Monday, June 13, 2022

Quicunque vult and a coupla other things

It is Trinity (as I start writing this post) so it's time to remind ourselves of Quicunque vult or "The Creed of Athanasius" (which may not have actually been written by him). In the lingo of the BCP:

"Whosoever will be saved : before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith

Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled : without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholick Faith is this : That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.


Now this is discomforting for those of us, including myself, who worry about a "propositional" approach to faith because we do not see much in the NT which says we will be judged for what beliefs we hold, other than a basic belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Except in the last words of the last sentence is a clue as to why this creed is correct in what it says: if we believe that Jesus is more, much more than a teacher or prophet or even both, that in his divinity-and-humanity lies our salvation - Jesus is the One who identifies with us as humans and who as God in flesh is able to redeem us from our sinfulness, then not only are we saved, but we also incipiently believe what the "Catholick faith" is about, as spelled out in precise and comprehensive terms by this creed.


I see a debate is breaking out for the umpteenth time in TEC over baptism in relation to communion, or, Can an unbaptized person receive communion? Bosco Peters has the wrap here.

My own contribution is to cite three sentences from an Anglican hero I haven't mentioned here for a while.

Richard Hooker. Who else?!

"The grace which we have by the holy Eucharist doth not begin but continue life. No man therefore receiveth this sacrament before Baptism, because no dead thing is capable of nourishment. That which groweth must of necessity first live." (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity Book V Section LXVII (1)).

I think that's a No.


While with Hooker, my eyes doth (see how influential the man is on my writing) glance a little further on in the above section LXVII to see what he says about the eucharist.

I really, really like the way in which he eschews getting stuck on either consubstantiation or transubstantiation while, naturally, avoiding Zwinglianism. A few sentences ... 

(re Zwingli) "... that men should account of this sacrament but only as a shadow, destitute , empty and void of Christ." [ LXVII (2)]

(re an overview of the "contentions" about where Christ is) "... I can see on all sides at the length to a general agreement concerning that which alone is material, namely the real participation of Christ and of life in his body and blood by means of this sacrament" [ LXVII (2)]

"I wish that men would more give themselves to meditate with silence what we have by the sacrament, and less to dispute of the manner how?" [ LXVII (3)]

"The bread and the cup are his body and blood because they are causes instrumental upon the receipt whereof the participation of his body and blood ensueth." [ LXVII (5)]

"The real presence of Christ's most blessed body and blood is not therefore to be sought for in the sacrament, but in the worthy receiver of the sacrament." [ LXVII (6)]

This last point, incidentally, very much drives forward one of our own (ACANZP) key statements in our most frequently used eucharistic prayer (NZPB, 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 ..." (my bold).

Also (NZPB, 467):

"By your Holy Spirit this bread and wine will be for us the body and blood of Christ" (my bold).

Now, I have previously, in line with others, thought of Hooker as promoting a "receptionist" view of the eucharist: the bread and the wine of eucharist become the body and blood of Christ when received by us. And, above, we do find the word "receipt" and "receiver" used (the citations from LXVII (5) and (6) respectively). 

But, I wonder if a better description of Hooker's approach would be "participationist" (LXVII (2) and (5) above respectively)?

That is, through the sacrament of communion, we who believe in Jesus and receive the sacrament, participate in the life of Christ, in the body and blood of Christ, the emphasis falling not on what we receive (i.e. ingest and digest material food and drink) but on the connection that food and drink make with the life of Christ. It is that life, the real life of Christ, which nurtures our life in Christ.

Does this make 1 Corinthians 10:16 the most important New Testament verse for our understanding of the sacrament of the eucharist? (NRSV=REB=NJB: "sharing"; NIV "participation".)


Father Ron said...

Thank you, Bishop Peter.

With today's offering on the Trinity, you've Got it in ONE (and Three, at the same time)'

"And the Catholick Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity."

Father Ron said...

It has just occurred to me that people like the priest Zechariah and the prophetess Anna, who recognised Jesus in infancy had never been Baptized - and yet: they were capable of what one might call -Spiritual insight! The question here is whether - or not - God can bestow God's (and sometimes does) give gifts of grace in an order different from that of the Catholick Church? Did they first receive John's Baptism? And did they then go on to receive the new Christian Baptism? Many charismatic Christians may never have received our Rites of Institution before speaking in tongues - like those in the Scriptures, of whom the disciples said: "What should prevent them being Baptized?"

Is God confined to our order of ritual processes - even though, no doubt, God does use them?

