Friday, April 07, 2006

Cruciform Forgiveness


I am currently reading a surprising little book entitled The Death of Christ by Fisher Humphreys, formerly of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Humphreys sets forth a view of the atonement that he calls "Cruciform Forgiveness." Incidentally, Humphreys was kicked out of New Orleans Baptist Seminary by the SBC in part for such views.

It is a surprising read because what I am finding here resonates with some of my own reflections on atonement theory. It is also quite refreshing to see some of the ideas floating in my head articulated from a different angle. Many of my friends and students will know already that over the years I have grown more and more disenchanted with the so-called penal-substitution theory of the Reformers and Anselm's Satisfaction Theory as well. As we head into Holy Week, in anticipation of Good Friday, I will share some of my thoughts on this matter. For now, enjoy this intriguing tidbit from Humphreys:

If the objectivity of the cross is located in God's experience, then it is even more objective than the theories of Anselm, Calvin, and Aulen. For the life of God is a more fundamental reality than his honor or his justice or even the demonic forces. (Fisher Humphreys, The Death of Christ, p. 126)
Until next time.

P.S. My friend and future colleague Jeff Steel's blog - http://meam-commemorationem.blogspot.com - deals quite a bit with the nature of Eucharistic Sacrifice. I think that there is little doubt that most of the Reformation controversies (i.e. Protestant hang-ups) over this aspect of the Eucharist stem from faulty thinking on the atonement in the West. After all, the Eastern churches don't have these hang ups!

13 comments:

jon said...

On your postscript: Jeff is a friend of mine, too, and I'm grateful for all of his work on Eucharistic sacrifice. I wonder, though, if the theology of Eucharistic sacrifice is incompatible with Reformational practice, "Protestant hang-ups" notwithstanding. I tend to think the two could coexist; it's just that few have sought to hold them together. I'd like to try. I want to embrace the (Catholic) theology of Eucharistic sacrifice, but (Reformationally) I don't think the Eucharistic sacrifice warrants Eucharistic adoration. I simply can't make what seems to me to be a quantum leap over the 2nd Commandment and Articles 28 & 31. Am I hopeless?

By the way, I like what I've seen of HGST from the school's website; it's even on my "short" list of places to possibly study in the future.

lexorandi2 said...

Hi Jon,

I'll defer to Jeff here, as his study on this particular issue is both fresher and more indepth than mine.

I did however deal with eucharistic sacrifice in my own research on eucharistic invocation in the Anglican liturgical tradition, and I can assure you that there have been many Anglicans who both embraced eucharistic sacrifice and the central Reformational doctrines. In particular I would note such Caroline Divines as Andrewes, Overall, and Cosin. But the most developed understanding of eucharistic sacrifice (pre-Tractarian) would certainly be the Non-Jurors of the 18th century, following the lead of the establishment churchman, John Johnson.

So, no, you're not hopeless. BTW -none of these advocated eucharistic adoration. Nor do the Eastern churches. Eucharistic adoration is a distinctly Latin practice.

Good to hear from you.

Dan

Jeff said...

There were a number of ways eucharistic sacrifice was held with different divines. Cosin of course began to change into a more Prostestant view after his exile before he came back and became the Prince Bishop of Durham. But, there were a number of very 'catholic-minded' views of eucharistic sacrifice that were very far removed from someone who used that language at time like William Perkins.

What was assumed in Andrewes' theology of eucharistic sacrifice was that presence inhered within the elements. It was impossible in his mind to have eucharisic sacrifice without the real presence. Laud followed Andrewes in his eucharistic sacrifice views and held to what is also commonly seen as a Catholic view of Sacrifice that was defended by Trent. That is that the sacrifice has three aspects to it. 1) The commemorative--offered only by the priest, 2) The sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered by all, 3) The sacrifice of the people, body and soul, in the service of Christ on behalf of the world. These three make one act of sacrifice but distinctly different within the liturgical rite itself.

Concerning #1, Andrewes, Montague, Laud, Johnson, etc, believed that the sacrifice was offered for the forgiveness of sins. Andrewes taught that forgiveness of sins was effected at the eucharistic rite and this done objectively. Due to the objective presence of Christ within the elements, Andrewes defended the adoration of Christ in the eucharist during the liturgical prayer. He would give three genuflects. What Andrewes objected to was what we know as carrying the host about in procession and placing it within the monstrance for adoration. Bowing and adoring Christ in the Sacrament is what all Christians should do, says Andrewes.

I understand the concern of the 2nd Commandment but I do not think it is a 2nd word issue. Worshipping Christ of the Sacrament is not a violation of the 2nd word as far as I understand what is forbidden in the commandment. I don't think it's hopeless Jon; I simply think a more sympathetic reading of what the Church has taught and believed here is what is needed.

I want to embrace the Catholic theology of the eucharistic sacrifice (Catholically); believing what the Church has taught for the 1500 years prior to the Reformation. It's that view of eucharistic sacrifice where the love of God in Christ is made present for us and how the kingdom of God is known to us.

lexorandi2 said...

Would you say, Jeff, that there is a fundamental difference between adoring Christ in the sacrament and adoring the sacrament (host) as Christ?

This isn't just a semantic game. An Eastern priest once used this description to explain the difference between the view of the Eastern churches and that of Rome. I found it helpful to think in these terms when I was doing my research, particularly in dealing with the Black Rubric of the 1662 BCP and its denial of a "corporal" presence (as opposed the denial of a "real and essential" presence a'la Cranmer's 2nd book).

Appreciate your comments.

Dan

jon said...

Thanks, Dr Dunlap.

Jeff, do you think there's anything problematic in traditional or current Roman Catholic eucharistic theology? If not, shouldn't we all just convert, ut unum sint? I obviously don't find this line of reasoning persuasive, as much as I long for the reunion of the church (a la Newbigin). But can you help me understand why I should be surprised if you were to eventually make use of the Pastoral Provision?

(I just read Jeffrey Moore's apology for his conversion. A friend and former classmate of Fr Andy Powell's at Nashotah, Moore was slated to be one of the participants at Fr Andy's ordination here in Monroe, although he was providentially hindered from being present, iirc. Fwiw, I don't think any less of those who are received under the Pastoral Provision; I just wonder why more Anglo-Catholics don't make use of it, unless it's due to the pride of those who see their own Anglo-Catholic tradition as superior to Rome's.)

Also, can you help me understand why Andrewes objected to "what we know as carrying the host about in procession and placing it within the monstrance for adoration" but "defended the adoration of Christ in the eucharist during the liturgical prayer," giving three genuflects and saying that "bowing and adoring Christ in the Sacrament is what all Christians should do"? I take it that he would disagree with at least part of the Article 28 clause that, "The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped." Did he just dislike the use of monstrances? Because, you know, they are garishly ugly and not at all in keeping with the aesthetic of English understatement. ;-)

Jeff said...

Dan, I think the issue for the adoration of the Host is Transubstantiation. Rome will admit that if Christ is not present within the elements then eucharistic adoration would be bread worship. Hence, Transubstantiation. Andrewes was strongly opposed to transubstantiation, not as a particular opinion of how Christ is present, but that Rome made it dogma. For Andrewes, what he understood as Rome's teaching on Transubstantiation was a philosophical problem and a Christological one. He spoke against Trans due to what he believed concerning that modus of presence leading to or embracing Eutychianism, hence doing away with the "earthly" substance of the Sacrament.

The question that you ask makes all the difference for the east and west. Though, the Orth. do believe in transubstantiation and conversion (though differently); they do adore Christ in the Sacrament and fall to their faces on the Great Entrance. To answer your fundamental question, I would say yes. Let us not forget that when the Lutherans celebrated Justification by Faith Alone they also at the same gathering celebrated the adoration of Christ in the Sacrament! I think the fundamental difference for Andrewes was that the purpose of the Eucharist was for eating it and receiving the forgiveness of sins. It was the meal of the community and therefore that was the fundamental problem for him.

To Jon's questions:
Well, I think current RC theology of the Eucharist is a lot more careful than it was in the C16 and hence there have been huge strides made in Eucharistic theology as far as understanding. The problem Jon is the absurdity of some of the Reformational arguments and claims that were made of Rome's teaching. Abuses in the Mediaeval Church of floating babies etc have been corrected and admitted as abuses. The problem that we have is our lack of understanding of getting our heads around a period where allegory shaped most people's thinking. So much time has passed and it is difficult for us to think like that. A lot of time has passed to allow us to sit down and really talk to one another on the issues.

Now, to answer the Protestant scholastic questions: What do I find problematic? Communion under one kind, Trentian transubstantiation; Andrewes' insightful Christological comment raises a lot of questions with me. Private Mass is also a theological problem for me. But, in charity I understand what they are doing when they say a Mass as the intention of the celebration is for the whole Church.

