Sunday, October 15, 2006

Andrewes and Eucharistic Realism

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI got up very early this morning thinking about something in my dissertation (sometimes happens) and I started to work on a thought provoked by something Brian said in a post on the realism in Andrewes's theology of the Eucharist. Andrewes is following in the school of Gregory of Nyssa on presence over against what would be a nominalist approach to the sacraments. Like Gregory, Andrewes (as has been already noted in the quotations) believes that due to our bodies having actually received poison through our own sin, we have need of an antidote; and it is ONLY by eating and drinking so that we can be united to the body as the soul is in baptism. I will illustrate this by a quotation from Gregory and Andrewes in discussion with Cardinal Bellarmine. The Andrewes quotation is my translation.

Gregory: ‘Just as in the case of other men, our Saviour’s nourishment (bread and wine) was His body; but these, nourishment and Body, were in Him changed into the Body of God by the Word indwelling. So now repeatedly the bread and wine, sanctified by the Word (the sacred Benediction), is at the same time changed into the Body of that Word; and this Flesh is disseminated amongst the Faithful.’ (Catechism)

Andrewes: ‘We ourselves also truly adore the flesh of Christ in the mysteries, with Ambrose: but we worship not it but who is praised on the altar. Namely, the Cardinal wrongly asks what should be worshiped there he ought to ask who should be worshiped: with Nazianzus, he [the king] says him, not it. [Nor do we chew the flesh, unless we have previously adored,] in line with Augustine. And yet none of us adores the Sacrament.’(Responsio)

One could argue that Andrewes is simply quibbling over words but the substance of the argument for which he is arguing is within Rome’s teaching of transubstantiation. Andrewes rejects this doctrine for two main reasons. His main argument is that the word is not found anywhere prior to the fourth lateran council and secondly because he sees the doctrining of transubstantiation smacking of Eutychianism because everything of the earthly nature of the sacrament is assumed into the divinity. That is the natureo of his hypostatic union illustration. Realist language for presence is often found in Andrewes, (as noted above) but ‘how’ it happens remains undefined. Andrewes pointedly argues for immutationis but not transubstantiation. He agrees there is a trans, but not of the substantial nature of the earthly substance of the Sacrament.

This is much different from Calvin who rejected the notion of any 'real' consecration of the Eucharistic elements. I am reluctant to give away too much of my own research at this stage but I am certain that with regards to the realism in Andrewes’s theology of the Eucharist and that of Calvin do have similarities but nothing close to uniformity.

The question is, where does Andrewes root his theology of this mystery? The answer is S. Gregory of Nyssa. He writes,
Should you, however, ask in what way Deity is mingled with humanity, you will have occasion for a preliminary inquiry as to what the coalescence is of soul with flesh. But supposing you are ignorant of the way in which the soul is in union with the body, do not suppose that that other question is bound to come within your comprehension; rather, as in this case of the union of soul and body, while we have reason to believe that the soul is something other than the body, because the flesh when isolated from the soul becomes dead and inactive, we have yet no exact knowledge of the method of the union, so in that other inquiry of the union of Deity with manhood, while we are quite aware that there is a distinction as regards degree of majesty between the Divine and the mortal perishable nature, we are not capable of detecting how the Divine and the human elements are mixed up together. The miracles recorded permit us not to entertain a doubt that God was born in the nature of man. But how—this, as being a subject unapproachable by the processes of reasoning, we decline to investigate. For though we believe, as we do, that all the corporeal and intellectual creation derives its subsistence from the incorporeal and uncreated Being, yet the whence or the how, these we do not make a matter for examination along with our faith in the thing itself. While we accept the fact, we pass by the manner of the putting together of the Universe, as a subject which must not be curiously handled, but one altogether ineffable and inexplicable.

Andrewes's theology of presence is mostly taken from the Eastern Fathers with a Western emphasis at times from S. Augustine. He spends a lot of time with the East as rightly pointed out by Nicholas Lossky.


Blogger Brian Douglas said...


You put it well when you argue that Andrewes speaks about a change but is careful to avoid speaking about a change in substance. This is both a denial of transubstantiation and an affirmation of the instantiation of the nature of Christ using the idea of the hypostatic union. To me Andrewes speaks clearly of a real presence but is careful to say that this presence is no way immoderate (fleshy) or involving a change of substance in the bread and wine.

4:38 am  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

I made much the same point in my own dissertation concerning Calvin, and specifically Calvinist-inspired liturgical texts. There is no theology of consecration in them, unlike the BCP which retained the WOI in a prayer said over the elements. The "pure" Calvinist position is that the efficacy of the sacraments resides in the Word proclaimed didactically to the hearers (which is why the WOI were read to the people, not prayed over the elements). The elements are added to reinforce or "seal" the Word's effects.

Dude, you're starting to rock on this Andrewes' stuff. Keep up the good work!


2:32 am  
Anonymous William Tighe said...

In regard to this, it might be worth reading "The Anglican Usage of eucharistic Consecration" in *Liturgical Studies* by E. C. Ratcliff, ed. A. Couratin and D. Tripp (London, 1976: SPCK); it contains a fascinating, of the difference between Cranmer's and Jewel's understanding of "consecratin" and of the function of the Words of Institution.

1:29 pm  

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