Saturday, April 22, 2006

John Johnson 'Unbloody Sacrifice'

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I have begun collecting the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology for myself. It is a slow process but it does continue to grow. I hope to eventually have the entire library personally within my own library. One of my recent purchases has been the two-volume work by John Johnson called The Unbloody Sacrifice. With reference to a discussion going on below and tipped off by Drs. Bill Tighe and Dan Dunlap, I thought I would post someting on Johnson and how the Body and Blood become present in the Eucharist. The Caroline Divines continue to focus on the words of the priest at the words of institution that make present the Body and Blood of Christ in the elements. Later Anglican scholars (post-Restoration 1660) really focused on the epiclesis in spite of it not emphasized in the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. Johnson writes,
I believe, that nothing could acquire a greater sanctity under the Law than by being offered in sacrifice; but I apprehend tha the Eucharistical Sacrifice, that is, the representative Body and Blood of Christ, were, by the primitive Fathers, supposed to be consecrated in a more perfect manner than any sacrifice under the Law could be: for in all the Liturgies, after the oblation of the Bread and Wine as the memorials of the grand Sacrifice, there is a solemn prayer that God would send His Spirit or His Divine benediction for the further consecration of them, after they had first been offered as a Sacrifice to God. And this is the most perfect consecration that inanimate creatures are capable of; and such as consecration does apparently best fit and comport with the Eucharist, as being the most eminent mystery and hierugy that ever was instituted by Almighty God. And it is to be observed, that by this means the Eucharistical Bread and Wine are made the most perfect and consummate representatives of the Body and Blood of Christ. They are not only substituted by His appointment and command to this purpose, but they are by the power of the Spirit, which is communicated to them so often as the celebration of this mystery is repeated, made the lively efficacious Sacrament of His Body and Blood: for the Holy Spirit is Christ's invisible Divine deputy in His Church...when the Holy Spirit, Which is His invisible representative, communicates It's power and presence to teh symbols, which are His visible representatives, they do thereby become as full and authentic substitutes as it is possible for them to be; and the reader is to be advertised, that when the ancients speak of the Logos, or the Divine nature of Christ, being present in the Eucharist; or of the Sacramental Body's being united to the natural Person or Body of our Saviour; they mean the same thing as if they had expressly mentioned the Holy Spirit; becaust is it the known opinion of the ancients, and may be proved from Scripture, that whatever beneficial operations are performed in the Church are performed immediately by the Holy Ghost, and mediately only by the Father and the Son; and that it is by means of the Spirit that the Church communicates with the other two Divine Persons; and the holy Sacraments are very justly, by many of our Divines, styled the channels by which all Divine graces are derived to us.
It is interesting what he says here in this last sentence and the writings of Andrewes. Andrewes' sermons on Pentecost make this most clear and I am interested in doing a careful study of how Andrewes connects the Spirit to Eucharistic consecration.