As far as Eucharistic sacrifice is concerned, there is little to no difference as I understand what Rome is really teaching there. Andrewes told Card. Bellarmine that if Rome were to take away Transubtantiation there would be no difference between them [the English Church] on Eucharistic sacrifice. I do not see any gospel problems with it. (Read Chysostom here.) It is not a new sacrifice or a re-sacrifice or a slaughtering on the altar. For the Reformers to claim that is reductio ad absurdum. Take a look at Francis Clark's work _Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation_. It's one thing to have an abuse of right theology and altogether something else to have errant theology. Abuse of something doesn't necessitate its denial of it outright. The altar was for offering and eating and both are done according to Andrewes and I agree.

I don't have a problem communing with Rome at present, they have a problem with me communing with them without conversion. I'm not sure what you are wanting to get at in your question about the pastoral provision here. What are you digging for?

jon said...

I'm not trying to dig for anything or ask "Protestant scholastic questions," Jeff. I've been told that I sometimes ask too many questions. Sorry about that. Jewish acquaintances have told me that asking lots of questions is a very Jewish trait and that I must be Jewish.

Seriously, I'm just trying to sort out where I am, and you're a good foil, having gone through a transition yourself, one I can imagine myself making in the future. I just have lots of questions before I can make it with certainty and confidence, and my local Anglican priest friends haven't been able to provide fully satisfactory answers thus far, probably largely because they don't have much background in the Reformed theological tradition, don't fully understand where I'm coming from, etc. I've been struggling with these things for quite some time; remember, while you were still a Presbyterian pastor, I joined the staff of an Episcopal church as parish administrator (in large part so that I could have day-to-day interaction with the clergy and see things from the inside), I became a member of the parish, was confirmed, etc. (I know you were finishing postgraduate Anglican studies and would have officially become Anglican sooner if possible, but nonetheless, I beat you to it. Our Lord likes reversals, though, so I'm now back at a Presbyterian church with my wife, and you're well on your way to becoming an Anglican priest with a PhD!)

At any rate, thanks again for your helpful responses and for the interaction. It may surprise you, but I can honestly say that I agree with everything you wrote in your last comment. Not sure where that leaves me, but I trust God to guide me in good time.

Dr Dunlap, sorry to clutter your blog with this prolonged personal discussion, but thank you for your hospitality.

Jeff said...

Jon, I said that part about scholastic questioning quite jokingly! ;-) If you agree with what I wrote, when are you swimming the Tiber? :-)

There is so much more involved with what I wrote that to justify it here would be impossible. But, Dan I appreciate the questions and thinking about these issues is a fruitful exercise. I am reluctant to put too much on the blog world for fear of the watchdogs circulating half truths and distorting the rest!

lexorandi2 said...

Ah, the watch dogs. Not as much of a concern for me as in the past. But I remember those days well.

Dan

another jeff said...

D@MN those watchdogs! This is just starting to get interesting!

Seriously, is there a "safe" place to continue this discussion?

jh

Jeff said...

I don't mind it continuing but this is Dan's blog site. I openly put these things on my blog so there is nothing that I am ashamed of or nervous about. I better not be, it's in my thesis and I have to defend it!

Mark said...

Liturgical scholars, both Anglican and non-Anglican, have tended to regard the historic editions of the Prayer Book liturgy to be less than ideal in terms of a truly catholic conception of the eucharistic sacrifice.

For instance, Eric Mascall writes "We suffer under the burden of a eucharistic rite, inherited from the 16th-century, which, in spite of its literary excellence and the steadily increasing orthodox interpretation which the church has in practice put upon it, has an unpleasantly Zwinglian streak in its ancestry and which, moreover, has retained in its structure only the faintest traces of the primitive eucharistia, the great prayer of thanksgiving which offers by consecrating and consecrates by offering. In consequence, whereas for Roman Catholics liturgical reform consists mainly in the removal of embellishments and the exhibition of the essential nature of the existing rite, for Anglicans it is bound to involve as well a radical reconstruction of the rite in its fundamental structure."

Mascall wrote this more than 50 years ago, following the lead of Dom Gregory Dix, who believed that Cranmer was an out and out Zwinglian in his sacramental theology. Basil Hume, I believe, has done much to redeem Cranmer's reputation as a catholic churchman. Notwithstanding that, perhaps Mascall's critique has merit?

-Mark

Mark said...

A slight modification of my last posting.

I meant to write that Basil Hall ( not Basil Hume, a RC cardinal ) did much to "redeem Cranmer's reputation as a catholic churchman". Sorry.

-Mark