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A minor


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Calvin on the Eucharist
According to this web page, Calvin maintained:

[1] Jesus Christ is not ubiquitous throughout the universe but rather is "located" in heaven;

[2] by the strength, power (Latin,
vis, vires [plural]) of the Holy Spirit, believers are drawn up to heaven whereby they receive Christ to their blessing; (This position, following the Latin, is sometimes called "virtualism." However, "virtualism" has nothing to do with modern notions of "virtual," "as if.")

[3] faith alone receives Christ (everywhere in Calvin, because everywhere in scripture); unbelievers do not receive him, since the Saviour cannot be received to anyone's destruction;

[4] communicants receive Christ in the totality of his reality: body and blood; i.e., they do not receive something "spiritual" in the sense of a disembodied spectre. At the same time, they do not "chew his flesh" (Luther). Concerning this viewpoint Calvin said, "Every time Luther mentions the Lord's Supper he has in mind something that a butcher handles";

[5] the primary purpose of the sacrament is to strengthen weak faith (i.e., strengthen in Christ those who remain sinners in themselves); the secondary purpose is to pledge publicly our loyalty to our Lord.
I would disagree with point 3, and I'm not sure I would (or even if Calvin would) pin down the primary and secondary purposes of the sacrament exactly as point 5 does. Otherwise, I think this is a helpful summary of Calvin's and my own views.

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