Thursday, November 11, 2004

The doorway into orthodoxy

[I just posted this over at Dave Armstrong's blog, but thought it might enjoy stretching its legs here at FCA.]

My persistent confusion in these Reformed Catholicism discussions is this:

If the "true" Reformed doctrine of, say, the Eucharist is actually much more realist than we’ve ever known, and in fact virtually transubstantial (as Dr Owen admitted to me on another blog), then why won't Ref Caths admit Rome (by God's grace) upheld the orthodox position and stop muddying the waters? It’s clear what objections Rome (and Constantinople) still (rightly) has against the Reformed view of the Eucharist: no worship, no propitiation or expiation, no sacramental endurance (of Christ in the elements). These are real lacunae in the Reformed view that Rome has every right to hold out on.

But what major issues on the Reformed side still prevent Refs from acceding to the Roman (and effectively Eastern Orthodox) view? Worship of Christ? Nope. Christ’s actual and efficacious presence in (or by) the elements demands it. The epiclesis versus the exact words of institution? Nope. That’s a rabbit hole and over exaggerated between many EOs and RCs. A propitiatory offering? Nope. When God sees the crucified Christ interceding for sinners as He is lifted up by them, either at Calvary or in the Mass, God is propitiated and our sins expiated.

Or maybe the true obstacle is that all too “technical” concept of transubstantiation? But even this is a non sequitur, since it's not the case -- and never was the aim of the Tridentine Fathers -- that transubstantiation EXHAUSTS the dogmatic dimensions of the Eucharist. As the Pontificator has expressed so often so well, transubstantiation merely guards the bare essentials for any orthodox understanding of the Eucharist. Transubstantiation is the doorway into the house of orthodox Eucharistic worship; it is not the house itself. Transubstantiation allows for all that the magisterial Reformed theory of the Eucharist may express, but ALSO demands more than they can grant in accordance with the WHOLE catholic tradition.

Rome is either wrong about the Eucharist or she’s right. If the former’s true, then there’s every reasons to excoriate the Mass as vituperatively as the Reformers (apparently!) did. If the latter’s true, however, it’s sheer perfidy to seek an “alternate” or “reformed” orthodox theory of the Eucharist from the SAME tradition Rome and the East have so clearly shown to declare what the Reformers rejected, namely Christ’s actual, living, substantial, enduring, hypostatically incarnate, propitiatory and venerable Body and Blood. I prefer not to ride Calvin’s magic sacramental carpet woven of threads from obscure passages in Tertullian or Cyprian or Augustine. I’d rather side with the vast testimony not only of the majority of what the majority of the Fathers said, but also, perhaps more importantly, with the countless believers who worshipped Christ in the Eucharist as transubstantiation and the Catholic Mass and the Orthodox Liturgy demand.

No comments: