Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Andrewes: Eucharistic Sacrifice and Propitiation

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Did Andrewes believe in a Eucharistic Sacrifice that was propitiatory in its nature? That is one of the main questions surrounding the Euharistic controversy of the C16 but what are Anglicans in the C17 saying--Anglicans such as Lancelot Andrewes? Here is a quotation of which I will highlight what I see as Andrewes holding to propitiatory qualities of the Eucharistic offering.
First, there is reason we should come to Christ, in regard of our sinnes already past: For we have need of a Sacrifice, both in respect of the grinding and upbraiding of our consciences for the sinnes we have committed, and by reason of the punishment we have deserved by them. This sacrifice we are put in minde of in this Sacrament, that Christ hath offered himself to God an oblation and sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour, wherein we have planted in our hearts the passive grace of God, for the quieting of our consciences against sinnes past, by the taking of the cup of Salvation makes us say, Return into thy rest O my soul, Psalm the hundred and sixteen; [and for the turning away of deserved punishment,] as the blood of the Paschal Lamb sprinkled upon the dores, saved the Israelites, from destroying, Exodus the twelfth chapter. So in this true passover we receive the blood of the immaculate Lamb Christ, to assure us of peace with God, [and to deliver us from the destroying Angel.] As the Heathen had their Altar, whereupon they offered to their gods; so we have an Altar, that is, the Lords Table, where we celebrate the remembrance of that oblation once made by Christ, Hebrews the thirteenth chapter and the twelfth verse.
Now,compare this with the language of Trent Session 22.
'...that he might leave, to his own beloved Spouse the Church, a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby that bloody sacrifice, once to be accomplished on the cross, might be represented and the memory thereof remain even unto the end of the world, and its salutary virtue be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit...'


Anonymous john liberalis said...


Your quotes do indeed seem to provide powerful evidence that Andrewes did attribute to the Eucharistic sacrifice propitiating functions. 'Liberal' Christians, however, must have difficulty with the whole notion of 'sacrifice' for 'sins', since amorality is built in to evolution (which Christians, including Andrewes, knew nothing about until Darwin) and the notion of 'the Fall' in any historical sense has to be discarded. Rather, Jesus' sacrifice should be understood as an affirmation (1) that human beings can transcend the evolutionary strait-jacket to extremes of self-sacrifice for greater goods; and (2) that God, having created a suffering creation,must himself suffer, if he is to prove his credentials to suffering humans. That is, the crucifixion is as much about the justification of God as it is about the justification of humans.

I am aware, of course, that this is not orthodox Christian teaching and that those who think like this nowadays run the risk of excommunication or worse from the new Inquisitors - such as Peter Akinola, or - it increasingly seems - Richard Chartres, Tom Wright, or ... Rowan Williams.

9:45 pm  
Blogger Brian Douglas said...

In answer to your question: 'Did Andrewes believe in a Eucharistic Sacrifice that was propitiatory in nature?' I say "Yes". The important words in your question are 'in nature'. Buckeridge at Andrewes' funeral said that Andrewes "taught that on the cross and in the Eucharist there is the 'same sacrificed thing, that is, they body and blood of Christ', but not the same 'action of the sacrifice'" (cited in Stone, 1909: II, 266). This suggests that the eucharistic sacrifice is propitiatory 'in nature' (what I would call moderate realism) but not in 'action' (what I would call immoderate realism). Andrewes himself speaks about eucharistic sacrifice as renewing a covenant with God by virtue of the sacrifice suggesting that this is more than remembering or a verbal description of a past act. Rather it is a 'showing forth' (1 Corinthians 11: 26) in the sense of hoc facite. He says for example 'And in corpus fractum and sanguis fusus there is immolatus'. This does not mean a reiteration of the sacrifice (immoderate realism) but a showing forth and renewing of the sacrifice (moderate realism). Yes Andrewes believes that the eucharistic sacrifice is propitiatory, but in nature (an instantiation) not in action.

10:07 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...


I realise that Andrewes makes that careful distinction but I am not sure what he is arguing against based upon the quotation next to it from Trent. Who argued that the Eucharist was a 'natural' or 'proper' sacrifice in the sense that it is the same sacrificial act? I don't know of anyone in Roman theology who argued for that in the period prior or ever. The rhetorical language of 'immoderate' realism is definitely found particularly in eucharistic devotions and the practice of eucharistic devotional life. But it seems that Andrewes is making a point against the wind to say that it is not a 'proper' sacrifice in the sense that the glorified Christ does not die again. What Trent meant by a 'proper' sacrifice was that the application of the one sacrifice is applied to the Church by the eucharistic act. Andrewes, Laud, Trent, Francis Clark S.J., and Powers are all saying the very same thing in this instance. I can't figure out what the issue is to be honest.

10:17 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...


Why do notions of the Fall have to be discarded in any historical sense? Where are you getting your notions of Jesus' sacrifice meaning what you put forth here? Why do you believe God has anything to prove to man as his creature? What accountability do we have before God for our actions--if any?