At least, we are encouraged to do things 'in the right order', God's ways are not, of necessity, our ways. A question: Is Confirmation necessary to provide what Scriptures call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? Lots to think about here!

Mark Murphy said...
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Mark Murphy said...

Hi Ron,

I love your observations here, alongside Hooker's advice to humble silence.

On Bosco's summary of the baptism/communion debate, there is a link to Mark Harris (an Episcopalian?) saying:

"The sense in which Baptism and Eucharist were 'instituted by Christ' does not tell us anything about having to be baptized first, and only then being able to participate in the Eucharist. All of that is part of the discipline of the Church, not the result of limitations on the workings of Grace."

Unknown said...

Thanks, Peter,

Your reflection is pertinent, a couple of days away from Corpus et Sanguis Christi.

I would not make too much of the words that the bread and wine become “to us” or “for us” the Body and Blood of Christ - that is the same language used by Roman Catholics.

Even well-educated Roman Catholics regularly misrepresent the philosophical model of transubstantiation. The doctrine, of course, is of Christ’s Real Presence (another of those tautological doublets like Avon River, white alb, and RAT test - what would an “unreal” presence possibly refer to?) Transubstantiation is but one model seeking to illustrate the doctrine.

Many would be surprised by Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, Pars Tertia, q. 76:

“Christ’s body is not in this sacrament as in a place. … Christ’s body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance. But every body occupying a place is in the place according to the manner of dimensive quantity, namely, inasmuch as it is commensurate with the place according to its dimensive quantity. Hence it remains that Christ’s body is not in this sacrament as in a place... Hence in no way is Christ’s body locally in this sacrament.” (5)

“Christ is not moved locally of Himself, but only accidentally, because Christ is not in this sacrament as in a place, as stated above (#5). But what is not in a place, is not moved of itself locally, but only according to the motion of the subject in which it is... Hence it is clear that Christ, strictly speaking is immovably in this sacrament.” (6)

Christ, according to Thomas Aquinas, is in heaven, and moving the consecrated bread around does not move Christ around.

Others, of course, will be surprised by the agreed Anglican doctrine expressed in the formulary:

“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.”
A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa page 541



Mark Murphy said...

The great penitent-mystic, Angela of Foligno, while attending Mass one day and seeing the host elevated, exclaimed:

"I beheld and comprehended the whole of creation, that is, what is on this side and what is beyond the sea. . . . And my soul in an excess of wonder cried out: “This world is pregnant with God!” Wherefore I understood how small is the whole of creation—that is, what is on this side and what is beyond the sea, the abyss, the sea itself, and everything else—but the power of God fills it all to overflowing."

Anonymous said...

On the context of *eucharist before baptism* here up yonder, five points.

(1) For awhile, a single liberal bishop was putting this on the agenda of successive General Conventions. She led a diocese in the sparsely populated northern plains where ranches are so large that one can drive hours without seeing another soul. Parishes are tiny, meet weekly, and following TEC's BCP (1979) celebrate the eucharist. How then does one do parish evangelism there?

It was said to be awkward to bring a friend to church to watch others participate. I do not know what if anything inhibits them from baptising after the readings and continuing to eucharist. I am not aware of consistent support for the idea from other sparsely populated dioceses.

(2) The canons of that diocese have long permitted eucharist without baptism. The past proposals were to simply regularise the local practice by changing TEC's canon. So if you were a priest in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, St Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Miami-- or Quito, Mexico City, Port-au-Prince, Paris, or Geneva-- you were being poked to change or defend your own local practice to resolve the irregularity of an unusual diocese that might be smaller than your deanery or even your parish. (This illustrates perfectly why I would cheerfully devolve nearly all power in TEC to the ten provinces and set the foreign dioceses free.) To those elsewhere: take the dreaded words "TEC is considering..." with a boulder of salt. The threshold to get something on the agenda of the General Convention is as low as the belly of the snake in Eden.

(3) Baptism : Eucharist :: Marriage : Sex. Some clergy debating this item confess to pre-baptismal eucharist-- "I've done it, so it must be ok"-- to the horror of other clergy who are spending careers explaining sacraments to materialists dubious about magic and fidgets resentful of authority. What the self-referential are trying to say is, not simply that everyone should be as cheerfully idiosyncratic as they are, but also that baptism remains fundamental to eucharist whichever the order is. They may run red lights when there are no police around, but even they would be troubled if someone were communicated for years without being baptised.

