised ... for God’s People, via the Body of Christ, unto the Holy Spirit’s Eschatological Temple (these last thoughts are mine, not MH’s). See e.g. John McKenna, Eucharist and Holy Spirit: The eucharistic epiclesis in twentieth century theology (Alcuin Club, 1975); Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 1987).

    James and/or Ron may especially like these last two references.

    Kia ora BW! I’ll may be add to your latest ...

  35. To be honest, liturgidology is a subject that makes my eyes glaze over. Whether it's an 'eastern theory' about invoking the Holy Spirit upon the bread or wine or a 'western theory' about 'manual acts' or "words of institution" doesn't matter that much to me (though maybe it should?); I am more interested in discovering what the Apostolic Church did and what it thought it was doing in the Lord's Supper. Primitivist? Guilty as charged. If prayers or "manual acts" could compel miracles, there would be no sick, no poor and no sinful desires.
    It is the same concern with what the NT really means that has bothered me about N. T. Wright's essays on Pauline justification (and, to a lesser extent, his more recent claim that Paul was "politically challenging the claims of Caesar in the name of the Messiah"). Watching a video of Wright promoting his new book before an audience, I find that he continues to misunderstand and misrepresent Luther and Calvin - but the audiences he speaks to know little or nothing about them - and to double down on his understanding of 'dikaiosune theou' as 'covenant faithfulness', despite its insecure lexical and contextual base. In the same video (with Martin Bashir of the BBC), Wright also goes along with Dunn's theory that 'erga tou nomou' essentially means Jewish identity markers (circumcision, Sabbath-keeping, food laws); whereas Gathercole and others have strongly argued that that is much too narrow a construction of those words - as Phil 3.9 shows. The odd achievement of Wright in insisting on "reading Paul in his own context" (as Wright imagines this to be) is to make Paul's words seem strange and dated, locked in local first century issues.

  36. Simon Gathercole on N T Wright--


  37. Thanks - actually I recall reading this some indeterminate time ago but as I wasn't really familiar with Wright's take on justification then, it made less impact on me. It's clear that Wright has held to this view for over 20 years now, and I don't know if he interacts anywhere with the lexical and exegetical critique that Charles Lee Irons and other have made - which is partly anticipated here by Gathercole: parallelism (in Psalms and Isaiah) is not the same as synonymy. Rather it is *because Yahweh is righteous and just that he is faithful to his covenant and will defend Israel and punish her enemies.
    Another claim that Wright makes repeatedly is that Paul is polemicizing against Caesar ('Jesus, not Caesar is Lord'), but I think it's a stretch to see that in Paul, who on the whole takes a fairly positive view of the state (cf. Romans 13) - explicit criticisms of the state are lacking.
    Simon Gathercole will not have the fame that the prolific and prolix Bishop Wright has but he has made his own important contributions, in a fraction of the wordage: a serious challenge to the 'New Perspective'; a thought-provoking book arguing for the pre-existence of Christ being taught in the Synoptics; and responses to the more recent outbursts of Gnosticism or scepticism (Ehrman) that post-Christian American scholarship periodically produces.

  38. Hi James and Bowman
    A thought that has struck me as I posted your most recent comment, James, is to not only think about the past-and-present of Pauline scholarship (so, Is Wright arrogant to claim such and such, along with X,Y,Z are all wrong? Is Campbell off the wall to read Romans etc in his inimitable way?) but also about the present-and-future of scholarship.

    Consider, thus:
    1. It is the year 5000 AD and a certain James, Bowman and Peter of that day are discussing how incredible it is that for the first 2000 years of Pauline scholarship everyone was wrong and the subsequent 3000 years have been an enthralling debate between the Wrightians and the Campbellians, with occasional footnotes mentioning Barth’s Roman commentary, Augustine, and Sanders, even more rarely Luther and Calvin.
    2. (Much more relevantly to 2020!) In the year 2120, do we think Pauline debate will be significantly influenced by Wright and Campbell? Or, as we know, thinking back to (say) the Bultmanns, Barths and Brunners of the 1920s (albeit re theological debates rather than purely Pauline debates), is it likely that Wright’s claims and Campbell’s theses will have receded somewhat in importance (compare Bultmann and Brunner) and Someone Else will be the “Barth” - the scholar whose towering intellect still casts a shadow over time?

    My own hunch is that Wright’s influence will not stand the “test of time”, particularly for reasons James reminds us of: there are ideas in Wright’s writings which are not particularly convincing (e.g. everything in the gospels is about the Return from Exile) and it is difficult to see future generations finding them more convincing than our own.

    Campbell I am agnostic about: it is relatively early days ... he might yet carry the field before him (though, in my view, not in the Teacher aspect of his approach) ... but it is highly possible that he will not be much cited 100 years from now ... that is an ordinary fate of many brilliant scholars.

    The least brilliant thought one can have is that 100 years from now there will be a settled synthesis between Old and New Perspectives on Paul :)

  39. Dear Bishop Peter and fellow contributors to this thread. My eye was caught by our Host's link to Fr. Bosco's website - Liturgy - wherein he comments on the suitability of an 'Agape Meal' as a possible continuing way of 'remembering' our Fellowship with Christ in the Eucharist. I'm not sure whether Bosco seriously considers this to be a suitable way of substitution for participation in a Eucharistic Celebration after the current lockdown situation is over. Lest that be offered as a real possibility, here are mot thoughts, which I have also offered on the Liturgy website:

    Obviously, for Jesus at least, their partaking of the formal meal of (Passover) was not sufficient for his disciples to understand the soteriological lesson that he was about to deliver - through his enactment of the Eucharist (mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels - but not mentioned in John's Gospel). The Passover Meal was Jesus' last participation of the Old Covenant with his disciples; whereas the newly redemptive liturgical event took place in the 2nd thanksgiving - which was specifically related to the bread and wine of the New Covenant - the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

    In his Gospel, in the first instance - relating to the Passover meal - Luke tells us that (presumably after the disciples had eaten) Jesus took a cup of wine, gave thanks for it (the festal wine), then said: "Take this and share it among you. I shall not drink wine until the kingdom of God comes". For Jesus, this was his final celebration of the Passover meal. This was not yet, in Luke's account, a celebration of the Eucharist.

    For Luke; the Eucharist was instituted with the SECOND thanksgiving and distribution of bread and wine, which Jesus declared to be: "The 'New Covenant (Passover) in My Blood".

