Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Unbloody Sacrifice

I have begun to wonder why I didn’t use John Johnson for a dissertation topic due to my reading of his two volume work ‘The Unbloody Sacrifice.’ Considering the words ‘rational’ or ‘spiritual’ joined with unbloody in the ancient Fathers as they describe the Eucharistic Sacrifice, as denoting a Sacrifice of Bread and Wine, Johnson states the following:
So that I take it for granted, that by unbloody Sacrifice is always meant the Sacrifice of the sacramental Bread and Wine, in all ancient monuments of Christianity; and consequently, that when ‘rational’ or ‘spiritual’ go along with ‘unbloody,’ the same materials are thereby meant; and indeed in some particular places there are other concomitant words, which shew that Bread and Wine are meant, as in the Apostolical Constitution, ‘Instead of bloody Sacrifices, Christ enjoined the rational unbloody Sacrifice of His Body and Blood;’ for where is Christ’s Blood sacrificed, in an unbloody way, but in the Eucharistical Chalice? So, Cyril of Jerusalem, ‘When the spiritual victim, the unbloody service is consecrated, we beseech God over that Sacrifice of propitiation,’ &c. for I suppose no Sacrifice can be said to be consecrated, and to have prayers said ‘over it’ in the Christian Church and Eucharist, of which Cyril was speaking, but the Bread and Wine;…I am indifferent whether by Table my reader understand the proper Altar, or the side Altar, or the Bread and Wine placed upon one or the other: for in which signification soever you are pleased to take it, yet the thing is ‘material,’ but the epithet ‘spiritual.’ The Priest, when he presents the elements on the Altar, is by the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom directed to say, ‘Enable us to offer the gifts and spiritual Sacrifices for our own sins, and for the errors of the people.’ The Apostles are introduced in the Constitutions saying, ‘Christ becoming man for us, and offering to His God and Father a spiritual Sacrifice before His Passion, commanded us only to do the same;’ clearly referring to those words of the Institution, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me,’ which were spoken to the Apostles only; and what Christ there gave, or offered to God, was His Sacramental Body and Blood, the Bread and Wine, which are therefore here called the spiritual Sacrifice. And of not other Sacrifice, but the Sacramental Body and Blood, could it be said that the Apostles only were commanded to offer it. For prayers, and praises, and lay offerings, were to be offered by the people; but the Apostles, and they who were commissioned by them, were the only proper officers for making the oblation of Bread and Wine as the Body and Blood, as shall hereafter be made to appear.
Now that last section makes clear that lay Eucharistic offerings are not valid in Anglican and Catholic theology and to move the Church in that direction is going against the expressed will of Christ and His shaping of the Eucharistic liturgy of the Church. I will undoubtedly have numerous footnotes and quotations from Johnson who followed in the footsteps of Andrewes and actually was able to write a discourse on Eucharistic Sacrifice that is tantamount to the theology found within the sermons and writings of Lancelot Andrewes. This makes for a good case of Eucharistic Ecumenism with the Catholic branches of the Church when we are willing to hold a biblical and theological interaction with the theology of Sacrifice found within the text of Scripture that points to and finds its centre in the Passion of Christ once offered. This makes for rich theology and practical Christian living that flows from the Passion itself. Now, I must think about how to incorporate all of this into my thesis!


Anonymous William Tighe said...

I agree with what you wrote about Johnson's views on the Eucharistic sacrifice being more-or-less the same as those of Andrewes, but what about his views on the nature of the Presence? As I recall (from having read the two volumes attentively twice nearly 25 years ago), he denounces transubstantiation, the Lutheran view (which he characterizes as "consubstantiation"), the teachings of Calvin -- all in favor of a kind of "virtualism" according to which the bread and wine are, and are only, bread and wine, but to which, in virtue of their oblation and consecration, all of the significance, effects or benefits that would be theirs had they been Christ's natural body and blood are conveyed to the recipients. At least that is what I conceived his views to amount to. Furthermore, I think that he regarded any adoration done to the elements, even within the liturgy itself, as tantamount to idolatry. So far as I can see -- although I defer to your expertise -- this is rather far from Andrewes' views on the Presence.

12:34 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...


Andrewes denounces Transubstantiation as well but clearly embraces a presence within the elements that I am defining as 'transelementation.' It seems to me from the beginning of the first volume that Johnson is not far from that but I have not read all of either Vol. I or II. I do intend to get through these volumes within the month, D.V. Then I will know more. I am still trying the best way to define Andrewes's Sacrifice of the Eucharist. I am having to grab from all over in order to do that! I appreciate your prayers. I'll put more up on Johnson as I begin to work through it. Thanks for the comments and again, thank you very much for all the articles and books. That was very kind of you!!! Are you back in the States now?


1:56 pm  
Anonymous William Tighe said...

Yes, I'm back home (as of this past Wednesday).

As to Johnson, I'm pretty sure that he also believes that Christ's body, that is to say, Christ as "theanthropos," is confined in Heaven as in a place, and so cannot be present, except in his divinity, at the Eucharist or anywhere else.

11:11 pm  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...


I sure would like to know how you are defining "element" in your "transelementation" description of Andrewes position. Please elaborate. Thanks.


1:46 am  
Blogger Jeff said...


I'm on my way to Mass so this will just be a reference that we can talk about later. I posted on this last December and I am due for some updates but being a bit careful on sharing too many 'insights' on here until I finish my writing. http://meam-commemorationem.blogspot.com/2005/12/gregory-of-nyssa-and-good-friends.html

8:22 am  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

Thanks for the link. I remember reading this entry of yours back in December, but it was good to refresh my memory. I remember at the time thinking that your understanding of Andrewes sounded a LOT like the kind of virtualism that was explicated by John Johnson, and picked up by the Non-Jurors.

I would nonetheless caution you that you be very careful with "trans" terminology, lest you find yourself misunderstood. Remember that "trans-substantiation" means change in substance and "trans-formation" means change in form, hence "trans-elemantation" must mean some kind of change in element. Thus you are confronted with two conundrums: what do you mean by "element"? and what exactly is the nature of the change?

7:34 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...


It is not about me 'being careful' by stating Andrewes's belief! ;-) Andrewes specifically told Bellarmine that he did not have a problem with trans, Forbes said the same and so did Thorndike. Transelementation would be a change in the nature of bread and wine to become eucharistised where the presence of the whole Christ inheres within the elements causing them to take on a new nature of a Sacrament. They 'become for us the Body and Blood of Christ.' They remain that since there is not an 'unconsecratory prayer' to unmake them into what they have become hence the Sacrament is reserved for the sick.

What caution do you have with 'trans?'

8:18 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

Dan, in a sermon on the Nativity, Andrewes is directly quoting from the following of Irenaeus 4.18.

"For some, by maintaining that the Father is different from the Creator, do, when they offer to Him what belongs to this creation of ours, set Him forth as being covetous of another’s property, and desirous of what is not His own. Those, again, who maintain that the things around us originated from apostasy, ignorance, and passion, do, while offering unto Him the fruits of ignorance, passion, and apostasy, sin against their Father, rather subjecting Him to insult than giving Him thanks. But how can they be consistent with themselves, [when they say] that the bread over which thanks have been given is the body of their Lord,252 and the cup His blood, if they do not call Himself the Son of the Creator of the world, that is, His Word, through whom the wood fructifies, and the fountains gush forth, and the earth gives “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.”253
5. Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned.254 But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.255 For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread,256 but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity. [Andrewes is quoting from here in this sermon.
6. Now we make offering to Him, not as though He stood in need of it, but rendering thanks for His gift,257 and thus sanctifying what has been created. For even as God does not need our possessions, so do we need to offer something to God; as Solomon says: “He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord.”258 For God, who stands in need of nothing, takes our good works to Himself for this purpose, that He may grant us a recompense of His own good things, as our Lord says: “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you. For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me; sick, and ye visited Me; in prison, and ye came to Me.”259 As, therefore, He does not stand in need of these [services], yet does desire that we should render them for our own benefit, lest we be unfruitful; so did the Word give to the people that very precept as to the making of oblations, although He stood in no need of them, that they might learn to serve God: thus is it, therefore, also His will that we, too, should offer a gift at the altar, frequently and without intermission. The altar, then, is in heaven260 (for towards that place are our prayers and oblations directed); the temple likewise [is there], as John says in the Apocalypse, “And the temple of God was opened: ”261 the tabernacle also: “For, behold,” He says, “the tabernacle of God, in which He will dwell with men.”

8:25 pm  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...


I have no problem with the "trans" part, as this simply denotes a change that takes place in the sacramental species, which I affirm. It's the "element" part that I question, but only because it hasn't been defined.

So, for instance, if you were talking about chemistry, then, obviously, "element" has a certain meaning (which I'm sure is not your meaning else you'd be implying a change in keeping with the art of Alchemy).

Take care,

9:00 pm  

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