(4) In modern times, St Paul's churches have sometimes been imagined as assemblies in a large private home that opened with bread-breaking, continued through an agape meal to spiritual entertainment, and ended with cup-blessing. That reconstruction has occasionally led otherwise traditional churchmen to think of the eucharist as a *converting ordinance* that nearly reverses the canonical order. But then once the meal is gone, this also fits the pattern of the next order for which we have sources: a public *liturgy of the catechumens* followed by a private *communion of the faithful*.

(5) Ecumenically, Anglicans are suspected of being sacramental frauds. Leo XIII's objections to Anglican holy orders were discredited long ago, but they remain an obstacle because others (and not only Catholics) are still perplexed by a strain of Anglican piety that revels in the ceremonial but equally in some never quite bridged distance between grace and signs. The Lord is really present in communion, our interlocutors hear us say in solemn ecumenical dialogues, but then they also hear the Anglican down the street say that communion may be any edible solid and liquid consumed at any time with the right disposition. To *sacramental realists* of several traditions (Orthodox, Roman, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, METHODIST, Anabaptist), this dodginess is rejoicing in the idea of meeting a lover someday whilst indefinitely postponing commitment to marry any actual person. How would Richard Hooker respond today?


Father Ron said...

Thank, you, Mark, for that reminder of Blessed Angela of Foligno. She, like many other celebrated Franciscans, was a devotee of Christ; supremely present in the eucharist

Mark Murphy said...

The idea that there is a hierarchy and natural or logical progression of sacraments makes about as much sense to me as enumerating and limiting sacraments to 2 or 7.

Where is Christ not present?

‘The river of God is full of water…You make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.’

We can approach this reality in terms of transubstantiation (the accidents of the material world changing in their substance), in terms of receptionism (the believer receiving Christ inwardly through worthiness of faith), or in Peter’s rich highlighting of ‘participation’, but please let’s not limit it to bread and wine!

Our reformed Anglican tradition limits the traditional 7 sacraments to 2. But another way to bust up corrupt church monopolies and honour the scriptural witness (e.g. Wisdom 7: 23-30; Psalm 65 etc.; Luke 17: 21; John 1: 1-5; John 14: 15-17; John 15: 1-22; Thomas: 78 etc) is to confess that *everything is sacramental presence*.

Every piece of matter has infinite, non-specific, and non-linear potential to become signs and embodiments of divine redeeming love.

Our reverencing of water in baptism, and bread and wine in eucharist, for example, is *focussed training* for that larger enlightenment or “participation”, one that is especially urgent in our climate-change threatened world.

Perhaps sequencing that training in a certain order makes logical sense, but Grace is much more extravagant and opportunistic in practice, isn’t it?

Anonymous said...

I so endorse Mark’s comment that ‘every piece of matter …[can] become signs and embodiments of divine redeeming love’. A friend found God in the sun warming the back of his neck as he sat in struggling prayer. I myself saw a whole line of mauve violas in front of a black fence years ago and saw evidence of God’s love in it, in what was a dark time. Sacraments point to God through matter and our vision needs to expand to all creation.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you READ BOOKS-- very helpful here at ADU!-- but not books about the things that you ask about. So I find myself asking, if he knows obscure Angela of Foligno :-) how has he missed more obvious things? If you are as serious about all this as you seem to be, then you are going to have a lot of fun when you catch up to them. I can't wait to see what you discover.

Meanwhile, yes, my local "corrupt church monopoly" really should be "busted up" into its ten provinces, but its Catechism (BCP 1979, pp 844-862, just overleaf from the Quicunque Vult) is a classic. Pages 16-20 of the pdf below directly answer your questions, and seem to confirm your answers. So far as the sacraments are concerned, you are an orthodox Episcopalian.

Highlights from the beginning, middle, and end of the section--

"The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive the grace.

"Grace is God's favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

"Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church [under the guidance of the Holy Spirit] include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction.

"Although they are means of grace, they are not necessary for all persons in the way that Baptism and the Eucharist are.

"God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us.

"Sacraments sustain our present hope and anticipate its future fulfillment."


Anonymous said...

"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."

So far as I can see, people frolic about sacraments and spirituality today from a yearning for cool experiences. So probably did the Byzantine monk who catalogued no fewer than 40 sacraments. Which is fine; God wants us to have them.