Just some questions that come to mind. How are you and the family? Give us a bell some time and greet all the saints at Margaret's for us.

10:22 pm  
Blogger Brian Douglas said...


I am clearer now on the question you are debating. I am not sure I can answer it but it does seem to me that some of the Anglican writers in the 16thC and 17thC had a false idea of what transubstantition was. Andrewes for example says in the Response to Bellermine: "Do you take away from the Mass your transubstantiation; and there will not long be any strife with us about the sacrifice". This seems to suggest that in Andrewes mind there was something about transubstantiation which caused him a problem regarding eucharistic sacrifice. Could it be that he was attributing an immoderate sense to transubstantiation (even though Aquinas clearly denies this)? Could it be that Andrewes has misinterpreted Bellarmine? At the same time I think Andrewes is heavily influenced by his knowledge of the early Church Fathers and their eucharistic theology. When he uses 'types' and 'antiytpes' this suggests some knowledge of early church language.

As regards those who expressed a 'natural' presence and sacrifice there is some evidence to show this and Andrewes may well have had access to this. The Council of Constance for example in putting questions to the Reformer Hus asked: "Whether he believes that after consecration by the priest there is not in the Sacrament of the altar under the veil of bread and wine material bread and wine, but wholly the same Christ who suffered on the cross and sitteth at the right hand of God" (cited in Stone, 1909, I, 377). Another writer (Stephen of Autun, d1139) says "the act of offering is repeated (immolatio iteratur) in the mass" (cited in Stone, 1909: I, 282). William Allen (d1544) saw Christ's sacrifice in the Eucharist not as a new crucifixion but as a form of endurance, such that Christ is present in the Eucharist in a disquised form and the mechanism of disguise is immolation (Fitzpatrick, 1991: 149). Some modern writer (such as Catherine Pickstock in 'After Writing') speak of those who adopt a eucharistic theology of necrophilia (love of a dead body - either in the immoderate sense of a fleshy dead body in the Eucharist or the nominalist sense of a memory of a past event (Christ's death on the cross which is in no way present in the Eucharist but dependent on propositional and linguistic analysis alone without any sense of moderate realism).

My suggestion here is that there were medieval corruptions of transubstantiation which emphasised immoderate notions of presence and sacrifice (see Miri Rubin's book 'Corpus Christi' for many more of these) and it may well be that Andrewes and others were reacting against these corruptions. At the same time they were clearly putting a moderate realist view of both eucharistic sacrifice and presence.

11:27 pm  
Anonymous Jason Loh said...

Very interesting and illuminating posts, including the main one ... looking forward more on the same.

8:57 am  
Blogger Jeff said...


I completely agree and just picked up the Rubin book from my library and will need to read a section or two from it. I have translated the entire sections from the Bellarmine exchange on Transubstantiation and Sacrifice from Volume VIII and the weakest arguments were found in Andrewes's response to transubstantiation. He had to have recognised what Aquinas was saying as he had him in his own library and refers to his work in the Bellarmine exchange. Andrewes's main argument against transubstantiation is that it smacks of Eutychianism and the word is no where to be found in the writings of the Fathers or the scriptures. He does not get into the metaphysical debates and that may be due to what Reedy S.J. said about Andrewes not being a philosopher. That is good because I am not one either! Your work has been very helpful to me in my thinking thus about how to categorise Andrewes at times. But he does not focus on one aspect of the Eucharist but he gets very real about the language in his Apos. Sacra Sermons and a number of his Feast Day sermons. From those, I am developing a theology of sacrifice. He views the Eucharistic offering as the peace-offering found in Leviticus as the sacrifice where the worshiper was required to take part in the eating of the offering. It was the only offering brought to the priest in the OT where the worshiper was required to eat the meal of peace. That is Andrewes's connection and his propitiatory language is found in his connecting the Eucharist with the passover.

The really strong connection that I have found with Trent's formulation is that Andrewes and Trent both begin by speaking of the need of sacrifice for the Christian due to our nature. I all a mess right now but I hope to clean it up soon.

10:15 am  
Anonymous Jason Loh said...

For Andrewes and the early church fathers, what "makes" the Eucharistic Sacrifice to be propitious in nature? Is the propitiatory value of the Eucharist grounded in its sacrificial nature? Does the propitiatory value of the Eucharist provides for its sacrificial "content" or substance, with the act of Oblation as the form? Or is the propitious nature of the Sacrifice of the Mass directly and *proximately* (i.e. immediately) rooted in Passion and Crucifixion? I think it would be unjustifiable to deny some kind of propitiatory value to the Eucharist, in light of Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Church.

5:04 am  
Blogger Jeff said...


Sorry to be pants about answering this but I had forgotten about in my very busy schedule. What makes the Eucharist sacrifice have propitiatory value is that it applies the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross and unites them as one and the same sacrifice. It is making a historical act present in order to provide the means of forgiveness of sins. It is in that light and the view of anamnesis of 'showing forth' the death of Christ as a memorial to 'remind' God of that sacrifice to forgive us for sins actually committed.

10:24 am  

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