    To confuse the Agape Meal (Passover Meal?) with the Eucharist could, therefore, be a 'harking back' to the Old Testament Dispensation. An agape meal, however (NOT the Passover Meal, which is something different) is exactly what it says it is: a meal wherein the participants declare their common love of one another, and maybe also of Christ - but which cannot replace the redemptive quality of the Eucharist.

    To assume that an agape meal, of itself, could actually have the redemptive value of the Eucharistic gathering, is a profound misunderstanding on the intention of Jesus at the Last Supper.

  40. Dear James, re the first para of your comment May 10, 2020 at 8:24 PM (I’ll omit any speculations about 5000 or even 2120 and Pauline scholarship - but I will dip into your brief remark re Jesus’ pre-existence in the Synoptics, as well as one element of NTW work).

    You say: “I am more interested in discovering what the Apostolic Church did and what it thought it was doing in the Lord’s Supper.” I wholeheartedly agree, and for a variety of reasons. Nor do I think it primitivism; it’s rather one facet of canonical ordering via Holy Scripture, even if Tradition does have its role - but only a role.
    This is why one footnote of God’s Address reads: “See Pitre, Jesus and the Last Supper, for a comprehensive discussion of the first century Jewish setting of this basic rite, with its motifs of New Passover, New Exodus, and New Covenant as the primary matrix for our understanding—despite perhaps inadequate frameworks thereafter.” (I might’ve also cited his earlier book, originally published by Doubleday, 2011, and now revised, but I hadn’t read it by then.)
    The reference to other “frameworks” of course alludes to Medieval debates around the Communication of Grace from 9th-13th Cs, climaxing in Lateran IV (1215) and transubstantiation, with the subsequent nominalist shadow, all of which then cast itself over the Reformers’ debates, complicating them even further. All in all, I too have a love-hate relationship with liturgical studies. Yet the debates around liturgy have taught me to see/perceive serious theological divides and failures, as well as riches, more clearly. JA Jungmann’s, The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer (ET Geoffrey Chapman, 1965), itself picked up by TF Torrance, proved massively seminal.
    And so may I refer you again to Pitre’s two books cited earlier - May 9, 2020 at 4:58 PM

    You mention Jesus’ pre-existence in the Synoptics in the work of Simon Gathercole. I’m sadly unfamiliar with that specifically. But I sense it might parallel Richard Hays’ most helpful Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Baylor, 2014), which set of lectures was amplified by his subsequent, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (Baylor, 2016). For he details how the four Evangelists all tell (and so not just FG of John!) in their respective ways the story of Jesus as a retelling of the story of Israel, which Jesus fulfills and even transcends, since he is simultaneously both the perfect human covenant partner and “somehow” the Covenant God, Yahweh, embodied. Happy reading!

    “The Return from Exile” theme has more legs than some give it credit for, frankly. Not only is it the flip-side of the New Exodus motif now gaining ground (rightly in my judgment). This recent collection too needs critical evaluation, imho: James M Scott, Exile: A Conversation with NT Wright (IVP Academic, 2017). It’s a vital contribution to the necessary conversation.

  41. Dear Bowman,
    I did appreciate those typo signs associating Jesus <–> Body + Eucharist/Eucharist + Body. Thanks! I guess you’re signalling also the two statements, “The Eucharist makes the Church”, and “the Church makes the Eucharist”, those two traditionally contested claims, and how Jesus Himself relates to either - let alone the Holy Spirit!
    In which light, I too love Henri de Lubac’s, Corpus Mysticum–The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages, sensing it details a most important twist in our Christian historical journey, one which bedevils us all still. Teasing out this knot is, I sense, also a key to ecumenical relations in the 21st C.
    Similarly, with reference therefore to your added twist via Oliver O’Donovan’s Thirty Nine Articles’ material and the dynamic between individual sinner and the Body/the Body and its members, I’d add another insight of his: at the Reformation, not only was there the by now traditional distinction between visible and invisible Church, but also a tripartite division among invisible Church, visible C/church, and particular church bodies/organisations. So how might all this impact our Zoom conversation further ...?!

    Well; it goes like this - perhaps! During the first century, writing was (naturally) employed to disseminate the Gospel. Yet more than that, it became in addition the means of conforming the Message to a certain norm. For other ‘messages’ (viz. kerygmata) were also abroad - from the very beginning even, it seems (Gal 1:8-9!). Just so, a form of human technology was employed, via Gospel and Letters, using forms of biography and rhetoric and apocalyptic, to proclaim The Kerygma + Didachē. And we now think nothing of it, really ... mostly. For human writing continued down the centuries, disseminating the Faith. [And we could elaborate, via the likes of Irenaeus and others, to what extent Tradition was also similarly employed ...]
    Until the time of the Reformation, when a quantum leap transpired: the Printing Press was born. And many a historian would attribute part of the success of that Movement to precisely this upgrade of human technology.
    Fast forward to the late 20th C and now 21st C. Our own quantum leap has arrived, via the PC and the internet, and more recently the smart phone. This conversation is in other words to a great deal centred on technology and our employment of various kinds of technology. And NB: material technological changes have been the case ever since our forebears first picked up stones and bones, to use them as tools. Our human capacity for ever more sophisticated tool-making is just that. So; in one sense, this debate is but a turning of the screw yet one more time.
    Nor have I lost sight of the key component of this debate, community, and notably the Community of the Church. Technology is ever a societal thing; knowledge and its application are societal exercises. We Christians in particular should not lose sight of the corporate nature of the word adam in Gen 2, as well as the individual name. Similarly, the Eucharist, as Bowman correctly divines, is ever and always re the Body (ambiguities to the fore!).

  42. cont

    So; where is the Zoom Eucharist in this context? Frankly, I merely rehearse what I said above/earlier - plus the following thoughts now. Jesus at the Last Supper employs a wealth of Scriptural and Traditional practice, some written, some oral, and all around material traits, of specific food and drink, all heavily loaded with meaning. Paul writing to the church in Corinth “passes on” (via a technical Jewish rabbinical formula, 11:23; 15:1-3) the core of all this. The Gospels, it has been contended by some, pivot around the Passion Narratives, all of which climax with these particular stories because of their significance for the NT Church’s worship needs. Be that as it may. But the point is that (written and subsequent) technology and the Eucharist are employed together right from the start, with the Last Supper itself and down to the very present day. Plus ça change ...

    In which light, I really cannot get up too great a head of steam here, folks ... apart from what I’ve written!

