Tag Archives: salvation

The Eucharist by Alexander Schmemann – finished reading it

I had no idea what I was getting into by reading this book. It was recommended by my mentor, several times actually. Since my dad loves buying books, I included it on the list of suggested items for Christmas gifts for me. I must confess I opened it before Christmas to start reading it.

So, here I am about six weeks after starting it and I finished it up a few minutes ago. The word that comes to mind is holistic:

ho·lis·tic

/hōˈlistik/adjective

  1. PHILOSOPHY: characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

Throughout the book Schmemann is disdainful of consecratory formulas. The idea that some particular words or appeals are “the point at which” the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus.

Nothing perceptible happens – the bread remains bread, and the wine remains wine. For if it occurred “palpably,” then Christianity would be a magical cult and not a religion of faith, hope and love.
Thus, any attempt to explain the conversion, to locate it in formulas and causes, is not only unnecessary but truly harmful. Chapter 11, section 6

To sum up a much longer argument, the sacrifice of Christ has been accomplished both here on earth and in Heavenly Places, in the true Holy of Holies. This is a rebuke of the (to my understanding) Roman Catholic theology of the ongoing sacrifice in the celebration of the Eucharist. As an aside: to me the finished work of Christ is essential theology. My only hope of salvation is in the firm assurance that it is already accomplished in and through Christ Jesus.

Schmemann’s main point, in my reading of the book, is this: The Eucharist is the entire service, the whole of the Liturgy. From the entrance, to the reading of the Word, to the preaching/teaching, to the gifts, to the declaration of belief (creeds), to the prayers of the people, to the table, to the prayers said over the gifts of bread and wine, to the distribution, and finally consumption by the body of believers: the church. That all are gifts of God to His people for their growth in the Spirit. That without a church, there is no Eucharist. The Eucharist then, rightly understood, is something the gathered body of believers do.

The conclusion is also carefully calibrated. The final chapter is on communion, the final act of consumption, the eating and drinking of the bread and wine. The Eucharist is, in a way, consummated in the consumption: it is made complete (whole) in the eating.

The Trinity, the Godhead, is in a state of perfect communion within the Godhead. The theological term is PerichoresisA divine inter-dwelling, the Father knows the Son, who knows the Father, who knows the Holy Spirit, who knows the Father, and the Son knows the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit knows the Son. In the consuming of the elements we enter into communion with GOD because the Son joined himself to sinful flesh, redeemed it and joined it to the Godhead. Because western thought has traveled so far down the road of individualism, we miss another larger and powerful truth. By being in communion with GOD, we are also in communion with any and all who have ever been in, are in, or will ever be in communion with GOD. It is a physical symbol of the divine truth of He in us and we in Him.

I loved the book. It was consistently challenging and always interesting. Each section reads as a carefully chewed over thought from a devote man concerned about the health of the church, the body of believers. He had criticisms of modern developments in Eastern Orthodoxy along with the expected ones towards Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. He really didn’t delve too deeply, if at all, into any of the Eastern Mysticism that so typically unnerves westerners. I highly recommend it.

Copyright © 2019 Amateur Anglican, All rights reserved

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Filed under Ancient Traditions

Not Too Cold for GOD

So here in the Suburbs of Chicago, it’s very cold today. Well, not just us but the whole region. Polar vortex it’s called. Air that normally swirls far to the North of us has descended upon our happy hamlets, ok maybe semi-depressed sub-urban existence to make our teeth chatter.

There are those who wish to see in this the climate change boogeyman raising his foul head. They argue for man caused climate change, and I’m always thinking: good luck controlling for all the variables.

Doesn’t matter because it’s still bone chillingly cold outside. The feels like this morning was -50F. I can feel the cold seeping in through the small gaps in the door. It pours off the windows. The heat seems to kick on every 15 minutes to hold back the onslaught.

We use the word “cold” when we talk about indifference. A cold shoulder. Cool indifference. The cold indifference of the human heart is far deadlier than the physical cold outside. I think of this because I was reading an article earlier on human trafficking and the sex trade. It takes a cold, cold heart to do what these smugglers do. The pleasures of power, sex, and greed have chilled these people’s souls to rock hard blocks of ice. I say people, because although it is primarily men who do this, there were 2 women’s names among the list of the top 20 smugglers caught in the last 10 year period.

I also think of those who cheered on the heinous abortion bill in New York. And before I go seeing it in everyone but myself, my cold indifference is there too. It may not be as fully formed, but that same tendency resides within my flesh. As Paul says in Romans, I am at war with my own flesh.

There is but one remedy and that is to look to Jesus as my Savior. As Paul says so beautifully in Romans 8, God has done for us what we couldn’t do ourselves. GOD turned the cold and dark indifference of the human heart in on itself to destroy sin and death. Ravi Zacharias uses the the following quote many times in his speaking engagements. It is an immensely concise and powerful observation on the sheer awesomeness of God’s salvation.

“It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that ‘he led captivity captive.’ 

The very triumphs of His foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to sub-serve his end, not theirs.

They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet.

They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne.

They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in.

They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy.

They thought they had defeated God with His back the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down.

He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.”

James Stewart (1896–1990) was a minister of the Church of Scotland

Copyright © 2019 Amateur Anglican, All rights reserved

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Thoughts on Eric Metaxas ‘Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy’

Thoughts on Eric Metaxas ‘Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy’

https://thebloodyhardway123.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/thoughts-on-eric-metaxas-bonhoeffer-pastor-prophet-martyr-spy/
— Read on thebloodyhardway123.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/thoughts-on-eric-metaxas-bonhoeffer-pastor-prophet-martyr-spy/

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Filed under Spiritual Disciplines