Friday, April 21, 2006

The Hard Truth


From this evening's conversation:
This probably sounds bad, but I really think that people who don't receive the Eucharist regularly are essentially less saved.

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Anonymous said...



Caelius said...

Your usage is a stick with which to beat Protestants. Salvation is an absolute condition. One's name is either in the Book of Life or it is not.

Now if you were to use "less sanctified" or "less justified" or even "less regenerate" I might be more agreeable, since these are presumably more relative states, i.e., "being rooted and grounded in love," biology is slow...

But then again I still don't really understand sanctification. And if you're right, neither does George Barna ;)

Anonymous said...

Know where you're coming from Kyle ;-)

I think it would be a helpful corrective for most 'protestants/evangelicals' to see 'salvation' in terms of 'process' and not just in terms of either/or.

I agree that there is absolute knowledge of this God, but since none of us are he then we need to have a more nuanced perspective of this issue.

Eucharist is a 'forming' event for the life of the community and the individual (this one isn't either/or either!!) and one in which the Divine community 'infuses' our biological 'hupostasis' (thought it would be good to get into a bit of Greek thought....!).

I've been reading John Zizioulas' 'Being as Communion' - if you've not read it then I highly recommend it.

What's interesting from his perspective is Eucharist as principally a 'whole community event' ('whole' being his translation of 'katholikos') - thus within patristic thought/practice is the notion that there should be but ONE eucharistic event per people/place/time. Later fragmentation of the Eucharist into individual participation and/or multiple events within a certain geographical (or even 'confessional') locale is seen as totally alien to early church praxis.

I completely agree that Eucharist is the 'medicine of eternal life', but I feel that within western catholic (note small 'c') thought perhaps this has been 'individualised' too much at the expense of seeing this 'medicine' as being effective through the 'community' as well - and if 'community as well', just how 'catholic/whole' a community can we aim for?

Go well,

Richard le tiggre

Kyle said...

I thought you'd enjoy that, Mike.

Caelius, beating Protestants is fun. Give it a try. :0)

But yes, I'm being intentionally cheeky, and the underlying notion is that I don't consider salvation to be an "event" (or an "absolute condition") that is equivalent to what folks call "justification."

You've called it; when I say "more or less saved," I mean more or less sanctified or regenerate, but not "justified."

Hello, Richard! I also have been spending time with JZ's book this term, and have enjoyed it - insofar as I can understand it!


xopher_mc said...


Taking the sacrament enables us to actualise what Christ fully realised on the cross. To talk of being more saved is just nonsense. Christ has already objectively saved everybody. What may change is our subjective realisation of the christological reality. Or put in terms of eschatology, The eschaton has already occured in Christ. By taking communinon we partake of the eschatological reality.


Chris said...

They'll live in the shanty-town of heaven while us Eucharistics will be pimping out our mansions down on the river of life. BOO YAH!

+ Alan said...

I figured he'd get some comments posting this. Pretty funny.

Underneath, it's serious stuff though and I know Kyle to be serious in what he said and I agree with him - IF everything is properly understood. I'm convinced it is with him, but I think in comment land here we have a few semantic difficulties, if not outright theological incompatibilities.

What does "saved" mean? Obviously, many protestants use this word to mean "justified." That's obvious. The initial spirital aliveness name written in the book thing.

Many Catholics look at it as only the process and we're never really saved until we get to heaven and then we know. That's common. I don't think either is very accurate - those common viewpoints.

Neither are worked out enough. It's biblical - we are both already saved and are also BEING saved. If you want to get technical and theological, we are justified and are in the process of being sanctified. Our innermost self, the pneuma (spirit) is made alive by the Spirit of God, but the rest of us, the soul, mind, thoughts, emotions, bodies, etc. are still yet not fully wrapped up in the Life of God.

It also depends on what you think we're being "saved" for - what is the purpose? Just to go to heaven and not hell? If that's it, then the name in the book is all you need and all you're concerned about. If it's something else - say, the full and total recreation and re-formation of your entire person into the kind of person people were created to be in the first place, then lots of things matter than don't matter to those with the former view. The process is extremely important.

The "finished work of Christ" makes it all possible - saying we are "less saved" by not recieving the Grace of God in the Eucharist as it was given to us to receive is not downplaying that work. It is saying that, in a transformational view, that we are not drinking at the free well of Life-water and therefore, we are thirstier than those who do.

OK, waaay longer than I intended. I couldn't help myself. Peace to all in this house.

JHearne said...

Ouch, brother, ouch.

Stephen Lawson said...

alright. I like what Richard had to say, and I am going to have to agree with him for the most part.

I think salvation is both an event and a process. This is where I think the long lost sacrament comes in, baptism.

