Page 119

This judgment is the crux of the matter. For Rome, the sine qua non was the objective conversion of the elements. For the Reformers (the exception is Luther, who holds elements of both positions), the sine qua non was the communion of the people. The latter was, of course, not a novelty but a reality that had largely been lost in both East and West. Zwingli and the Anabaptists he influenced were at one extreme, but even they held that in the Eucharist the congregation is remade into the body of Christ in order to take Christ’s presence into the world. Other Reformers, as has been mentioned, asserted that in the Holy Supper believers were united with Christ, as well as being remade into his body. At the same time, the Reformers’ emphasis on communion with Christ carried with it the danger of subjectivism, where participation in Christ is limited to the believer’s capacity to experience him. This is, of course, what Catholic eucharistic theologizing sought to guard against.40 Both Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry and Hunsinger expand the eucharistic presence of Christ from the church to the world along the lines of receiving bread in order to share it. This expansion is a part of many current Catholic and Protestant understandings of the Lord’s Supper, but to my knowledge it is seldom formally considered to be a constitutive dimension of the Supper to be included in ecumenical dialogues on the subject. From my observation, our understanding of the Eucharist is now fuller than ever before in the church’s history. This has come about through historical research, the capacity for communions to read each other’s histories more fairly, and the widespread longing for church unity. Leenhardt and Schillebeeckx are signs of that shift. BEM is a hopeful experiment in finding language and understandings adequate to this convergence. Saarinen is right that the thinking of a previous era cannot directly and completely address the thinking of a subsequent one. Yet Rome considers the Eastern Orthodox position, arrived at before the Eucharistic controversies beginning in the ninth century in the West, to be faithful. The overlooked ecumenical significance of Eastern Orthodox Eucharistic theology in general, and the notion of transelementation in particular, open the door to more serious Free Church participation. One specific clarification that shifts the ground for all parties is the agreement that the epiclesis is over the people as well as the gifts. The clarity with which Hunsinger develops his position helps outsiders to the classical debates. They can begin to imagine the possibility of the conversion of the elements in a way that does not make them identical with the body and blood of Christ. All of the authors in this survey, some implicitly, others explicitly, seek to set forth criteria that allow parallel ontologies of Christ’s presence in the Supper to share a common faith. This approach is full of promise, even if there is still much work to be done. Notes 1 2

William Crockett, Eucharist: Symbol of Transformation (New York: Pueblo, 1989), 88ff. Ephraim Radner, The End of the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 230–236.

Select Seminar Papers 117

North American Academy of Liturgy Proceedings 2014  
North American Academy of Liturgy Proceedings 2014  

The North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL) ( is an ecumenical and interreligious association of liturgical sc...