Witin Andrewes' words, not only is the Eucharist a means by which we are comforted but it is also the means by which we taste the Lord’s goodness according to Psalm 34.8. The way we taste this goodness is through the celebration of the Eucharist as the vehicle of His Spirit.
And even that note hath not escaped the ancient Divines; to shew there is not only comfort by hearing the word, but we may also “taste of His goodness, how gracious He is,” and be “made to drink of the Spirit.” That not only by the letter we read, and the word we hear, but by the flesh we eat, and the blood we drink at His table, we be made partakers of His Spirit, and of the comfort of it. By no more kindly way passeth His Spirit than by His flesh and blood, which are vehicular Spiritus, ‘the proper carriages to convey it.’ Corpus aptavit Sibi, ut Spiritum aptaret tibi; Christ fitted our body to Him, that He might fit His Spirit to us. For so is the Spirit best fitted, made remeable, and best exhibited to us who consist of both.
What is very interesting here about Andrewes’s language is how he is communicating a real presence in the receiving of the flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist that is united to the Spirit. The Spirit is the knot of the hypostatic union as he implies earlier on in this sermon. In relationship to the psychosomatic nature of humanity, Andrewes expresses the same unity of the body and blood communicated in the Eucharist as it is united to the Spirit. So, in the Eucharist of the body and blood of Christ there is a true sense of objective life communicated to us through the vehicles of the Spirit. Those vehicles are the bread and the wine. This would mean that the Eucharist is not a lifeless sacrament. It conveys the life it represents since it carries the Spirit of Christ to the communicants. This means that there is an objective operative aspect of the Eucharist in the theology of Andrewes’s sacramental celebrations. This implies, very importantly, a belief in real presence in the sacramental elements. Since there is a real presence of body and blood then there naturally for Andrewes is a presence of the Spirit since they both are united to the body of Christ. He is not a spiritless being. Therefore Andrewes goes on to say,
This is sure: where His flesh and blood are, they are not examines, “spiritless” they are not or without life, His Spirit is with them. Therefore was it ordained in those very elements, which have both of them a comfortable operation in the heart of man. One of them, bread, serving to strengthen it, or make it strong; and comfort cometh of confortare, which is ‘to make strong.’ And the other, wine, to make it cheerful [Psalm 104.15] or “glad;” and is therefore willed to me ministered to them that mourn, and are oppressed with grief. And all this is to shew that the same effect is wrought in the inward man by the holy mysteries, that is in the outward by the elements; [Hebrews 13.9] that there the heart is “established by grace,” and our soul endued with strength, and our conscience made light and cheerful, that it faint not, but evermore rejoice in His holy comfort.
For Andrewes the flesh and blood IS present in the elements as well as the Spirit and this was ordained by God to be present via bread and wine. It is the life of the Spirit united to those elements that works the operation of comfort in the heart of man. Naturally this will cause the debate of sacramental efficacy between Protestants and the Roman Church to come to mind. This debate of the sacraments working ex opere operato has simply been a lot of mischaracterizations and over-simplifications of what sacramental grace is able to convey through the ordained means. Of course sacraments work this way but not always the same way in every circumstance. The problem that this debate has caused is a narrowing of the sacramental efficacy in Protestantism where the sacraments’ efficacy has become almost completely dependent upon the faith or the subjective evaluation of the individual receiving them rather than a work of God that is outside of the individual yet subjectively transforms the individual as Andrewes has mentioned in the above quotation. The reality of sacramental efficacy is what enables the vehicles of grace to be used as the means of communicating the “comfortable operation in the heart of man.” It produces strength by making strong and cheefulness by making the heart glad. Andrewes says that this same effect that is given to bread and wine for the body of man is also in effect what is wrought in him by the ‘means of these holy mysteries,’ that is objectively communicated by the outward elements; and it is there, in these holy mysteries that the heart is ‘established by grace,’ our ‘souls endued with strength,’ and ‘our conscience made light and cheerful.’ The essence of this sacramental efficacy is sealed and made known by the Spirit being fitted to Christ and His body, by our union with Christ in the Spirit, and the Spirit’s uniting the body and the blood to bread and wine making for the sacramental grace and the communicating of comfort. The question that seems to be underlying the issue of sacramental efficacy in general and Eucharistic efficacy in particular is not so much that the sacraments are efficacious, as many within both Roman and Reformed traditions would allow; but how in effect is this efficacy exerted?

P.S. As I completed this entry, Gary Macy's book Treasures From the Storeroom: Medieval Religion and the Eucharist arrived.


Blogger lexorandi2 said...

Hi Jeff,

Great stuff! Thanks.

It's pretty clear that the Carolines as well preferred the 1549 invocation (epiclesis) to that of the subsequent prayerbooks, and (had they had their way) would have desired to revise the BCP along these lines. John Cosin is a case in point, as the Durham Book contains an epiclesis, and, of course, the so-called "Laud's Liturgy" (1637) contains one as well. However, all Caroline examples leave the epiclesis in the pre-institution narrative location which shows that though they believed in the operation of the Spirit in the sacrament they still held a western view of consecration via the words of institution prayed over the elements by the priest. This is where the Non-Jurors changed (i.e., improved upon) the theology their Caroline predecessors, IMO.

Excellent posting! BTW, I don't own John Johnson's work, so I'm quite envious that you do. I have some of it photocopied and somewhere in a file. So you should scan it for me. ;-)

3:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Dan! The Johnson work is good stuff. I found both volumes in excellent condition over here for £38! I have found Laud's works for £80 but haven't purchased it yet. Right now I own the works of: Hooker, Taylor, Forbes, Johnson, Andrewes (including the Apospasmatia Sacra), and Cosin. I am also looking for a set of Frank's work to purchase soon.

There is a lot of work to be done with the post that I have written here and I know your PhD work covered some of it. And, I did read your dissertation, though most of it was forced upon me by you for Advanced Liturgics! ;-)


1:31 pm  
Anonymous William Tighe said...

I bought the two volumes of Johnson in England in 1982 and have read them twice. At the same time I bought the three volumes of Hickes' Treatises, although I've read only some of them. Hickes certainly preferred 1549 over 1552 and later BCPs.

2:18 am  

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