  43. Hello, Bryden - you can find Gathercole's thoughts on pre-existence in SBTS lectures linked on the Monergism website, along with a lot of other material on Cross and atonement; and in his book 'The Pre-existent Son' (c. 2008) which, I think, bears the influence of Richard Bauckham. Gathercole's starting point is the meaning and implication of the 'I have come' statements in the Synoptics, and IIRC his ideas are buttressed by belief in the pre-existence of the Messiah as attested in 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra. Interestingly, again Gathercole disagrees sharply with his Doktorvater James Dunn, who, you may recall, rejected ANY idea of pre-existence in Paul (not Phil 2, not Col 1 etc) or anywhere in the NT - except John's 'late' Gospel ... so, yes, the pre-existence of Christ is a biblical idea, saith Dunn, but only just. Naturally, discovering that Dunn taught this bothered me, because I recalled how enthusiastic evangelicals used to be about Dunn, especially his colleague at St John's Nottingham, Colin Buchanan. But that was before Dunn began to take a more radical turn in Christology.
    As for motifs of exile and return, I am sure these are in the Jesus narrative: how could they not be in a story which (we believe) is the culmination of the biblical narrative, beginning with Genesis? But this is rather different from making illustrative motifs the explanatory key and theme of the opus: 'the Messiah was proclaiming the end of the exile through his cross.' So not about the forgiveness of sins? The 'end of exile' is obviously a metaphorical idea (as it was not for Zerubbabel and Shealtiel) but for what? As an interested outsider in these things, I have learned to be a little cautious of grand statements about what "Judaism" (or even "Palestinian Judaism") believed up to AD 70, being a little more aware of its diversity as well as its commonalities. Among these was a belief in the Messiah (or even two Messiahs), but as we know, there were many and conflicting expectations about this.
    But of course it is easy (and lazy) just to be cautious - and as Jim Packer says somewhere, you don't shoot piano players - or explorers.

  44. Its a pity if eyes glaze over when we encounter liturgical studies.The 39A are part of a package that includes BCP and Ordinal. Assent to them in the C of E at least is much weakened since the mid 19c and I doubt if they shaped lay peoples christian understanding much: that was done by worship and the Catechism. Anglicanism more than most varieties of Christianity has a significant investment in Lex orandi lex credendi.
    Perry Butler

  45. Bryden, + Peter's 10:58 poses two interesting questions--

    (1) How much consensus is possible among modern *critical scholars* of the NT?

    (2) Within the already-discussed dogmatics of Robert Jenson and John Webster, how important to the Body is such consensus?

    My mind is open, but inclines to the twin suspicions that (1') the collapse of naive empiricism as a general account of knowledge leaves us no reason to expect that data will reliably determine consensus, and that (2') both Jenson's *story and promise* ontology of the word, and also Webster's agency of the word in time sublate such academic findings into the gospel even without a modern consensus. Thoughts?


  46. Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

    James, I don’t know anything about you, but your suggestion (May 9) that Pope Francis is unaware of the history of the epiclesis in his church would be insulting if were not clearly ignorant. Pope Francis grew up with and did his priestly formation in the context of that rite which, in any case, essentially continues in Eucharistic Prayer 1.

    As you claim to be “a linguist by background and profession”, you should be well aware that the Roman Catholic “for us” and the Anglican “to us” are simply different preferences for translating the dative. I say ‘preference’ because “for us” is also used in NZ’s Anglican Prayer Book. This Prayer Book also has:

    Praise and glory to you creator Spirit of God;
    you make our bread Christ’s body
    to heal and reconcile
    and to make us the body of Christ.
    You make our wine Christ’s living sacrificial blood
    to redeem the world.

    Ron, if you are going to misrepresent me on other sites, please let me know so that I can respond. Nothing could be further from your contention that I suggested “the suitability of an 'Agape Meal' as a possible continuing way of 'remembering' our Fellowship with Christ in the Eucharist.” Or that an Agape Meal is “a suitable way of substitution for participation in a Eucharistic Celebration”! In fact Peter himself responded to my post: "Thoughtful and helpful! Thank you for clarity of thought and care in distinction between Agape Meal and Eucharistic Feast.". I will leave St Luke to defend himself from your misreading of him.

    Bryden, please can you clarify if you see lifting the plate and vessel whilst watching the video recording of a Eucharist as essential to the validity of consecration? Clearly, as no such manual acts are required by the person on your video, your introducing the requirement of lifting appears to be attached to the novelty of remote consecration. Furthermore, as your thesis is predicated on the Holy Spirit via the epiclesis (some reading your thesis might wonder what happens if there is not one) being able to cope with using a video recording, if the person in lockdown has run out of bread and wine and rice, might, in your thesis, the Holy Spirit via the epiclesis cope with consecrating coffee and cake?

    Easter Season Blessings


  47. Father Ron, usage and emphasis vary, but *agape meal* (aka *love feast*) usually refers to one or more of these-- (a) a meal inspired by those of the house churches of St Paul, (b) a meal inspired by the foot-washing episode in St John's Gospel, and (c) a meal offered after the eucharist (eg after the Great Vigil of Pascha). Having roots deep in the M1, the meals after midweek liturgies of the presanctified gifts during the Great Fast in the East, and the monastic meals with *antidoron* that I mentioned several days ago are probably the oldest *agape meal* traditions that we have.

    Are they the eucharist? Of the the three referents, (a) was the ordinary eucharist of pauline house churches, and (b) and (c) intentionally echo or comment upon the eucharist. Agape meals are eucharistic devotions, we could say, but until recently anything under the name has emphasized horizontal, inter-personal themes (hence the name) in contrast with the vertical communion theme of the main service of the Lord's Day. For that reason, agape meals have not imitated holy communion even when they included bread blessed (consecrated?) for that rite, and their ethos is far less formal. In the eucharist itself, the moment nearest to them is the exchange of the peace.

    But under the old name, today's liturgical experimenters are doing something new. Inspired by the haggadim of Jewish *seders*, their rather scripted meals are often trying to root communion in the story of the exodus. Exodus --> Body/Blood --> Bread/Wine. Where the bread and wine of communion evoke individual, interior, and often penitential themes (eg + Peter on receptionism), the bread and wine in these christened seders have corporate, social if not cosmic, and usually liberatory themes. The customary themes of agape meals are noticeably missing. And in the eucharist itself, the moment nearest to these seders is, well, everything after the *synaxis*.

    To my mind, these are two different rites traveling with the same passport. Both are group prayer in homes tethered to the official ordo by a permissive rubric. Both are meals that could evoke the wealth of messianic banquet imagery in scripture. Both bring themes in the background of the usual eucharist into the foreground. But where the old agape meal is a conscious contrast between two modes of the Lord's presence, so that confusion with communion is unlikely, the new seders do so much of the work of an *anaphora* that one wonders why they are not communion services. And although everything in the canon is tied somehow to everything else, these two meals would probably call very different pages to most minds.

