body and blood of Christ.” Still others theologize to protect the mystery from damaging interpretations.26 Communion with Christ is at the same time communion within the body of Christ. Christ’s presence brings about reconciliation and justice within the church and the world. Christians participate in Christ’s Eucharistic presence in the world as a servant.27 Scholars considered George Hunsinger’s The Eucharist and Ecumenism substantive and provocative enough that the journal Pro Ecclesia devoted the better part of an issue to its discussion. At the heart of Hunsinger’s proposal is the concept of “transelementation.” It is the notion modeled on the incarnation, “that the bread itself was transformed by virtue of its sacramental union with, and participation in, Christ’s flesh.”28 He suggests this is what Benedict XVI meant when he wrote that the Lord lifts up bread and wine, “out of the setting of their normal existence into a new order . . . even if from a purely physical point of view they remain the same.”29 Hunsinger’s decisive claim is that transelementation does not require the idea of substance.30 Hunsinger returns to the language and concerns of Catholic dogma to be sure he understands what they intend. In this light he grapples, as a Reformed theologian, to find concepts that allow him to make parallel affirmations. He begins by asking what is meant, e.g., by the sentence, “The bread is the body of Christ.”31 He then expands this point to include the mode of conversion, adding that for the sake of integrity, all parties need to affirm this assertion without equivocation.32 The church as the body of Christ finally leads Hunsinger to the eucharistic transformation of culture. He holds that Paul’s discourse on the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11 makes clear that the church is a countercultural community.33 He summarizes that “the Eucharist is the earthly historical form of Christ transforming culture.”34 The Supper offers and asks reconciliation of those who participate in it. Christ’s reconciliation knows no limit, including even the love of enemies. In fact, it makes at-one-ment with enemies a condition for coming to the Lord’s Table.35 Trinitarian faith is essential to his argument. In fact, Hunsinger notes that in On the Incarnation, Athanasius makes love of enemy an outworking of belief in the incarnation.36 Referring to writings by John Howard Yoder and William Cavanaugh, Hunsinger concludes that an ethic grounded in the Eucharist is ultimately pacifistic.37 Two points stand out in Hunsinger’s summary of his position. There is a mutual indwelling (koinonia) between the body and blood of Christ and the elements. It involves their objective conversion through mystical union with Christ in the power of the Spirit without destroying their substance.38 This conversion is not an end in itself, but the means to the conversion of the congregation. Risto Saarinen, a Finnish Lutheran, avidly agrees with Hunsinger’s foundational postulate that “a simple and varying vocabulary of ‘change’ was sufficient for the church fathers of the first millennium.” Yet he also makes an incisive judgment. The “terminology of Eucharistic conversion is too vague to solve the problems created after the formulation of the Latin doctrine of transubstantiation.”39 116 NAAL Proceedings
Published on Oct 8, 2014
Published on Oct 8, 2014
The North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL) (http://www.naal-liturgy.org/) is an ecumenical and interreligious association of liturgical sc...