The Temporality and the Disjointedness of our nature with Christ’s in the Supper

Andy posed a great question regarding Alastair’s post on Transubstantiation. I thought I would post the question and answer briefly with my thoughts on the matter and perhaps Alastair could add some comments to it if he desires. Andy inquired as follows:

Christ is at a distance from us because of the disjointedness of our reality. Both the time and the place in which Christ exists are removed from our own (direct quote from Alastair).I’m sure that with some context it would become more clear, but it sounds at one moment that “reality” means location and presence – where and when things are. But then in this remark it sounds more like he’s speaking of a sort of “spiritual” misperspective that needs realignment. Maybe I’m misled, though, for I can see how the words he uses could also be speaking of the objective fact of the “not yet”-ness of our union and redemption in Christ, vis-à-vis the “already”-ness of that which we experience, again, in an objective, local, present reality when we are united to his flesh and blood by the Spirit in the Eucharist.

Here is my response:

The disjointedness of our reality does have a temporal significance. Similar to Paul’s comments, “we now see grimly… as through a dark glass,” so our reality is indeed disjointed. This means that it is incomplete due to a variety ontological “realities,” which includes: Sin, finiteness, incompleteness, and so on.
Further, it follows that Christ’s existence is separated from our own due to the ontological distinctions between us. Christ can no longer abide in our midst as exalted Sovereign until his enemies are under his feet (I Cor.15:25). So, it is the exalted state of Christ that causes this severe separation. In essence, I believe all your comments reflect the partaking of the elements. I am not quite sure if Alastair meant it that way, but I would agree that there are also elements of temporality and already/not-yet-ness to the partaking of the meal. It is as Alistair put it: “a mini-advent,” or rather as I prefer to say it, “a mini-trailer” to the big picture. In all, the Spirit of Christ stands as the one who ushers us into these realities. Herein, lies the error of the Roman Church on this matter where they bring Christ down again and again not only to re-visualize, but to re-sacrifice our Lord. Alistair’s statement that it is we that go up, not Christ that comes down summarizes clearly our primary and fundamental difference.

A brief answer to your question would be to say that both our location and our spirituality needs “alignment” as you put it and the elements serve to re-align our disjointed lives every Sabbath; hence lies the importance of weekly “Eucharistic Celebration.”

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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8 Responses to The Temporality and the Disjointedness of our nature with Christ’s in the Supper

  1. Andy says:

    U.T. –

    Thanks so much for engaging my question. I think that my thought about the Eucharist lately has come from some challenges I have gotten from my Lutheran brethren – I used to be Lutheran back in the day. What I desire more than anything is to refute caraictures of Calvinist “real absence” with which they like to deprive us of “reality” and the benefits of Christ applied to us via such a realness in the meal.

    Have you read Mathison’s Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper? That has been especially helpful for me – to remind me that I don’t have to be a crypto-Lutheran, but rather to be truely Reformed in my Eucharistic theology. Ursinus’ commentary on his own Heidelburg Catechism has been really helpful too.

  2. Andy says:

    “Mini-advent” is really nice. Same goes for your cinema idea. By the way.

  3. U.T. Brito says:

    Hey Andy,
    Your thoughts seem to be in line with my thinking on the matter. I come from a particularly Zwinglian approach to the sacraments, hence the supper was nothing more than leftovers from Friday night’s party. As you can attest it is a great theological relief to immerse in a tradition that embodies all of the Christian life as sacramental.
    As for Matthison’s book I haven’t read it yet. The only Matthison book I read has been the one on Postmillenialism. Actually, I’ve met Keith a few times and Lord-willing I may be working with him at Ligonier Ministries starting in two weeks if I get the job.

  4. Andy says:

    The question then becomes, in post-reformed America, how do we get Calvinists to be Calvinists on the sacraments, too? I guess we keep hastling our co-confessionalists to be more confessional and more historical?

  5. U.T. Brito says:

    Yes Andy, in some Calvinistic churches the supper is only offered once a month. With such a perfunctory view of the meal, no wonder people in this tradition are still Zwinglian. I guess my approach is keep pressing them with the quotes of Calvin that they have nevert heard of like the one I posted toady. Maybe and just maybe they will grow in love for God’s holy sacrament.

  6. Alastair says:

    I’m sorry that I haven’t addressed your question earlier. I will answer it very briefly now, but may well comment to flesh this out later on, or at the end of my series of posts.

    I am not primarily referring to a “‘spiritual’ misperspective”. Rather, I am referring to the very real separation between Christ’s history and our history at the point of the ascension. Christ’s time is not ‘parallel’ to our time (as Douglas Farrow argues in his fantastic book, Ascension and Ecclesia).

    The future expectation of the people of God invaded the present in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The future is a ‘present’ reality in Christ. After the ascension, Christ is no longer ‘present’ to us in the same way. Nevertheless, in the Supper He is made present to us and we are made present to Him by the work of the Holy Spirit.

    The Church has a somewhat ambiguous existence between two temporalities — the mundane time of the fallen world and the free time of the Spirit in which Christ exists. In the Eucharist we have a real foretaste of this free time of the Spirit in which we are united to Christ and are reconstituted as His body. The event of the Eucharist somehow sends ripples out through our existence and works to bring mundane time into the liminal time of the Church, where we stand on the threshhold of the age to come — already foretasting and really anticipating.

    Hope that this helps.

  7. Andy says:

    Alastair:

    I had a feeling that’s what you were getting at…and it was confirmed the more I read your posts at your blog. Thanks for elaborating; I agree with you.

  8. U.T. Brito says:

    Thanks Andy and Alastair. I’ve enjoyed this discussion very much.

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