    I agree with Bosco that if a big liturgy is unsafe, a small liturgy is a better substitute for it than a screen in solitude. And just as he finds it to be rather stupid to ignore the Body's life online, so I have long thought this about the relative neglect of domestic and missional worship. But as you suggest, the opposite of neglect is, not indulgence, but scrutiny.


  48. Good series, Bosco!


  49. Hello, Bosco,
    No claim or speech marks about it, I am a linguist by training and profession (three degrees in languages and theology) and much of my life I've been teaching French, German, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew and Greek. That the Roman Canon of the Mass and the BCP order for the Lord's Supper don't have an epiclesis prayer invoking the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine is a simple fact, and not one that bothers me either way. Anyway, Bergoglio is a jovial chap and he'll forgive my insult or ignorance if it is brought to his attention.
    As for the prayer you quote from the NZ Prayer Book, I think it's borderline heretical but alas, not the only one in that particular collection. I am old enough to remember that clunking line from 1970: "holy be your name" - as if God's Name was not already holy! Whoever wrote that howler didn't know what "hallowed" means. Anyone can and does, write prayers but that is no guarantee that the prayers are faithful to the teachings of the New Testament. NZ Anglicanism, along with Tec, has been much more prone to liberal currents in theology (liberation theology, feminism, "eco-feminism") than other parts of the Anglican world and the temptation to cram these transient interests into the eucharist has proved impossible to resist.

  50. Dear James
    Your thoughts on James Dunn are interesting.
    In the interests of transparency, should I declare that he was also my "Doktorvater"?

  51. Bosco said: "I will leave St Luke to defend himself from your misreading of him".

    I'm not quite sure Bosco where I have actually'misread' Luke's version of the Passover Meal followed by the Eucharist (Cf: Luke 22.vv.14-20) where the Jerusalem Bible clearly separates their significance by these separate notations: (a) The Supper, and (b) The institution of the Eucharist - two related but different theological entities.

    However, if you think I have misrepresented your thesis on the comparative eucharist validity of the Agape Meal v. The Eucharist, I hereby apologise for that and for your discomfort.

    I guess that, for most members of our congregations in the present deficit in corporate worship in our buildings; the question is how best do we communicate with one another as members of the Body of Christ in the present season of the lockdown? When the Elements of the Eucharist are denied us, how best can we 'keep the Faith' - both personally and as a community of believers.

    I suspect that most actually do understand the benefits of receiving the Eucharist - even if only under one 'kind' (certainly, R.C.s were used to this for decades). Without any background in the study of philosophy, linguistics, or academic theology; most of our faithful laity have learned the virtue of what they have come to believe in as 'Holy Communion' - and without the hangups of some of the worthy scholars about such matters as trans- or con-substantiation. They just believe that, in some way, God is feeding them with food that will sustain them into the eternal life God in Christ has promised.

    Jesus did say this - about theological speculation - "I bless you Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and clever and revealing them to mere children. For that is what it has pleased you to do". I guess not everyone amongst us will need a degree in theology to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    I still remember the story of an old woman in the parish, who had been baptized but had never received Holy Communion. She had been encouraged by her parish priest to take this further step in faith.
    When the moment came for the priest to place the wafer in her hands, she looked at it, a smile came over her face and she just uttered the word: "Jesus" before reverently consuming the Body of Christ.

    'Christos Anesti. Alleluia!

  52. I trust Bosco your gesturing “coffee” is but // my own referencing “natives’ excitement” ...!

  53. Peter; re Jimmy Dunn: I sense Colin Buchanan et al were initially enthusiastic about his early work as it was focussed on matters addressing Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and Jesus and the Spirit. Thereafter, as James mentions, he went onto getting involved in matters of Unity and Diversity - supposedly! - as well as constructing somewhat curious Christological developments ... All before he dived into Paul of course - of course!! Your pedigree helps to explain lots ...! (As perhaps does mine ...!)

  54. Love the questions Bowman. Some responses ...

    Critical study. I sense that over the many decades consensus has been more or less reached in broad strokes over such things as form criticism, redaction criticism, rhetorical and cultural factors, etc etc as ‘useful and even necessary tools’. (Source criticism has proven a minefield, I acknowledge, notably in OTT!) Sure; the specific results of applying these tools has differed in many cases, but just because that’s the case, we’ve not thrown the tools away - even as some/many have tried to refine them. E.g. the delicious work by C Stephen Evans, The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History (OUP, 1996).

    Yes; Jenson and Webster have both in their respective ways tried, and succeeded I reckon, to substantiate, in the face of a (reckless?!) series of lightweight (ephemeral?!) trends, a due solidity to the Reality (Wirklichkeit!) of the Christian Faith and its necessary expressions in this world.

    In particular, with half an eye on this thread’s topic, RWJ’s Visible Words (re the sacraments, for those who have not meet this notion or book) is a companion to your own delightful summary, BW. As for Webster: two summaries from me.
    His Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (CUP, 2003) requires the Bible be read among and by the community of the Church as the appointed divine servant and necessary instrument within the triune God’s economy of salvation of grace—how richly solid is that! Then The Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason (T&T Clark, 2012) offers a wide ranging elaboration, echoing not only the likes of his painfully felt clashes with the Oxford Faculty of Theology whilst Lady Margaret Professor (viz. those “ephemeral” types above), but delves far more deeply into our present pathologies: the 3½ page Preface alone richly sets the scene. I am forcibly reminded of that Cambridge philosopher of religion, Janet Martin Soskice’s own summary in, “Naming God: A Study in Faith and Reason” in Griffiths & Hütter, eds, Reason and The Reasons of Faith, pp.241-254, at p.242: “The early modern crisis of knowledge was such that philosophy in many quarters became epistemology - the problem of knowledge. In retrospect, the anxieties about salvation that shook the late medieval church, although doubtless provoked by clerical corruption, indulgences, failed conciliar movements and so forth, had a good deal to do with uncertainty about everything. It is not clear that we are beyond the trauma of knowing yet.” (emphases original) Webster’s contribution is to return to seek, as you say BW, an ontological undergirding that inevitably goes beyond the epistemological; for God’s Triune Singular Being is the ground (and grammar, Torrance would say!) of any knowledge of God, with Scripture his own unique testimony of this. I suggest his chapter, “Theology and the peace of the church”, is a delightful rejoinder to the vagaries that often plague the ‘critical results’ of certain ‘guilds’!
    Eh bien! Ça suffit!

