Monday, November 17, 2008
The Lord's museum piece?
Yesterday our minister preached on the Lord's Supper, and before I detail my main disagreement, I'd just like to register positively that it was a Good Thing he tackled the subject. Systematic theological teaching isn't one of our 'gifts' at my church, so to have a sermon where an important theological topic is treated more-or-less systematically is a good thing to do .That said, I did find myself working out quite what it is that I find so dispiriting about the Zwinglian approach to the Lord's Supper. To quote our minister, "The eye of faith sees the broken body and shed blood of our Lord Jesus in the elements of bread and wine." The eye of faith sees—but the mouth of faith doesn't taste. The Zwinglian conception of the Lord's Supper tells us that we can look, but we can't touch. We can look, but we can't taste. We can look, but we can't participate. By their lights, the Lord of all is exhibited as a museum piece!Ultimately, it holds out the prospect of a symbol without fulfilment; that in emblem, we eat and drink the body and blood of the Lord, and yet the Father does not give us the fullness of that image by graciously feeding us on the body and blood of his Son. But the truth, surely, is that what he promises in emblem he gives in reality, and that since the Supper only does anything because it is Christ himself, given for us, given to us, who assures us, strengthens our faith and keeps us on the straight and narrow. The Supper is a supper, not a museum piece; so let us know and be assured that when we meet around his table, we do truly feed on him by faith. I'd be concerned if we had systematics every week; on the other hand, we're a bit stuck for times when systematic teaching can be done, so maybe mornings are the best of a bad bunch.