But in the shadow cast by the rise of universities, the Avignon papacy, the Black Death, and the geopolitical shift that birthed modernity, sacraments were discussed with other matters at stake. The schoolmen questioned the authority behind, and the metaphysical intelligibility of, everything. The Avignon exile discredited what was left of the original papacy. The Black Death was a heart-rending test of earlier sacramental practice and belief. And in the medieval world, calling something a sacrament placed it under papal control, so that that monk's list of 40, for example, would have made the modern states of the West ungovernable.

So sure, the Franciscan tertiary Angela expresses her piety in her Book of sweetly eucharistic language. In central Italy, why not? Angela was an eldress beloved in her hometown whose Franciscan connection secured her broader influence in most spiritual networks that centered themselves in Rome.

But her contemporary theologian and kindred spirit Marguerite Porete (Beguine) was burnt at the stake in Paris for expressing a quite similar piety in her Mirror of Simple Souls decidedly non-sacramental language. Marguerite debated scholars, spoke for Beguines who had no rule or patron, and made the king nervous.

A year or so after her execution, Eckhart von Hochheim OP (aka Meister Eckhart) moved into the house of her inquisitor William of Paris OP, and there found Marguerite's book in the library. Profoundly affected by it, he carried it off to Germany where he began the preaching that is the fount of the Rhineland mysticism.

Shortly thereafter, priests and nuns who tended the dying spread the Black Death to everyone else at mass and then died themselves, which strained the credibility of the sacramental system. Thrown by the plague into an interior spirituality not supported by sacraments, writings from the Rhineland like the Theologia Germanica inspired generations of medieval Germans, including an Augustinian biblical scholar named Martin Luther who translated and published it.

You have heard of this Luther. In passing, + Peter mentions him above in discussing Richard Hooker.

With respect to the sacraments, Luther's local challenge was to show Germans long sceptical of sacraments (aka die Schwarmerei) that the gospel that he was preaching necessitated some tactile contact with Christ's humanity. So those around Luther famously argued that the ascended Christ's humanity borrowed heaven's own ubiquity from his divinity to be present everywhere and available to be touched where he has promised to be available to be touched.

Richard Hooker's contrasting local challenge was to defend an English retreat from a sacramental piety so exuberant that it lacked an interiority oriented to Christ. So of course he wonders: why are the Lutherans so much more emphatic that eucharistic contact with Christ is tactile?

Because they are adamant that *justification by grace through faith in Christ apart from works of the law* only works if God himself applies that to the particular body of Mark Murphy. If *justification by grace* is just an opinion hanging in the air for those lucky enough to figure it out, then the mere question whether one is in or out of the Body is a hall of fun-house mirrors, as later generations of the truly Reformed were to find out. And ultimately that is no gospel at all.

Persons who read Protestantism as a continental movement judiciously rethinking the previous half-millennium at a time of political transformation tend to apply it differently from those who remember it as a meteorite from outer space that pounded a unique crater outside Cambridge ;-)


Anonymous said...

"Sacraments point to God through matter and our vision needs to expand to all creation." -- Moya

"God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us." -- The Catechism

"A friend found God in the sun warming the back of his neck as he sat in struggling prayer. I myself saw a whole line of mauve violas in front of a black fence years ago and saw evidence of God’s love in it, in what was a dark time." -- Moya

"Sacraments sustain our present hope and anticipate its future fulfillment." -- The Catechism

The Episcopal Church welcomes you, Moya! As would many others.

But I have a counter-narrative. When comments hereabout refer to a more or less received Anglican teaching, there is usually a tacit supposition that such teaching obliges a spirituality of logical rigour unillumined by imagination and experience. Some take solace in that, others hate it; they fight.

Or as Matthew Arnold put it in Dover Beach--

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

My counter-narrative: the armies are clashing on the darkling plain over an analytic or algorithmic or juridical or scientistic temper of mind that does precariously dominate our postmodern societies, but that is foreign to early modern Anglicans and so to their teachings, prayers, and lives. The armies are ignorant in that they are ignoring the artifacts of lived Anglican lives: say the prayers and sermons of Lancelot Andrewes, or Matthew Parker's library of pre-Reformation manuscripts, or the poems of John Donne, George Herbert, Thomas Traherne, Henry Vaughan, In the last century, T S Eliot or C S Lewis or Dorothy Sayers or Geoffrey Hill or Mary Oliver; in this century, U2 and...? To name only a very few, and only bishops and belletrists at that.

Moya, you have not barked at the hand that points to the moon. Jean does not do this in her comments either. Is there a trend there? If so, I have seen it at Fulcrum as well. ;-)

Thank you so much for the mauve violas in front of the black fence.

Please keep commenting.