  55. Thanks, Ron, for your apology – no problem between us.

    To be clear, I did not present a “thesis on the comparative eucharist validity of the Agape Meal v. The Eucharist”. I do not even know or understand what “comparative eucharist validity” means.

    I have never come across your suggestion that Jesus and his disciples first ate supper and only then (“presumably after the disciples had eaten”) instituted the Eucharist. Luke and Paul are clearest that the bread came towards the start of the meal and the cup towards the end. I am sure that the editors of the Jerusalem Bible never thought that by adding the heading ‘The Supper’ this would be taken to mean that the Supper ended at Luke 22:18. To be clear again: if there is actually such a re-reading of Jesus’ last meal, I would be very keen to learn about it.

    Easter Season Blessings


  56. There appears to be a few new challenges for those enamoured with theological mores. I read the article on Anglican Taonga about the US Hospital Chaplain who performed last rites online while an atheist nurse made a sign of the cross on a civid patient...

  57. "So; in one sense, this debate is but a turning of the screw yet one more time.
    Nor have I lost sight of the key component of this debate, community, and notably the Community of the Church."

    Yes, Bryden. My OP for + Peter nudges digital toolmakers to envision the Body less as a bag of marbles and more as grapes on the Vine, less as Yves Congar and Concilium and more as Henri de Lubac and Communio.


  58. Welcome back, Jean. Do you have a link to the article you found in Anglican Taonga? I have not found it there.


  59. Dear Bishop Peter, after trying to post 3 different comments on this thread - without success, I don't know why - I am going to test the system once again with this comment from the 3-minute Retreat site for today with the Jesuits. If this doesn't work, this will be my last attempt to communicate on ADU:

    "The theme of the struggle between good and evil is found in novels, movies, newspapers, television reports, and our daily interactions with others. The Bible presents this theme many times, particularly in the story of Adam and Eve. Although sin exists within us and in the world, we are saved through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    Evil never has the last word".

    Christ is Risen, Alleluia. He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!

  60. Dear Bosco, I noted this statement in your response to my comment on the link to your blog that Bishop Peter gave to the rest of us" (If that seems convoluted, then I will clarify the situation: that Peter referred to your blog from a link he supplied on ADU. It was to ADU that I responded - as being my original 'port of call'.

    I now note, however, that you question my separation on the two references in Luke's account of the Eucharist in his Gospel, chapter 22, wherein the Jeruslam Bible compilers thought it necessary to headline the two occasions of the use of bread and wine:

    The first occurs in verses 15 to 18.
    The second, in verses 19 and 20.

    If you have a Jerusalem Bible perhaps you would care to look carefully at these two sets of verses - under different headings, and tell me where my understanding of '2 separate situations' is not theologically sustainable.

    It seems to me that the first account, where Jesus gives thanks for, and offers, a cup for his disciples to drink could well relate to the Passover meal.

    The second thanks and distribution is separated out from the first by the words that Jesus says to accompany that Eucharistic action.

  61. Thank you Bowman for yours of May 13, 2020 at 1:54 AM. Two things in response.

    1. Let me be clear myself about what BW selects: “So; in one sense, this debate is but a turning of the screw yet one more time. Nor have I lost sight of the key component of this debate, community, and notably the Community of the Church ...” I am proposing a practice by members of the Church that involves both a form of technology (e.g. Zoom) and their doing certain things. I am not exactly a fan of “spiritual communion”—though see this vital article here:
    For here we see that two things are properly required, both ‘operations’ of an internal heart and mind, and the exterior doing of key things. And it’s the necessary supplement of what most are not doing via the term “spiritual communion” that is my active proposal: “1. Take a plate ... 8. ... together with others ...” See May 9, 2020 at 4:58 PM. And the rationale is also given via various comments.

    2. “... nudges digital toolmakers to envision the Body less as a bag of marbles and more as grapes on the Vine, less as Yves Congar and Concilium and more as Henri de Lubac and Communio.” Ah yes; that Ressourcement wrestling match one more time too! While I do not feel competent to précis the likes of this: Ressourcement: A Movement for Renewal in Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology eds Gabriel Flynn and Paul Murray (OUP, 2012). I do think you might assist us a little BW, by presenting some dots for us and joining them up a little. The Concilium-Communio debate requires some unpacking. A good example of course was Benedict vs. Kasper on the nature of the Church. But us Prots, who think as I’ve also indicated earlier, are just far too quick often to adjust our ecclesial thinking to that tripartite view, seeing primarily sundry church organizations, rather than your call to and for the Body - which is mine too, I’d say. And my “1 comment” under your kind original post hosted by Peter was meant to exactly ground your vision. A version, may I suggest, of Phil 3:10-11 one more time yet again!

  62. Dear Bryden
    I am a little puzzled, thinking about many engagements with you on ADU over the years.

    On a certain topic, you make not one adjustment for any impact of modernity.

    On the topic of the eucharist (if not the ekklesia), you appear to be willing to make hitherto unknown adjustments for the impact of modernity.

    What am I missing?
    What is your criterion or criteria for making one set of adjustments but not another?

  63. Father Ron, I am glad that evil did not have the last word, for if it did, I would miss your perspective and comments here on ADU.


  64. Ah Peter! It’s actually very simple. These adjustments and their opposite are all governed by the single principle of seeking a non dualist appreciation of reality, any reality, scientific & Christian.

    Re Zoom. I’m making the move to of have some concrete aspect of reality performed by the participants together as they enjoy the technological means to simultaneously participate in all that the Eucharist promises - here, by watching but not being a mere voyeur.

    Re SSB and all that. As you’ve now probably gathered (by separate means of commination), ACANZ&P is bedevilled through and through with multiple forms of dualism - beyond repair almost, IMHO. Period!


    Lastly, to answer my own query to Bowman. George Weigel is helpful here:

    It also rather amusingly goes along to addressing your query around "modernity"!

  65. Belatedly, Bryden, thank you for your 6:35, 3:32 and 12:47. I promise to reply to the last, but before that a clarifying question about the first.

    "During the first century, writing was (naturally) employed to disseminate the Gospel. Yet more than that, it became in addition the means of conforming the Message to a certain norm... Until the time of the Reformation, when a quantum leap transpired: the Printing Press was born. And many a historian would attribute part of the success of that Movement to precisely this upgrade of human technology. Fast forward to the late 20th C and now 21st C. Our own quantum leap has arrived, via the PC and the internet, and more recently the smart phone. This conversation is in other words to a great deal centred on technology and our employment of various kinds of technology. And NB: material technological changes have been the case ever since our forebears first picked up stones and bones, to use them as tools. Our human capacity for ever more sophisticated tool-making is just that. So; in one sense, this debate is but a turning of the screw yet one more time.

