Paul & Sue Hazelden
- Eating God -


Introduction

Since I started to systematically read theology at university (I had started to read systematic theology before going, but you probably don't want to know that!) I have been fascinated by one area in particular - the sacraments.

I have already written a few times about baptism. In some ways, it is a striaghtforward subject, even if people tend to get a bit heated when talking about it. There are quite a lot of Bible passages that talk about baptism, so there is a lot you can usefully say about the Bible's teaching on the subject.

Communion, on the other hand, is quite different. I noticed this first in the evangelical summaries of what we believe about certain key areas - each subject would bew approached in a very similar manner, apart from this one.

You would usually get a statement of a doctrine, a description of why it was important, and a list of passages that taught it. This sequence would be repeated until the core beliefs in an area had been covered, and then the subject moved on. Not so when dealing with communion: you get a sprawling, meditative something full of allusions and spiritual principles that seemed to fall out of thin air, almost no Bible passages, and the few passages given often said very little about the subject being discussed.

In short, I started to wonder if evangelicals had anything useful to say about communion at all.

I have attempted a brief summary ("Thoughts on Communion") of what it seems to me that we, as evangelicals, can say about communion. This is an attempt to look at the rest of what we try to say, and - hopefully! - begin to make some sense of it.

In their doctrine of communion - like no other area - evangelical Christians ignore the Bible and base their beliefs on theory and speculation.

For simplicity, I shall use the term 'communion' here to refer to the act in which Christians eat bread and wine (or some acceptable substitute!) in obedience to Jesus' command to "do this in remembrance of me." It goes by a variety of names - the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, the Lord's Table, the Mass - and so on.

In using the term, I don't mean to identify what one group of Christians do as opposed to any other group but rather to include what all - or most! - evangelicals do and understand themselves to be doing in this act.

1.   Feeding on Jesus

Introduction to the section.

1a.   John's Gospel

John chapter 6 is possibly the most important passage in the Bible for understanding communion. It is the only place where we hear Jesus teaching about the subject.

1b.   The Synoptics

Details

2.   The Real Presence

Introduction to the section.

3.   Getting Grace

Most Christians agree that communion is a 'means of grace' - but what does that mean?

4.   Magic and Ritual

What qualifies as communion? There seem to be two basic elements in most answers to this question - church order and sacrament.

4a.   Church order

Details

4b.   Sacrament

Details

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Copyright © 2001 Paul Hazelden
 
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