Saturday, July 23, 2005

Hopefully getting somewhere

I am absolutely exhausted on this feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden (1373). I have worked all day on what has developed into the second chapter of my thesis. I met with my supervisor yesterday and discussed what I had written and what needs to be done to shape it up a bit. It was a 2 ½ hour meeting!! I have since titled the chapter, Sacrament and Symbol: Lancelot Andrewes and the Instrumental Nature of the Eucharist. This chapter describes Andrewes’s view of Eucharistic instrumentality in conversation with Calvin and modern writers such as Professor Bryan Spinks and B.A. Gerrish. I actually disagree with Spink’s conclusion that Calvin and Andrewes can be put within the same category of instrumentalism primarily based upon what the Eucharist makes effectual for us. Through the theological description of ‘symbolic instrumentalism’ I have attempted to show that Andrewes is not developing his theology of the Eucharist’s instrumentality from Calvin or the Continent for that matter. I have therefore coined the phrase ‘effectual instrumentalist’ for Andrewes. (Though, there are similarities based primarily on what I believe is the result of Calvin and Andrewes who were both well-versed in their knowledge of the Fathers).

Andrewes is not keen on being novel but is seeking to be faithful to the history of what the Church has believed and taught in the first five centuries. What I am showing in this chapter is that the particular purpose and use of instrumentalism in Andrewes’s Eucharistic theology was primarily for the forgiveness of sins. To him this was the whole purpose of Religion and hence the whole purpose of the Sacraments. The chapter has gone well over 20,000 words and I still need to shape it up more and will do so at the beginning of this next week before launching into what is going to become my opening chapter (hopefully to be completed by the end of September). The opening chapter of the thesis will place Andrewes within his historical context and develop how his Eucharistic theology fits within the time of what is going on in the English Church around him.

The difficulty here is that Andrewes does not have a systematic theology like that of Calvin in the Institutes that fully lays out his views within contemporary debates. Then my little grey matter (what little is left) started to exercise a bit. While revising today, this made me ask the question concerning the approach that Andrewes has to Eucharistic theology that marked him out with such a great difference to most in his time. My hunch is that, like the Eastern Fathers, Andrewes always develops and defines his Eucharistic theology within the liturgy of the Church and is not keen to take it out of its [rite]full place in order to dissect it within a Scholastic framework. He simply does not seem to be of that stripe. This is a premature thought and an underdeveloped theory but I want to think about it more and look closer at the way he takes up his Eucharistic teachings to see if this is indeed feasible. My suspicion is that it is based upon his prayers, sermons, and his notes on the Prayer Book that also were expanded and used by John Cosin, Bishop of Durham. More on this later.

I am too tired now to do anymore work today. The only problem is that the question of what could become a chapter called “Eucharist and Liturgy: The Symbol of the Church in Andrewes’s Theology” is burning in my brain. I hope it doesn’t keep me up like some of my thoughts did last night that didn’t end until 3 am or so! Just a thought and a prayer!


Blogger Adam said...

Sounds like it is going to be very interesting. Looking forward to reading it. Keep up the good work.

6:04 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

That sounds interesting. Is there any possibility that copies will be available for others of us who are interested in your thesis? I would definitely be interested in reading your theory of Andrewes' leaning on the liturgy for the formulation and definition of his Eucharistic theory. I hope all continues to go well and that, while the work seems to be going well, that you can atleast sleep some too.

9:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Adam and Richard! Nothing will be out for a couple of years so you'll have to be patient and I realize that this is something that gets written and written again over the process. It's nice to have something on paper though besides a lot of notes and writings on individual sermons etc. Back at it tomorrow!

11:20 pm  

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