    "Nor have I lost sight of the key component of this debate, community, and notably the Community of the Church. Technology is ever a societal thing; knowledge and its application are societal exercises. We Christians in particular should not lose sight of the corporate nature of the word adam in Gen 2, as well as the individual name. Similarly, the Eucharist, as Bowman correctly divines, is ever and always re the Body (ambiguities to the fore!)."

    I hear an premise in your words that you may not in fact be supposing. Putting what I hear in a bald proposition, it sounds like (1)--

    (1a) As tool-making is intrinsic to human nature,
    (1b) and the elect Body of a place and time represents all creatures and its neighbors
    (1c) when it *offers* its produce in the praise and thanksgiving of the eucharist,
    (1d) so therefore when the Body uses the tools made in its place and time, it offers a more representative and hence a better eucharist.

    The innovation is in treating tool-making as an aspect of the human nature (cf Genesis ii 5-8) that was assumed by the Lord, regenerated in his resurrection, and so regenerated in his Body. Although you note the succession of Western technologies, I hear, not an appeal to Progress, but something closer to Romans viii 20. But is this what you are saying?


  66. Hello, Peter,
    I think I knew you'd been in Durham sometime so I'm not surprised James Dunn was your "Doktorvater" - I'm sure he was an inspiring and stimulating supervisor. Of course, as I know in my own life, sons don't always agree with their father! Simon Gathercole learned much from him but also sharply disagreed, even in his thesis, which I think Dunn was secure enough to accept. In other fields, especially in secular academe and the soft non-sciences that call themselves "social sciences", many mandarins of academe are discombobulated by disagreement. Dunn's self-confidence was of course legendary- I have it on good personal report that in the early 80s he told a young American wanting to research some questions in Paul, "No point - I've answered them all!" But of course that was before Tom Wright came to Durham. ("Put not thy trust in Prince-Bishops".)
    As Bryden mentioned, Colin Buchanan loved his stuff in the late 70s, but that was before he began to attack traditional understanding of Christology in Paul, claiming that Phil 2 wasn't about pre-existence, and rejecting the traditional meaning of Colossians 1.15-20 - and dismissing the clear pre-existence Christology of Hebrews 1 as "Platonism"! Thinking about this convinced me that pre-existence was far more pervasive in the New Testament than I had realised.
    On the other matter of Zoom eucharists and "spiritual communion", is it worth mentioning that according to the BCP and Article XXVII, EVERY act of communion is spiritual: "the body is received after an heavenly and spiritual manner."

  67. On disagreeing with one's Doktorvater, it's interesting that Gathercole's little book of a few years ago 'The Pre-existent Son' on the Synoptics argues against what Dunn claimed in 'Christology in the Making'.


  68. Dear Ron

    I did reply to your Jerusalem Bible exegesis. I will do so yet again:

    If you open your Jerusalem Bible at Luke 6:20, you will see the heading, “The inaugural discourse”. Then there is a new heading, “The curses”, at Luke 6:24. Following your approach, you would use this to argue that from Luke 6:24 onwards is not part of “The inaugural discourse”.

    A formal meal at the time of Jesus began with the customary ritual handwashing. Then participants individually drank their first cup of wine repeating the berakah. The meal then began with the one presiding breaking bread with the berakah and sharing it. The dinner followed with its cups, courses, and other berakoth. The Passover followed this pattern but with particular foods, special prayers and the dialogue of the Haggadah (and, of course, four cups of wine). Meals concluded with the one presiding inviting all to share his thanksgiving with a cup of wine mixed with water, chanting the Birkat ha-mazon.

    The Eucharist was the bread early in the meal and the cup towards the end removed from the meal as I described in my post you are critiquing.

    Luke’s gospel account follows this pattern clearly. Just as “The inaugural discourse” (above) is a heading that obviously extends through the next Jerusalem Bible heading, similarly the Jerusalem Bible heading “The supper” obviously extends beyond the end of Luke 22:18.

    I am genuinely fascinated if there is some new scholarship that supports your suggestion of the Eucharist being a separate event instituted after they had finished their meal and had their fill – but I would want scholarship more than ‘this is what a first glance at the Jerusalem Bible headings suggests’.

    So that I can try and see how this discussion connects to Peter’s thread, I’m still waiting to read what you could possibly mean by “comparative eucharist validity”, a term that you attribute to me but the meaning of which I cannot even make sense of let alone be the source of.

    Easter Season Blessings,


  69. Postscript--

    (2) Non-dualism. Bryden, I did not hear this in your 6:35. Do you refer to Richard Rohr's *non-dualism*? (Everything considered, that does seem unlikely, but it is better to ask than to assume.) If not, what do you mean by it?

    (3) Concilium v Communio. Partisan though he is, George Weigel has the chronology right, and his admiration for Joseph Ratzinger is not unreasonable. But he views the former without charity, and so misses the deeper similarity in difference of the two tendencies. That blurs my shorthand reference to them for our purposes here.

    Among Protestants, the same basic polarity pulls some reforming spirits toward *inculturation* (cf Francis) and others toward *ecclesiocentrism* (cf Benedict XVI). The former take the gospel to the world as contemporaries and peers speaking in the world's own lingua franca. The latter retrieve the sources of the Body's inner life to nurture a distinct ethos that influences the wider world by example.

    Inculturators, if I may call them that, are afraid that the world will ignore their gospel-- and them-- if the Body is not well-adapted to its pace and direction. Ecclesiocentrists are afraid that there will be nothing for the world to pay attention to-- and nothing that they themselves can trust-- if the Body does not drink deeply enough from its own wells to exemplify a better way of life. Saying and being; going and dwelling; acceptance and trust; social relevance and social capital; a message in a bottle, a city on a hill.

    Both are valuable mindsets for worthwhile renovation. But each attracts different temperaments; each too often gets in the other's way. Mature disciples have charity for both callings and can live with their excesses and misjudgments, up to a point. But tensions between their practices on the ground can inspire malice. And that malice makes immature disciples less intelligent than they would otherwise be.