The Hebrew people became the people of God at an event (the giving of the law, (check out Exodus 19:6) or the mass circumsion in Joshua's age, a generation later).

you seem to have a similar understanding, or at least that is what I thought from this post.

I think you sometimes are in danger or being as anti-protestant as Luther was anti-Catholic. no offense.

i look forward to your response, now i'm gonna go eat.


Kyle said...

Thanks for your contributions, guys.

I agree with Richard (xopher_mc) that to partake of the Eucharist is to "partake of the eschatological reality" of God's final salvation. Celebration of the mysteries does not add to the atonement or make it somehow more effective, but rather further actualize its benefits in the one recieving.

However, I don't consider that the effect of this is primarily cognitive. I'm not sure if that's what you're saying above.

I will particularly follow +Alan in the phrasing of his conclusion: the actualization of salvation comes with eating and drinking Jesus Christ. If you don't eat and drink Jesus Christ, you don't get what you need.

Stephen, is that "anti-protestant"? :0)

Stephen Lawson said...

heh, I suppose not, you just like trying to piss off Evangelicals, but who doesn't? :)

I agree, I think that the Eucharist is the actualization of salvation. I think it is part of the "working out" of our salvation that St. Paul refers to in Philippians 2.

I think what get to the core of the issue, is that you think that there is no salvation outside of the Church. am I correct? because I would have to agree with that statement.

I still believe that baptism is when you are clothed in Christ, and that is a one-time thing that brings you into the community of believers and where you are "saved". I believe the Eucharist is the living out of your baptism, essentially.

If I may refer to the Old Testament again, the giving of the law can be equated with baptism (when the Hebrew slaves became God's chosen people), and the living out of the chosenness (i.e. the tabernacle, the building of the temple, etc.) can be roughly equated with the Eucharist.

Monk-in-Training said...

This whole series of comments has been amazingly Illumnating, thank you, Kyle for starting this important conversation.

I resonate so much with Alan's words, and feel fortunate to have read them. I want to figure out how to put this on my blog.

Kyle said...

Thanks, Monk!

Stephen, that sounds good to me.

I don't think I write these things to be antagonistic - at least most of the time. I wanted to start a conversation, so I said something cheeky that would require challenge and elucidation before it means anything. I kind of wanted to learn what my comment would "sound" like.

There are probably better ways of doing that, and hopefully I will learn them.

Anonymous said...

To be honest I think salvation is just about being a good enough person to get enough merits to get into heaven.

Eating the Eucharist gets you, like, a gajillion merit points, so technically yes, the more communion you have the more saved you are.

*sets alarm for 4am mass*

Anonymous said...

I heart lamp.

rawbbie said...

I agree with mike he puts the nail in the coffin of this debate. but seriously, why does this act, above all other acts, make one more or less saved? couldn't we say the same about people who don't love their neighbors? or people who don't make desciples? based on these actions, are they more or less saved also?

Kyle said...

Robbie, you might see above for the working definition of "saved." It requires a detailed unpacking, and I think we've done a little of that in some of these comments.

(I acknowledge that it would have been more helpful, though perhaps not as interesting, if I had just said what I meant by it in the original post instead of using the word "saved.")

Partaking of the Eucharist is a concrete way in which the reality of salvation takes up more space in our lives. It's an ongoing mystical realization of the benefits of the atonement in our lives. It's eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ. If we refrain from this, there's less actualization of salvation in our lives.

And to an extent, the same could be said of other ways in which we are called to be obedient disciples, but I think that feeding on Jesus in a mystical fashion is in a class all it's own.

+ Alan said...

What Kyle said - and also, Robbie, I think there is a difference between a Sacramental "action" through which we receive, mystically, a "piece" of the Life of God for our transformation, and the other things you metioned. Those two things, as I see them, are things which flow out of the life that is transformed. Making disciples and loving people aren't Sacramental in the way that the Eucharist is - they aren't something we come to in order to receive a deposit of Grace. They are things we are able to do BECAUSE we have been given Grace. I'm sure that could be unpacked into several volumes as well. I thought I'd say it anyway though. Peace to you.

rawbbie said...

I had not realized until this post that there were different thologies, deep meaningful theologies, based on the Eucharist. It's no just transubstantiation and symbolic, there are levels. I don't know where I stand, or if I want to, but I believe it's something deeper than just a physical tranformation of the elements in my body. And I know it's more than just juice and crackers preceded by a prayer. There is a sort of embrace of His life and death, and the more you do it the better.

Kyle said...

I'm glad you've found it helpful, Robbie. All of this is about learning to embrace the mystery rather than trying to explain away what the rite "means."

You might also be interested in what I've written on the matter here.

rawbbie said...

thanks kyle.