Saturday, June 11, 2011

Eucharistic Election

A correction:  Below I mentioned the ressourcement Barthianism to come, as forecasted by Kenneth Oakes.  Seems, however, that with Aaron Riches, it may already have.  See his Church, Eucharist and Predestination in Barth and de Lubac: Convergence and Divergence in Communio. Riches shows how Henri de Lubac anticipated Barth on predestination, and provides an "irenic corrective" to Barth's disappointing eucharistic theology.  One excerpt from a very rich paper:
 Obviously Barth’s sacramental theology is sharply at odds with the Roman Catholic tradition. What is perhaps less obvious is how radically at odds it is with the received “orthodoxy” of his own Reformed tradition. In the nineteenth century, the American Calvinist, John Williamson Nevin, cogently demonstrated what a high view of the Eucharist orthodox Calvinism actually had; and more, he shows definitively that Zwingli’s position was categorically refused in all the original Reformed confessions. But more than simply recovering Calvin’s eucharistic theology, Nevin also offered an extension of Calvin in the form of an explicit doctrine of Christ’s union to the Church, maintained and accomplished in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Moreover, there is in Nevin a strong correlation between the gift of the ecclesial Body and the Eucharist, and in this regard Nevin represents perhaps the most promising possibility of a Reformed/Lubacian correlation.
McCormack is right: "We do [Barth] no service if we simply repeat him."  But the road after Barth can lead as much in a eucharistic direction as a neo-Barthian one.  The point is to move with Barth, beyond him, among other reasons, because the very methodology he condemns - starting with an open ontological framework which Christ (and only Christ) fulfills - is, at least according to Luke, Paul's exactly (objectors please first read Betz on Pryzwara).  But why throw the election baby out with the actualistic bathwater?  "It would be absurd," argues Phillip Cary, "to instruct Christians to believe in Barth's actualism the same way Luther's catechism instructs believers to believe in the power of the sacraments.  The doctrine of actualism is not something to put our faith in, the sacraments are."

Strap high eucharistic theology onto Karl Barth's doctrine of predestination, and things get interesting very fast.   If there's a thought more beautiful than Barth's election delicately fused into a high eucharistic theology, I'd like to know.  There may be a Barthian monstrance in the church's future, wherein we visually ponder the mystery of election.  I hope to see it.