  70. Dear Ron,
    Your comments should not be "ad hominem" - should not make comment on a person rather than on their arguments.
    Your most recently submitted comments includes an ad hominem.
    I am prepared, this time, to redact it, but next time I may simply not publish it.
    Here is the redacted comment:

    Thanks,Peter, for your timely observance [...]. I think that those who are unable to embrace the prospect of change from the long-held views of exclusively binary sexual mores, have no [Ron, deleted words here elaborate an unwarranted assumption about people you disagree with ...]. [...] on ADU described himself as 'Protestant', and, although many other (mostly younger) Protestant - non-Gafcon - Anglicans around the Western world are now cognisant of the dangers of institutional sexism and gay-phobia;there are still those of the more con/evo disposition who [...].

    Sadly, one of the most influential parties in the campaign against LGBT+ people are those (mostly Pentecostal) pastors settling around the office and person of the current POTUS. Of course, everyone outside of the USA might realise Donald Trump's motivation is (im)purely political, but it does not bode well for most of the more devout thinking Evangelical Christians in the USA who have problems with D.T.'s own Protestant integrity in other matters.

  71. Dear James,
    Jimmy Dunn is a wonderful person to meet and get to know (as has been my privilege) with a fine record in scholarship and a massive work ethic exemplified in his prolific publishing record, even in retirement from academic teaching.

    My own recollection of reading Christology in the Making several decades ago is not (so to speak) of reading a formerly conservative scholar gone all "squishy" relative to a doctrinal position but of reading a careful scholar probing assumptions and presumptions about what the NT is really saying as views of Jesus Christ are developed across its writings which all accept come from a period of many decades after the death and resurrection of Christ.

    If we recall the context of Dunn's writing that book (from memory, 1980s) then that was still a period in which Bultmann cast shadows across NT scholarship, and in which quite radical British scholarship (Cupitt, Goulder, M Casey - we might mention the Myth of the God Incarnate (was that its title?)) threw out scholarly jibes against orthodoxy, not least by to a greater or lesser degree proposing that orthodoxy represented a Hellenistic manipulation of simple Jewish prophetic peasant wisdom in a very human Jesus) then we might also read Christology in the Making as a work which defended orthodox Christology by finding defensible christological ideas within the NT itself.

    Such sympathy in reading does not mean Dunn is right and Gathercole is wrong on pre-existence, but it might mean we do not neatly categorise Dunn.

    One of my precious memories of Jimmy the man and the scholar is his taking on Goulder in a debate about the resurrection at a NT conference!

  72. Dear Bosco, in matters of interpretation of the Scriptures, I'm sorry you are having difficulty with my exegesis of Luke 22, vv.15-20. Even you would probably recognize that not even the learned Doctors of Theology necessarily agree with one another on matters of exegesis. As Luther once said: "This is where I stand". I know you stand in a different place but I can't help that.
    I am not an academic theologian. I was called to be a pastor and a preacher of the Gospel I know about, through my own experience of what it means.

    Incidentally, I still remember an occasion when I made an observation about the application of the Gospel of Matthew chapter 19:10-12 - describing the situation of 'eunuchs from their mother's womb' as quite possibly referring to the situation of intrinsically homosexual people. I remember you laughing that off as a misquoting of the Gospel meaning. That still rankles, so I will not engage with you further on matters of Scriptural exegesis - as being both a waste of my time and yours.

    I guess that, whatever emphatic view any of us might have about the meaning of certain verses of Scripture, there will always be someone - of great learning than ourselves - who will probably have a different understanding of the same verses. A lot of books are devoted to the dissemination of these different opinions, making a lot of money for their distinguished authors. However, being a 'bird of little brain' I am comforted by, and cling to, the saying of Jesus: "Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children; for that is what it has pleased you to do". (My Franciscan background). Please forgive me for not measuring up to the Jesuits - although I do admire some of them, notably Pope Francis (of Assisi -not Loyola).

    Blessings, Father Ron

  73. I'm sorry Bishop Peter, for identifying certain people with the arguments they put forward that are contrary to one's own - a matter that you have rather skillfully avoided in your redaction of my comments above. However, if one is to avoid mentioning the originators of arguments on a blog, how possibly can your readers understand whose arguments we are trying to engage with? OR, are only one's favourite and favourable theologians able to be mentioned - e.g; Messrs Wright and Dunn? HOWEVER, Peter: Your blog = Your rules. Understood!

  74. Thanks Ron.
    There is a distinction between saying:

    Peter Carrell has a small brain and that is why his comment above about rats and mice is wrong.


    In his comment above, Peter Carrell says that rats are just large mice. This is wrong because rats are different to mice as the Wikipedia article establishes.

  75. Or better yet--

    "Rats differ from mice in this respect... [proposition]. Doubtful readers can confirm this difference for themselves by doing this... or this... or this... [proof independently available to the reader]. So doing will disprove the thought that rats and mice both... [error identified and corrected]"

    If a writer's intent is to establish a true proposition in the mind of readers, then s/he just gives and offers proof of the proposition, correcting any incident error along the way. Full stop. And readers know that.

    If a writer says as much or more about an error's source as about the error itself, or fails to present and offer proof for a contrary true proposition, then her/his comment cannot inform the reader's independent judgment. There is nothing there but the stink of a fart. Unless they enjoy malicious gossip, readers will hold their noses and walk away from it.

    Whatever + Peter says goes, of course, but anyway these are realities of human nature. Readers take their autonomy seriously enough to ignore comments that seem to be offering them a brain transplant. And a writer who can only advance his own views by picking at another's looks, at best, as though his own thoughts cannot stand up to the reader's scrutiny on their own support.

    But what if a writer has no motivation to write unless s/he is attacking someone? There are haters who enjoy hating. There are also regenerate souls who do not really think much unless and until they are roused by a strange or disturbing idea. And there are still other regenerate souls who are depressed so much of the time that they see everything in its worst light. Somewhat similar to these are regenerate writers with a narcissistic envy of those they oppose; despairing of establishing secure self-esteem, they chip away at that of others. Writers with these conditions will post many more opposing comments than affirming ones.

    St Paul teaches that a regenerate soul is at peace. Seeing persistent negativity against personalities, we are seeing *wrath* (cf Jesus on insults, St Paul's virtue and vice lists, seven deadly sins, eight evil thoughts, etc). Thus haters need the gospel of Jesus Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit so that they will not be excluded from the New Jerusalem. We should pray for those who write hate as we pray for those who struggle with addiction, pornography, etc. But feeding the trolls here only further enmeshes them in the vice from which God would free them.

    Those whose opposition arises from complacency, melancholy, or narcissism are in a far better state. Commenting instead on what is true, treating errors as incidental to that truth, and minimizing references to persons * is more satisfying to write and far more persuasive to read. One feels good doing it and possibly does good by it. This turn to the positive is, at bottom, trusting the Father's love in creating, sustaining, and governing his creatures to their eternal ends. Who is not encouraged by thinking about that?