Mark Murphy said...

I'm sorry, Bowman, I can't understand what you're saying.

I'm an orthodox episcopalian.

I read, but not the right books.

I feel lumped into a group you bristle against: postmodern Christians who chase 'cool experiences' but know nothing about their history.

But I'm not sure what your point is vis a vis ...sacraments? Baptism before eucharist?

Mark Murphy said...

I loved the image of mauve violets in front of a black fence, Moya.

This morning there was pink cloud/light gushing onto the hills.

And then it was gone.

Anonymous said...

"lumped into a group"

Not a group that I know, Mark.

We are each guessing all the others' points of view. None of us is pinned under glass with an exhibit label.

+ Peter can attest that my own POV has been misread, albeit in good faith, more often than not. That is the price I occasionally pay for integrating unusually diverse influences.

Postmodernity is the ubiquitous condition of Western societies. Sydney Anglicans are as postmodern as oh San Francisco Anglicans. Their strategies for living in that condition evidently differ.

Slightly more often than not, + Peter poses a topic that calls for creativity. Sting wrote better songs for having played Bach and jazz before forming The Police. In the same way, the most creative religious movements in my lifetime have adapted retrievals of earlier tradition to new conditions. So it is assumed (and not only by me) that those who are serious about innovation in religion will want a broad and empathetic understanding of what their predecessors said and did.

If there is a need for flexibility on the northern plains, that is better achieved by *economy* than by a vote changing a canon that is more trusted than the General Convention itself is. And *economy* is a quasi-judicial judgment best handled by a provincial archbishop.

I look forward to your next comment 🙂


Mark Murphy said...
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MarcA said...

Re the Eucharist in Anglican thought. I still think the section in Doctrine in the Church of England ( 1937) still has value. Usefully summarised in Michael Ramsey's Gore to Temple pp157-159. Perry Butler ( Canterbury)

Anonymous said...

I read that C.S.Lewis commented that Jesus said, ‘Take and eat’ not ‘Take and understand’! It is this child-like faith that receives the presence of Christ in the communion. Someone has said, when asked if he believed in the real presence of Christ there, ‘I cannot say he is not present’… So we take and celebrate the mystery.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Marc, I agree (and rue the day that I lent out my copy of that report, never to see it again). It was the first of a few from the doctrinal commission of the CoE that tried, not to settle or correct, but to charitably explain the divergences in what serious churchfolk think along the usual faultlines.

Still valuable as well, at least as a gesture, is the 1937 report's tentative treatment of the ethics of holding and presenting personal opinion that varies more or less from officially defined doctrine. In the aftermath of the bitter C19 *subscriptionist controversies*, not least over the Quicunque Vult, the CoE needed some description of the ethos within which we collectively *collaborate* using a body of received ideas and practices, but personally *investigate* that body to test them out and appropriate what we authentically can. After the First World War, that tension could not be avoided-- other Western churches also experienced it-- but that generation of Anglicans found it creative.

Midway between own time and that one, Baptism Eucharist Ministry (aka the Lima Report), from the Faith & Order Commission of the WCC took the same approach in a wider circle. Geoffrey Wainwright, the English Methodist liturgical theologian, steered a group with everyone from Anabaptists to Orthodox to a framework for making sense of why other churches see things as they do. Again, F&O tried, not to tell churches what to teach about baptism, eucharist, and ministry, but to make it harder for them to do so simply to maintain inauthentic identities of opposition. Wait on the Holy Spirit as a Quaker, if you wish, but don't do so as though he avoids the Orthodox swinging chandeliers in the night at the Vigil of Pentecost.

In our own day, not so many are happy in T S Eliot's old tension between *tradition and the individual talent*. At root, this is because those in a rootlessness unimagined by those old moderns are, not engaging the consonances and dissonances of traditions in which they are securely at home, but seeking identities that can order jumbled private worlds whilst also passing in suspicious public ones. What else can they do? We await some report from someplace that speaks to that condition.


Father Ron said...

It could be one of Christianity's greatest tragedies - that what Jesus left to us, as a simple means of divinisation, has become such a means of human intellectual obfuscation by speculation. QUEEN Elizabeth I, managed to express her own faith in The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and she may have been thought to be a Protestant. EVEN Henry VIII wrote a thesis on the Eucharist that earned him the title 'Fidei Defensor', give by the Pope!

Unknown said...

If Abel had written a book on the eucharist, Cain would have killed him for it. Why do those who have the love of God still feel envy and hatred? That is a human tragedy.