    * If readers are unlikely to know who made a statement of interest, a clean reference to the proper name of the person or group is normally sufficient. Likewise a name is often used here to refer to a body of work (eg Shakespeare's plays, the All Blacks' season, Barth's theology, etc).


  76. Dear Peter; should not you have written "different from", rather than "different to"? (Or, is that comment considered 'ad hominem') Sorry, Bishop, for my infelicity!

  77. Dear Ron

    I am sorry you are upset.

    In response to Peter’s post on Zoom Eucharists, you claim I substituted an Agape Meal for participation in a Eucharistic Celebration, and that I presented a “thesis on the comparative eucharist validity of the Agape Meal v. The Eucharist”.

    I have never done either of these things and have repeatedly asked what the second point even means.

    Concerned as I am at your misrepresentation of me here, I also have no idea whether you are making these assertions about me elsewhere on the internet.

    You supported your criticism of positions you inaccurately attribute to me by an interpretation of the Last Supper I have not seen previously. When you asked for my understanding of that biblical text, I summarised the standard approach. We find this in our Prayer Book (and RC and other Eucharistic Prayers): at the start of his last supper, Jesus took bread… After supper he took the cup…

    In your latest response, you publicly on the internet introduce an unrelated conversation with me that I have no recollection of.

    I am unsure what you think you are achieving in all this – my primary issue is that readers here are not left with your misrepresentation of my perspective about the way an Agape meal might be celebrated. I put a lot of energy and care into that presentation and I am concerned if confusion is sown into that.

    Easter Season Blessings


  78. Happily, Bosco,

    + Peter has a link to your excellent blog in the margin to the right. It was a simple matter for me to click thereon and to read your own positive thought in your own serene words. And now you have supplied that link again in your 7:22.

    However, it would be a pleasure to read a brief comment here explaining why you think an agape meal might provisionally substitute for an inaccessible eucharist. In view of the new rule of 10, such a comment would be timely, if you have time to make it.

    Over the past few decades online, I myself have found it unpleasant to be misrepresented from time to time on this or That topic. But others will always read what I write through their own lenses, and the meanings that they see through those will never be precisely what I meant to say. They can construe words; they cannot reconstruct a whole mind. Anything that they then say about what I think they misunderstand will misrepresent more or less what I am sure that I wrote. But what else could they have done?

    Though sometimes it is not, the misrepresentation may be charitable. It is much the best to assume so. Anyway, all that I have been able to do about it is to set the record straight with unprejudiced readers.

    There may be no better time than this to thank you again for the work that you do.


  79. Dear Bosco, can I put your mind at rest on one issue you mentioned in your most recent comment on ADU. I can assure you that I have only ever mentioned your name (or your theology) on your own blog or ADU, where we have a common interest. As I have already said on ADU, I am not an academic theologian, just a country priest with an interest in how ordinary people like myself might get a basic understanding of the benefits of pursuing the way of Christ as demonstrated in the Scriptures an in the lives of the Saints whose stories have affected my own, imperfect, life.

    Are you back in your teaching role at the College yet, Bosco? You must be missing it.

    Agape, Ron.

  80. Thanks, Ron.

    I certainly want all to be good between us.

    Under Level 3, I have been teaching and leading Chapel online - making my days even fuller than usual. Under Level 2, schools in NZ go back physically on Monday 18 May. Larger gatherings such as Assembly and Chapel are not allowed - so I will continue to present Chapel digitally; teaching returns to physical lessons in classrooms.



  81. Thanks, Bowman,

    I would not use the word "substitute".

    I have long been using the picture of the Eucharist being the jewel in the crown - with the crown being Daily Prayer (the Office). I have LONG urged a revival and renewal of Daily Prayer - I think it is a call of God during this time, and I see it enthusiastically growing at this time in wonderfully surprising quarters. I urge that continue as we move (back to/towards "new") normal.

    Similarly, I used the image of "frame" for the relationship of Agape Meal and Eucharist. I was heartened to receive responses (from lay people) that all they had heard (from clergy) was what they were NOT allowed to do. Here was a form of prayer new to them that they could grow in during this time.

    For the Office, I have a half a century of experience; for the Agape Meal I have a little experience - so my own passion is to encourage the Office, but I think, for some, the Agape Meal is another form of prayer that people can try in the time that they cannot be part of celebrating Eucharist (and beyond). Might "complement" be a better word than "substitute"?

    I have really appreciated some of your thinking - especially marbles vs grapes.

    I loved your writing about Athos. My time on Athos is very special to me. My experience with Orthodox is a good example and template for our current situation.

    Easter Season Blessings,


  82. Thank you, Bosco, for that summary.

    The marbles/grapes contrast is interesting, isn't it? We were discussing that with reference to St Paul's Epistle to the Romans just several days ago.

    There are those strong-willed spirits who are content to intuit their ways to "what works for me." But most others are slowed or stopped by a glass wall: these retrieved forms of prayer are actions within some tradition, but their sense of its identity, its history, and their place in both is too thin to support a richly intentional practice. And some still have the Romantic prejudice that if a practice is a tradition then it cannot be an authentic thing to do.

    So, to take your example, when clergy talk about what the laity are (not) "allowed" to do, the latter hear themselves asking, "(not) allowed by whom?" and "why would any truly good prayer ever need to be allowed?" The bare idea of a *denomination* (or, Bryden, of a *particular churche*) is too metaphysically thin to support convincing answers to these questions.

    There are not many whose hearts sing at the realisation that they have achieved perfect institutional compliance. When the aspiration to converse with God gets tangled up in something too much like the policy and procedure of a corporate workplace, it too often dies.

    The problem is not unique to Anglicanism, but Anglicans feel it especially acutely because of the gap that Oliver O'Donovan writing about the 39A and that Perry Butler above in his 9:57 of 5/11 have described so succinctly. Many, clerical and lay, are groping through their corporate practices with a soteriology too individualistic to make sense of what they are doing in the Prayerbook and the Ordinal. If the royal supremacy ever was an adequate stop-gap, it surely is not today. And spiritually anxious people see and feel this. So liturgical ressourcement needs not only prayer-forms but also an account of how using them makes rich narrative sense.

    I do not mention this to disparage resources for prayer that I use myself. Rather, I wish that our discussions here about scripture and dogmatics more often went on to their application in prayer. And vice versa.

    Thanks again for stopping by :-)

    Christos anesti!